Many parents are doing their best, and inevitably screwing up day in and day out. It comes with the territory: only the kid, often after years of growth into adulthood, can identify the subtle flaws and behaviors that caused for a whole range of core problems and struggles.
Other parents, unfortunately, do not do their best. Their parenting flaws and actions towards their children are far from subtle. In these cases, the emotional toll hits hard right away and sticks around just as long as any dormant traumas do.
And sometimes a parental mistake is less involved with emotional growth and wellness. Rather, a parent may underestimate the importance of some logistical lesson or lack the foresight needed to help prepare the child for life in the real world.
Whatever the form of misguiding parenting was, it likely was mentioned in a recent Reddit post about the topic.
suicidal_butter asked, "Kids of Reddit, what is something your parents do that they don't realize hurts you?"
A Thousand Cuts
"Constantly correcting and moaning about minor details makes you feel like you're incapable" -- BoO1OoB
"And they think they're just trying to help us. But, it feels bad" -- itsmoonduhh
"If it helps, this is often because their parents did it to them, and they felt the same way you do now. Often we forget that as we grow older and fall into the habits of our own parents, even when we said we wouldn't." -- fairsynth
Unable to See the Human
"You're too young to be tired, to feel pain etc. It doesn't really hurt me, it's just annoying." -- Tibea123
"My mom did this to me all my life, and even as an adult. When I got out of the Army, I was at her house for some reason, and I was really stressed, and she just looked at me like I was the biggest idiot in the world, and said, 'What on earth could you possibly have to be stressed about?'"
"I was like, 'Well, I'm a combat veteran, I'm pregnant, and I just started taking classes in one of the most rigorous engineering programs in the country, but you're right. Nothing to see here.'"
"I told my therapist that story a decade or so later, and she explained that parents who treat their kids like this don't see them as real people. There are people, and then there are 'the kids' who are not taken as seriously as people. Made perfect sense." -- tacosandrose
A Missed Opportunity
"My parents didn't teach me spanish so I wouldn't have a hard time learning english while i was in school, now i can't speak with 90% of my relatives." -- Nitaisemo
"That's too bad... I've got second cousins living in Quebec who's mother is from Costa Rica. They were trilingual and fluent in English, Spanish, and French by the time they were 6. They had these funny little French Canadian Spanish accents for a while, but now they've got exceptional language skills." -- Thopterhallid
Refusing to Teach the Tangibles
"My dad refuses to teach me about finances because he wanted me to learn first hand. He refused to help me open my own account or access the account he put all my money in. He refused to teach me the meaning of terms or help me with forms."
"I now have a full blown mental breakdown when I have to do anything involving the bank because I just... don't know how it works. I'm good with cash, but I would consider myself financially illiterate."
"Staying together for the sake of us. Both my sister and I would be much happier if they just bit the bullet and divorced. I'd much rather live in two happy houses than in one unhappy one." -- TheCHZY
"I think it's worth noting there's a parental selfishness angle as well. Meaning they're staying together because they both want to see you, their kids, every day they can. Selfishness might be too strong a word but my point is there's some nuance in the reason."
"I know a guy who stayed with his cheating wife for this reason. When I asked him why he just choked out "I can't stand the thought of not seeing my kids every day". As a parent, I can definitely understand that feeling."
"For the record, I am most definitely not advocating staying in a toxic relationship "for the kids" in any context." -- sully84
"When I was a teen and I would come down stairs and they would say something like 'LOOK WHO IS FINALLY OUT OF THEIR ROOM' thanks for bringing the attention to it, going back to my room now." -- Hbmc1123
"Got this all the damn time, i now take care of my grandmother who is my adoptive mother. Still f***ing dis it when i come out and she talking to my aunt and i am 31 now." -- TiredOfBeingTired28
"They never stop to examine the reason why their kid is always in their room. I know when I was a kid, it felt like my only safe haven most of the time." -- H0lyThr0wawayBatman
Eroding Confidence to Keep Things Simple
"They didn't want me to have friends/a girlfriend because they saw that as a distraction (the latter is pretty common in Asian culture and not exclusive to my parents). So they purposefully 'taught' me socially unacceptable behaviour, things like 'bully other people first so they don't bully you' type sh**."
"It was highly effective, I didn't have true friends till junior year of high school and my social skills are extremely lacking for someone my age."
"Funnily enough, they're asking my brother now if he's considering getting into a relationship, not realizing that the way we were raised makes it near impossible."
Sounds Like a Very Candid Conversation Needs to Happen
"I'm in my 30s, but I'll answer anyways. I think my parents think that since I'm self sufficient (I moved out when I was 18, got married in my mid 20s then moved 1000 miles away), that I don't want to hear from them."
"I'm always the one to text first, we go years without actually talking on the phone. I have no idea why they don't want to talk to me. I had to reactivate my Facebook to get any 'family updates.'"
"It really hurts that they don't even think to text me when something happens in the family, even if I texted them earlier that week about something else (I text them dumb stuff about the weather --- I live in a much different climate now compared to them-- or I'll share an interesting article or whatever. I text at least a few times a month, only to get a 'oh cool' response)."
"Anyway, I feel like they think I like it this way and don't want a relationship with them. I mean, we're not close and probably never will be, and it's true, I don't 'need' them and have gotten by just fine without any of their help, but it's still super hurtful to have your shit together and feel like a good person yet your parents have zero interest in being in your life."
"I have a kid too and they show no interest in being grandparents to him (yet they're super close with my siblings kid)."
The Beginning of the End
"I got held back a year and my mom pins that for me. Every time I want to go out with friends or I do want to have fun, she says I'm 'A special case' and that I'm different from the rest of the class. She makes me feel (no offense to anyone) retarded."
"Everyday I used to feel like the outcast of the class, the thought that I don't fit in with the class. But I got over it eventually, I learned how to make my friends into my sort of family, and they really make my life a whole lot better now."
There are Better Ways to Do That
"My Mom's family has a history of heart disease and because of that she's always been overly cautious about weight etc. I have a build different to her and my sister who are both super skinny without having to put much effort into it."
"I grew up being fat shamed to the point that even a comment from her sets me off now and I thought I was fat and ugly for the longest time (I wasn't, gained a little now though can't lie). She thinks her constant comments are to get me to care about my health but it made me very insecure in my mid to late teens."
It's something they don't do: They NEVER apologize. Not once, not ever. And if you bring up something they did wrong, they immediately change the subject.
"My mother constantly complains..."
My mother constantly complains about paying her own bills 24/7. My parents got divorced when I was 10 because she cheated and moved out. As a result, she had to get her own place, work, and pay for things. She complains about paying for water, electric, food, her mortgage, etc. All stuff any person has to pay. Stuff that I have to pay too, yet I'm 23 and don't complain and live on my own. She genuinely still thinks she's entitled to some sort of financial support from my Dad and whines about how "poor" she is all of the time.
He still pays for her health insurance and even that's not good enough. Her constant complaining has always made me resent her. When I tell her to stop complaining because it bothers me, she doesn't understand why, and tells me it shouldn't bother me because she deserves more money. She then lectures me on how shitty she thinks my Dad is for not continuing to give her money. He literally gave her $1,000 a month in child support even though I lived at his house and he paid for ALL of my bills until I was 21.
"Criticizing things I like..."
Criticizing things I like that they don't understand because they don't understand them.
Even as an early adult, they don't realize their actions can hurt people because they think they're such great parents. Growing up I would often get yelled at or threatened to get spanked for making mistakes, not to mention they get annoyed or even angry for simple things I did like laying in my room in the dark, listening to music, wearing a sweater, or even drying my face after washing it. To this day they still think they did a good job raising me.
"Not a kid anymore..."
Not a kid anymore but there's a few things that come to mind.
Growing up, my parents thought the key to a good job was good grades, that's it. Nothing else. So they refused to let me do anything else. No extracurriculars because it was a waste of time.
Similarly, they didn't want me to have friends/a girlfriend because they saw that as a distraction (the latter is pretty common in Asian culture and not exclusive to my parents). So they purposefully "taught" me socially unacceptable behaviour, things like "bully other people first so they don't bully you" type shit. It was highly effective, I didn't have true friends till junior year of high school and my social skills are extremely lacking for someone my age. Funnily enough, they're asking my brother now if he's considering getting into a relationship, not realizing that the way we were raised makes it near impossible.
Also, they'd constantly ask for my opinion on something, primarily their cooking. Sometimes I didn't like what was made. But if I said no, they would get upset and threaten to stop cooking for me. If I said yes (which is what I did most of the time), I'd just end up throwing out food anyway. It's made it hard for me to disagree with someone's opinion or share my own because I worry that others will get mad like my parents have (and a former friend who did that didn't help matters).
My dad thinks I'm completely useless and a waste of time, he has no problem putting me down in front of other people, and he doesn't like to be challenged.
Mom just tells me to get over it. "He's your father!"
Meanwhile, everyone thinks he's some great guy at home who's incredibly helpful and perfect and kind and so on.
"I didn't experience..."
My folks took my departure at age 18 as a rejection, tho' I don't think they could have put it into words. It was like, you think you're too good for us/for where we live/for who we are?
I didn't experience it that way, but I suppose on some level that IS what was going on. Anyway, they never quite forgave me for leaving, or stopped punishing me subtly for "judging" them.
I understand it more now ... my own kids are in their 30s & both of them were clear about wanting to be reasonably close to home. That does feel good. I don't think I'd take it personally, though, if they put down roots someplace far away.
"Not leaving me alone..."
Not leaving me alone when I ask.
"Constantly asking me..."
Constantly asking me why I haven't had kids. I tell my mum it's because no one wants to settle down with me and perhaps there is something wrong with me. She just shrugs and says— hmmm I don't Know what's wrong with you.
"Not my parents..."
Not my parents but my legal guardian threatens to put me back in foster care anytime I mess something up.
"I was raised by my grandma..."
I was raised by my grandma, so there's that gap. She thinks depression is a "disease of people which have no occupation" because she had to flee her country before the war and she's just fine (she isn't, she just has a great coping mechanism).
"Screaming at me..."
Screaming at me, like making rude remarks when "I do something wrong", and doing that instead of trying to help me to do better.
Treating your kid as a friend / confidant or using them as emotional support.
This essentially robs the kid of their childhood and forces them to be a parent to their own parent. I assure you, it's not fun. The emotional damage is severe and long lasting.
"I don't even want to begin to explain..."
I'm an adult now, but the level of hypocrisy my parents laid on us as teens was difficult to bear at times.
They would constantly instill this fear of "you don't know what the real world is like, you won't make it out there, you have no clue how this all works" but would not take the time to teach us about the "real world". They held onto outdated values, such as "Just walk into any office and ask for a job" or "When you apply for school loans, ask for an interest-free one" as if we had options.
As a teen they would get angry and would threaten with "I pay for your cellphone and can take that away from you in an instant because you don't do sh!t around this house" but when I began to ask how bills work and offered multiple times to pay my share (because I had a job), they would ignore it and say "We want to pay this for you". I would constantly ask them to teach me about finances, how credit worked, how to repair stuff, etc. They would ignore it and say "don't worry about that now" while there was this constant unspoken pressure of "the second you're on your own you need to know everything before because you will literally die if you dont." As an adult they don't understand why I have so much anxiety and that I constantly worry about everything.
If we were in an emergency, like a sudden car repair, they would pay for it and say "Don't worry about this, we got you, we're here to help, no need to repay us".... but then a month down the road we'd have an argument and Mom would yell "I paid for your car and can take it away from you..." when in fact the car was fully in my name and paid off. Accepting any sort of money or help from them was held over our heads, even though we were constantly told "Dont worry about this, it's what we're supposed to do". Many times we had the money to cover ourselves, but they wanted to step in and save us. I now have a very hard time accepting money from even my husband because I have a fear that it's going to come back at me.
They would constantly threaten to kick us out anytime we would counter or question their hipocrisy, and would throw my brother out the house but then 30 minutes later go hunt him down. At one point my brother had pre-packed a bag and was on his way to be picked up by a friend when they found him, and couldn't understand why he had prepared for it. Over the years I had learned to have a "bug-out" bag ready to go and to be prepared to be kicked out in an instant. I also learned to read over documents to learn what actually WAS mine and to keep my finances and personal information out of their reach.
I don't even want to begin to explain the hell they put me through when I came out as gay.
After years of processing it, I think they were just afraid of losing their babies. They wanted to shelter us but also teach us lessons at the same time, causing a lot of confusion and internal battles that I still face with today. I love them and they are good parents, but god that messed me up royally.
"The amount of times..."
Putting us down for asking a simple question which can easily be answered. The amount of times that this has happened is too much and i think that most kids can relate.
"I know that they just..."
Words coming out from their mouths especially when they are angry. I know that they just want to correct me, but the choice words they are using are like swords peircing my heart, literally hurting me.
"Signing me up..."
I'm an adult now, but I'll give this one a shot. Constantly berating me for doing anything feminine and forcing me to stop if I continued.
Signing me up for martial arts to help me "man up" then after I had been in classes for a while 'jokingly' throwing a fake punch (They never actually connected with only one exception) and going "Why aren't you using martial arts to defend yourself" then having the nerve to be surprised when I start flinching back from any sudden movements from them.
So yea, now I'm openly trans, afraid of physical contract, and don't really talk to them.
"Basically shutting me up..."
Basically shutting me up while I'm talking because they don't care, but then telling me I'M being rude when I do the same to my little brother. Make your mind the frick up, guys.
"Whenever I want to open up..."
My mom loves using my words against me.
Whenever I want to open up to her about my depression, she pulls out the "you smiled once when you were 8 so it's fake." Whenever I am thinking about coming out to her she makes me rethink it with "if gay people were quiet about their sexuality they would experience a lot less violence." If I try to talk to her about trauma she says "I think I would've known about that."
"They might not see it..."
Force me to do extra curricular activities that I hate. They might not see it as a bad thing but I am constantly worried about how I'm going to get through the next session and how bad it's going to be, I think it's also effecting my self esteem.
"When brought to his attention..."
My dad blamed his suicide attempts on my brother and me. When brought to his attention he doesn't understand why this is hurtful.
Make remarks about me not loving my family because I was in my room for an hour. Over exaggerating little things that I do, such as if I were to take a nap for an hour, they will complain about me sleeping for the whole day. Also, when they get mad or irritated with me for not doing something correctly that they never taught me how to do.
"Both my parents..."
Not a kid anymore, but...
Both my parents took credit for my achievements, but blamed me for my failures. At the same time, they also tended to avoid responsibility for their own mistakes.
My mom body shamed me for not being jacked and rolling in women, while my dad shamed me for vanity whenever I tried to self-care.
Being in the middle of this was hard.
My parents are archetypal boomers. When anyone (including me) does something or is into something they don't find interesting they are quick to mock said person for being "weird." Also, my dad doesn't understand hobbies because "they don't make money." However, they have the thinnest skin and if they get any criticism or are called out, they get all righteous and angry. That includes when I tell them what they said was hurtful and they act like I'm crazy and get mad at me for insulting them (crazy logic). Also, their problems are the only real problems that exist. Having a tough day at work? Well your being a baby, because their day was much tougher.
"I am definitely..."
My parents realized quite early that I was intellectually gifted, so they sent me to a ton of different courses, so that I could thrive. I got lessons in music, played the harp pretty well, was doing good in school and was also in our city's volleyball team. I basically was taking a ton of extra lessons outside of class and they were really proud of me. When I was 9 I got into a very violent encounter with a family friend which resulted in me becoming depressed and paranoid. I started suffering from panic attacks, my motivation and passion for learning new things was lost.
My parents didn't know how to cope with it, refused to send me to therapy for years and even now (11 years later) they deny my mental state. I am definitely doing a lot better thanks to therapy and medication, but as soon as my mental illness comes up, they just keep denying that something is wrong and they claim that it's just my attitude and my view on life that is messing up things for me, so yeah.. That sucks.
"I'm not sure..."
I'm not sure how my parents didn't understand this would hurt me but repeatedly telling me I was fat, don't gain weight, suck in my stomach, etc despite being in healthy body weight range. Whenever I broke down crying their method to console me was to say that it's good they call me fat since no one else will be honest with me and only say nice things to me so therefore they're caring about me. Writing this now makes me wonder if it's one of the many reasons I can't take a compliment...
"As much as that makes her sound..."
Before my sister and I would go to parties or public places my mom would remind us to behave by saying, "We will NOT be the freak-shows today!"
As much as that makes her sound like a monster, she wasn't. She just had no idea the impact of her words had on my little ego.
There's a book called "Running on Empty" by Dr. Jonice Webb. It details the different types of emotional neglect. Emotional neglect isn't abuse, it can happen even with loving parents with the best intentions. It means parents aren't in tune with their children's emotions and don't know how to explain or help a child process their emotions. Most often it happens when a parent was emotionally neglected themselves. They lack the tools in their tool box to help their children on an emotional level. I recommend reading the book if you're struggling with anxiety or depression and don't know why - you may have been emotionally neglected.
"When your parents..."
When your parents tell you to tell them if someone hurts you, but then have the attitude, "If I didn't see it, it didn't happen."
"Telling me that my sadness..."
Telling me that my sadness is a result of my own mind. Whenever I express to them that I'm feeling depressed they tell me that I need to take control over my mind. It makes me feel super incapable.
"When they constantly..."
When they constantly have stupidly high standards for me and not my little sister. They scream and insult me when I'm not doing good in a class and basically treat me like a cow going to slaughter.
"It always makes me unhappy..."
Yelling. It has always made me unhappy whenever they yell because not only do I have an irrational fear of loud or sudden noises, but they can get any point across just by looking at me eye-to-eye and saying what they need to. Yelling 1-on-1 to me changes nothing except for how much I dislike you.
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