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10 Things We Do That Make Us Hypocritical Parents

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A few days ago, we were sitting at the dinner table eating as a family when my phone went off. I immediately picked it up to check the notification. I then found myself reading an email, checking the shipping status of an Amazon order, and then somehow scrolling Instagram. My daughter broke my scrolling trance bluntly with, “Mommy, no phone at the table.” Yup. My three-year-old called me out on a family rule.

At first, I thought to myself, Who are you to tell me? I’m the mom here! Then this next thought popped into my head: How can I expect my daughter to follow a rule that I don’t follow myself? I can’t! The old saying “do as I say, not as I do” is the anthem of hypocritical parents and doesn’t make for solid parenting. If we are consistently bending the rules and making exceptions for ourselves, our kids will begin to follow suit and lose their trust in us. I know I cannot be the only mom who’s caught herself being hypocritical with her kids. Here are 10 more things we do that make us hypocritical parents.

1. “I can lie, but you can’t.”

Have you ever told your kids that you had to leave the park because it was closing, yet it was only 10:30 in the morning? But then later, you caught your child in a white lie and punished him or her for it? Guilty. Even with kids who don’t want to leave the park, honesty is the best policy.

2. “I can ignore you, but you can’t ignore me.”

I cannot be the only one who sometimes hides in the bathroom from my kids when all I can hear is “mommy, mommy, mom, mom, mama.” But when my daughter doesn’t answer me immediately after I call her name, I get frustrated.

3. “You must share, but I don’t have to.”

Just the other day, I made my daughter share her ice cream with her brother, but then I refused to share mine with her. In my defense, it was really good, but I probably could’ve spared a spoonful.

4. “I can express my feelings, but you can’t.”

We’re allowed to have days when we’re irritable, moody, and just plain tired, yet when our kids have days like this, we see it as misbehaving.

We're allowed to have days when we’re irritable, moody, and just plain tired, yet when our kids have days like this, we see it as misbehaving. Click To Tweet

5. “I will follow my interests, but you have to do what I want you to do.”

If your kids aren’t interested in an activity or sport, yet you find yourself forcing them to commit simply because you want them to like it, you should probably call it quits. If we wouldn’t commit to something we don’t like, we shouldn’t force our children to do the same.

6. “I can say no, but you can’t.”

If I can say I don’t want to play a certain game with my daughter, she should be able to tell me she doesn’t want to play a certain game that I picked out.

7. “You must pick up after yourself, but I don’t always have to.”

We should hold our children to the same tidiness standards we hold ourselves to. If I consistently leave dirty dishes scattered around the kitchen and living room, I can’t tell my kids they’re not allowed to do the same.

8. “I won’t try new foods, but you have to.”

I refuse to try tuna fish, but I’ve bribed my daughter into tasting foods she said she didn’t want to eat. Part of being an adult is choosing your own diet, but if our kids hear us turn our noses up at something without ever even trying it, they’ll pick up on that habit.

9. “I can take a break, but you can’t.”

It’s important we all get some rest and relaxation. Sometimes we need days when we can just be. Our kids need those days, too.

10. “I can interrupt, but you shouldn’t.”

I am always correcting my daughter when she impolitely interrupts an adult conversation, yet I find myself interrupting her, and others, all the time.

But let’s be real…

One of the goals of parenting is teaching your children right from wrong, establishing routines and standards for how to behave, and pushing them to try new things. There are definitely varying levels of hypocritical parents, and just because you do something you don’t let your child do doesn’t always mean you’re a hypocrite. It means you’re an adult who can make your own decisions. Plus, mistakes or missteps show your kids you’re human and can give you opportunities to show humility. But when we can choose the better way, we always should, because little eyes are watching and authenticity speaks loudly to young hearts.

In what ways have you and your husband caught yourself being hypocritical parents?


Is there anything I’m allowed to do but you aren’t that seems unfair to you?

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