My worst parent - World turned upside down

15th October 2010 at 01:00

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 and you could earn #163;50 in MS vouchers.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today