Grownups Reveal The Things Their Parents Did That Messed Them Up
Kids don't come with user manuals. Even the best, most well-meaning, parent can flub it and do some long term damage to their children without meaning to. Some parents, unfortunately, aren't quite so well-intentioned and they can deal out some damage as well. We're not talking about them, though. Those sorts of things are a bit more overt. We're talking about the little things that otherwise good parents do that can really do a number on the little ones. One Reddit user must have been thinking about their childhood and how it created who they were now, because they asked:
As parents, and people who have/had parents, the answers really made us think and re-evaluate ourselves. Here are twenty of our favorite replies.
Making it really hard to tell them things. My mom always freaks out when I tell her anything, and then as a defense mechanism she makes fun of whatever it is that I've told her.
I switched my major to criminal justice and she freaked out saying well good thing you don't want to be a cop, you were always so sensitive, you'd look pretty dumb crying in the uniform when someone says something mean to you.
The Perfect Angel Complex
Refuse to believe their child could do something wrong. I know a few f*ck ups and their parents are either totally apathetic towards them or no matter what the situation, blame other children or claim its some sort of conspiracy against their child.
Refuse to apologize or admit when they're wrong to their kids or to other people in front of their kids.
Your children will remember all the times you hurt their feelings and then tried to pretend like it never happened. They will remember the cashier you yelled at for a mistake that you made but wouldn't say sorry for. They'll either turn into an assh*le or they'll overcompensate and feel responsible for everything that goes wrong because you set a horrible example.
This Double Dose
My mom was overly paranoid of everything, and my dad refused to acknowledge when he was wrong, take your pick.
Not Your Therapist
My mom didn't have any friends when I was growing up so she used me as her therapist. My mom would ask me what I thought she should do about big life decisions when I was in middle school. It was such a burden on a 12 year old. When I finally told her I didn't want her to do that anymore because it upset me and made me uncomfortable she basically guilted the f--- outta me because "she had no one else to talk to." It also didn't help that most of the time she was venting to me about my own dad.
An Honest Mistake
Screaming at your kid for fessing up to an honest mistake.
I accidentally broke a window when I was 5 and told the truth about it. I was promptly spanked pretty vigorously and sent to my room and told to stay in there.
What did I take away from that? Lie if it prevents you from getting into any sort of trouble. I was a pretty dishonest kid for years after that.
"Why Can't You Be More Like..."
Comparing them to other kids, especially siblings.
No kid likes to hear "Why can't you be more like so and so."
It's just so damaging. Your child is not so and so, they will never be so and so. Just help them along with being who they are.
Have Your Kids Back
Never standing up for them. Parents shouldn't be fixing their kid's every fuck up but they should be there for their kid when they get bullied. It's hard for kids to trust their parents if they can't be certain they have their back.
So much is said about helicopter parenting, but there's also the parent who just can't be bothered and comes up with excuses to do nothing.
If your kid arrives home breathless every day for two weeks and complains that a group of four older bullies chased them all the way home, don't give the kid the third degree under the presumption that your six-year-old must have provoked it, then tell your kid to ignore it and go back to reading your book. That's a cop-out.
Parents Little Doormat
Train their kids to be doormats. Drop what you're doing and do whatever I or any adult you know tells you to is a reasonable rule for a 5 year-old, but tons of parents continue to enforce that upon teenagers because it's more convenient to them for their teenagers to be doormats, and then big shock, they grow up to be adult doormats, unable to stand up for themselves or even assert their own desires.
Once I got to the age where I was formulating my own opinions and not just parroting hers, I realized we were always having two different conversations. I was having a give and take, and she was having a pissing contest. If I said something she didn't like or didn't know how to respond to, she'd shift the focus onto some perceived negative about me and belittle me. Conversations about politics turned into how I'm only a Democrat because I'm entitled. I'm pro-choice because I'm a slut. I'm atheist because I'm lazy and want to be cool. Yadda yadda.
News flash, this just means your kids will stop f*cking talking to you about anything more than the weather. Don't do this.
Too Much Freedom
Giving a kid freedom as a teenager is key. However, giving a kid so much freedom that you essentially check out from any sort of parental role is bad parenting that ultimately leads to the kid trying to make life decisions without any real guidance and somewhat fucks up their life.
It's Their Lives Not Yours
My mother wanted to be a professional tennis player but she wasn't good enough for it. She tried to make me take up tennis but I got out of it because I was also doing Karate at the time and I said if I did both I wouldn't do well in school. Recently, she has managed to mold my brother into liking tennis and she even pays (mostly foreign) college students to play tennis with him and train him. When my cousin and I talked to him about it, he said he didn't even like Tennis and he was just being forced to live out her unfulfilled dream.
Making sex and sexual anatomy taboo. Parents who refuse to talk to their kids and write it off as "embarrassing" are doing their kids a huge disservice,
I actually just posted a PSA about it in the parenting sub yesterday. My son woke up yesterday with extreme pain in his testicles. We ended up rushing to the hospital and found out his has testicular torsion. They were able to do surgery and he'll be as good as new shortly. The doctor told us that his last 3 cases of testicular torsion involved having to remove the testicle because the person waited to long. All three were teens around my son's age and all were too embarrassed to speak up sooner. Don't do that to your kids. It could cost them their ball(s).
Besides the obvious abusive answers, invading the kid's privacy. My mom (along with many other parents) would read my texts sometimes and confront me about them. I never felt comfortable locking my door, it was always associated with being angry or spiteful. I didn't even realize knocking was normal.
It kind of messed up my idea of privacy in relationships. Didn't really think snooping was that wrong for a while.
Older Siblings Are Not Parents
Pass on the bulk of the parenting of younger siblings onto the older ones. You signed up for this and it is incredibly gross to expect your child to take on an unpaid part to full time job because you didn't realize it would be a lot of work.
With any luck, your child will only resent you and not their siblings.
"Clean Your Plate"
Forcing your kids to eat when they're not hungry is really, really unhealthy.
I know so many people (myself included) who had parents or grandparents who insisted they "clean their plate". Growing up, I didn't really eat when I was hungry. I ate at mealtimes, and I ate everything on my plate. That's just how I was brought up.
My parents meant well, I know. They fed me pretty healthy foods, so it's not like I was being force-fed Big Macs. They didn't want me to waste food and they wanted to make sure I was getting enough nutrition. So I don't fault their intentions.
But it's only now, when I'm almost 30, that I'm actually figuring out how to decide whether or not I'm actually hungry. I ate "by the clock" for so long that I never really learned how to pay attention to my own body and follow its cues for deciding when to eat and how much. I'm working on that now, but it's surprisingly difficult to figure that stuff out when you're not used to it.
Lots of people end up with lifelong weight issues because they had parents or family members who pushed them to ignore what their body was telling them and just keep eating past the point of satiation. It's really hard to unlearn that shit.
Parents should, as much as possible, let their kids decide when to eat and how much they want to eat. I think it's OK to impose some restrictions, like telling your kid, "If you don't want to eat anymore of your lunch, that's OK, but you won't be getting anything else until dinnertime." But you have to let kids stop eating when they decide they aren't hungry anymore.
Yelling. There's very little reason to yell, it's one of the easier ways out of a hard situation. If your child's doing something wrong then reason with them as a parent talking to a child, don't jump straight to yelling at them to stop without any rhyme or reason.
Even if it's something they didn't do wrong like got lost or they got hurt, why yell at them over your concern for them being okay? Why make them feel worse, and that it's their fault?
Obviously it's hard and the fact that you have to do it every day, all the time is even harder, but try your best to be that role model for your kids. Don't have them grow up and shutter or cringe every time they hear a loud noise or loud footsteps. There's no reason to grow anxiety into a child.
Say something incredibly damaging to a child's self esteem (ie "You're fat and you need to lose weight etc") and then when the child speaks up about their hurt feelings about it, turn the blame on them and cover up their words under the guise of "It's just tough love"
Just that phrase in particular "It's just tough love" alone really screwed me up for the longest time. Because I just kept taking verbal abuse after verbal abuse from my mom for years thinking it was just "tough love"
Caving To Tantrums
Give in when kid is being demanding or throwing a tantrum. And I don't mean giving in once in a while to keep the peace in a public place, I mean every time.
I found a dollar outside once when I was about 9, I was with my 4-5 year old neighbor who got really jealous and demanded I give it to her. I refused (I found a dollar and I'm a 9 year old that's a big deal!) and she ran home to her mom upset and about to cry. Her mom tried to explain that I found it, so it was mine only one time before she solved the issue by grabbing a dollar from her purse and tossing it into the bushes while her daughters back was turned. "Hey look! There's another one! Now you found one too!"
That kid was a nightmare with a very warped definition of "fairness."
If it were an isolated incident I wouldn't have thought twice. It was not, she was spoiled rotten and her favorite way to handle "no" was hitting, scratching, hair pulling, and biting. Discipline wasn't really a thing in her house. She was an actual nightmare child and she didn't outgrow it for a long, long time.
Also consider this: the lesson this little girl is learning is that the world will bend to her will whenever she gets upset, not only will Mom and Dad give her what she demands, but apparently so will the universe.