The Effects of Poor Parenting Throughout Life

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "12 Rules for Life" by Jordan Peterson. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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What are the dangers of poor parenting? Do the children really outgrow the effects of poor parenting when they become adults and learn to think for themselves?

Most parents mean well, but their parenting practices don’t always align with those well-meaning intentions. According to Jordan Peterson, the effects of poor parenting are wide-ranging and can last throughout a child’s lifetime.

Continue reading to better understand Peterson’s argument.

The Effects of Poor Parenting

Many parents, in a misguided effort to avoid damaging their child or wanting to be their child’s friend, avoid giving corrective feedback to their kids. These are the parents who let their kids curse at them in public or scream disruptively in movie theaters. These parents are teaching their kids the wrong boundaries of society and, in effect, they’re outsourcing the training to society: “Here’s my kid – society, please teach him the right rules.”

The problem is that society doesn’t care about your child nearly as much as you do. If you dislike your own child at times, imagine how other people will react. Other people will swiftly judge and punish your child mercilessly, with nowhere near the tolerance and patience that you have for your child. The effects of poor parenting can last a lifetime. Here are examples of how a poorly socialized child will be rejected by society:

  • In school, other children will refuse to spend time around a temperamental, unsociable child. 
  • Teachers will run out of patience and focus attention on more pleasant children, causing your child to fall behind. 
  • Parents will refuse your child’s presence at their playtimes. 
  • If these habits persist into adulthood, employers will fire them; relationship partners will reject them.

You are your child’s best shot at teaching society’s rules. Society doesn’t have the patience to teach your child – there are many other well-adjusted, functioning people to spend time on. A bad kid will simply be rejected and left behind.

And this problem can get worse throughout a child’s life. An early poor social experience can set up a vicious cycle of chronic maladjustment – a maladjusted child will act poorly; she will receive negative feedback from the world, often without understanding why; she will withdraw and feel rejected, causing anxiety, depression, and resentment. This further receives negative feedback from the world. This can last for a lifetime. 

Shielding your child from corrective feedback is in effect crippling them in the long run. And early exposure matters – a child not taught to behave properly by age 4 will have lasting social difficulties.

The Effects of Poor Parenting Throughout Life

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Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, science, and philosophy. A switch to audio books has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a creative nonfiction book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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