What To Do When You Think Your Son An Idiot


From mainstream media to everyday conversations, it’s almost expected nowadays to think your son an idiot, especially the older he gets, but is that really okay? What should parents do if their son starts acting like an idiot, or worse yet, when they start thinking of their son as an idiot?

Despite current social norms, it’s not acceptable for parents to think their son an idiot. Parents think this out of disappointment and frustration, not out of love. Whether he’s a toddler or adult doesn’t matter, parents’ concern should always be focused on the well being of their child.

As a mom of three sons, I’ve certainly experienced disappointment and frustration with their choices and behavior. Let me share with you what I’ve learned from my own mistakes of handling that, as well as some successes too.

Why You Think Your Son An Idiot

Have you noticed the modern trend of male bashing? Or at least, thinking them incompetent children, even when they have gray hair? Well, this is starting at even a younger age!

Modern media perpetuates a low opinion of males, finding excuses to poke fun at them for just about anything. And the rest of us have followed suit. From parents justifying persistent immaturity to men falling into the traps of poor expectations, it’s the norm to think of sons as idiots.

Why is this, exactly? I believe that what may have started off slowly as an indulgent attitude (‘boys will be boys’ thinking) has gradually and consistently overtime morphed into a belief that all males, big and small, are inferior. And this is not good for our sons!

To dive deeper into this thought process, I recommend Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity by Gary Cross, found at Amazon in both print and Kindle versions. It’s about this newer social phenomenon of elevating male adult immaturity, where it’s not only acceptable but encouraged to shuck responsibility and embrace the ‘inner boy’.

And again, this is not good for our sons! Read on to learn why it’s unhealthy for boys, physically and internally to set the bar low, to think them deficient, to call them idiots!

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.

Why It’s Important To Not Call Your Son An Idiot

Growing up a child of the 80s, I lived through the era of ‘After School Specials’ addressing tween and teen issues like eating disorders, parental divorce, bullying, and alcoholism. It was decades later that verbal abuse became recognized as just as detrimental.

Verbal abuse especially from a parent can be just as harmful as physical abuse to children. Research tells us that long lasting effects of verbal abuse include depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Even if parents call sons idiot in jest, it should be avoided.

It’s also linked to higher rates of physical aggression, delinquency, and social problems for children, especially sons. (Source: Harvard ED)

“Verbal abuse really has a long-term effect on a child,”

Barbara Rawn of Prevent Child Abuse America, Chicago

Thus, even if it’s intended in fun or thought of as a not-so-mean way to point out failings, calling sons idiot or any derogatory ‘name’ is not good parenting. It’s not a way to correct bad behavior or point out better choices. In fact, it does way more harm than good!

Sticks and stones may break my bones,

But names will never hurt me. …is simply not true!

Suggestions for resisting name-calling:

  • Take a breath and pause before resorting to name-calling.
  • Go for a walk or just move into another room if you need a moment before addressing your son.
  • Rather than say, ‘you’re an idiot for doing that’, try ‘I’ statements like ‘I don’t like when you…’
  • Send your son to his room until you and your spouse can discuss a proper response.
  • Put yourself in your son’s shoes and think ‘what would I have done at his age.’ Empathy doesn’t excuse bad behavior, but it helps you understand his thought process.

Related article: My Son Is Failing (Different Stages & Ages Addressed)

The Problem With Thinking Your Son An Idiot

Besides long lasting effects of verbal abuse, and yes, calling sons idiot is abuse, there are other problems with thinking your sons an idiot. So let’s look at a few of the more prominent ones.

Problems with thinking your son an idiot should deter you from ever believing it’s a good idea. First, it’s often parents’ fault when sons act like idiots. As well, thinking your son an idiot leads to perpetuating his poor choices. It’s more prudent for parents to be proactive in helping their sons.

Parents should focus their energies on turning ‘idiotic moments’ into ‘teachable moments.’ This means to use the bad choice or behavior as an opportunity to teach your son what he should do instead and how that would be better for him, temporarily and long-term.

Sometimes It’s Your Fault Your Son Is An Idiot

Some research indicates parental support as instrumental in regulating emerging adult behavior, particularly in regards to impulsivity and decision-making. In simpler terms, this means parents have a direct connection to how their children turn out, and the choices they make both as children and even later, as adults.

This doesn’t mean poor choices are all because of parents and that sons have no responsibility; no, not at all. But it does mean parents and children are tied together, and so are their choices. And this really shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us, but it’s gratifying to see that research backs it up.

So the next time your child does something idiotic, or you find yourself thinking, ‘he’s such an idiot!’, ask yourself what you did to contribute to it. You may find that reflecting on your part in the undesirable behavior is quite insightful!

How To Help Your Son From Acting Like An Idiot

Once you’ve thoroughly reflected on your own part in the idiocy as well as considered what your son has done, and put it all in proper perspective, your ready to really address how to help your son.

Helping to prevent idiot moments is really the desired end result, right?

So let’s consider this according to different stages/ages.

Toddler Idiot Moment

I think the first time you may think ‘my son’s an idiot’ will be when he’s a toddler. Let’s face it; toddlers do some idiotic things. But they can’t help it; they’re toddlers after all!

It’s your job as parent to teach your toddler right from wrong, including when something is dumb to do.

A common toddler idiot example is when he sticks something into a wall socket like a toy, your car keys, or his fingers. That’s not a smart thing to do and can potentially be hazardous to health and home. So how’s a toddler to know this?

By you explaining very clearly ‘no, don’t do that’ so that he will never do it again. But more than that, you also have to prevent it from happening by using safety outlet covers like these on Amazon. If you don’t, your toddler son will assuredly try it one more time to test your boundaries (and nerves), but also, if you don’t, you’re the idiot now!

Teen Idiot Moment

All parents at one time or, more than likely, multiple times, think their teen son an idiot. In fact, this is probably the time parents are most guilty of calling their son idiot aloud. Let’s look at an example, and then a suggestion to try instead, when teen sons act like idiots.

Most teen boys look forward to driving the family car, or better yet, driving their own car. As well, most will not do it responsibly either. Rather, they’ll act like an idiot who’s been mistakenly given a license to harm!

When your teen son backs into the garage instead of out of the drive way, you’re going to think he’s an idiot. Likewise, when your teen son runs a stop sign, you’re going to think he’s an idiot.

And when he gets caught for driving over the speed limit…

Scratches the side of the car pulling into a too-tight space…

Dents the fender…

Runs out of gas…

and on and on…

You’ll be tempted to call him an idiot, but resist. It won’t help. Even if you’ll feel better in the short run, the damage to his psyche and your relationship aren’t worth it!

Instead, take back the car keys! Your son isn’t ready to drive and it’s your job to remedy that situation. Otherwise, you’re the idiot!

Adult Son Idiot Moment

Your adult son will also act like an idiot from time to time. However, if you’ve done your job as a parent, idiot moments will be fewer and fewer as your son ages.

One of the more consequential times your adult son will act like an idiot is by quitting his job. Or slacking with his work ethic. You’ll be tempted to tell him he’s being an idiot, but it’s much better if you don’t. Instead ask him about his job, what he likes, doesn’t like, and is looking for career-wise.

In other words, rather than focus on the negative aspects, help your son solidify his career goals through a positive discussion. The outcome is for your son to have a better understanding of his career aspirations, which might mean he looks for a new job, works harder at his old job, or something in between.

You might also like: My Son Is A Sissy- A Masculine Father’s Cure For Effeminacy

Famous Idiot Sons

Remember when I said it’s become an all-too-common modern trend to bash men, starting with idiot sons? Let’s conclude by looking at a few of the most popular idiot sons in recent television.

That 70s Show‘s Idiot Son, Eric

Only son, Eric, of Red and Kitty Foreman commonly makes idiotic choices, and is most often referred to as ‘dumb’ by his disappointed dad.

Eric played by actor Topher Grace is not actually supposed to be the show’s idiot. That distinction is certainly intended for Ashton Kutcher’s character, Kelso. Yet, Eric is often making poor, dumb choices and is frequently berated by his dad, Red, for being a ‘dumb a$$.’

The fact that Eric is written as mediocre, unambitious, and lazy without actually being intended as the dumb character only serves as proof that regular, everyday sons are thought of as idiots, too.

Family Guy‘s Idiot Son, Chris

Son Chris from Fox’s Family Guy is always doing something idiotic.

On Fox’s Family Guy there’s a deranged baby and talking dog that wears clothes and dates humans, but the real idiot is son, Chris.

He’s clueless when it comes to social norms and just as dumb with academics as common sense. Since dad Peter is an idiot too, viewers can see the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Of course, it’s big sis Meg who is the brainiac and socially aware one and mom Lois who is heart and reason of the home.

It has become the alarming social norm to cast dads and sons as idiots in everything from sitcom roles, to movie characters, and abundantly in commercial ads.

Malcolm In The Middle‘s Idiot Son, Reese

Older son, Reese, of Malcolm in the Middle is known for idiotic antics.

And finally, there’s Reese, one of the idiot sons portrayed on Malcolm in the Middle (there is a total of five idiot sons plus idiot Hal, the husband/dad, on this show, keeping in mind that one of the idiots is an identified genius as well).

Reese goes from one idiotic (as well as psychopathic) idea to the next on this series, from sparring with goats to kidnapping a girl to sabotaging a cooking contest to some unspeakable abomination he did that caused Hal and Lois (the parents) to kick him out of the house.

But any fan of Malcolm in the Middle knows all too well the ones to blame for the idiot actions of Reese (as well as his brothers) are Hal and Lois who have to be the worst TV parents ever, making them the real idiots of the show!

A similar reading: My Daughter Is An Idiot, and Other Things You Shouldn’t Say

The Takeaway From Thinking Your Son An Idiot

To end, the main thing to remember about thinking/calling your son an idiot is don’t do it! This not only harms your son in the short and long term, but you are unwittingly playing into a destructive several decade trend to undermine the roles of fathers and sons in the family.

Our families are the most important thing we have and our sons are integral parts of them, even if they mess up from time to time. But don’t we all?

For further reading on sons: What to Know About Sons Who Hate Their Mothers

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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