People Share The Most Common Signs That Someone Grew Up With Sh*tty Parents
Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

Family is meant to love you, protect you and make you feel like you matter.

At least that is what good parents do.

It's so sad when you see people who have been traumatized throughout life by the people they were meant to be their champions.

Being a kid can be heartbreaking.

Redditor Melon-Kolly wanted to discuss all the obvious traits that can be detected when one hasn't been blessed with parents that cared enough. So they asked:

"What are some common signs that someone grew up with sh*tty parents?"

I'm blessed to have a great parent. So my heart goes out to everyone on this list.


"Emotional numbness especially in the face of bad things. Once you've seen enough crap certain things just don't faze you anymore."


"Not in terms of parental neglect but spousal neglect. I lived with my (soon to be ex) husband on the other side of the world for family."

"I had emergency gallbladder removal surgery unexpectedly and then my mom died of stage 4 cancer 8 days later. It was Covid times so I couldn’t travel home of course. I never cried. I didn’t want his fake support. We FaceTimed in for the funeral/burial and I didn’t shed a tear. I was completely devastated but couldn’t cry because I knew it was pointless."


And you are?

"Having no desire to see them."


"Mom dropped me off at 14 across the USA with no money or place to live. Then didn’t talk to me for 6 years. Wonders why I won’t speak with her after she threatened to shoot me for getting 2 extra pieces of firewood then she told me I could have."



"They lie. Lies specifically for avoiding conflict. Actually, I change my answer to Avoiding Conflict. It's avoidance until an explosion. It's all they know. Some personal reference, I used to lie so frequently it was easier than remembering the truth. I would get mad at characters on TV for being so bad at coming up with a plausible denial. One day I decided I was broken and now I won't lie."

"I tell the truth all the time and it's so calming. My spouse (also shite parents) will lie about anything money related (thanks in-laws!) but he's so bad at it and never covers his tracks. Like, come on. At least have some childhood trauma that makes you good at it. For real, he just says everything was on sale, I've gotten used to just ignoring anything he says about money."



"You remember being severely neglected yet you were told 'you are spoiled.'"


"My dad still calls me a spoiled brat. I'm 51. Since I moved out at 18, I have made my own life, a good life, all by myself. Because there was NO help from him. None. No guidance, no support or encouragement, and certainly no financial help. So I'm spoiled bc he fed me and gave me a house to live in until I was an adult, I guess?"



"Why is nobody mentioning the silent foot steps? When you grow up with parents that will yell at you for existing you develop the ability to hide your presence as much as possible and always try to keep your noise and visibility to a minimum."


"How fast and which car pulled in. The way the door slams or the keys are placed. How they exhaled. The pace of their footsteps. All clues to how small and out of the way is needed in order to survive."


That's a lot of rough. I can't imagine the struggle.


"They don't understand simple gestures of kindness. Took my husband a long time to understand that my parents liked giving little gifts to people and doing things for them, that they weren't trying to insult him or us or make us feel incompetent, they were just showing affection."

"Edit: Some people are focusing on the gift part of this, while I was trying to emphasize the kindness. Like, my dad (or brothers) offering to help or keep company when he mentioned he had to fix the deck or paint the shed or go to the junk yard for a car part."

"To him the offer was insulting and suspicious. To them it was just what you do to make someone's life easier. But in his family that notion didn't exist so he couldn't figure out why it was happening except he didn't think it could be a good reason."


I'm Sorry

"They are always trying to figure out what they did wrong and what they’re supposed to be doing and how, while editing their own thoughts and feeling vaguely bad."


"I always felt like every little mistake was my fault and I should apologize for being such a bad person. I wasn't a bad person, I was just a child being a child."


Anxious Issues

"Paranoia, the inability to trust others and obsessively overthinking every conversation they have. Also— speaking from a personal perspective— people that grew up with toxic parents continue to question their sanity and reality here & there from the continuous gaslighting."



"Not being able to remember the majority of their childhood. I’m talking about huge gaps of time you just cannot recall. I get it. Repressing the memories is just the mind trying it’s best to protect itself."


All the Pain...

"The ability to love but not believing for a second that anyone could love you back. That you simply aren’t worthy of it. Storing up a lot of mental and emotional pain because you feel that nobody cares enough to listen. Lacking self confidence in all areas of life, even ones you seemingly excel in by other's opinions."

"The complete inability to see yourself as worthy of anything at all. Getting defensive when asked to explain why you did something or why you chose to say what you said. Shutting people out or not pursuing a real connection with anyone because you feel that you are more of a burden to them than anything positive you could possibly offer to them."

"Not speaking up for yourself and instead choosing to fade into the background through fear that you will cause embarrassment. Damaging any potential romantic relationships because you can’t believe their intentions towards you are genuine, simply because you don’t feel you deserve any of it. The list goes on, but my heart hurts."



"I don't ever want to marry and even if I do, I'm not going to have kids. I don't want to imagine someone else especially my children going through something like I did. What if I can't provide emotionally or financially like my parents and they end up like me? I can't take that guilt into my grave."

"I spent my whole childhood on the brink of suicide and even now when things are a bit better, my body is used to that anxiety so badly that I often let loose even without registering it in my head that I'm letting loose. I have nightmares on random things every f**king night and I get up at least 2 to 3 times every night because I can't sleep because of the nightmares and racing heartbeat."

"Even when my life is going good I can't enjoy a good night's sleep because of how f**ked my body is due to all that lifetime anxiety. I've spent a lot of time fixing myself. Even my childhood hobbies included reading self help books on how to perform self therapy and I spent a majority of my life trying to undo what I now think can't be undone."

"I can just accept it and try to minimize the damage and not get into a relationship so I give some other person the emotional pain because of my inability to fix myself."



"They're a desperate people-pleaser. Someone who'll leap to the aid of anyone, who'll give up anything they have so that someone else doesn't miss out, who will go well out of their way to be of assistance, and who abhors needing ANY help themselves."



"They don't form attachments to others. They grew up in an environment where such attachments were a negative and or resulted in negative outcomes."


"Narcissistic parents are the worst. You can’t beat them so you stop playing the game 20 years goes by with you wondering why you are alone. Then a therapist points out to you they have been shaping your relationships the whole time by shutting down your ability to value them."


"They're completely unwilling to open up and share anything because in their experience it will always be used against them."


"For me, i have the opposite problem. No boundaries about what to share. I can never tell how close i am with someone and i am comfortable basically telling anyone anything. But I think it comes off as weird and a turn off to people, like a red flag. I just want to connect emotionally with people so desperately it is like i will do it with anyone who will converse with me."


Future Issues

"People who try way too hard to please, and are terrified to put themselves first. This is the saddest trait because it’s the easiest for fresh predators to take advantage of when the parents are out of the picture. If only terrible parents knew or cared that they were grooming their kids for future abuse."



"Empathy but not in a healthy/normal sense. growing up in an abusive household, I learned to be extremely hyper aware of everyone's emotions so i could act accordingly so things wouldn't escalate. i remember always asking my ex boyfriend if his mom seemed to be in a sour mood when we went out together and he'd always say she looked 'happy' but she would have an episode later that day. it keeps me safe in a way but it impacts my mental health severely. it's a common thing i notice in others too."


"Yeah, but they do love you, though."

"I can always tell when someone didn't, though. When I've eluded to having difficulties with my parents it's unbelievable how many times I've been responded to with 'Yeah, but they do love you, though.' Not all parents love their children. Not all parents are good people. Your experience is not universal. It was ways heartbreaking to get this response, because I knew that, even if they didn't say it, they were blaming me for the issues."


I Like You

"Does feeling uncomfortable when receiving a compliment count? I feel like whenever someone gives me a compliment I go out of my way to convince them why I’m not actually deserving of a compliment. That or I will try to return to them an even bigger compliment that out-shadows the compliment they gave to me."


Bad at Sharing

"They don't share things about themselves. Anything you say can and will be used against you isn't just applicable when you're getting arrested. Funnily enough, that great memory was never around if you brought up something they did wrong."



"They're uncertain, as a rule, of every last go**amn thing they think, do, want, say, feel. Sh**ty parents do such harm to what could've been healthy hearts and minds. Good parents teach how to establish and maintain boundaries by modeling healthy behaviors. Kids need love and direction. When they don't get it, they suffer for life. Shoutout to all the good parents. Y'all're societies superheroes and you're rare and special. 💜"


Every "parent" on this list should be sent therapy bills.

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