Recently, a Redditor asked people “What’s the worst parenting you’ve witnessed in public?” Here are some of the users’ best submissions. Some of these stories are horrifying!
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
A woman smacked her child multiple times for going to pick up a McDonald’s order from the counter, because it wasn’t their order. It got really awkward when it became clear that it was in fact their order.
A little girl walking with her Dad stopped to rummage through some dandelions. The dad kept walking while she yelled at him to wait. She picked a dandelion and ran over to him to give it to him. He tossed it to the side and told her to “stop messing around.
Some years ago I used to live above a single mother in a 3 apartment house.
One Saturday night around 2am there was a knock on my door and the 4 year old daughter from downstairs stood in front of me crying asking if I knew where her mother was. Wet pyjamas and dirty bare feet from searching her mom outside in the garden…
She went out partying as soon as the child was asleep and left her totally alone.
She can consider herself lucky that the cops I called arrived before she did…
My parents used to let me scream bloody murder in movie theaters because “it’s a natural form of human expression”. Sorry to anyone I inconvenienced.
My niece’s birthday party. She has a little brother and sister. Little sister gets a balloon ribbon wrapped around her neck, and her father casually glanced over, took note of the situation, then went back to looking at his phone.
I had to pull out my pocket knife to get the ribbon off the kid while she cried.
Same kids, different story. It’s Thanksgiving and something is burning. Smoke starts filling the house and the little ones start coughing. Nobody moved, so I snatched them up and took them outside.
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Probably a father verbally berating his son (around 11-12) about asking for something. Like he would not let up about how this kid was such a selfish person (his words). This kid was trailing behind him obviously humiliated, crying while the dad just kept up telling him how awful he was. Felt bad for the kid. A few people stopped him and told him to let up and he just got all ‘don’t tell me how to talk to my kid’ and stormed out.
I was driving behind a small sedan once that was packed; driver, front passenger, and three in the back. We stopped at a red light and I was just waiting for the light to change back when an infant (~9 months by my guess) crawled up over the shoulder of the middle passenger into the rear window, looked me in the eye, and smiled.
The light changed soon after and they drove off with the baby just chilling there. I’m still ashamed I was too stunned to think to get the license plate number and report it to the police.
I saw a lady leave her kids on a leash outside an ice cream shop. I mean, my parents had me on a leash when I was little because I was hyper who wouldn’t hold hands, that’s the right way to use a child leash. Your child is not a dog, you do not leave them tied to a bench. The point of child leashes is to keep kids safe while they can get some independence, not to be a neglectful idiot with a pet toddler.
Leaving children unattended in a skatepark, exacerbated more so when they aren’t correctly using the facility (running around with no board, gear, etc), don’t have the skill (the old classic is a little dude riding a non-BMX bike up a ramp but he doesn’t know how to turn around so ends up hurting himself), or can’t comprehend the norms of using the space (ignoring queuing, dropping in on people, getting in the way, hogging an area, the list goes on). The rate at which this happens, the risk of serious bodily injury, and the near universal incredulousness from the parent when confronted is baffling.
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A two year old boy ran across the street to the side where his parents were tending to stuff in their car. No idea why he was across from them in the first place but the oncoming truck driver was thankfully vigilant and stopped.
The dad then proceeded to yell and hit the boy. When I yelled at the dad to stop, the boy saw his chance and ran. He was quickly caught. I’m sure the only thing he learned that day was to fear his father.
A mom at the doctors office ignoring her little boy who was acting out for her attention. The less she paid to him the louder he got. He was too old for this to be new behavior and it’s likely that he only gets attention when he’s extremely misbehaving.
I felt bad for both of them to be honest. The little boy for obvious reasons and for the mom because she just couldn’t keep up. Like eventually the time comes where certain behaviors are reinforced to the point where it’s very hard to unwind. She’d clearly just given up because she was just empty.
I was on a train home – a mother was sitting with her son (maybe 6-7 years old) at the front of a nearly full, silent car. He had peed his pants. For 45 minutes, we all had to witness her BERATING this kid, and doing it very loudly, saying things like “This is why I don’t like to take you anywhere with me….you’re an embarrassment to me…everyone here knows what you did…” Poor kid was crying, she was yelling things like this for the whole ride. It was absolutely ridiculous, if she hadn’t been yelling no one would have known he had peed himself. I felt so bad for him. Finally, a man sitting near the back of the car spoke up, said something like “Ma’am, please stop yelling at him, you are making us all very uncomfortable.” She grabbed the kid’s arm and stormed off at the next stop. I really hope he’s ok.
This takes place about 10 years ago. I was at a crowded nail salon getting my nails did. A rather large woman had a baby in a stroller, little girl was maybe 2 years old. The fumes had to be bothering her, as it was giving my teenage self a headache. She was fussy, crying, kept throwing her sippy cup off the edge of the tray. Her mom was completely ignoring her, huffing and puffing as she’d pick up the sippy cup and drop it back on the stroller tray.
At some point, the mom had had enough and, so that she wouldn’t mess up her new 3″ acrylics, whacked the baby on the top of her head. I swear, the entire salon went silent. Every single eye was on them. The little girl held her breath for what seemed like an eternity, then let out a blood curdling scream.
The mom just calmly but quickly stood up, grabbed her stuff and the stroller, and walked out without paying. Everyone seemed stunned by what just happened. I don’t remember what happen after that, but it was horrifying.
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I was at GameStop a while back when there was a mother and her kid (looked like he had to be about 7-8) he was definitely single digits. He was whining and moaning about wanting a game. The game you ask? GTA 5. A game that is absolutely not suitable for a little kid not even just the game itself but the online people that play the game. Not saying the adults that play it are bad but they are adults, like myself who swear on a daily basis and I’m not really going to censor myself when I’m playing a rated M game. He was crying and complaining about wanting this game and of course the mom got it for him. Now not that it doesn’t show you the rating of a game but I felt like telling the mom that this game really isn’t appropriate for someone his age, in case she wasn’t aware of what GTA is. But I didn’t. Felt like it would have just fallen on deaf ears.
I was in a fairly nice restaurant with an adults only bar/patio in the back (on a canal). We were the only adults eating in the front part of the restaurant. Bar/patio really rolling. Thirty-ish couple walks in with two girls, ages 10 and 12. They get a table for four near us. Server comes in and parents say, “Here’s $10. Watch our kids while we go to the bar.” They then leave the girls and go to the bar. Waiter pockets the $10 and continues his job. Kids start running all over the place and run outside onto the street. We get our food and are eating. Kids are out on the street in front of the restaurant playing. Father comes back from the bar and can’t find the girls. We tell him they are outside. Father starts yelling at us for letting them go outside. WHAT? Then he screams for the server he tipped and the manager. Demands the manager fire the server. We are still sitting there, totally blown away. Pay our check and as we are leaving, guys is screaming at everyone… kids, server, manager, us.
When I worked at a grocery store, there was a regular who would come in with her 3 kids. Usually the older kids weren’t bad and rarely caused a scene but the youngest (about 3-4 years old) was THE worst. Every single time she would come up to checkout the youngest would start asking for candy. She would tell him no and that he needed to eat real food first before candy was allowed. Of course, he would start wailing so loudly that the whole store could hear and she would ignore him. This would go on for about 2-3 minutes and then he would beg her for candy again. She would say no just like she did before but on this particular trip he actually started throwing things out of the cart. She smacked him on the hand and told him to stop behaving that way and then he actually hit her back. She yelled at him and told him that she would spank him if he didn’t calm down and he cried some more for a few minutes. Once I was done ringing her up, I told her the total and guess what happened?
She bought the candy bar and gave it to him.
Parents who try to continue their pre-kid party life with their babies in tow.
I went to college in the archetypal college town, which means a street dedicated mostly to college bars. My friends and I would do bar crawls, and would always end the night at this one pub. Anyway, on this particular occasion, it gets to be that time of night and we take our table and start talking. I’m telling a story where I happen to say a bad word. The couple next to me turns to me and angrily says “hey! Watch your mouth lady, there’s a child here.” And for about two seconds, I felt horrible, until I realized they were the ones with a 3 year old in a college bar at 11:45 at night.
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As a grocery store employee, I see prime examples of stellar parenting often. Sadly, I see ten times more examples of bad parenting all the time.
Once I saw a man drive his shopping cart into his daughter because she was “acting up.” He knocked her into the shelves pretty hard, and stuff went everywhere. He then berated her while she cleaned it up. A woman who witnessed it actually called the police on him.
This one lady was completely ignoring her toddler who was standing up in the baby seat of the cart. Her other kid was like “Mom! Mom! He’s going to fall!” and the woman just told him to be quiet. Well, sure enough, kid toppled over and it would have been SO bad, but this ninja dressed in street clothes leaped over and caught the kid just before he landed on his face. The mom was like “uh-oh!” and the guy berated her for being stupid.
This one guy, during Christmas season, was in the store with his 5 year old and they were standing next to the ornament tree (like a metal skeleton in a shape of a Christmas tree, but empty on the inside). His kid crawled under the tree and somehow ended up INSIDE the tree.
Now this tree has a green bin at the bottom because sometimes ornaments will drop if tugged too hard or mishandled, most of which are made of glass, but when it does it’ll fall into this bin to avoid getting glass shards everywhere. We just have to sweep it up daily.
So this kid is like playing in this green bin with glass shards, I only noticed because the kid picked up one of our FULLY GLASS ornaments and dropped it, breaking it immediately. I rushed over to him and asked if the kid was okay. The dad, looking at his phone the whole time, glanced up towards me and then looked at his kid and mumbled, “Don’t touch anything.” to his kid while I got his kid out and sternly said “This is DANGEROUS. Never crawl under there, okay?” and then they walked away without so much of an apology, and while his dad was still looking at his phone.
18 years old. Standing in line during the summer, big attraction, lots of people lined up in the bright sun.
Big fountain right by the line, the outer ring of which is some kind of black stone, just sucking up light and heat.
We were like 30′ back, and I happen to look over at the fountain as this woman hoists her infant (unable to stand/walk under their own strength) up onto the black ring. Barefoot. Poor kid is immediately doing this hopping kind of motion trying to pull her legs up, which makes mom shake her by the arm she’s being held up by. Mom doesn’t look at her, because mom is trying to do something on her phone. No one is reacting. Lady seems to reach someone on the phone and becomes deeply engrossed in conversation while her kid cries in pain.
I quickly walked over and put my hand on the stone and loudly (didn’t mean to, was just surprised by how hot) said “holy crap, it’s so hot!”
Everyone nearby turned to look, and the woman had immediately pulled her infant away from me when I yelped. I just walked back to my parents in line. Lady kind of looked back at me for a moment with this “What is your problem?” face, before looking back at the fountain. She touched the stone and yanked her hand back fast, and she turned bright red before facing forward for the rest of the time we were in line.
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This father showed up to my work and put his 2 year old son in a cart. He pushed this kid around for like 15min or so and the whole time the kid was screaming and yelling and throwing fits. Typical 2 year old stuff… until this guy finally had it and decided to twist the cart super fast. I was horrified as his son fell out of the cart.
The kid’s head made this loud crack on impact but suddenly STOPPED CRYING. A minute later the kid freaked out completely screaming with everything he had.
I had the floor manager call 911 immediately and told the man not to move his son. An off-duty firefighter ran over and started first aid.
When I told everyone what I had witnessed, many of the staff working that day became teary eyed thinking this kid has to live with such an evil father.
When the paramedics came, I pulled one of them aside and gave my statement, letting them know that they needed to call CPS (this was in Ontario).
The father looked like he felt bad but he also looked more worried about getting in trouble than the fate of his son.
Never saw that guy again. Never heard what happened, if anything. I mean we hope that justice will prevail but all you can do is make your statement and trust that something was done.
I work in pharmacy, and we regularly sell packs of syringes without prescriptions to people claiming to need them for a sick pet/relative/etc. Regardless of whether that’s true or they’re using them to shoot up drugs. Our policy is to sell them for the sake of harm reduction, because we’d rather addicts use clean needles than reuse dirty ones and spread diseases.
We had a lady who used to always come in with her two adorable little girls to buy syringes for their “diabetic dog”. At first she was believable. She had her life together and her kids seemed well taken care of, but after awhile it became obvious she was actually using, and her addiction was getting bad. The older kid one who was maybe 6 years old went from happy and talkative to withdrawn and sad-looking, and the mom eventually stopped trying to cover up her open sores and track marks. I approached my boss with my concerns (as a mother myself I really did not feel comfortable selling to her with her kids right there), and he basically told me to either suck it up or have one of the other techs on duty sell to her, because it’s corporate policy and a $3 pack of syringes is apparently still an “important profit” for the company. The last time I saw her come in she had open sores on her face and track marks up both arms, the older kid had on a filthy stained dress and her hair was an unkempt rat’s nest, and the baby had shoes that were obviously too small and held on with duct tape.
I really wish I’d gotten her address off of her ID so I could make an anonymous call and report her to CPS so she could get some sort of help or at least have the kids placed somewhere safe where they don’t have to watch their mom shoot up.