Background: Offsprings of psychiatric patients are burdened and they are at risk of developing a mental disorder themselves. Methods: All admissions in a psychiatric hospital within a period of 6 months were screened for parenthood of underaged children. They were given standardized questionnaires for child behavior (SDQ), parenting behavior and subjective need for help in parenting. Results: 21.5 % (N = 439) of the patients had underaged children, 194 patients participated in the study. They considered their children as having more psychological/behavioral problems than a control group (N = 97). Patients with personality or affective disorders and patients with a high level of psychiatric comorbidity rated their children most problematic. Although patients did not differ from controls in the evaluation of their parenting style, they expressed a higher need for help in parenting. Conclusion: Parenting and education issues need to be considered in the treatment of mentally ill patients. Effective support could be a relief for families and help to prevent mental disorders in offsprings.