When DCFS Needs To Be On Speed Dial: 11 Examples Of Lazy Parenting

September 11, 2012  |  
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About a month ago, a news story broke in Philly about of group of ten-year-olds who were involved in the home invasion and violent assault on a mentally challenged adult woman. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Where the hell were those kids’ parents?” I mean it’s one thing if your 17-year-old breaks curfew after a night of partying, but you have to wonder what went wrong in the short ten years of a child’s life when he’s facing criminal charges in elementary school. I can’t help but think that situations like this can be avoided by a little pro-active parenting.

When I refer to “lazy parenting” I’m not talking about the methods of co-sleeping, baby wearing and cloth diapers of attachment parenting that has recently become a trend in celebrity motherhood. I’m talking about the failure to realize that parenting is work and continuing to live a lifestyle that is most convenient for you after choosing to become a parent.  Parenting is kind of like IKEA furniture: It looks great on the outside, but actually getting it together is time-consuming, makes you instantly feel like an idiot and even though you may have directions, they aren’t very useful.  Every parent has a bad day where Lucky Charms is the main course or you forget it’s your turn to pick them up from soccer practice until they’re left stranded for hours…in the rain.  But lazy parenting is a completely different animal and chances are you already know if you’re a lazy parent without having to read the 11 traits listed below:


1.  Not visiting school unless your child is in trouble.

Report card conferences and a call home from the principal shouldn’t be the only reasons you make an appearance where your child spends 7-8 hours of his or her day.  As a parent you should be familiar with the school staff, have a decent idea of the school calendar and knowledge of the rules and policies.  You can’t advocate for your child or monitor their school performance if they know more about the system than you do.


2.  Assuming that your child is “grown” just because they can walk, talk and have their own key to the house.

It hurts my heart when I see parents letting their young children run the streets at all hours of the night because they mistakenly believe that once they know their address and can operate a microwave that they’re “grown.”  The truth is that a parent’s job is never done and even in their teen years as they pass the driver’s test and begin to work a part-time job after-school, that’s often when they need you the most, just in a different way.  As much as we want to encourage our children’s independence, that doesn’t entitle you to an extended vacation from being a mom or dad.  And you better believe there are peers and predators alike who are savoring the opportunity to take advantage of your child while you’re taking some time off.


3.  Thinking your child’s questionable behavior is amusing.

Your five-year-old reciting the lyrics to Lil’ Wayne’s “Lollipop” shouldn’t be amusing for more than two seconds. What annoys me are the parents who think a four-year-old’s random F-bombs are the funniest thing since Damon Wayans used to say “Homie don’t play that” in the ’90s, but want to enforce discipline when they’re embarrassed in public.  It’s easy to laugh away disrespectful behavior that suddenly turns adorable once your toddler is the culprit, but as with many things in parenting the easy way is usually the wrong way.  It’s all fun and games until they’re throwing F-bombs in your direction.


4.  Not making an effort to get to know your child’s friends.

Whether you live in the hood or the Hollywood Hills, you should know that every parent doesn’t run their household or raise their children like you do.  So before you allow your child to spend the night with Little Cece down the block, you should get to know Cece’s mom and everyone that is in and out of the house.  So often I see parents who have no phone number to reach their children at or don’t even know their child’s best friend’s last name. Because they are in the dark about things so important, when something serious occurs, they are left in the dark and helpless.  Children can be very susceptible to the influence of their friends so it’s important to know if those friends are more into doing homework or playing hooky.


5.  Only implementing spanking or time-out as discipline.

After unsuccessfully yelling and trying the calm down corner, most parents buckle from frustration and resort to cracking the whip.  But the few discipline methods that are familiar to most parents don’t work for every child or every situation.  Teaching your child that there are consequences for misbehavior requires creativity.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to YouTube yourself shooting your child’s laptop, but healthy discipline does require a parent departing from the traditional ways they might have been disciplined as a child to trying a method that works for the world today’s kids are living in.  Discipline isn’t about you kicking your feet up while your child suffers, it should teach a child self-control and why his/her behavior is inappropriate.


6.  You avoid the awkward talks because they make YOU uncomfortable.

Whether it starts with a question like, “Where do babies come from?” or “Why won’t I see Grandma anymore?”, you are your child’s first teacher and they are depending on you to come with the cold hard facts even if they aren’t the most pleasant.  Most of the time parents skip these talks altogether and replace them with cute stories that are absolutely of no real use for your child, but spare the parent a few minutes of awkwardness.  You aren’t doing your child any favors by throwing around terms like “cookie box” instead of “vagina” because YOU get grossed out.  All you’re doing is confusing them.  If you can’t bring yourself to truthfully answer the tough questions, take them to someone you trust who can.


7.   Allowing everything and everyone else to raise your child.

Drake is not the reason your 14-year old is “practicing” everything but the piano and believes “twerkin” is a talent.  While it’s true celebrities have significant influence over what today’s teens think is acceptable or attractive, at the end of the day if a parent is doing their best building a child’s confidence as an individual, Young Money will only have so much of a say in how they conduct themselves.  You’re the parent, act like it.  Turn off the TV, seek some positive role models to introduce into your child’s life and stop blaming the media for your child acting the fool.


8.  You expect your child to help you parent.

There’s a big difference between being a sibling and a parent, but time and time again I see parents bringing child after child into this world expecting the older siblings to change diapers, pick them up from school and damn near care for the child like they created it.  Teaching older siblings about contributing to the family and being responsible for their brothers or sisters is one thing, but it’s irresponsible for a parent to take away one kid’s childhood to ensure another sibling has one. An older brother or sister should be there for their younger sibling, not have to take care of them.


9.  You’re quick to assume that your child has ADHD or a learning disability.

It never ceases to amaze me at how truly perplexed some women will be when their child starts acting out suddenly in school.  Immediately that child is labeled as having a “behavioral issue” or ADHD.  No, your child is just reacting to the new man you just moved into the house who is not his father or he is having trouble focusing since you are arguing at all hours of the night with your boyfriend.  If your otherwise well-behaved child starts to suddenly experience a behavioral change for the worst, the problem may be more easily solved with some time, talking and attention rather than a prescription.


10.   You give your child the dreaded “black bag” for lunch on the regular.

I’m sure you have an equivalent in your city but in Philly all children frolic away from the corner store with a little plastic “black bag.”  More and more I’m seeing children join the Black Bag lunch program on the regular.  Its contents usually include a bag of Hot Cheetos, a Little Debbie snack cake, sunflower seeds and an Arizona Iced Tea. If a parent is especially ambitious, that black bag may even contain last night’s egg roll, a pint of shrimp fried rice and two fried chicken wings with ketchup, salt and pepper.  A wholesome lunch this does not make.  Shoot, the latter isn’t even that great of a dinner.  If free school lunch is not an option for your child, you should be finding a way to invest in lunch meat, fresh fruit and Sunny Delight so your child is not subjected to processed crap during the day, everyday.  The “black bag” was what I wasted my allowance on, not what my mom packed for me for the school day.


11.   Leaving it to school to do all of the teaching.

In recent year’s what I’ve witnessed in my city’s school system are overworked teachers, dumbed-down curriculum and students that are getting passed along without truly learning any kind of life skills because educators solely crave a classroom free of conflict.  Even in better school systems it’s no longer enough to depend on the school alone to teach your child the basics.  You don’t have to necessarily home school your children, but education should be a priority in both school and home.  Even if it means encouraging your child to read the newspaper or writing something that’s more than 140 characters.

What lazy parenting traits have you witnessed?

Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog Bullets and Blessings .

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  • Frustrated Auntie

    My sister’s kids are not old enough to be in school yet, but she (and the children’s father) is already showing signs of lazy parenting. They live like nothing has changed and they have no children. The kids have no sense of schedule, they eat a lot of fast food, and basically can do almost whatever they want. They don’t really teach the kids anything anymore. They don’t hardly even read to them. (They check out more DVDs from the library, than books.) They don’t have any rules or routines, and mom and dad are never on the same page for discipline. It has turned my sweet 4 year old niece into to a complete jerk that no one wants to spend time with and I worry that her younger brother will become the same way.

    My sister also lives like a filthy pig. She is just a few years shy of having a hoarding problem. She claims that with 2 children, she doesn’t have time to clean… The problem is that she does nothing after they go to bed, or before they wake up. And she doesn’t attempt to do anything while the 1 year old naps. Their father works long hours and is often tired, but he doesn’t even bother to clean up after himself, teaching the children that men shouldn’t do anything around the house. I’ve tried to help for years, but nothing ever changes. I’m tired of helping her to clean her house, then watch it just become disgusting again.

    It is really frustrating when she also is always on the go and dropping her kids with one my parents without much notice, then giving me the guilt trip when I don’t want to ‘spend time’ with them, for free. I’m the aunt, I should get to see them on my terms… I chose not to have children for a reason. I don’t want my niece and nephew to grow up to be ignorant, trashy, wastes of life, but it’s not my job to make sure they are raised right.

  • Cailyn Smith

    Let’s see, in my area where I live, its leave the kids out all day long without checking on them, as young as 2 yrs old. Neglecting to take them to speech therapy when at almost 5 they still can’t be understood because mom can’t be bothered. Sitting outside hollering and screaming their kids names because their asses are stuck to the chair and they can’t get up and go find their kids. Parents here don’t interact or teach their kids rules, and limits, so they steal etc.

  • gabby101

    I think the saddest examples I see repeated are an unwillingness to get involved in a child’s education and not following through on discipline and/or failing to use discipline that reinforces appropriate behavior.

    My sister and husband discipline their children only by yelling, which is less and less effective as they grow older. I’ve shared techniques that have worked well for me (loss of a privilege, eg), but yelling is much easier! A couple of minutes and you’re done!

    They also take no interest in their kids’ education other than reviewing their report cards. They can tell you anything you need to know about their sports programs and are very active in that aspect, but they do nothing to ensure that their children are staying academically competitive.

  • She Speaks

    “It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to YouTube yourself shooting your child’s laptop”
    LOL!! Too funny.
    Also, about the Sunny Delight suggestion…doesn’t that contain high fructose corn syrup? How about not being so lazy and making fresh juice for your kids?


    LMAO@ 2 chicken wings and ketchup….

  • For my daughter’s birthday, I invited three sisters and their mother who lived next door to go to an outdoor Halloween festival with us. Instead of joining us, the mother told the girls they could go and left them at home with her boyfriend. When it came time to leave, they did not have a booster seat for the youngest, who was 3, they had no money and there mom was still AWOL. The boyfriend gave them $20 and told them to bring back change! (admission was $8 per person). Finally, they got their stuff together and we left. I offered to pay so they’d have money for food, but I felt super suspect driving around with someone else’s kid without even having talked to the mother. She didn’t even know my name and she let me ride off with her babies. When I dropped the kids off, the door was open and the lights were on, but the mom didn’t even come out to meet me. I’m not even sure she was home! When I asked, the girls said she was in the back, but after all I had witnessed that night I couldn’t be sure.

    • realadulttalk

      That’s crazy!!!! And I know you took them b/c you didn’t want to hurt the kids–how do you send your child somewhere with someone you never met??? That’s not lazy–that’s just not giving a darn. But if something had happened…you’d have been all kinda crazy things.

  • Trisha_B

    I LOVE # 7. Nothing irks me more than people blaming celebs for there kids problems. The reason your child is copying everything a celeb do & calling them their role model is b/c you, as a parent, isn’t doing something right in the household. You should be your child’s role model. I grew up listening to some bad songs (tupac, Biggie, Bone thugs n harmony, etc) due to my young uncles but my mother dared me to act out like they do in the songs. my uncles let it be known that it’s per entertainment & i better become a woman & not some fast tail girl that they describe in their songs
    As for the leash thing, i really don’t understand the point of them. if your child is running around the store & you can’t keep up w/ them, you put them in the shopping cart/buggy. That should work for a kid up until about 5, by then a kid should have enough sense & home training to know better than to act up in public. I was at the grocery store & i saw a lady w/ triplets. each one was on a leash. Well one kid couldn’t keep up w/ her fast walking & basically get dragged. I see it at the zoo often w/ kids on leashes. Yes, i understand the purpose. But i believe if your kid has enough home training, you won’t have to deal w/ your kid roaming off. i feel it dehumanizes them. leashes are for animals. But i know in certain cases, there are kids who have special needs where a leash will come in handy

  • I never understood why parents thought it was cute when their kids use bad language and can quote all of Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka, etc., but don’t know their ABC’s, can’t count past ten, or quote a bible verse or sing one line from any simple gospel song.

    • Gigi

      LOL!! I tell my daughter that all the time. “(insert friend’s name here) ain’t my child. I don’t care what she gets to do!”

  • allie1234

    A “child leash” is not lazy parenting. I take of care of my niece and when she was younger she had to wear one because, several times she would run away in the store and hide. It nothing like losing her for almost an hour and having the store almost shut down. I rather be looked at crazy than go through that again.

    • MLS2698

      Some years back, in my town, a two-year-old died at Wal-Mart after an entertainment center fell on her ( may have climbed on it). I always felt if her parents had a tether, she would still be alive. Another time, I was at Wally World ( Wal-Mart), this lady was looking at shampoo very intently, when her small child started to climb the stocking ladder someone had left in the isle. The child was on the second step before mom removed him ( way too late) . Parents need to leave the kids home, or take better care while shopping. A tether is a good thing.

    • marie

      I agree! I commented that a leash was a life-saver when I was at the airport with my 2yr old.

  • sabrina

    I’ll keep this article in mind when I start having kids…another 8 years from now.

  • TatumPascal

    Most people who pratice attachement parenting are not lazy, cloth diapers,co-sleeping, and breastfeeding at any age are not “lazy” alternatives. However, I do agree with all the things in the article. It is a different world than when we were growing up and education, nutrition, and instilling a healthy sense of self and responsibility are important.

  • Hello_Kitty81

    Plus my daughter’s school is on strike too, thank god I took out 20 books from the library, schools might be closed, but my child is still gonna get her education on, f*ck a strike!

  • Hello_Kitty81

    Last week I was at the laundromat and this girl, as young as 10 was with her 3 younger siblings walked in the laundromat at 7PM and the guy who worked there asked her where were her parents, she said her mom is with her boyfriend at home, he made her and her sibs go home and have their mom with them, then the mom showed up and cursed the man out saying he needed to mind his business. Now, if my daughter were 10 years old, 1) I would never let run the streets at 7PM for anything, that’s how kids get kidnapped. I also agree with the parents who only show up at the school for report card pick up and getting calls to the schools, at least I get to know the principal, teachers, school counselors, etc at my child’s school.

    • That man should have told her he was minding his business. She pretty much left minors in his care, and left him responsible. If something had happened to them, she would have partially blamed him. I would have asked her if her or her boy friend was gonna pay me…sorry behind, had the nerve to cuss somebody out looking out for the safety of her children!

  • marie

    while this was a good article and i agree with your opinion, i was thrown off at the beginning because you mentioned co-sleeping, clothe diapers, and attachment parenting. how do those even relate to lazy parenting?? why did were they even mentioned?

    • RJA

      i wondered the same thing about the cloth diapers and attachment parenting…

    • Toya Sharee

      Apologies for the confusion. I learned about a practice called “attachment parenting” that seems to be a trend in Hollywood. Behaviors include co-sleeping, elongated breastfeeding and buying cloth diapers. Some people relate this to “lazy parenting” because it’s seen as a way to be cheap or cut down on the work that comes with parenting. For example, alot of people look at cloth diapers as a cheap, dirty alternative. Or take elongated breastfeeding for example as a way to co-sleep with your child so you don’t have to run back and forth all night with feeding. The only reason I mentioned that is because I didn’t want folks to confuse the type of “lazy parenting” I was referring to with those practices. Hope that helps! Thanks for reading.

      • marie

        thanks for replying! I’m still wondering how anyone can interpret co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding and buying cloth diapers as lazy! I co-slept with my first son because I felt more secure knowing my baby was next to me safe and sound. Cloth diapers are definitely not the easy way out because they need to be washed frequently, as opposed to disposable diapers. And diapers are super expensive so one can’t knock a parent for trying to save money.
        Also, I just noticed the picture with the kid with the leash. How is that related to “lazy parenting” too?? I can’t speak on the woman with the pic or other mothers, but that leash was a life-saver walking through the airport dragging 2 pieces of luggage and a 2-yr old who would dart off the second he gets the chance! Please don’t take this the wrong way, but are you a mother?

      • Wow

        Breast feeding lazy??? It is the best source of nutrition for a baby and many mothers cried out of frustration due to how hard it can be to get the hang of it. I have no idea why any woman would want to do it beyond a age when the child wouldn’t need it. Lazy? Hardly my child wouldnt latch so I took the time to pump every two to four hours to keep my supply in order to give him those nutrients, and a sista still had to work. Lazy would have been running to the grocery store to buy milk and call it a day.

        Black folks have been co-sleeping for years not because it’s trendy but because we didn’t have extra space for a nursery, so guess what? Baby slept with mama. It was nothing odd or trendy about it, just making do.

        I’ve always rocked my kids to sleep and in many countries in Africa, “baby wearing” is normal and strollers are unheard of. Baby stays wrapped up with mama while she cleans, cooks, and tend to older children. New age hippy parents call it attachment parenting, we just call it taking care of our kids.

      • Im sorry but anyone who understands what attachment parenting actually is would not consider it lazy parenting. Its about formulating an intense bond with the child throughout their earliest years. While I’ve heard criticisms of things such as extended breast feeding because it goes against societal norms, Ive never heard anyone equate it with lazy parenting. I am remiss to believe you were given correct information in regards to this topic. The rest of the article seemed rather on point though! I am a mental health professional and I call ADHD the lazy parenting disease all the time. Though it is a very real disease and all, I see a lot of parents quick to label their children based off a little hyperactivity when they dont take into account the fact that children arent getting as many energy outlets such as gym, art, music as back in the day. Give the kids an outlet and that “hyperactivity” just goes away naturally.

      • realadulttalk

        Clothe diapers are lazy?? I’d say while they are kinda gross…that’s a lot of work.