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Parenting failures.

(61 Posts)
kircubbin2000 Fri 16-Apr-21 07:41:26

When my daughter was about 8 I let a Spanish family who didnt speak English take my daughter and her friend out for the afternoon to play with their child. This was in Spain and I didnt know their name or where they were staying.They were away all afternoon and I had no idea where they went. This was in the days before Madeleine Mc Cann. It never occurred to me that anything could go wrong and the only thing that happened was that she cut her foot and they took her to a chemist to get cleaned.
What was your worst failure?

Grammaretto Sun 18-Apr-21 08:49:53

On one occasion, soon after we moved from the city to this small town, DS3 was in P1. It was a cold winter's day and I happened to be shopping when I overheard 2 women discussing the closing of the school due to the boiler breaking down and the children were being sent home.
I hurried home to find my little boy on the doorstep. I phoned the school to ask why a small child was sent home with no warning and was told the teacher had asked the children if there was anyone at home before they sent them and anyway most people have a neighbour to go to . They obviously thought it was my fault and certainly not theirs.

nanna8 Sun 18-Apr-21 08:42:05

We had several kids and we had been at the beach all day and everyone was tired so we bundled the kids and large scotch collie into the car and headed for home. Except we left the 6 year old behind! We returned 10 minutes later and found her at the little milk bar down there with a nice shop keeper - who just happened to be her prep teacher a couple of years before. When I think what might have happened I am horrified. That daughter was always the quietest one in the family so that was probably why but what were we thinking?

Ali08 Sun 18-Apr-21 08:30:40

@Kate1949 & @NotSpaghetti
I was one of those kids off to boarding school with my cases etc. Not as many parents had cars back then, or if they did it was the breadwinner of the family who needed it for work! My parents thought it was good for me to go on my own and once I got to certain points other pupils would join the journey, too, tho I had at least the first 11 miles on my own - as had my older sibling a few years before!
Things just seemed so much safer back then.

Humbertbear Sun 18-Apr-21 08:18:55

We had the rule that if you could get out of bed, then you went to school. I was a newly qualified teacher so my daughter dutifully went to her new Grammar School. Just before lunch I was called to the school office to take a phone call. My daughter’s PE teacher asked if it would be alright if she took my daughter home and put her to bed as she had flu. When I got home from work my daughter was even tucked up with a hot water bottle!

stella1949 Sun 18-Apr-21 08:03:45

From when I was 7, I had to walk to school . This was a 45 minute walk , including a main road and several crossings . This was regarded as normal then - to me it's unthinkable but times change. My grandchildren live 5 minutes walk from school and DD picks them up in the car every day.

harrigran Sun 18-Apr-21 07:11:02

My father used to tell the tale about when he started school, they lived in a market garden on a main road with no other properties close by.
A farmer used to pass the gate each morning with his horse and cart and Dad was thrown up on to the hay in the cart. Grandfather asked the farmer to drop him off at the school gates as he passed through the village.

Grammaretto Sun 18-Apr-21 00:19:04

Dragonfly what dreadful parents grin , Was he traumatised or just enjoyed reminding you?

My DF wrote a diary and he wrote about sending me to school. I was under 5 and they put me on the public bus. I didn't get off at the right stop so that decided not to send me to school again until I was a bit older. I have no recollection of that incident at all.

Kate1949 Sat 17-Apr-21 12:59:41

He is jane

dragonfly46 Sat 17-Apr-21 11:25:21

When we lived in Holland our children went to the local school on the corner and they used to come home on their own. When our DS was about 7 we moved to another house a couple of streets away. I thought I had made sure my DS knew where to come to but I got a call from one of the other mothers who told me she had found him wandering around not knowing where we were. She fed him and took him back to school.
He always says now we moved without telling him!

janeainsworth Sat 17-Apr-21 11:16:45

Kate smile he sounds a treasuresmile

Chestnut Sat 17-Apr-21 11:03:05

Mollygo we’d probably have to ask the children, to find out our parenting failures which left them scarred....this thread seems to be about things we thought we shouldn’t have done and still might feel guilty about rather the effect it had on the children.
Absolutely agree. Only our children can decide whether something affected them permanently (apart from a physical injury).
Many of the things mentioned in this thread are things we perceive as a parenting failure because they could have been life-changing for child and parent if they hadn't had a happy outcome. But mostly things turn out okay and we simply remember what happened as a possible disaster. And usually we learn a lesson at the same time.

Kate1949 Sat 17-Apr-21 10:08:44

jane smile My husband has a saying for me. 'You'd blame yourself if your granny had piles and you haven't even got a granny'.

Grammaretto Sat 17-Apr-21 10:06:11

This is in the category of awful incident I regret :
I come from NZ and was on my first return trip after many years away accompanied by 2 of our DC. Bored with looking up relatives and trailing round museums, we discovered that they could go swimming with the dolphins on a sea trip which lasted 3 hours.
Youngest DD was 9 and we paid the money and left them to it. I was asked if she could swim but that was all.
3 hours later I returned to find the trip had been cut short because DD was showing signs of hyperthermia even in 2 wet suits. Everyone on board had been trying to warm her up. Think next stop Antarctica, not a Californian pool!

She survived but I still shudder particularly as the records we were reading in the museum showed several ancestors had drowned in those exact same seas.

janeainsworth Sat 17-Apr-21 09:44:37

Well everyone, you've taken away years of guilt!
Way to go, Kate grin

Kate1949 Sat 17-Apr-21 09:36:44

Well everyone, you've taken away years of guilt!

Mollygo Sat 17-Apr-21 09:21:59

Iam64, we’d probably have to ask the children, to find out our parenting failures which left them scarred. Wasn’t there a thread a while back about how we felt our parents had let us down.
This thread seems to be about things we thought we shouldn’t have done and still might feel guilty about rather the effect it had on the children. Sometimes it might be both. I let my children climb trees when they were young. My youngest fell resulting in a broken bone. My parenting failure is that I let them carry on climbing trees.

Iam64 Sat 17-Apr-21 08:47:04


How would you define a parenting failure?

Something that leaves your child with physical or emotional scars

Sara1954 Fri 16-Apr-21 21:52:59

I regularly put my children in the bus to visit their grandparents. My daughter would have been about eight, and her brother four. It never really occurred to me that it wasn’t a very good idea, they loved it.
I’m sure I’ve made many mistakes, but one that sticks out is another holiday tale. Under pressure I let my youngest go on a camping holiday with a friend, lovely people, but very volatile, always rowing, and their idea of parenting was letting them get on with it.
I knew they would be basically without supervision for the week. After I agreed she could go, all I could think about was how to get out of it, but she went, survived and had a great time. Although she did say she spent a lot of time with her friends dad, because she felt sorry for him.

welbeck Fri 16-Apr-21 21:41:34


Kate - at 8 lots of children caught busses alone years ago.

I don't think this was a failure.

I know people who were put on trains with a trunk at 8 as they went off to boarding school. I crossed London at 9 or 10. It was a different time.

exactly, what i was thinking.
not sure when this happened, what year i mean, but i think it is not good that most children get no experience of looking out for themselves now, being taken everywhere, never using money.
it is still the norm in europe that 7 year olds take themselves to and from school. some places actually discourage/forbid parents from fetching them. it is seen as part of their education to be responsible for getting themselves there. and in japan i believe small children catch trains to school.
what i mean is, if it was still the norm here, then it wouldn't seem so alarming, there would be lots of children around.

M0nica Fri 16-Apr-21 21:24:26

GrannyGravy13 Quote from my previous post
A parental failure is surely something you did that ruined a child's opportunity in life or caused them lasting harm.

I would add that it could be physical or psychological

overthehill Fri 16-Apr-21 19:53:19

Kate1949 said
I put DD on a bus by herself and my sister-in-law met her at the other end. I feel sick at the thought now.
Our daughter would never have done that with her own daughter. I can't believe I did that.

Well I took myself to school at 7 over 3 main roads, my mother wasn't the least concerned. It was her idea.

GrannyGravy13 Fri 16-Apr-21 19:22:05

How would you define a parenting failure?

foxie48 Fri 16-Apr-21 19:03:46

I'm totally in accord with M0nica, these aren't parenting failures, just accidents and lapses that all parents have. On holiday with my toddler and a friend with her baby daughter, I looked away for a second and toddler disappeared. We were on a cross channel ferry and I was sick with worry but found her with a group of teens playing on some machines but for a few minutes I was sick with anxiety. Grown up daughter has no recollection of it all.

B9exchange Fri 16-Apr-21 18:48:21

At least two of my children hold things in their childhood against me, but the worst one they don't remember. We were fortunate to be offered a private tour of the aircraft hangars at Heathrow after a good lunch and a fair bit of wine. DS1 (aged 4) was allowed to sit in the pilot seat of a large jet and yanked hard on a lever. The chap showing us round suddenly came to life and screamed 'Don't touch that' - it was the lever to pull up the undercarriage, and £6 million pounds worth of aircraft would have crashed to the floor. But while we were in the cockpit, 18 month old DS2 had climbed out of an emergency exit, left open, onto a wing and was running about on it. I just managed to grab him in time before he toppled over the edge. It still gives me the shivers now how foolish we had been not to keep an eye on him!

M0nica Fri 16-Apr-21 18:02:25

No, I am not being condescending, but none of these events, no matter how frightening at the time, are what I would describe as parenting failures. They are just some of the frightening events that happen when you have children - and in many cases were things most parents would have done at the time, although we wouldn't do it nowadays.

Unless one takes on board Ixion'x contribution - and with her I fully agree. DD used to tell me frequently what a useless mother I was, although we weren't always in agreement as to whether what I had done was a sign of 'useless mothering' or sensible caution.