It can be easy to presume that parents and their children get along automatically.
But unfortunately, that is so far from the truth. There are SO many fraught, toxic, and already-destroyed relationships between children and their parents.
Of course, no parent sets off hoping it gets to that point. But sometimes the external circumstances, the other adults in the child's life, or the internal tendencies of that person--who is an autonomous individual--simply drive a wedge that, for parents, is impossible to surmount.
Some Redditors who are involved in a toxic parent-child relationship shared how it got there.
TheHeyHeyMan asked, "Parents who dislike their own children; why?"
A common thread was the negative response that many parents have to their children reliving their own flaws and struggles.
Many parents evidently treat child-rearing as a chance to perfect all the things that went wrong in their own lives. And when that doesn't happen, the all-too familiar person can be difficult to accept.
Churning Out Duplicates
"Probably because they're too much like me. I like to think that as a parent part of my job is to eliminate my foibles by helping my children be better than me. My failure as a parent instead has been to create copies; what I dislike about them is also what I hate about myself."
"Sometimes the harder you try the bigger you fail."
"P.S. I love my children."
A Flawed Approach
"Because after his mom died , I stopped disciplining him. I thought if I gave him everything I never had ; coolest clothes , shoes, toys , dirt bikes, game consoles etc would make me a good parent. I was wrong."
"He's about to turn 18 and i can't even stand to be in the same room as him. He's manipulative, mean, arrogant and condescending. And it's all my fault."
Projecting Onto a Clone
"I am not a parent, but a child who is not loved. Everything is quite ordinary, I just resemble my father, both in appearance and character, so my mother considered this a great reason for physical violence and discrimination among other 'right' children."
"As a result, my mother and I do not communicate, she abandoned me at the age of 12. The last thing I heard was, 'you should be grateful that I put up with you until you were a teenager.' Thank you for doing your job. Thank you, you disgusting person."
The Last Person He Wanted Recreated
"I hate my daughter bc she has all the bad characteristics of her mother and none of the good ones."
"She's mean, aggressive, demanding, she hits her classmates, gets violent when she doesn't get what she wants, yells loudly to overpower anyone around her when she can't use physical violence. She breaks things that aren't hers. She actually looks down on everyone around her; it's crazy, you can actually see it. She's six."
"....obviously, I am not the one who raises her. She's got a hard life ahead of her. Poor girl."
People Explain The Worst Thing That's Ever Happened To Them On Their Birthday
Others were more puzzled by the person their child turned out to be. These parents could not understand how, given the upbringing they provided, their child could ultimately be so unkind.
Choosing a Different Version of Community
"He has no conscience. He has brutalized people over rumors, you could watch him steal something, catch him with it, and he would lie. He ended up shooting someone."
"He grew up with an upper middle class suburban family that no one had ever even been arrested. My wife and I come from good families, he had so many aunts uncles, grandparents, cousins who all supported and loved him. He could have gone to college for whatever he wanted."
"He chose to join a gang. Then we found out he tells everyone he turned out this way because his mother beat him and I was always passed out drunk (neither are at all true.)."
"I can't deal anymore. It put me in the mental hospital multiple times."
"I just had to write him out of my life."
"His brother had a great childhood and is pursuing his Doctorate."
Too Late to Turn it Around?
"I'm not a parent but my uncle and aunt really hate their son because he's accomplished nothing in life and is a complete failure but still has an ego higher than the Mount Everest."
"He's always mean to everyone."
An Eternal Mystery
"My sister and I - who were well behaved and successful - never understood why we were borderline neglected while my piece of sh** brother was showered with praise and love."
"Oh well. I don't treat my kids that way."
A Whirlwind Debacle
"He did terrible in school, became a drug dealer, squatted in a house owned by the family, decided it'd be a good idea to start a METH LAB in the basement of said house, and then hired a crappy tv lawyer to blackmail us into selling the house back to him!"
"I can say there was a brief period in time where I disliked my youngest. I need to say I loved him and would have given up my life life for him but I did not like him. He was preteen and was trying to test the limits of our parenting and would question and/or resist EVERYTHING!"
"It was a trying time but now (17) he is probably my best friend and we enjoy being together and working on project around the house."
Others discussed the ways external circumstances--particularly around the birth of the child--that played into growing dislike as they grew up.
Cannot Accept What Happened
"my mother wanted a boy, had one before me but it was a miscarriage, i was conceived a year after, i was an early delivery, she was in coma for 2 weeks and after that she did not take me or touch me or look at me or even fed me for days."
"my dad took care of me and looked after me. she still curses me and wishes it was a boy"
The Product of Infidelity
"My father was sober for 18 years before I was born, then only started drinking again once my mom got pregnant with me. This eventually led to my father cheating, and my parents getting divorced. Since my birth was technically to blame for this, both of my parents despise me."
"I'm not old enough to move out of my mom's house yet, so I'm spending just about every day hiding in my room, making as little noise as possible, and trying to bother as few people as I can."
"My mother does not like me because she never got attached to me at birth. A year before my twin sister and I were born, our parents had triplets who all died after a few days. Untreated trauma followed. I was born nearly suffocated and poorly, so my mother, wanting to protect herself from more trauma, never attached to me. She did however to my twin sister who was born healthy and thrived."
"Years went by and this initial lack of attached turned into resentment or dislike during my childhood because by the time we were eight years old, our parents were divorced, and I physically resembled my dead-beat father. This only worsened during my teenage years as I was beginning to act up years of neglect and became depressed. She disliked the signs of her own doing neglectful parenting and lack of love in me. I remind her of that."
"Ever since we have pretended to get along, but the relationship is never really there. I am a mother of two myself now and have taken all of this on board trying to do better. I am also trying to understand her. That ultimately this was not her fault."
"My dad didn't like me for some reason. I asked him several times but never got an answer. He loved my older brother (the prodigal only boy), and he lavished on my two younger sisters. I need to add that my dad was married 3 times, and we have different mothers (my younger sisters are both from his 3rd marriage)."
"My mom said that he wanted her to have an abortion, my mom was the one that also initiated the divorce, whereas his 1st marriage he initiated, so my mom also thinks that she hit his ego pretty bad with that. I look like my mom, so that could be a factor too. He died March 2019, so I'll never know, but it affected me greatly."
"Parents, don't let your children know that you don't like them, it's a horrible feeling. The kids didn't ask to be here, you were the parent, their actions reflect your parenting (or lack there of)."
Others had some fun with the prompt.
"He's a vindictive and conniving prick, that's why. His first birthday is next week and I have scant hope that he'll change his ways."
Still Working Out the Kinks
"He is a 12 year old with no concern for personal hygiene and also manipulates me with the best hugs."
"Wash your feet you disgusting brat."
There's no question about it, this was a very depressing list to read through. But hopefully there are some lessons we can glean from these posts.
Maybe you surmised a way to make sure you don't do the same thing if you already have or plan to have kids.
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It shouldn't be hard to try and stay healthy.
However, it feels like the world is against you, as most stuff marketed or sold as "healthy" could actually be hurting you.
What do people think is healthy but is actually harmful?
Seeing something on the shelves marked as "healthy" shouldn't cause you to second guess yourself. It should be easy, right? However, these products might be holding a darker secret than you realize.
For Those In The Back: Its Not The Fat, It's The Sugar
"Low fat or non fat foods tend to add more sugar than their regular fat counterparts to make up for the lost flavor."
"Edit: To clarify, for example I'm talking about something like reduced fat cheese its vs the regular cheese its. The reduced fat may seem "healthier" but it's really not."
Just Eat The Fruit
"People focus on the fact that it contains some nutrients, but not that it also contains as much sugar as Coca-Cola"
"This. The only truly healthful way to consume a fruit's juice is to eat the whole fruit. Peeling and eating an orange takes so much longer than chugging way too much juice. Plus the benefit of the fiber. Plus the benefit of fresh and natural vitamin C."
This One's A Real Bummer
"Those acai bowls are loaded with sugar."
"Ohhhh damn. I see why I've been rapidly gaining weight recently . Those damn delicious açaí bowl."
You might be doing something every day that's causing health deficiencies in your day to day living. The worst part of it all is the notion that this unhealthy thing you're doing is supposed to be "fun" or "relaxing."
From The Earth? Yes. Still Smoke? Also Yes.
"Smoking marijuana. And I say this as a daily toker. Inhaling smoke into your body is ALWAYS bad for you. It's just better than inhaling poison (cigarettes) into your body."
"This bothers so much. I smoked almost daily for 8 years, not as much now, but so many stoners refuse to acknowledge that inhaling ANY kind of smoke is bad for you. Yeah, cannabis has a lot of benefits. But putting any kind of mind-altering substance into your body it is not risk-free."
"Same with vaping. Just because it's a healthier alternative to cigarettes doesn't make it automatically healthy itself. It's just a good way to help those with smoking problems ween off it and be healthier. It's not meant to be used as a way to start an addiction. Addiction still kills."
Find That Right Balance
"Not so much anymore because there is much more awareness, but being out in the sun. My mom would force me to sunbathe when I was a child because it was "unhealthy" to be pale and that people would think I am gross. Now she's not even fifty and her face is pocked with scars from surgeries treating melanoma, and every year has to go back in to the doctor for more skin removal and to determine if she needs further, more intensive treatment."
"I have never sunbathed as an adult and religiously put on sunscreen, wear long sleeves and an "old man" hiking hat when I go just about anywhere outside. Please, everyone, protect your skin!"
"But also on the flip side, it's really common to have a vitamin D deficiency if your skin never sees the sunlight, so make sure you're taking a supplement if that's the case. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a whole host of its own issues. It feels like every health issue is some variation of a double sided coin."
The Truth Hits Like A Truck
"Being with someone because you don't want to be alone"
"Yes, but like many of the harmful things in this thread, it sure can be fun for a little while. Until the consequences start coming at you."
What can feel a little shocking about some of these things listed is the thought that you're doing something good for you. You're working out! What's the worst that can happen?
Sometimes Crushing It Every Day Can Crush You Every Day
"working out with 100% effort everyday"
"Agree. You can train different muscles, but in the end, you are still using the same nervous system. Also, Rhabdomyolysis is a thing, so….."
"In case anyone else feels the need to look it up:"
"Rhabdomyolysis is a potentially life-threatening syndrome resulting from the breakdown of skeletal muscle fibers with leakage of muscle contents into the circulation. The most common causes are crush injury, overexertion, alcohol abuse and certain medicines and toxic substances."
It's Goop. How Can You Not Trust It?
"Anything Gwyneth Paltrow is marketing."
"Hold on, you mean to tell me that shoving a jade egg up your vagina, isn't good for you?"
"The jade egg is probably the least unhealthy thing she sells, as it does absolutely nothing."
Not Doing What You Think
All of those "Detox" drinks, and gimmicks.
Take care of yourself. Don't fall for health fads. Start simple.
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Our past is chock full of "life lessons" that are actually just crap. It's easy to spoon-feed children drivel. They're sponges ready to absorb.
Then those children become adults that require rewiring.
Between culture changes and generations of upheaval, there is a lot that we are left to examine when out in the world. Look at where we are as a society right now. We are stuck in the throes of a culture war stemming from generational misinformation.
So where do we begin?
Redditor Baby_Bella_XX wanted to discuss the information we thought we understood as kids that might require an update. They asked:
What have you had to unlearn from your childhood?
The biggest lesson for me. "Oh stop worrying. There is plenty of time for that."
NO THERE IS NOT! There is no time left! Use it wisely!
Talk it Through
"Not talking about problems or concerns or feelings. My family really only makes small talk. Talking about the weather, gossip, etc. If there is any kind of disagreement, it's typically handled by giving the silent treatment, which might last anywhere from a couple hours to a few weeks or more. The only exception to this was my dad."
"If he was really angry, he would yell, slam things, and sometimes hit. Then pretend it never happened. No one ever asked how anyone else was doing, or about their day. I would come home from school and go straight to my room, because it was just a fact of life that no one would want to talk to me."
"If I had a problem, it would never occur to me to discuss it with my parents. There were never any "I love you's" or hugs or anything. I still, to this day, have never heard either of my parents apologize. I know they loved us in their own dysfunctional way, though."
"I probably overcompensate now. If I have a disagreement with my husband, I HAVE to talk it through in it's entirety. Even if it takes hours. I hug and tell my kids I love them several times a day. I ask questions every day about school, friends, etc. I apologize when I'm wrong. It's weird that that honestly comes naturally to me. I never realized how messed up my childhood was until I had kids of my own." ~ nicole11930
"Learning to say NO." ~ guyhabit
"If only my family would learn to accept "no". My mom insists on buying metric crap ton of food everytime she visits, despite me telling her not to, so she goes through all my things to "know" what to buy."
"She saw some oatmeal I never finished and two cans of soup I had for emergencies when I'm too sick to eat anything else. Now I'm stuck with a metric crap ton of soup and oatmeal that I keep forgetting to drop off for the local food pantry." ~ 1stLtObvious
"Talking back to anyone older that you is disrespectful. My parents taught me this and it's crap." ~ Halloweendog84
"I unlearned it during childhood. Got tired of my grandparents treating my parents wrong. Still am. I just wish my parents would see it and realize that they don't need to rely on them anymore. I'm tired of abusive or unhelpful family members being part of our lives." ~ bluedragggon3
XOXOSeason 4 Hug GIF by Good GirlsGiphy
"That I'm not actually a burden just for being here." ~ KNOCKknockLAHEY_420
I feel like everyone here needs a hug. All of you should know, you deserve to be here. Every life can change another. Remember that...
TearsTobey Maguire Reaction GIFGiphy
"It's okay to cry and it does not make you a weakling. When sad times hit, you have every right to cry your heart out to heal your wounds." ~ unforgivablenope
"Other children weren't psychic, I'm autistic." ~ Thinkingwithportals1
"As a child, I missed a lot of social cues, I couldn't read facial expressions or body language (or even know that you're meant to do that). The other kids kept seeming to know what others were feeling or thinking, so the logical conclusion was that everybody except me was psychic." ~ Thinkingwithportals1
Take my word for it...
"Lots of things. I actually can make it in the real world. I am not doomed to failure because of who I am and the quirks that come with being me. I am not the multitude of nasty labels my father spewed at me. The whole world isn't filled with terrible people who want to take advantage of me, requiring me to always be strong if I don't want to get taken advantage of."
"I am not actually sensitive and over-dramatic. I was actually picked at, 24/7, and so that was why it was so easy to rile me up; I never had a chance not to be emotionally charged. I actually can cook. I am not, as my mother often hinted, naturally a bad cook. I could write pages and pages of this crap and I still wouldn't cover it all. Take my word for it, I've unlearned a lot." ~ EgyptianDevil78
"My parents told me to eats what's on my plate, now I'm fat, coz I don't eat til I'm full, I eat til it's gone." ~ racerboy661
"If I end up wanting more after eating it all, I can go back and get another small portion. So my advice is cut down on portion size and eat until you feel full then stop. It is way healthier. Try for no waste but that's the idea behind small portions." ~ PoopLoofah
The Best Of...High School College GIFGiphy
"That just because I am not scoring at the top or going to the most prestigious college I am not not smart." ~ Imteyimg
Here is a lesson. Just try to be a good person. Sadly, in this day and age, that seems harder to do. And remember... our parents don't know everything.
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It's important to keep your mind healthy as you age, learning new things and trying new activities out.
What is an underrated skill that people should learn?
Start with the basics, learning things you'll definitely be using in your day-to-day life.
Just Get It All Done
"General fixing things around the house like hanging up frames or repairing basic things like holes in the drywall, painting etc, basic electrical work like light switches."
"Cooking and cleaning"
"Of course with learning basic electrical work, definitely learn about electrical safety. Safe practices are critical, as mistakes can be fatal."
"Source: am an electrical engineer and also work on home electrical."
Learn Something New Every Time
"Before I learned to cook I was an incredibly picky eater. Cooking helps you get more comfortable with ingredients. The best part is it gives you full control over your flavours. You aren't stuck picking from a menu. You are only limited by your creativity, skill and accessibility to ingredients when you cook for yourself."
"It can be as complicated as cooking a beef Wellington, or jazzing up some packaged ramen noodles. The best part is you learn something new every time you cook."
All The Fast and the Furious Folks Look So Cool When They Do It
"Driving a manual. No one will steal your car if it's a manual, because 98% of people don't know how to drive stick."
"Note: this might only apply in the US."
Some of these activities are life-saving, in that they could save your life in the heat of a moment. While it might feel silly to practice something like knot tying right now, these people make a good argument for mastering such a vital skill.
Learn A Few. You Don't Have To Learn All Of Them.
"Knot tying and sewing"
"+1 on knot tying especially. I never did Boy Scouts or anything like that, but I had an odd job in my 20s where I had to learn proper mooring technique: figure 8, sailor's knot etc."
"I wouldn't say it changed my life or anything. But I've never failed to secure anything since, and even just the practice of keeping consistent tautness while tying shoelaces has saved me time on many a run/soccer match etc."
You Never Know When You'll Need It
"I finally learned how to swim this year at 26. It felt amazing just jumping in the deep end being able to swim comfortably."
Learning A Few Phrases In Any Language Can Help You
"I totally agree. I learned some sign language as a kid after taking classes one summer and I'm glad I did."
"I remember a few years ago when I was in a foreign country a young woman was with her little brother and panhandling (people were treating them like garbage) and I had some change and gave it to them. She started signing "thank you" and signed that I was pretty (which was sweet of her). She was shocked when I signed back to her a simple "you're welcome" and it seemed to make her day."
And then there's these, skills which, on the surface, may not feel like they matter a whole lot. To get by in this day and age, however, they may be the most critical skills of all.
Go A Step Further
"How to separate fact from fiction - fake from true - especially with regard to news."
"The number of people who don't know the difference between a journalist and a pundit is a lot. It's not necessarily "news" just because you get it from a purported news channel."
Learn To Recognize Them, Not How To Name Them
"Logical fallacies. It would help with knowing when someone's misleading you in an argument and will also help you communicate your thoughts more clearly"
"Just don't literally name-drop the logical fallacy during the argument. Not particularly persuasive. Guaranteed to roll some eyes. Explain it in plain English instead. Use an example to show how it's a problem."
"Accounting. If you want to run a successful business, you really should do an accounting course. Not so that you can do your own accounting. But so that you can understand what others are telling you."
"Agreed. My granddad always said "watch the pennies and the dollars will watch themselves". Understanding accounting is a must for anyone in business."
Get out there and try something new. You never know when the thing you learn will come in handy. After all, better to know something and not need it than needing something and not know how to swim.
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Some people are just plain nasty, that is a sad fact. There is true evil in this world, and we see it on display every single day. It can often make one lose all hope in "humanity."
At my core, I try to believe that most of us have good hearts, that are connected to kind souls. But my beliefs are tested almost hourly.
One of the scariest things is trying to pinpoint whether or not most of these people are just callous and rude or, quite possibly, they simmering sociopaths, destined to be the villain in a Dateline NBC or podcast episode.
Let's compare notes.
Redditor SmokeAndCannon wanted to hear about the people we wish we could've avoided in person and online, by asking:
What's the biggest @sshole post you remember?
My list is too long to even try to narrow down. I'm just going to say that most of our political officials, on all sides, need a muzzle, a sedative, and a new career path. Start there...
Divorce TimeReal Housewives Goodbye GIFGiphy
"Oh man I often think about the guy asking if he's an ahole for asking his pregnant wife to wear a diaper at night because she was disturbing his sleep whenever she got up to pee." ~ Morrigans
"I remember a girl in her late teens who thought her older sibling was faking their child's food allergy so she tried to catch her by not telling them about the ingredients before serving them a dish. Someone else had it first and recognized the ingredient and stopped the kid from eating it in time and called her out. She then tried to play it off saying her sibling was a drama queen and she was trying to trap her. Reddit tore into her, of course, since the child could've... well, died." ~ SylancerPrime
"The guy who moved into his younger girlfriend's apartment, and threw away her fancy drinking jars that she loved from their shelf because they bothered him and he wanted her to just drink from normal cups. I think about this entitled jerk a lot. ~ SelfDiagnosedUnicorn
"get over it"
"Girlfriend of a widowed father of two, she moved in to his place. He was still struggling with letting go of his late wife. So the gf in her eternal wisdom decided to throw away all family pictures of his late wife one day when the dad was away because she felt it was time for him to "get over it". He did not get those pictures back, they were legit gone forever. When she posted this on AITA but didn't get the validation she wanted she just doubled-down instead." ~ YoungDiscord
Thief!Angry Season 9 GIF by ShamelessGiphy
"The girl who found a lost dog after someones house was destroyed then refused to give it back because they had "bonded." ~ dawsonsmythe
I dare you to try and keep any of my animals. What kind of lunatic does that?
"emotional support"Steve Harvey Reaction GIF by Super DeluxeGiphy
"The guy who was mad his GWB wouldn't give 10k usd because he provided her with "emotional support" by listening to her rant about her ex a couple of times." ~ Hopelessyhopeful
"The OP deleted it so I can't link. OP was the wife of a man whose first wife died. OP was jealous of wife #1 and destroyed all the photos and knick knacks from the first wife, including deleting all the digital photos. She burned everything physical. Her husband packed up his teenage daughter and left her. It was 3 or so years ago and I still feel rage thinking about that vile OP. I hope her husband divorced her. It's the least she deserved." ~ fluidentity
"OP wasn't the a**hole in this one, but her son was. Basically she found out that her son was using her daughter-in-law as a stay at home maid. They had two kids, I wanna say, and DIL did EVERYTHING - cooking, cleaning, childcare, EVERYTHING. OP gave DIL some money for a girls' weekend and her son forced her to cancel it because he wanted to go out with his friends that weekend, leaving her to watch the children."
"DIL called OP in tears and OP loses it - tells her to drop the kids at her house and go take her weekend. OP takes the kids to her sister's (with DIL's permission) and goes to the bar where her son is and tears him a new one to the point she gets kicked out of the bar. First thing she does after that is call her other two DILs up to make sure her other son's aren't pieces of crap." ~ SpidersMcGee
"'ll never forget the one guy. He'd just turned 18 and was getting ready for college when his dad walked in, said "your mom cheated on me. I'm not your real dad. I'm not paying for your college. Move out after you graduate high school."
"The dad had known for the son's entire life but didn't say anything until that moment because he thought it was the mom's job to do it. And the kid assumed his family would pay for his college like they did with the others so he didn't save any money or look for scholarships." ~ justking1414
Call JohnJohn Cena Mind Blown GIFGiphy
"The kid that ruined his little brother's signed John Cena poster. The little brother had gotten it signed when he met John Cena during a Make-A-Wish event that was held for him." ~ nsa_k
That little kid is a psycho in training. Those parents need to sleep with BOTH eyes open. I hope John Cena sent another poster.
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