There are an almost infinite number of ways to be a bad parent. Like most teachers, I have witnessed a fair few of these. Why should we be surprised at this? After all, apart from pretty rudimentary biological equipment we need no great qualities to become parents; and, as is often pointed out, there is no definitive manual on how to get it right.
So to be the worst parent takes someone special, a person who goes over and above routine negligence and incompetence.
Such an accolade I reserve for Carol, mother of Kirsty, aged seven. Carol would not think of herself as a bad parent. Indeed, she would be horrified by the idea. But Carol was a shocker.
Kirsty had no self-confidence; Carol had lots, confidence clearly not being hereditary. Carol was full of herself and could solve everyone's problems if only they let her. Carol could talk endlessly about this and frequently did.
Meanwhile, under Carol's nose, Kirsty was emotionally inhibited and intellectually stunted. Carol didn't notice, being too concerned about her own place at the centre of the universe.
Kirsty had some sort of breakdown and we didn't see her at school for a while. Carol wrote to the head and said she wasn't impressed with the school and my teaching in particular. It was a very long and articulate letter and I was impressed. Here was someone who could use all the buzzwords with fluency and was clever at locating accountability for emotional damage.
After all, Carol was a trained psychotherapist and successful relationship counsellor. And, quite comfortably, the worst parent I have ever encountered.
The writer is a primary teacher in Kent. Send your worst parent stories to firstname.lastname@example.org and you could earn #163;50 in MS vouchers.