Parents in public are often very different from parents in private. The internet is rife with parenting blogs and TikToks dealing with parenting tips, funny anecdotes, gushing praise and feel-good parenting moments that make it seem like being a parent is the best thing a person could ever be.
The truth is being a parent doesn’t make you a special person. Some parents are great, some are terrible, and plenty of them get fed up and tired sometimes. No doubt everyone you know who is a parent has made an awful joke about their kid at some point. Parents are humans and they say and think and do terrible things sometimes. Just look!
10. About 1 in 5 Parents Regret Having Kids
As a child you want to believe your parents love you no matter what. They’re happy you came into their lives, you’re the center of their universe and you’re everything they hoped and dreamed for. And maybe when you get older you temper that a bit and just realize your parents probably enjoy your company if nothing else. At least they don’t regret you, right? Well, not so fast.
A German study from 2016 showed that a full 20% of parents regretted having children. The results were based on a survey of over 2000 respondents. Specifically, they were asked if they were given the chance to go back and do it again, would they prefer to live their lives without kids? Mothers ranked slightly lower at 19% while fathers came in at 20%
Deeper research showed that these numbers are similar in the US and higher in Poland. Parents who regret kids often had terrible childhoods themselves, suffer from poorer psychological health than others, and it’s related to marital status and financial situations as well.
While not every parent regrets having kids, 52% said they felt that parenthood had limited their lives. Forty-four percent of mothers said they would have done better in their careers if not for kids.
It’s not all doom and gloom as 77% said they found parenthood gratifying and 95% said they loved their children. But, to be fair, that means a solid 27% don’t even like being parents and 5%, or over 100 parents, don’t even love their kids.
9. Some Parents Mailed Their Children to Relatives Through the USPS
In the modern world parents are worried about everything. Some of it is justified and some of it is paranoia but we’re constantly being inundated with fears and dangers relating to abuses, violence, the environment, mental and physical health and so much more. Sometimes people will wish for a sort of fairy tale bygone era when “things were better” even if there’s little evidence things ever were better in reality.
If you want some evidence of how people felt things were safe and good when they were not, just look at the baffling tales of people mailing children across America.
In the early 1900s, the United States Postal Service introduced a parcel delivery service. You could send gifts to people, not just letters! A new age was born. This also inspired some people to realize that a baby fell into the rules for parcel size so they thought “why not mail the baby to relatives instead of paying to travel?” And they did it.
In one case a family slapped 15 cents’ worth of stamps on a baby, insured him for $50, and gave him to the mailman to take him a mile up the road to grandma’s house. In another case, 15 cents’ worth of stamps sent a 6-year-old 720 miles from Florida to Virginia.
8. A Fifth of Parents Think Their Babies are Ugly
There’s a famous episode of Seinfeld in which a mutual friend of Jerry and the gang has a baby that’s apparently just hideous looking. Only Jerry and his friends recognize this while the parents and others keep claiming that the baby is gorgeous. And it brings up a true life observation many people have made – some babies are just ugly.
Not everyone is going to find everyone else appealing to look at, but we tend to fake it with babies because of course we do. They’re babies. But are the parents being honest when they say their child is beautiful? No. No, they’re not.
About 20% of parents actually think they have an ugly baby. This is backed up by separate research that concluded people don’t actually find newborns all that cute, especially compared to older babies. The younger the baby is, the more likely someone is to think they’re ugly.
Does it matter if you think you have an ugly child? It might if you’re the ugly baby in question. Research from a Canadian doctor into shopping cart safety noted once that parents tend to neglect ugly kids more than attractive ones. Ugly children were left unattended more often in grocery stores and were less likely to be buckled into a shopping cart for safety.
7. One-Third of Parents Thinks Family Time is Boring
Did your family ever have a night for family fun? The forced “family time” thing where everyone has to do something? A lot of kids seem to hate it but if your parents made you do it, take comfort knowing that there’s a good chance they hated it, too.
About one-third of parents in a UK study admit that they find family time boring. One fifth say they don’t even know how to play with their kids. The same data shows that one in 10 kids know their parents hate it, too.
Parents in the study blamed their jobs, housework and video games for why they can’t engage with their kids. If you think playing video games with kids is the key, like one in three parents thought, you should know that 9 in 10 kids said they didn’t like playing games with their parents and would rather do it alone.
6. Multiple Studies Show Parents Have a Favorite Kid
If you have a sibling, chances are you asked your parents which one of you they liked best at one point. And your parents probably used the tried-and-true line of loving you equally. If you suspected that was a lie to spare someone’s feelings, you are probably correct. Multiple studies have confirmed that parents absolutely have a favorite kid.
One study revealed that 74% of mothers and 70% of fathers reported having a favorite child.
Kids aren’t stupid and they can see parents treating them differently. But there’s research to suggest that while they’re right about parents having a favorite, they’re often wrong about who it is. Adult children are wrong 60% of the time when asked about who their aging parent would prefer as a caregiver, for instance.
5. Parents Pay Boys More Allowance Than Girls
Out in the working world, the pay gap has been a known issue for years now. There have been studies for years that show women are paid less than men for doing the same work, sometimes over 15% less overall. Less well known is that this seems to start at home.
When parents pay their children an allowance, boys get paid more than girls. In one study it was found boys got paid twice as much allowance as girls for doing weekly chores. The study covered 10,000 families, so it was not a small sampling.
Boys were given chores considered more physically demanding, like mowing a lawn. Girls more often had to do things like cleaning dishes and bathrooms. Weirdly enough, boys were also paid for “jobs” that girls were not – things like brushing their teeth and bathing.
Another survey showed parents are more likely to pay boys at all than girls. 67% of boys receive an allowance while only 59% of girls do.
4. 9 out of 10 Gen X Parents Think Their Kids Will Get Scholarships
It’s good to believe in your child but sometimes that has financial consequences. Research shows that many Gen X parents are still carrying their own student debt as their teenage kids prepare to go to college. Because they have their own debts, they are less able to afford to help pay tuition. This has resulted in a whopping 9 out of 10 Gen X parents believing their kids will qualify for scholarships or grants, which is not realistic.
Just under 60% of students can rely on scholarships while around 50% need loans, throwing off those Gen X plans.
3. Parents, For Years, Have Had No Idea What Kids Do Online
Once upon a time, when the internet had settled in as a ubiquitous part of everyday life, there used to be regular campaigns advising parents to be aware of what their kids did online. At some point this slipped by the wayside. Maybe it was because the next generation of kids grew up with the internet and their parents had all had it in high school and felt too comfortable understanding the ins and outs. Whatever it was, parents now are largely blind to what their kids do online. It’s been that way for years.
Back in 2010, only 5% of parents thought their kids were playing games online. The actual number was 77%.
One study in 2016 showed that only 13% of teens thought their parents had any idea what they did online. 60% of teens had profiles on apps that their parents knew nothing about compared to just 28% of parents who thought their kids might.
Showing a disconnect, 67% of parents said they had a rule that their kids had to report anything they saw online that made them uncomfortable but just 32% of kids thought they had that rule. This mirrors similar results from Ireland where 64% of parents didn’t know if their kids had ever experienced something upsetting online.
As recently as 2022, the difference between what parents think and what their kids do is prevalent. 89% of parents say they keep a close eye on what their kids do but just 32% of kids say their parents are monitoring them.
2. Most Parents Have No Idea How Well Their Kids Are Doing in School But Think they Do
Did your parents have blinders on when it came to how smart and successful you were in school? It’s not uncommon to see this kind of behavior in which a parent has an over-inflated image of their child and thinks they’re better than they are. Most parents want to believe their kids are smart and capable, after all.
According to one study, a full 90% of parents were convinced their children were performing well academically. However, actually results from school showed only 29% of 8th graders were proficient in reading at or above their grade level. That gap between belief and reality is enormous.
Because this data came from 2022 a lot of it has been blamed on the pandemic and time lost in the classroom, but it can’t account for all of it. Children’s report cards aren’t accurately informing parents about their children’s performance as we saw earlier with no-zero policies. If a teacher can’t fail a student who isn’t performing well, a parent may never realize how far behind their child really is.
1. Many Parents Regret Their Kid’s Name
According to one study in the UK, about one-third of adults hate their first name. But you have to assume that, like it or not, your parents had a reason behind the name and they really liked it. Except that maybe that’s not true either. Varying surveys have shown that between one in 7 and one in 5 parents actually regret the names they gave their kids.
The reasons a parent disliked the name varied, but it was often because of external reasons. If the name became too popular with other parents or if a celebrity named their baby the same thing, those were reasons a parent might regret their choice. 25% of parents blamed the name being used by others as a reason they didn’t like it anymore.
Other reasons for name regret included people having issues spelling or pronouncing it. That’s something to consider if you come up with novel spelling for a name and have to endure everyone stumbling over trying to say it out loud.
One parent in a survey laid their regrets right at the feet of terrorism thanks to a terrorist group taking the name and sullying it. We have to assume it was little Isis that bore the brunt of that unfortunate coincidence.