People Share The Worst Things Their Parents Did To Build Character That Completely Backfired

Character counts, right? Our parents do their best to help us be our best person, but sometimes that means abuse and tearing down our self-esteem, resulting in life-long problems and PTSD.

evaloves11 asked, Growing up, what did your parents do or make you do that was supposed to "build character" or teach you a lesson that in the long run just messed you up or made you worse?

Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.

Not the best way to instill confidence.

I was always taught to not speak unless spoken to and now I find it weird to initiate conversation and people who don't know me think I'm uptight.


This is how lawyers are made.

This sh*t:

Parent: Sweetheart, you can say anything to me. I'm your parent and you have the right to be honest with me about anything.

Me: tells them something completely honest and difficult to hear


Turned me into a person who can lie spectacularly if I need to. And that's a damn shame.


Positive reinforcement is important.

Not complimenting us or saying I love you. They said no one will say good job when you grow up just simply just do the things you need to do. And my mom said her parents never sad they loved her and she turned out good so shouldn't either


And the cycle of abuse continues.

Screaming, calling names, unreasonably harsh punishments, not allowing any input of defense. Example: My little brother got in the mud when my stepdad was taking a nap. I got him out and told him to wait on the porch while I grabbed a towel. When I came back he had gone inside my parents bedroom and climbed on the bed, waking up my stepdad. So my stepdad dragged me outside. My mom never really did much about the way he treated me because at the end of the day they believed it would prepare me to deal with shitty situations in the real world.


Like our generation can afford kids anyway?

If my dad taught me anything it's to never have kids if you're not willing or able to raise them well. I'm more than happy to end the family name, here's to generations of abuse and neglect.


Physical affection is essential for emotional development.

Not being open and loving with each other. I find it really hard to open up to people because I could never open up to my family. The same with physical affection. I don't like hugging people or being hugged that much and I find it quite awkward because I never really hugged anyone when I was growing up.


Way to tear your daughter down...

My parents made me shave all my hair when i was in high school because they somehow believed it was a distraction and not having hair would improve my grades. I went from being this confident extroverted girl to someone who couldn't look anyone in the eyes and i struggled with esteem issues for the longest time. Thanks mum and dad


Can relate - and one apology, even if it's accepted, never feels like enough.

Not saying sorry. Apologizing somehow meant admitting weakness to her, so I never apologized for things I did for a long time. (And in turn, neither did she.) Eventually as I aged, it made me overly apologetic. Trying to train myself not to say sorry for things beyond my control now.


Passive aggressive and mean.

Being an overweight child into my teenage years my mother would try tactics to "help" me loose weight rather then helping provide me with a healthy diet. One Christmas 80% of my gifts where clothes that where 2-3 sizes to small. As a kid/teenager Christmas is a big deal and to not only get mostly clothes, but clothes that didn't fit was so sad. I'll never forget that.


This is so bad. Fight back!

Not fighting back against my bullies. I was supposed to just walk away from confrontation and be the better person, but unfortunately bullies, in particular children, don't really think that way.


The Lying Game

Inadvertently teaching me to lie all the time.

Punishing us when we told the truth, punishing "worse" when we were caught in a lie only showcased that lying is a gamble; a gamble that is totally worth it if you can get away with it 9 times out of 10.

I'm pretty sure I just stopped being honest with my parents after the age of 10 and never turned back.


Reddit User, angela_bee, came with receipts:

Parent: Sweetheart, you can say anything to me. I'm your parent and you have the right to be honest with me about anything.

Me: tells them something completely honest and difficult to hear


turned me into a person who can lie spectacularly if I need to. And that's a damn shame.


Same. My mother, god love her, always said not to react or fight back because "they are just doing it to get a reaction". So I endured near a decade of bullying from the same kids (small town public school so my classmates were the same the whole ride) until one day I snapped and beat one into a hospital trip.



Ugh, I can relate. My parents instilled this belief in me that the key to success was not watching "mindless" cartoons, never questioning authority, and not hanging out with the kids who did.

I was such an arrogant little s***. I seriously thought I was better than my peers because I didn't watch spongebob and did all of my homework. I made almost no friends, but I thought that was a good thing because they would just distract me from being the perfect student.

Now I'm socially inept and have no idea how to self-advocate because confronting authority induces so much anxiety in me.


Eating Up

My dad used to try to get me to finish my dinner by putting me outside in the dark and telling me monsters would get me. I was terrified. Whenever I didn't want to eat my food he'd threaten to put me outside again. He usually would. Now I feel incredibly stressed about eating with others, doesn't matter if they're friends or family it all makes me horrifically anxious.


Oh man. My dad did this to me too. He had a lot of other weird food punishments which mean I can't eat like a normal person. Way to ruin meals forever.


Drive Over The Edge

In general, I wasn't allowed to question them(or I had an "attitude" if they did something that upset me). The result? I can't be assertive, especially when it comes to people older than me(like treating me horribly for example). I freeze. I can't speak up to "adults" even though I'm an adult now.

My parents forced me to drive several times when I had my temps. They would drive me to tears and panic. The one time I read RPMs instead of MPH because I was so scared and upset. Another time he criticized me because he thought it would make me want to prove him wrong. No, dad. I'm a sensitive girl. All you made me do was feel like s*** and think I can't drive. He later admitted I was driving okay and that the shape of the hood actually messes people up. My older brother struggled too. I've had my temps/license for almost a decade, and I'm still scared. I need(ed) encouragement. Not threats.SensitiveBugGirl

Reminds me of my driving experience. On the first day i had my license my (extremely choleric) father offered to lend me his car and come with me to pick up my actual license. I knew it was a bad idea but i was so excited to finally drive on my own because i loved it during lessons so i thought "nah, it'll be fine, he's being nice today". Big mistake. As soon as i was driving around a big parking lot trying to pick a spot he just kept yelling at me, telling me just because i have my license now and i think i can drive, doesn't mean i can actually drive etc, until i started crying and handed over the keys.

So as a result i was terrified of driving for years and really thought i wasn't capable of driving, i was just one of those people who should never get behind the wheel. At some point i decided i didn't want to stay limited like that so i signed myself up for carsharing and started driving at night, for only 15 minutes or so and it helped a bit.

What really made me (re)discover my love for driving though was when i got a car from work for four weeks because they were working on the train tracks so that was basically the only quick way to get to the other city i was working in. So i was more or less forced to drive every day. Now i can drive for hours and i love it, and i'm actually a good driver! At least that's what i think, haha. So my advice to everyone struggling with a fear of driving is to practice regularly, it's not as hard as it seems


Toxic Masculinity

I was told football was 'gay' and rugby was a 'man's sport'. I was forced to play rugby until it became apparent that I was never going to be big enough to take it anywhere. That sparked the whole toxic masculinity thing which took about two decades to finally shed.

I'm sure this is a common story.


My dad played sports in University until he literally obliterated his ACL playing American football. (Note: he said that was the closest be ever felt to hell)

He says that's why he's happy that I decided NOT to do sports more strenuous than martial arts and racquetball.

My dad and I (when he's home, he commutes 2000km every third weekend from Atlanta to Phoenix) bond over fishing, camping, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and trying (often failing) to cook dinner for my mom whenever she has a busy day of work.

He's happy that, despite my mental disorder (Aspergers'), I've become what he sees as as close to the perfect son as he'll have. I feel bad that your dad doesn't see you in the same way.


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