The Double Standards of Parenting

Double standards. We all hate them, right? Why should someone expect something of you when they are not willing to do it themselves?

Lately, I’ve been convicted of the double standards I have for my kids. This conviction was compounded when I saw this quote come over my Facebook feed:

Treat yourself the way you would treat a small child.
Feed yourself healthy food.
Make sure you spend time outside.

Put yourself to bed early.
Let yourself take naps.
Don’t say mean things to yourself.
Don’t put yourself in danger (your skull and your heart are still as fragile as eggshells.)

There are so many things that I expect for my children, but when I look at my life…I am not doing them for myself. (No wonder they sometimes have trouble wanting to obey!)

double standards of parenting

Here are a few double standards of parenting that you might need to evaluate in your life.

1. Desserts

I can’t tell you how many times a week I say: “You don’t need dessert after every meal. It’s not healthy for you to be eating sweets all the time.”

Now I’ve got a killer sweet tooth…so they get that honest. But I am guilty of indulging with a bowl of ice cream (*my weak spot*) before bed more than I’d like to admit.

Sometimes I need to remind myself that, just like my kids, I don’t need dessert every night and it’s not healthy for ME to be eating sweets all the time. When I find myself taking desserts away from the kids then turn around and eat them myself…I might be holding a double standard.

2. Cokes*

Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I love a large fountain Coke Zero or Diet Coke. (79 cent gas station fountain drinks anyone?)

One of my first instincts when I’m thirsty is to grab a coke can. However, whenever my kids are thirsty I tell them they need to drink something healthy and without sugar. This is one of my huge double standards of parenting!

Cokes are “special treats” in our house for the kiddos yet for the parents in the house it looks like we have lots of special occasions throughout the day! I am challenging myself to start treating cokes as a special drink and opting for water or juice when I’m thirsty. (My daughter and I are even going to have a competition to see who can drink the most water each day! We might give these infusion water bottles a try too.)

*note: cokes = any sort of pop, soda, or soft drink. (I’m from the south y’all!)

3. Sleep

Most kids have a pretty set bedtime and sleep schedule. Why? Because we know they need sleep for their growth and development, but also for their emotional state the following day.

We want them to be alert and focused for school — ready to absorb what they are learning. It’s also a safeguard to decrease the amount of whining and complaining that stems from sleepiness.

So why don’t we set this same standard for ourselves?! (If you are one of the disciplined ones who goes to bed at the same time every night and gets your full 8+ hours of sleep I commend you…and might be just slightly jealous!).

For me, I find I am more patient, calm, rested, alert, and productive after a good night’s rest. This double standard of parenting can drastically affect your family dynamics positively if you hold yourself to the same standard of sleep as your kids.

4. Screen Time

I started to make this heading TV, then realized that I could generalize it to screen time as a whole and make the same point.

You probably try to limit the amount of time your child is in front of a TV, iPod, or a video game. But do you try and limit your own? Do you immediately binge on Netflix as soon as the kids are down and settled for the night? Do you set aside your phone or computer to take advantage of being outside even when you don’t have the kids around?

Don’t tell your kids “we don’t need to be in front of the TV all day” then let them find you frequently sitting in front of the TV or playing on your phone. Try to be more active, creative, and disconnected together as a family.

5. Undivided Attention

This can be one of the trickier double standards of parenting. As a parent you have a lot of responsibilities you are juggling, but do you struggle to give your kids your undivided attention? Do you look them in the eyes when they are talking to you? Do you even look in their general direction?

Our daughter is about to enter Kindergarden, and we have been working hard at having her look at us (and her teachers, friends, adults, etc) when they are talking with her. “Please look at me when I’m speaking to you.”

Yet numerous times a day my kids are talking to me, and I am busy washing the dishes, finishing up a work email, changing a sibling’s diaper, or whatever else you could expect. But how can I expect her to learn proper communication and respect when I’m not even doing it myself? Take 30 seconds to stop what you are doing, turn your body towards your child, look them in the eye, and acknowledge that you are listening. It will make a world of a difference!


Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg for the double standards of parenting. We all do it. Don’t be legalistic about it or beat yourself up for your actions; however, do take time to evaluate when you are asking your kids to do things that they don’t ever see you demonstrate yourself. Then challenge yourself to work on it.

Shoot me a note in the comments and tell us where you find yourself holding some other double standards of parenting.


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  • Lost Without Him

    As the mom who regularly tells my kids that only moms can have cookies for breakfast, I find this post very relevant. Time to set an example for them to follow!

    • Brad Bridges

      You can send the cookies to our house. We would be happy to help. 🙂 Great job taking the post and applying it, @lostwithouthim:disqus.

    • Lindsey Bridges

      This one made me laugh!

  • Honordads

    Actions have always spoken louder than words.

    • Brad Bridges

      Agreed, @honordads:disqus. What advice do you have to better align actions with words?

  • Augusto Aniano

    Thanks Lindsey! You opened my eyes to what I’ve been doing lately. Time to start living what we want to teach our kids. Enjoyed it!