Most people like to think of childhood as the easiest and happiest time in a person's life. Ideally, that's exactly what it should be.
Unfortunately, ideal isn't always real.
One Reddit user asked:
So let's talk a little bit about rough childhoods - or more honestly about what it does to a person. It changes them in ways that they, themselves, might not even realize. Even if they don't talk about it, there are signs that things were not or are not healthy at home.
This article is not directly about abuse or neglect - but in talking about the affects they have on people, there were some personal stories shared and uncomfortable truths discussed. Proceed with caution.
A Little Too Responsible
My sister in law adopted 3 siblings who are completely self-sustainable at a very young age. When they were visiting, I noticed a lot.
-If I gave anything to the oldest boy, he would pass it off to the youngest sister. Then I'd give him another and it went to the middle-sister. Then I'd give him another and he'd finally keep it for himself.
-I asked if they wanted water. He said "yes" and I asked if the girls wanted water too. "Oh, we can all share this one." Obviously I gave them all water, but that one hit me pretty hard.
-He knew their eating schedules and would nag my sister in law.
-Offered to make them mac and cheese or noodles or whatever we have laying around. Promised to clean up after. He was 12 years old.
-When "normal" kids play videogames, they're glued. This kid was constantly checking over his shoulder to make sure everyone was safe and if he felt one of his sisters was up to no good, he would put the controller down even if it meant dying or losing his progress in the game.
-To elaborate on "up to no good" what the oldest brother considered bad behavior was pretty innocuous. There were several instances of things I consider normal childish behavior that he would regularly put a stop to. The most outstanding one was being too loud. It wouldn't even be yelling or screaming. Just typical 5 year old make-believe noises that would cause him to run over and tell the little one to keep it down.
InsecurityConfused Issa Rae GIF by Insecure on HBO Giphy
My Psychology professor used to joke that, "Psychology is the study of common sense." When someone is Insecure, it is generally because they lacked security as a child. Parental love was typically conditional and varied depending on the caretaker's mood. The child becomes insecure due to love not being guaranteed, so to 'earn' this basic need, they will go throughout life trying to 'solve social puzzles' that don't exist. solving imaginary puzzles all the time can prove to be fatiguing, so these individuals tend to isolate themselves.
I remember going to summer camp as a kid and meeting Milo. Milo was big on attention seeking and validation, and would take food from the cafeteria back to his bunk, like eggs and toast. I remember thinking he was just weird, but I think looking back and knowing what I know now, he was probably being neglected at home. Thin as a rail and probably malnourished, so he wanted as much food as he could get, and just wanted someone to acknowledge him. Pretty sad stuff.
I went through a compulsive lying phase from about age ten through...I dunno, 22 or so? A lot of innocuous stuff, like I really wanted the snooty horse girls in my fourth grade class to believe I had an uncle with a sprawling horse farm (?!?). It was absolutely attention seeking, and I've been beating myself up about it since day one. Looking back, of course it was attention seeking behavior. I was so lonely.
We talk about compulsive lying as such a pathetic behavior. Most people who recognize it just write you off as a nutcase or toxic or untrustworthy. But at 10? I was a little kid who didn't believe anybody could possibly like me.
My self worth was nonexistent. The fact that the lying continued through adolescence is because
a) the internet became a thing and I could almost effortlessly develop a whole new identity, which is intoxicating to somebody who feels worthless all the time, and
2) I was intelligent and imaginative enough to juggle the lies, so consequences came very slowly.
It's very appealing to treat liars with contempt, but it takes a special person to recognize the behavior's roots in abuse and neglect and find some compassion. I hope anybody who went through a lying phase (or is in one right now) can be kind to themselves. It's not pathetic to want people to like you. It's human.
They apologize habitually, compulsively, and for everything. Even for things that have nothing to do with them.
This one hurts. I'm constantly told to 'stop apologizing,' and it gets so frustrating trying to explain that I CAN'T HELP IT. It was a survival mechanism in a home where I had no say, and would get in trouble for EVERYTHING. Even the things they told me to do.
Yep. And everything is their fault. They take you to a restaurant and the food sucks? They apologize profusely for it and feel terrible about it — it somehow has become their direct fault.
A Little On Edgeflinch cecily strong GIF by Saturday Night Live Giphy
Everyone is different, but one that automatically raises a red flag for me, and makes me extremely worried is when someone flinches for "no reason". (I wouldn't say It's for no reason, but I don't know what other words to use. So really sorry about that!).
Like, you raise your voice slightly at them and they flinch, you raise your hands to grab something near them and they flinch, you look at them in a certain way and they flinch, you hug them and they flinch, etc., etc.
My dad would hit me when I was younger, but stopped around middle school age. He would get mad at me if I flinched when he went to grab something nearby me like it was my fault for being afraid of him. I think he stopped hitting me after this one time he went too far. He had me pinned up against the wall while kind of choking me? Idk the memory is pretty foggy now, but I remember my mom going completely off on him after that incident.
From personal experience, they always have a defense about what they're doing and why they're doing it lined up.
I was verbally abused and mocked a lot as a child/teen, it hurt me a lot because it didn't matter if I did something right or wrong I'd get yelled at for it, so I learned to have an excuse prepared just in case I have to answer for what I'm doing. Even in my adult life I feel like I'm always thinking to myself ways to justify what I'm up to, even if it's something as benign as why I put a dish away where I did.
No one ever asks about the mundane stuff I do, but I always feel like I have to be ready to defend myself. It really sucks. I shouldn't have to justify my existence.
Lesson Number One
The first lesson we learn in childhood is: How much am I worth?
Our caregivers are the first to reflect this worth to us - from when we are infants and toddlers (if we cry, will someone come to us? if we fall down, will someone pick us up?) to when we are kids and teenagers (do our caretakers choose to spend time with us? do we get help with schoolwork/friend drama?). There is an important balance here. As kids, we want to be taught that we are equally important as everyone else.
Some kids are taught they are less important, and as adults, they may have a hard time asking for help. They think they are "bothering" someone when they have a problem. They may also prioritize the needs of others based on an underlying belief that other people are more important. Some kids are taught that they're more important than others, and therefore treat others poorly and have trouble learning empathy. They try to justify, in their own minds, why they are "better", which can lead to some narcissistic-type thinking/behavior.
A Handy List
From the horse's mouth:
- People-pleasing behaviours (class clown; always agrees)
- Overcompensating with laughter during conversation, in an attempt to appease others
- Self-isolating; stops contacting friends for seemingly no reason (due to feelings of inferiority/worthlessness)
- No motivation to make anything of themselves (believing they would only fail anyway)
- Allows themselves to be bullied; usually hangs out with/dates abusive people
- Conspiracy theorist (can't live without a sense of impending doom; will unconsciously find one)
- Extremely nervous when doing new things in front of others
- "So mature for their age" = didn't get to be a kid/teen
- Total inability to accept compliments
- No - or very few distant - friends as an adult
- Barely any memory of childhood
- No happy stories of childhood
- Extremely-negative self-talk
Boundary issues are common, but reactions still are an individual thing. What helps to keep in mind is the 4F model of trauma responses:
Flight - running away
Fawn - to court favor by a cringing or flattering manner, so basically the stuff pathological people pleasers are made of.
When you notice somebody's reactions are easily categorized as one of those and it is a very persistent pattern, adverse childhood circumstances of some sort are a pretty safe bet.
Food Hoarding And Other Signsmr bean eating GIF Giphy
Food hording is a sign of food insecurities.
Both of my parents were addicts and I spent time in a foster home that had 10+ kids at all times. We were served what we were served, so if we didn't like it we went hungry. I would sneak food that I liked to my room and hide it from the other kids.
I also eat very fast. So much so that people comment on it all the time. My wife will pat me on the shoulder if it's super noticeable and whisper,
"No one is going to take it..."
I was also a bed wetter, which connects to my sexual abuse. but I think that goes past the question at hand.
I used to think my mistrust of police was because of my childhood, but I've since learned that everyone knows all cops are bastards, so that isn't just me. Even as a kid I would run at the first sign of law enforcement, even when I hadn't done anything. I was taught from a young age that the police weren't there to help, they were there to take me or someone I cared about away. Sometimes for good.
Less Important Needs
They think their needs are less important than other people's convenience. My husband was like this when we met. I think it's pretty normal (although not good) for men to be socialized to downplay their emotional needs, but my husband would downplay his needs for, like, food and medicine. He never said he was hungry, he would wait until I said I was hungry and then say "oh my god, me too."
One time he needed allergy medication because he'd been around a cat, he was obviously miserable, and I had to convince him that, yes, we would be stopping at the drug store on the way home, are you kidding me, you are not fine, shut up, your eyes are so swollen you can barely see.
My husband was one of those kids who was neglected in an affluent household. He always had clothes and food, but no one in his house ever had time for him. He has a hard time admitting he was mistreated because of this, but he's definitely got some psychological scars. His parents absolutely would have looked at his allergy-swollen face and told him to just deal with it, he's fine and anyway they're too busy to stop at store.
My partner grew up with a cold unloving mother and an abusive father who would beat him regularly. I've noticed a few things with him. He is very hard on himself and others- things need to be done perfectly and to a high standard every time or he becomes super anxious or pretty much has a breakdown.
When we first got together he would freak out at every minor argument or disagreement we had, as if it was going to escalate into something big or i would end up leaving him (he had abandonment issues) its taken him a few years to realize that normal people can argue, it doesn't always have to result in a big catastrophe/drama. He has always been highly independent and doesn't rely on or trust anyone else.
That's Not Normal
When you talk about something that's considered abuse and they say something to imply they didn't know it was a bad thing.
For example, I had a friend who thought locking kids in what was basically solitary confinement was a normal thing schools did. It is not.
I noticed this to my friends who grew up without having a father. They are usually immature and childlike and sometimes very sensitive.
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I love characters I love to hate.
Even when I hate them I can always find the reason they're involved in the story, so I find it difficult to want them to be erased.
Certain characters flaws and the most heinous decisions are written to further story and bolster the audience's love for the heroes.
So as much as we loathe them, we need them; much like our enemies in real life. That is what makes compelling drama.
Redditor u/nekoandCJ wanted to spill the tea on the characters we could do without in our favorite stories by asking:
People of reddit, what fictional character do you hate with a passion?
The list is long for me. It all starts with the guy who shot Bambi's mom. Lord, to this day that is still traumatizing. But she had to go to give Bambi a story. And Michael Douglas's character in "Fatal Attraction," what a putz. He got what he deserved. But how else would we be able to sympathize with Glenn Close? Even though... well y'all get it.
Family FailHome Alone Christmas GIF by FreeformGiphy
"Kevin McCallister's uncle… "look what you did you little JERK!"
"Percy from the green mile, that freak can DIE IN THE MENTAL WARD!!"
"That was what was so good, there is a Percy in every large group and more that one in any team where failure isn't punished, like a government job working at a prison. He was a great comment on humanity."
Love Sharon Though
"Ginger from Casino."
"Major kudos to Sharon Stone, her performance made me utterly loathe that character. She was a manipulative junkie who tied her young daughter to a bed so she could go out to score. I wanted to reach through the screen and choke her."
"Loathe the character, but that performance is absolutely god-tier. Helluva an acting job. Her and Pesci just freaking nail it to the stratosphere, playing thoroughly unlikeable characters in the absolute most realistic way. Ginger is the holistic ideal of the gold-digging party girl. And Pesci is that moron Dunning-Kruger guy we all know."
"Manny from Diary of a Wimpy kid I think there's a while subreddit about that little monster."
Call a Doctor!Giphy
"Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. My favorite antagonist ever. Louise Fletcher was perfectly cast for the role, too."
Ohhhh... good choices thus far. Although, I found Sarah Paulson's Ratched more detestable. You know who else is a mess? Elmira Gulch. Love the Wicked Witch. Hate Elmira! Go figure...
True Evilthe sopranos hbo GIFGiphy
"Livia Soprano made my blood pressure rise every time she was on screen. Great acting. Mission accomplished."
"I will say, I've seen Comic-Con panels with him and his smarta** sense of humor fit Micah perfectly. He may have hated the character, but boy oh boy was he a fantastic casting choice. As were all the main cast, for that matter."
All the Drama
"When I tell you I stood up and cheered when I originally saw Heather from Total Drama Island finally get booted out of the competition. 'Twas a good day."
"Season 1 I HATED her and loved when she lost her hair. But then it was more of a love-hate relationship with her. She's a fun character. Owen, now that monster I hate. Loved him season 1, but then he just got reduced to fat guy who farts and contributes nothing."
"Craig from Malcolm in the Middle. He's a selfish, annoying coward. Like the episode where he's injured and he makes Lois drive all over town to different restaurants for him. I love when the helper monkey turns on him, that's what he gets for treating it like crap. I especially hate the episode where Hal asks Craig to help him buy a comic book for Malcolm."
"And Craig also makes Hal drive him all over town for different meals and treats and gifts, then when Hal dares to ask when they're actually going to the comic book store Craig flips out and demands to be let out of the car and says he won't help Hal anymore. Like come the hell on, I just want to slap him."
"Do you need a cough drop, Dolores?!"
"I loved Umbridge for the simple fact that she brought out McGonagall's savagery like no one else, and it was glorious."
"Voldemort is just another generic, pointlessly evil type of character that only seems to exist in fiction. Umbridge is the type of tight @ssed bureaucrat that mimics the actual villain in many average people's real lives."
This thread could be endless. So many villains and loathesome characters so little time. But Lord the drama is good!
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Everyone has their own little quirks.
What's the weirdest thing you find attractive?
Perhaps the thing you find the most attractive is completely unnoticeable to the average person. As in, if you weren't looking for this one tiny, small, completely negligible thing, you would never notice it.
But these people did.
Whip It Back And Forth
"My wife had shoulder length hair for a while. Once, when I called her name and she did the hair-swish-smile thing, I just about f-cking died from cuteness."
Little Stragglies Of Cuteness
"The neck, when a woman has her hair up and those little bits of hair curl around."
"Seeing a girl have to stand on her tiptoes to do basically anything, especially to hug or kiss me.
I think it's the cutest thing ever"
Then there are those people who find things attractive that, on first viewing, someone else wouldn't see as "Wow, that's a real turn on!" However, you have refined and cultured taste. Of course you'll love it when someone's bones stick out a little bit.
"Collarbones. Can't even explain it. Just a shirt low enough to show a pronounced collarbone."
"Omgyes! Protruding collarbones and (at least imo) hipbones are crazy hot! It doesn't have to do with them being skinny though! Slightly curvy people can also have really nice defined collar- and hipbones!"
Controlling A Massive Machine
"My husband reversing the car. He puts his arm around the passenger seat and looks over his shoulder...."
"Oh, man, I love watching people drive. The arm-around-the-passenger-seat-while-reversing thing for sure, but also just people driving in general. There's just something about that focus people get when they're behind the wheel; the way their expressions are usually passive, but their eyes are attentive... oh man. I'm with you on this one for sure."
Someone Has A Thing For "Teen Wolf"
"Long canines. The teeth, not the species.
Not unnaturally long like vampire fangs, but just enough that they're longer than the rest of the teeth."
"Huh, weirdest compliment I've gotten from a guy before was that he liked my 'pointy teeth.' This was at a bar and it made my coworker do a double take."
Then there's these, which you may not have known did it for you, but after reading these there's no going back. You're hooked, now, and that's okay. Embrace the weirdness.
I See You Are Also An Individual Of Class And Substance
"Chokers, f-ck those things stir up something primal in me"
"Ah I see you also grew up in the 90s and watched buffy the vampire slayer..."
Wait, That Seems Pretty Obvi-Oh, That's Why...
"Guys who wear glasses.
For some reason I think it's sexy when we're making out and he has to take them off."
Seems Like You Like Everything They Do. Which Is Great.
"I like when women have to go pee really bad and do that dance. Yea it's weird.
Or when you successfully feed your girlfriend at the appropriate time of day and she does a little dance or starts humming a song as she's chewing.
I like watching the daily skin care routine as they furiously and rapidly circulate their little raccoon sized hands in various nonsense that I'll never understand"
Everyone is different. Everyone has different tastes. Everyone has things that speak to them. These are all perfectly acceptable, and steering into them might actually help you along as you continue your search for a viable romantic partner. Don't shy away from the things you find sexy. Embrace them. Be happy.
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When we're kids, we expect the adults in our lives to notice everything, know everything, and maintain a just, sound moral order.
Psh, don't hold your breath.
Whether it's a teacher, the parent supervising a playdate, or mom and dad at home, kids expect them to have eyes on the back of their heads.
That way, when a kid gets into a spat with a peer, has something stolen, or feels a quiet emotion, the adult in the room will respond with full knowledge of all the facts at play.
But adults are just human beings with a limited bandwidth in their heads. Half the time they're doing other things when the incident goes down.
So they weigh in as best as they can with the limited info they receive--usually in the form of two screaming children pointing at one another.
Curious to learn about the times when the adult got it wrong, Redditor Butterat_Zool asked:
"What minor injustice was wrought upon you as a child that you're still salty about today?"
Many people talked about times when a prized possession was stolen, destroyed, or squandered. Sure, things are just things.
But to kids they mean a whole lot.
Covering Her Tracks
"We had a special arts and crafts week when I was about six, maybe younger. I made my dad a Christmas stocking out of clay, because I'd always thought it was unjust that he didn't have one. It was going to be my Christmas presents to him."
"I took it to the teacher to show her, and so it could be fired later. She methodically destroyed it by balling it up in her hands, and then tried to put it down to a brain fart. I was shocked, but mostly I wanted a replacement stocking, since it was meant to be a gift. I asked her to remake it for me, since she, a teacher, would be allowed to use the clay any time, but I only had a few minutes left."
"The next day I was told I'd been bad and I wasn't allowed to participate in the arts and crafts week any more, and that was that."
No Help From Pa
"When I was 4 I had a little red rocking horse necklace. It was my favourite. I wore it to a puppet show my dad took me to one day and took it off and put it beside me."
"The kid next to me picked it up and wouldn't give it back. We fought."
"My dad told her dad he didn't recognize the necklace and let her take it. I'm 45 and still salty."
In-School Pawn Shop
"Teacher took my 2ft long pencil and sold it to another student."
"Yup. A few teachers at that school sold supplies like pencils to students. It just so happened that this one was taken from me because it was 'too distracting' "
All Them Nintendos
"When I was younger I wanted a Sega Dreamcast. My parents wouldn't just buy it for me, since 'I already had enough Nintendos.' I got a job at Hollywood Video. I couldn't even drive yet, so I would ride my BMX to work in my tuxedo uniform."
"When I saved enough money, I told my parents I was going to buy it myself. They told me no. When I asked why, they said it was to teach me that I can't always get what I want, even if I can afford it."
"I bought one anyway and successfully hid it from them. Every night when I went to 'bed,' I'd hook up the Dreamcast and play as quietly as possible. I still give them sh** for that decision, but they stand by it."
Other people fixated on the times an adult embarrassed them in front of multiple people. Of all the examples given, these are enough to make you really worry about some of the people watching kids out there.
"We were on a field trip to some Washington forest and the ranger started asking about products that grow in or are made from forests."
"3rd grade me who had just discovered in some Ranger Rick article that latex rubber comes from tree trunks confidently raised my hand to share."
" 'Uh rubber from trees, now that doesn't sound right does it' and she moved onto another. 35 years later and the salt is still there."
"In 4th grade our teacher told us to write a paper about what we thought of our school, now our school wasn't great and I was homeschooled up until that year and struggling with the change so wrote about my frustrations and how I was generally unhappy with it..."
"...and she insulted me in front of everybody until the point that I cried and then told me I should get up and read the paper to the class, I refused and she made me rewrite that paper until it was positive, you know instead of trying too help me with the problems I had"
Don't Cross a Paleo Nerd
"I was failed on an essay in English class because my interpretation was incorrect. The poet was describing an airplane and they asked us to figure how what it was being interpreted or anthropomorphized as."
"I was a paleo nerd and chose a pterosaur, because the author described the engines as screeching, and heaving, wings outstretched but still, etc. This was in 6th grade and in my essay I wrote 'and pterosaurs weren't like modern birds, they certainly didn't chirp!' "
"The teacher specifically read my essay out loud to the class as an example of something bad and wrong and 'incorrect.' She also didn't know what a pterosaur was or how you say pterodactyl. Big Salt could mine me until the sun explodes."
And finally, others shared the times they found themselves doing the wrong thing, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. The adult only saw a snippet of a much broader context of behavior.
And the minimal knowledge led them to punish exactly the wrong person.
"Someone's phone went off in class, so teacher demanded that person turn their phone it. No one budges. She holds us in class for a good 20 minutes into the next period antagonizing us about this phone that rung. Eventually she let us go and warned all other teachers about this phone incident."
"My 8th period teacher then gets involved and antagonizes us all again. Said he was gonna stand out in the hall and whoever knows anything to report to him. Some kid went out there and said it was my phone. I got yelled at, got written up for Saturday detention, and later that year found out the kid who told on me was the one who's phone rung in class."
The One Time
"In kindergarten, we sat on this foam mat made out of large puzzle pieces, and we were all assigned one. My puzzle neighbor, Tommy, threw his garbage onto my square. Every time I pushed it off, he'd put it back."
"I eventually got mad and told him to knock it off, and the teacher noticed and yelled at me for throwing garbage into his square. I sat out for the rest of the day and my pin was brought down to 'bad day'. I accidentally broke his nose on the metal spider a few weeks after during tag, though."
Pulled In to the Chatter Hole
"Once a week, in kindergarten, they would pick a name of a kid who would win a toy. Only good kids could participate."
"I was alway a good kid, but not really lucky. My name got picked only once in the whole year. That day, unfortunately for me, I was next to a kid who would not shut up during the lesson. I spoke once to ask him to please stop talking. Guess who the teacher chose to punish for disturbing the lesson? That's right. Me. Didn't get my toy."
Until some kind of horrifying technology comes out that allows adults to see and know every facet of their child's existence, tiny injustices like this will proliferate.
But perhaps those couple slights are totally worth the freedom of adults that don't know everything we're up to.
Modern medicine is a marvel. It's the reason why we've been able to effectively eradicate some serious diseases and improve the quality of health care around the world. When you take these two things into consideration, it's easy to see why vaccine hesitancy can be such a frustrating topic for people right now.
Many people would not be able to survive without the benefits of modern medicine. That's what we learned after Redditor forevernostalgic23 asked the online community,
"If modern medicine didn't exist what medical condition would have died from or been severely impacted by?"
"Bad vision alone would have made me terrible at most things."
I had bad vision until my early 20s. I second this.
"I would have had a very short life..."
"I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age seven. I would have had a very short life without modern medicine."
Having known many people who live with diabetes, I am glad that they are still here.
"I probably would have died..."
"I probably would have died at 6 years old from strep throat."
This is a big one: In the past, it commonly killed many people. And guess what, it still does? The CDC estimates approximately 11,000 to 24,000 cases of invasive group A strep disease occur each year in the United States, with 1,200 to 1,900 of those cases resulting in death.
"I was born..."
"I was born with a bilateral abdominal hernia and amniotic fluid in my lungs, no way I would have survived infancy without modern medicine."
"My brother and I..."
My brother and I were bitten by a rabid farm kitten when we were 6 and 4 years old. Without the foresight of my grandfather who had the cat tested and modern medicine creating the vaccine, my parents would be childless."
Frightening! I saw Cujo as a child and that told me all I needed to know about rabies, thank you very much.
"I would have gone deaf..."
"I would have gone deaf from recurrent ear infections as a child and then died at 14 from pneumonia."
"But since that..."
"I was born two months premature, so I'd likely not survive that in an earlier era. But since that, nothing."
"Mom and Dad..."
"The way I was born. Mom and Dad had to feed me through a tube down my nose the first year and a half."
"If the recurrent..."
"If the recurrent tonsillitis didn't get me, my appendix would have been the end of me as a teen."
"Neither kiddo nor I..."
"Giving birth. Neither kiddo nor I would be alive without emergency surgery."
Amazing, right? Be grateful for modern medicine––there are new developments each and every day. And who knows what the future has in store for us? Will there be a cure for cancer? Alzheimer's disease and dementia? The sky's the limit.
Have some stories of your own? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments section below!