My Daughter Is An Idiot, and Other Things You Shouldn’t Say


Often tv, movies, and books depict daughters as lovable idiots, but in real life there’s really nothing lovable, or funny, about having idiotic daughters. However, saying ‘my daughter is an idiot’, and similar put downs, is not okay, either!

Parents who say ‘my daughter is an idiot’ or similar put downs are reacting out of frustration and disappointment. Yet, responding with negative assaults about your daughter will only produce negative results. For positive change parents must focus on the undesired behavior instead of her.

As a mom of a daughter, as well as a daughter myself, I know first hand what it feels like to not only disappoint or aggravate my parents, but also what it’s like on the receiving end. I also know that at no time does name-calling work for good as a response.

Why You Shouldn’t Say ‘My Daughter Is An Idiot’

Parents are human so we (they) are apt now and then to making mistakes. However, there are just certain lines you don’t cross…certain passes you don’t get to take no matter the circumstances. And name-calling is one of those.

At no time is it acceptable for parents to say ‘my daughter is an idiot’ or any other put down. Even under extreme situations or conditions, parents should refrain from insulting their children. Besides it not being helpful, it also typically exacerbates existing problems while propagating more.

And there’s a plethora of research to support this, too. From research linking low self-esteem to parents who are “more critical and psychologically controlling” to research that connects childhood depression to family name-calling.

From teen drug and alcohol abuse to aggression and suicidal ideation, parents who belittle or put down their children create a destructive home full of fallout for their children.

And it’s even worse when name-calling and bullying comes from your parents. Carl E Pickhardt Ph.D., author of Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence (on Audible with a free trial membership), says: parents are the most powerful social force in a child’s world, including teenagers!

So it’s even more imperative that daughters feel safe, not bullied, by their parents!

Her daughter is an idiot!
Credit: Parks and Recreation (2009) – S04E10 Citizen Knope

Conditions that lead to this

Of course, most parents want the best for their daughters and truly are their biggest cheerleaders. So then, how does it come down to parents calling their daughters idiots?

Sometimes this situation arises because we’ve taught our daughters to be independent. I know this doesn’t initially make sense, but hear me out. Even though this is meant with the best of intentions, there are instances when a false sense of independence and confidence has led daughters to act rashly and irresponsibly, especially problematic when combined with a lack of or diminished skillset.

For example, upon high school graduation I set off to the beach with my friends, a 7-8 hour drive despite my parents’ protestations. This was pre-cell phone and internet days, making it all the more worrisome. I felt independent and adult in my behavior, yet when our car broke down mid-way between home and sand, my friends and I had no clue how to handle it. We literally knew nothing about car maintenance, nor about tow trucks, navigating broken down cars on freeways, repair estimations and so on! In my act of defiance/independence, truly, I was acting like an idiot!

Now fortunately for me, my parents didn’t call me an idiot (at least to my face) upon me calling them for help, but all the same, my behavior was impulsive and un-smart! After aiding my friends and me to get back home safely, they were able to talk to me rationally about how costly my actions were and luckily, the bad situation turned into a lesson learned for the future!

If you are having trouble with your children, we have an extensive holistic parenting course just for you. Check out our Have A Peaceful Home Without Yelling video course here.

How to head off idiotic behavior

So what are parents to do when their daughters act like idiots? Well, there’s a balance between supporting your kids’ ambitions and crushing them…or locking them in their rooms til they’re 30!

Rather than promote your daughter to act irresponsibly, talk with her about expectations, adjusting for her age. Discuss her plans and ideas, going over scenarios to check that she’s prepared and ready to tackle what may arise.

Remember, part of your job as a parent is to guide your child, so that she feels secure to try new things or take chances, but you also want her to recognize her limitations (based particularly on life experience and age).

For example, if your daughter wants to study abroad (something typical for high school and college age students), then encourage her to study the language and culture in advance. She should be familiar with local customs and be able to converse easily enough to get around or shop without assistance. And if your daughter balks at this, focus on her behavior, not on calling her names!

Related article Why Parents Send Their Child to Study Abroad: We Did It!

Never Say ‘My Daughter Is A Drama Queen’

Anytime you see a parent-child situation on Dr. Phil, you’re likely to hear parents saying things to their kids that they shouldn’t.

Now that we understand a cause-and-effect relationship between your daughter acting like an idiot and your relationship to her, let’s look at a few other negative but common put downs parents sometimes use. For instance, parents should not say ‘my daughter is a drama queen!’

Parents calling daughters drama queen is not acceptable or helpful. Though some may use it as a pet name or a sign of indulgence, it’s actually hurtful and demeaning. As well, a drama queen persona is oft used to disguise insecurities or mental illness, so parents are cautioned to keep that in mind.

Let’s look at a couple scenarios regarding drama queen behavior and how best to handle those.

Drama Queens Are Personality Driven

On a lesser scale, some daughters may seem like ‘drama queens’ because they have more flamboyant personalities. Some common traits might be exuberant, social/people person, enjoys parties and get togethers, and theatrical.

But on the other hand, these traits can manifest as gossips, attention seekers, overreactors, and controlling. So what’s a parent to do?

Rather than discourage these traits in your daughters, or promote the negatives, help your daughter channel her personality and behavior positively.

For instance, enjoy social outings together, have impromptu celebrations as well as holiday parties, and provide outlets for her energy like sports or theater involvement.

Truly, being a ‘drama queen’ doesn’t have to be a negative; yet we all know calling your daughter ‘drama queen’ sure is!

Drama Queens May Be Hiding Personality Disorders

On a bigger scale, however, signs of a drama queen may actually be signs of a mental illness or personality disorder.

Someone who is very controlling, goes from 0 to 10 in seconds, excessively emotional, or extremely attention seeking may be bipolar, narcissistic, or even psychopathic-not just a drama queen.

It’s also possible that someone with drama queen tendencies has experienced child abuse and/or neglect.

If your situation involves the more extreme versions of drama queen behavior mentioned here, then the best way to deal with it is with expert help. As parents, you need to speak with your child’s doctors about personality concerns just like you would any health concern. It’s your obligation.

And again, at no point is calling your daughter a drama queen helpful, productive, or loving.

For more articles on daughters, try these:

You’re the Mean One Saying ‘My Daughter Is A Mean Girl’

The movie Mean Girls (2004) focused on mean girl behavior in a comical way, pointing out it’s ridiculousness as well as how it’s mean to everyone, including the one instigating it.

Sometimes parents notice their daughter is the mean one in the group. What should parents do to address this?

Calling your daughter a mean girl is not only belittling and unproductive, but can also be misconstrued as a veiled compliment. When your daughter acts mean, it’s important for parents to address the behavior immediately and clearly, while not withholding love or affection from their child.

Mean girl mentality is someone who makes fun of, teases, or bullies others. Whether it’s her family, friends, or strangers, daughters who behave meanly are usually covering for their own insecurities or self-loathing and many times suffer from eating disorders.

Instead of parents calling their daughters a ‘mean girl’ or ‘bad girl’, they should focus on the undesirable act, just as with other cases of negative behavior. Mean girls lack empathy, which is not always easy to teach, but it can be done, so this is one way to start. (Source: Harvard Graduate School of Education)

And just as with extreme drama behavior, extreme mean behavior can actually be a sign of mental illness or personality disorders, so if this is a concern, seek help from your family doctor as soon as possible!

And Lastly, Avoid Saying ‘My Daughter Is A Brat’

Lastly, one of the most common complaints from parents once their daughters reach school age is bratty behavior. Whether it’s our sons or daughters, though, all children from time to time act like brats. However, some continue the behavior longer than others.

When parents have daughters or sons who consistently act like brats, it’s a reflection of parenting. Children are evidence of parenting practices, good and bad. If children regularly misbehave and act bratty, it’s time for parents to adjust expectations and follow-through, without name-calling.

Let’s look briefly at a few scenarios and how parents can be more proactive towards combatting bratty behavior inside and outside the home.

Bratty Behavior At Home

Brattiness rears its ugly head at home in the form of kids not wanting to eat their veggies, clean their room, or play nice with their siblings. It’s demonstrated when daughters pout, roll their eyes, talk back, or knock over toys.

We’ve all seen it, but depending on how we react determines how often it occurs.

For instance, I remember one time when our daughter was a freshman in high school we had to confront her bratty behavior over a disagreement about her clothes. Yet, we didn’t resort to put downs. We discussed her attitude, explained our position calmly, and in the end, we’re the parents and called the shots, not her.

So the next time your daughter acts bratty, focus on her behavior. Don’t say, ‘stop being a brat!’ Instead say ‘stop poking your brother’ if that’s the problem. And if she rolls her eyes at you, call it out immediately. Don’t overlook or excuse the br-attitude!

Related article Dealing With A Disrespectful Daughter: 8, 16, 21 Years Old

Bratty Behavior Out of the Home

Sometimes bratty behavior only happens when you leave the home. It’s as if daughters think parents are too embarrassed to address it in front of strangers.

Don’t fall for that!

Whether she’s eye rolling, deep sighing, or talking sarcastically, parents need to be consistent and address it just as they would if at home. In fact, if the behavior doesn’t improve, I suggest you take your daughter home, away from the outside source she’s finding so encouraging.

Regardless, just as with all situations involving your children, refrain from ever using put downs, insults, or bad names in an attempt to thwart negative behavior. After all, this is your child and you want to use the most supportive techniques to help her become her best self, and resorting to idiot, drama queen, or brat won’t do it!

Just for Fun: Examples of Idiots, Drama Queens, Mean Girls, & Brats

  • demanding Veruca of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
  • spoiled Hilary from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
  • ditzy Mallory from iconic sitcom, Family Ties
  • bratty Angelica from Nickelodeon’s The Rugrats
  • over-the-top Nellie from The Little House On The Prairie tv series (and books)
  • murdering Josephine in Agatha Christie’s Crooked House
  • scheming Veda in Mildred Pierce
  • naïve Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
  • sleezy Kelly from Married…With Children

The Takeaway for ‘My Daughter Is An Idiot, and Other Things You Shouldn’t Say’

There are going to be times when daughters act like idiots, drama queens, mean girls, or brats. However, daughters are not idiots, drama queens, mean girls, or brats. There’s a distinction here that’s important for parents to grasp. And it’s vital for your daughter’s well-being.

Keep in mind that extremes of these behaviors could indicate more serious issues such as mental illness or personality disorders. If there’s ever a concern, discuss it with your family doctors.

Jackie Booe

Jackie Booe is a Catholic mother of four, grandmother ("Oma") to two, and wife to Mat since 1994. She is a former public school teacher of 18 years, licensed in 3 states and certified to teach elementary, secondary English, and English Language Learners. In addition, she also taught education courses online as an adjunct professor, mentored numerous education interns, hosted professional development for educators, and tutored, as well as homeschooled.

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