21 Things Parents Swore They'd Never Do (And Did Anyway) (2023)

We've all been there: you're tired, you're overwhelmed, then one of your kids makes a move and it's the last straw. Words you swore you would never use as a parent escape your mouth.

Or maybe you are re-evaluating your priorities. Limiting junk food or screen time may not be your number one goal every day.


It's good to think about your intentions as a parent, but you don't want your expectations to be so rigid that they can't adjust to the moment you or your child is facing.

"Fatherhood Isn't Static," New York Psychologist and Parenting CoachSarah Brentold HuffPost.

“It takes a lot of learning, adapting, iterating and tolerating chaotic growth (of our children and our own). It rarely looks like it does in our imaginations in real life," she explained.

Whether others do the judging or ourselves, it's important to remember that no single moment determines our worth as parents.

Cindy Graham, a psychologist from Maryland, told HuffPost, "We often think that the purpose of parenting is to raise happy, healthy, well-rounded children. We sometimes forget that parenting is also about learning to show grace—to ourselves and to our children - and teach children to show grace. You will say things you never thought you would, so learn to apologize and make amends effectively.”


If you've ever felt alone about not living up to your own expectations as a parent, read on. We asked parents what they promised themselves they would never do — and then they did. We bet every parent can relate to at least one of these scenarios.

I just gave my son a piece of fruit at 7:50 am to bribe him to poop before school

Put this on the list of things I swore I would never do as a parent lmao

– Nessa 🦋 (@n0tNESSAsarily)September 9, 2022


"I swore my kids would never eat at McDonald's. Sometimes I just don't feel like cooking." —Patty Van Laar

"That I wouldn't cook them separate meals, they would eat what we eat. uhh yeah So what's it for tonight kids? Chicken Nuggets or Mac'n'Cheese? Honestly, it's because I haven't figured out how to cook a meal yet for adults who can also be at the table at 6 pm. I work full time from 9 am to 5 pm and kids deserve to eat at a time that fits their schedule and hunger. There just aren't enough hours in the day!” —what karchia

“Breastfeeding for more than a year. I didn't know babies don't wean themselves. My boys breastfed until they were two and a half!” —Jean Wolfers-Lawrence


"Hotdogs." -Sara Biehl Horsman

"I swore I would always have sweets out there, all you can eat. Needless to say, no!" —Gretchen Cooper

“Have dinner at 8 pm because of the children's activities and practices. I never imagined we'd be so busy as a family that dinner would be at 8pm on a school night. But it's the norm most of the year now and I'm fine with that." —Renee Colleen

“We wanted to have dinner together at the table every day! No electronics! sigh." -Kate Morris


"I swore my kids would never sleep in my bed, they would always sleep in their cribs. My son will be 9 in April and he just stopped sleeping in my bed regularly last year." —Desiree Dalby

"Sleep together. I thought you'd just let her cry it out and find out - until I worked two jobs while my husband worked the night shift and I needed to sleep. I started at 2 and I don't know why I didn't start sooner. He slept and I slept . We did this until he was 6/7 and took him back to his room." —Amanda Krieger-Royer


“My first was sleeping in her room at 7 months old! I thought I had mastered this parenting thing. And then my second son came and he slept in our room every night (and in our bed at least three times a week) until he was two and a half!” —Michael Lempek Rosa

"Lie down with them until they fall asleep." —Jordana Oswald

screen time

"I looked at people in public and thought, 'My son will never bring a tablet in public.' Ten years later, I said, 'A tablet is a must if we're dining in public. 2 years old.' I totally understand and apologize to all the parents I let go of ten years ago." —Amanda Manley

toys and clothes

"I swore we wouldn't have a playroom full of toys. I was a firm believer that kids' rooms were where their toys belong. They can just play in their rooms! Fast forward to me having three kids and we've transformed our dining room in a playroom. Our children are young so we need them close by for safety reasons. There is no way they can play unsupervised in their rooms on the second floor." —Betsey Niebauer

"I said I would never dress my kids in clothes that featured TV characters/shows for example. For example 'Paw Patrol', Spidey etc. I said my son wouldn't be a walking advertisement. It wasn't until I saw how she was excited and happy to wear a T-shirt with Chase on it." —Catarina C. R.


"I vowed never to say 'because I said so'. Well, I have about 10 minutes of 'me time' a day and I don't use it to repeat the same things I've said to you in another conversation. I'm the dad, you it's the son, sometimes you have to live with that answer.” —Rachel Bowie Mace


"I swore I would never have one of those 'those' kids who throw a tantrum at the supermarket because they won't buy a Twizzler or a toy. So naive!" -Jennifer Stark

"I never thought I would tell my son not to talk to me like I was his friend (something my own mother would say to me) and the words definitely came out of my mouth!" —Naomi Raquel

"I swore I would never yell at her. Well, let me tell you, in my early 20s, I had no idea how frustrating being a parent was and, man, I screamed and screamed. I wish I hadn't. done that, but it happens." —Danielle Butler Shearin

the collar

"I remember saying how ridiculous the infant collars/harnesses/backpacks/wristbands were. Oooh I was so judgmental. Anyway, life gave me a runner at 15 months so of course we used a backpack harness and I got looks, but well, he's alive and well." —Cindy Montalvo

"My first child was cold, but my second child? Not so much. This kid would have walked into traffic without a second thought. The collar was a godsend. Honestly, I didn't care what people thought. It helped him. to stay alive." —Amy Kristine


"I sat there judging all the people who put their kids on a leash like OMG get a dog if you want to wear a leash. Until my 14 month old daughter didn't want to sit in the stroller anymore and she was a runner too. Then I needed a leash and some running shoes and off we went!" —Courtney Entersz Wenhold

Responses have been edited for style and clarity.

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