I grew up watching Turner Classic Movies. One of my favorites? Mervyn LeRoy's The Bad Seed, one of the top American films of 1956. The film, based on the bestselling novel by William March, is about a fragile housewife who slowly begins to suspect that her precocious eight-year-old daughter is murdering people in town. The film has served as the inspiration for other films about killer kids ranging from 1981's Bloody Birthday to 1993's The Good Son and 2009's Orphan.
But we're not talking about killer kids here... hopefully your own child doesn't grow up to burn someone alive in a basement. What if your child grows up to be, you know, just a jerk, and then maybe, just maybe, far more than that? After Redditor Fred-the-human asked the online community, "Parents, when did you realize it wasn't teenage hormones and your kid is a legitimate butthole?" parents (and others) shared their stories.
"My wife wasn't connecting the dots."
It's my stepson.
My wife wasn't connecting the dots. I finally pointed out that he's 30 which is how old I was when we got married. He's got no skills and no education and no career prospects but he does have a bunch of felonies. That got the wheels spinning but when she was taking our daughter for a walk with some little kids that they were babysitting they found him passed out in a car in the side of the road, obviously coming down from whatever he was on she finally got it. So she kicked him out and he threw a big tantrum and smashed stuff and cussed her out on his way out the door.
I let her know that if she ever tries to move him into the house again, I'm grabbing our daughter and moving out and that it won't be a discussion.
"He only realized it..."
Not me, but my grandfather recently learned the true colors of his narcissistic son (my uncle) after fifty years. He only started realizing after my grandmother passed away this year and my uncle has been a total piece of s*** to my grandfather. It's sad that it took so long and it is now driving a rift between my uncle and my grandfather.
"If his mother won't do what he wants..."
I knew my stepson was lying all the time within a couple of months of his mother and I getting married. My ex-best friend from HS was a lot like him on the lying part.
Couple of years later, he kicks in our back door after going missing for a week (he's 15 at this point), and steals electronics. Cops called, he's apprehended 30 minutes later headed for the pawn shop. My wife still isn't accepting reality at this point. He spends 6 weeks locked up in a boot-camp style facility. Comes back, is like a different person for less than a week. His birthday comes around, he goes off the rails, locked up for 6 months.
He's been in and out of the county jail for the last 7 years. He's a sociopath. He can emulate feelings, but has no real connection to people. He wants what he wants and if he has to take from someone else, so be it. If his mother won't do what he wants, he gets emotionally abusive. Until last summer when he put her in the hospital. I officially disowned him, and she agreed. For about 3 months. She just won't defend herself. I have to be a major ahole about it to try to protect her. She still went over $5K in debt for him and the 3rd baby by the 3rd baby momma. Our relationship rides on a thin razor's edge when it comes to him.
"The middle one is constantly belittling her sister..."
My oldest daughter has a learning disability. My middle daughter is in Pre AP classes. The middle one is constantly belittling her sister fir not knowing certain things. She walks around with this I'm better than you attitude. We didn't raise her that way. My wife will tell her bluntly to stop being terrible to her sister.
"My mother finally cut my brother off..."
My mother finally cut my (47) brother off after 25 years. She gave him 2k a month or more, and still pays his cell bill. I told her if she wanted to tear through every cent she had and then complain that he made no effort to call her (unless the check was late), I was bailing out of the picture. She also realized his unemployed @ss was too busy to help take care of her. I think she knew years ago he was a lazy manipulative person, but he's the baby and she could never say no. Anyway, f*** my family.
"We found out..."
Adding this to stress medical issues: My son was a legitimate butthole for most of his teenage years. Terrorized his younger brother, had to argue about everything! He saw his pediatrician regularly and a psychiatrist. In his late teens, he suffered with depression and anxiety. I asked his new doctor (adult primary care physician) to run thyroid tests. I had depression and anxiety at his age and wasn't tested until I was 24. I found out that I have hypothyroidism.
We found out that although his thyroid was ok, he had a very strange level of testosterone. Very low. Once he started replacement therapy, his attitude, depression, and anxiety all improved!
His doctor told me that she wouldn't have even thought about testing him because of his age but she was glad that I had pushed for it.
"In all honesty..."
In all honesty waaaaaaay before they were even teenagers.
My stepson and daughter are one of the significant reasons that I'm planning to end my relationship with their mother.
They are 10 and 12, I've known them since they were 6 and 8.
I've tried really hard to engage with them and parent them as equally as I do my own children, but they just don't get it.
Their mother treats them like they're little angels whilst they sit on their arses all day glued to screens. They're a couple of years behind the usual in reading and in maths and I'd hoped to use lockdown as an opportunity to get them up to speed but it was thrown back at me with surly behaviour and non-engagement, I received no support from their mother so I ended up giving up as it was pretty obvious I was wasting my time.
I've come to realise two things, you can't educate pork and you can't help those who won't help themselves.
"Watching them figure it out..."
My parents didn't realize until my sister was 30. Watching them figure it out was heartbreaking. For years it was "oh, you all do it to each other" and suddenly it was "oh, this isn't a healthy relationship for any of us" real quick. They realized we hadn't been exaggerating about anything, but she had flat out been lying for years. They stopped putting up with her s***, she chose to cut contact with all of us, got even madder when we all said we'd give her the space she wanted, she wanted us to "fight for her." Mum is the only one who talks to her now. Plus side, my parents, other sister and I have the best familial relationship we've ever had.
"She used her diagnosis..."
My sister would always explode at the drop of a hat, destroy everything, get extremely violent, etc. She'd see things and get increasingly paranoid. Eventually she began to self medicate with drugs and alcohol.
Later in life, I convinced her to get help and she was diagnosed with bipolar and schizophrenia. (Duh.) At that point I was like, "oh she really can't help it. Things will get better now!"
She used her diagnosis to doctor shop and find one who prescribes things to her that get her high, but exacerbate her symptoms. She uses her diagnosis as an excuse to be absolutely awful and abuse people. She's in and out of jail and constantly fighting with someone. Still took me until this year to realize that that's who she is and to give up. Sometimes you just really wanna believe you can love the evil out of someone.
"She doesn't understand..."
My daughter is five and she's stone cold. She doesn't understand the meaning of the words she uses, but she knows the effect they will have on people. We're legit worried about what happens when the hormones show up.
"Not that she did anything terrible..."
My step sister has always been incredibly lazy and worked harder to not do housework than actually help out. She would throw tantrums to not go to school, not wash dishes, and everyone just kind of let it off as hormones. I always ended up doing all her chores.
Not that she did anything terrible like some poeple in this thread, but one thing she did was lie. She lied a lot and one of them split my family apart and drove my step-moms depression and bipolar disorder over the edge. She also just had no opinion or good characteristics. I always say, she is a blank canvas that everyone else paints on. Especially her mother. Her mother thinks she is the most amazing person in the world, better than my brother and I, who both work and have a life of our own.
She wrote a letter to my father years later when he left the house basically blaming him for her depression and everything that went wrong in the family, another lie. Ive known this girl since i was 11. Became my sister and yet she threw us under the bus for nothing. Luckily I have a half sister with much better qualities than her who loves and adores my brother and I.
Fyi. Now she is 23, dropped out of College, no potential, engaged and all she wants to do is sit at home and do nothing.
"She was two years older..."
My sister is a pretty terrible person. We were raised the same way - fairly open. I had absolutely no restrictions: I could have girls in my room, I had absolutely no curfew, my parents even thought I went to one of my friend's house to smoke pot and let me (we actually stayed up all night playing Halo in a cabin, so my eyes were red and I smelled like I tried to cover up any smell using fireplace smoke).
She was two years older and had more restrictions placed on her due to her doing things like sneaking out and driving home drunk.
They probably could have punished her more when we were children. She would always start the fights, and when we were left alone in the house she would sadistically attack me. She would pound on my door for hours, and since I didn't have a lock I needed to sit in front of it holding it shut. I don't really blame them though, as there was no way for them to know..what I wouldn't have gave for a video recording device like every kid has now.
Anyways, I think some people are just going to be bad people, and there's not much you can do about it. She genuinely takes pleasure in other people's pain. It's pretty ironic she became a nurse.
"He managed to convince the doctor..."
My mom says it was when my brother was 3.
It was the mid 80s and he used to beat the s*** out of us whenever we stepped "outta line" so my mom took him to a therapist to have him evaluated. He managed to convince the doctor that my mother was hitting us. She was spanking, but my brother made it sound like she used him as a punching bag, and Child Protective Services had to investigate. Nothing came of it,but my parents yanked him from therapy; my parents have been too afraid to discipline him ever since, and he basically emotionally scarred the hell out of us other 3 siblings.
Now he's a 34 year old ex-Navy hoarder that "remodels reclaimed properties" and lives on his own. He has girlfriends, but eventually he breaks them down so hard they either get smart and run, or they snap and either become alcoholics or try to kill him. The "love of his life" did both.
"The good news is..."
I can't speak for my mom, but I first realized my brother is a s***** person when he kicked her out of her house (he was living with her) on Christmas Eve one year because he was throwing a party he'd been planning "for a long time" (he was 27, if that matters). Mom and my (then-9-year-old) half-brother had plans, but had to cancel because they got sick and wanted to spend a quiet evening at home. Older bro generously booked them a hotel room for the night, which was where she called me from in tears.
He'd always been a self-centered, sensitive ass but that was when it finally dawned on me that he wasn't a good person. The good news is that he's cut me out of his life over a facebook post I made (I complained that I had to buy my own car when our parents bought him three so far because he keeps wrecking them). He sent me an angry text that he doesn't want to speak to me for the rest of my life (he specified my life because I'm a terminal cancer patient) and ignored all my attempts to apologize. I cried for hours, but the next day I realized I'm way better off without him.
"The first time I saw..."
My girlfriend's 5 year old. The first time I saw an extremely friendly dog run from her I raised an eyebrow. Then I got to see her try to control the world and just be a general a-hole. It blows my mind how animals see right through people...
"And then there's the other one."
My aunt has two of the nicest children I've ever met. They're smart, kind, and funny, and love everyone to bits.
And then there's the other one.
My aunt knew her children were ass***** from before they were born. She didn't want a kid... So instead she had 3 with a guy she knew was cheating on her. But she had three and it was done, and now she's a single mom who absolutely hates her kids. She does anything to avoid spending time with them.
As I said, the youngest two are as great as they can be in such a predicament. She despises them the most. I've never seen her speak with either beyond simple commands.
The oldest is a piece of s***. He's the worst person I have ever met. And she ADORES him. He hits his younger sister in the face? Well obviously she was annoying him. He punches every man he meets in the junk? Oh, he's just playing!! He refuses to call any of us by our familiar titles (he won't say "grandma and grandpa", he calls my grandma either by her first name or "toots".... A far cry better than childhood, when he'd call her "sugartits" cause he heard it on TV)
He's abusive, obnoxious, and overall horrible. My aunt has yet to recognize this. We all knew it from the day he was born.
"My aunt realized this..."
My aunt realized this when he punched me in the mouth at 4. He was in his 20s for the record at the time this happened. But my aunt's denial was so strong that she ignored all of the signs of it. Now he's paralyzed from the neck down and she is taking care of him. He still verbally abuses her. I wish he died in that accident instead of being paralyzed.
"I feel a lot of it..."
As the younger brother of someone who is a near constant arsehole to our parents the truth is most decent parents won't admit that their kid turned out a bad person. They just see themselves as the blame, that they did something wrong or try to find explanations such as mental illness (to be fair he's been diagnosed but nothing finite, either way he's still a fully functioning adult, no learning disabilities). I remember him always being a little s***, he hated seeing my parents giving me praise. My parents always describe it misbehaving as a child, pulling fire alarms and destroying shop displays as well.
I feel a lot of it does come from my parents being too lenient on him or not encouraging empathy at least. That's the biggest tell if you ask me, if you can see that your child can't recognise the negative feelings they're producing in others by the age of 8 then you need to get them help. You shouldn't consider it just a phase by that point, children are a lot smarter than most adults give them credit, they have the emotional capacity to recognise emotional pain in others by 8 (baring learning difficulties which in itself requires them getting extra help) ultimately they're not doing so for other reasons and need to understand how it feels to be on the end of the abuse they generate.
Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.