Family camping
Photo by Tegan Mierle on Unsplash

No two people have the same style when it comes to parenting.

Some people have a more nurturing approach, who never force anything on their children, and allow them to develop certain skills, from using the potty to riding a bicycle, in their own time.

Others have a more "tough love" approach.

The sort of people who, as the saying goes, throw their children head first in the deep end and let them figure out how to swim.

No doubt, such a technique will teach their children resilience and determination.

Even though, the chances of some of these situations backfiring is extremely likely.

As are the chances of lasting trauma for the children.

Redditor MynameMB was curious to hear people's firsthand horror stories of when their parents threw them head first in the deep end, leading them to ask:
"What's your worst story from the "throw him in the pool, he'll learn how to swim" parenting style?"

Becoming One With Nature

"I had never gone camping before I was 11, I really wanted to go with my ten-year-old cousin."

"My parents took me to the woods, and handed us the tent and a half-full bag of ranch Doritios , and like a pack of bratwursts, and my seven-year-old sister."

"Then they pulled off, leaving us to camp for the first time alone in the woods with a seven-year-old."

"Not a fun weekend."

"I never went camping again, but it was apparently fine because that's how my dad and uncle learned."

"I'm just grateful for the lack of serial killers, and black bears."- UrDadTxtMe

Out On The Open Road

"My dad, when he decided to give me driving lessons when I was a teenager, which turned out to be a driving lessON, singular."

"He took me to the parking lot across the street from our house, and had me tool around to get used to the steering and pedals for about 15 minutes."

"Then, annoyed that I wasn't catching on fast enough for his taste, he decided we should go on the actual road and I'd learn faster in a more challenging environment."

"Cue him barking orders to 'speed up, slow down, HIT THE BRAKES!' in an increasingly frustrated voice as I tooled along, terrified I was going to hit someone."

"The culmination of our lesson came when he noticed we were low on gas, and told me to pull into the gas station."

"Keep in mind- my sum total of driving experience at this point was about 25 minutes, which did not include parallel parking."

"I pulled into the gas station and came at the pump at something like a 30-degree angle."

"He grabbed the steering wheel to correct and actually yelled at me, 'JESUS CHRIST!! DON'T YOU KNOW HOW TO DRIVE?!'"

"To which I said, 'NO!!! I DON'T!! YOU'RE TEACHING ME, REMEMBER?!'"

"He drove back home silently."

"That was the end of Dad's driving lessons. I signed up with a driving school after that."- SigourneyReaver

Tough Love At It's Toughest

"I got stung by a bee and my mother was convinced I was faking."

"At the point I started to struggle to breathe, she finally irritatingly relented and made me walk to the hospital pushing my baby brother's stroller the entire way."

"When I got there, the staff were horrified, rushed me in to give me an epinephrine shot, and luckily that did the trick."

"Many months later, a bee got into my bedroom, and my father called me a pu**y for coming and getting him to deal with it, instead of dealing with it myself."

"'You have to learn how to deal with these things sometime!'"

"Or, like, you know, I could just ask someone not allergic to bees to come and safely deal with the bee instead of risking hospitalization?"

"My parents were terrible, and abusive for for more than just this one single incident."

"I have been NC for about twenty years because of the way they treated me as a child."

"I have countless incidents like this from both of them, this one just stood out at the time I was replying to this."- ShofieMahowyn

The Only Way To Teach Children How To Swim is by TEACHING THEM HOW TO SWIM!

"Not my story, but my mom's."

"She developed a phobia after she was thrown into a pool to learn how to swim."

"At the age of 70, she still doesn't know how to."

"She's terrified of being on the water, even in a safety vest."

"And then, some fake clairvoyant told her she would die by drowning."

"So we spent our summers in the mountains as far away from being on water."- myuniquenameonreddi

"I was scared of the deep end so my dad threw me in."

"My cousin parked an inflatable mattress in the corner I was in immediately."

"My parents supposedly yelled at him to move, he didn't."

"I don't know how long I was was under the mattress for, but I was spitting up water/choking when I came back up."

"I was maybe 6 at the time?"- Gone_cognito

Some People Really Are That Stubborn...

"My younger cousin, 4 at the time, was a climber and always needed help getting down."

"His dad told his mom to leave him."

"He’ll either learn how to get down himself or stop climbing."

"Cousin ended up climbing onto the roof, fell off and got impaled on a fence pole."

"One very expensive trip to the ER and he now has a cool scar on his thigh."

"He did not stop climbing, he just got better ways to get off the roof."- idontdigdinosaurs

A Baby? Seriously?!?!

"My father in law decided when his first child was born that they, he and his wife, would NOT go to the baby when he started crying in the middle of the night."

"In order to teach him that crying doesn’t get you anything in this world."

"Turns out, newborns need to be fed every two hours."

"So it’s a good thing my mother in law ignored him and went to their newborn son, otherwise he might have died."- ApolloStaples

Surprising As It May Seem, Some Children Do Tell The Truth

"Hurt my arm playing football during morning break at school, was sent home by the school nurse."

"My dad said it was fine, bandaged it and sent me to school the next day only for them to send me home again within an hour."

"My mum made my dad take me to hospital and my arm was broken."

"My wrist had spilt lengthways, it was in casts for 9 months."

"I was secretly buzzing to be honest because, well, that showed him the knob."-Reddit


"When I was about 5 or 6, I was very sick with a flu. Fever, vomiting, sweating, congestion, it was awful. There was some mixup at the pharmacy, and they thought I was my father and gave him adult medication-basically these giant horse pills."

"Now, normal child medication for things like this are syrups and chewable sh*t for obvious reasons. My dad comes home and tells me I have to take these meds. I have a hard time getting them down, almost choking a few times. My dad got frustrated and literally started shoving these huge pills down my sore throat with his angrily shaking fingers. I started crying, my nose was stuffed so I could only breathe through my mouth. I remember my dad’s wedding ring banging against my teeth, eyes watering, gasping for air while looking at my mom for help."

"Eventually, I coughed it back up, crying and throat on fire. I remember my mom demanding an apology from my dad, who just said 'Well, he’s going to have to learn to take pills like that sometime anyway' and stormed off."

"Damn. I haven’t thought about that story in 20+ years."


Time To Swim Honey

"​My dad and I once witnessed someone who literally did this for a little three-year-old girl. This little girl was just playing at the edge of the pool, happily minding her own business when her dad ran up behind her, picked her up, and tossed her screaming as far as he could into the deep end of the pool while yelling “time to swim honey”.

"At first my dad and I didn’t react, cause my dad has done this to me as a game (I learned to swim first) but we started to notice that she was struggling to surface while he dad just watched. My dad nervously asked, “can she swim?” To which the guy just shrugs and says “she’ll figure it out”.

"I have never seen my dad book it so fast to get it the water as I did that day. He quickly go the kid out of the water and started screaming at the guy about what kind of idiot he was while the girl was just bawling her eyes out. I swear my dad was ready to deck the guy. This was back in the 1990s so we didn’t have a cell phone to call the police, but we never saw them again after. It was the first time in my life I had seen insane parenting and to this day freaks me out that some people will still do this."



"My stepmom walked us (me, sister, brother 10-12) deep into the woods and left us there to learn 'survival skills'. We thought we were all out on a hike then she distracted us, and ran away. We wandered into camp hours later; we knew how to get back but searched for hours worried that something had happened to her. She was drinking margaritas and smirking."


Sink or Swim

"I actually used to be a swim teacher in college teaching private lessons in people's backyards because of parents who had thrown their kids into the pool to sink or swim. It was usually Mom's calling me for help because they heard from a friend of a friend that I was able to teach their kid and get them to like the water again in about a month or less. One kid, he was 7, I had to sit with him on the pool deck the whole first lesson and bring buckets of water to him, his Dad had dunked him multiple times and insisted that his son would just figure it out eventually because "that's how he learned." Needless to say he was never home when I was there."

"The Mom had me come while Dad was at work. Four weeks later she had me come later in the afternoon so he would come home towards the end of the lesson. His Dad saw his son swimming and cried happy tears. He had no idea I had been there three days a week for a month. My favorite student was a 70-year-old man who wanted to do a triathlon but never learned to swim because his Dad threw him in as a child. It took about 3 months total, a lot of hand holding on the steps and shallow end, but he finally achieved his goal and I got to cheer him on at the finish line."

"I still remember how each of my students clung to my arms and clawed at my neck in their first lessons. I never dunked or forced anyone out of their comfort zone. My lessons had to be customized for each student to keep it fun and relaxing. The trauma in their eyes was haunting though. It stayed with me and I NEVER force anything on my kids that they aren't ready to do. It's about trust, not force."


Rage Stroke

"I was at the beach one time and it was hot out-I could not walk on the sand without sandals on. I heard a cry and looked up to see a little girl standing barefoot on the sand, not more than two, screaming for her dad, 5 feet away, who just told her to ‘stop being such a little pu**y’. Just about had a rage stroke and ran over to pick her up myself, but he eventually did." - ubereddit

Picky Eater

"I was always a picky eater growing up. One time my mom sat me down with a small bowl of almonds and told me I couldn’t get up out of my seat until I finished it. I insisted that I hated them and they were making my mouth itch, she thought I was just being difficult. I just started to swallow the almonds like pills because my mouth was so itchy from chewing on them."

"A couple years later I saw and allergist and discovered I was allergic to tree nuts."

Good Learning Experience?

"This didn't happen to me but to my older brother, so I had a front-row seat to all of it."

"He was looking to purchase a house for cheap that was in a semi-rural area, and wanted at least some acreage near it. His budget was way smaller than it should have been for the houses he wanted, and was looking at the most dilapidated, terrible houses ever. He found one that was just what he wanted: multiple rooms, a basement, 2 acres of woods, and about 15-30 minutes away from nearby cities. It was only about $120,000, and he was sold on it. The problems were abundant however, and I told him not to do it. Our parents loved this idea."

"They pushed and encouraged him, looked at it and took pictures, helped fill out loan paperwork, and even started planning all of the restoration projects it would need. My brother was committed all the way to the point of confirming the loan and moving there immediately. I was mortified. This house was an absolute dump made in the early 1910s and redid once in 1950. It had mold, holes in the roof and walls, old rusted wiring, peeling wallpaper, and crumbling shelves. The only redeemable part was the size of the rooms, which were pretty decent. I begged him not to do it, and it finally made him think twice."

"Finally, he relented and listened to me. He stopped and decided not to do anything. Later, I brought up how bad of an idea that house was and my parents completely agreed. They thought it was garbage, but they wanted him to follow through because it would have been a "good learning experience." I was floored and asked why they would support this then, and they simply responded that it would teach him to be careful with these kinds of things."

"They were literally going to let him go into massive debt and struggle so hard in order to teach him to be more careful of opportunities, and they tried to push it and encourage it instead of just sitting down and explaining all of this!"

"Tldr: Parents were going to let my brother go into massive debt to buy a sh*tty old house in order to teach him a lesson on waiting to find a better house deal after encouraging and nearly forcing him to go through with it." - JJ_Fury97

Everyone needs a little tough love every now and again.

Of course, the important element of tough love is the love, not the toughness.

And one can't help but wonder if parents putting their children in potentially deadly situations are actually acts of love?