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When you read the name, "Karen," you might think of viral videos of middle-aged white women berating an employee and demanding to speak to the manager. It's become somewhat of a meme because of the viral videos, but its intentions are to point out the privilege white women can use to get what they want or weaponize it against people of color.

The image of the "Karen" has evolved into the "Coronavirus Karen" since the pandemic has begun.

What you might not be realizing is these "Karens" are mothers (or even fathers) who may be embarrassing their kids, or even treating them with the same manipulation at home.


Redditor MinionofThanos asked:

"Children of a 'Karen,' what is it like?"

Here are some first hand accounts of what it's like to live with a "Karen."

Reformed "Karen"

"My Mom is a reformed Karen. When I was a kid she used to treat people in customer service like trash. When I was a teenager and in customer service positions, it finally dawned on her what a terrible human being she was being. She's turned around and been great ever since. I'm proud of her to recognize her faults and fix them."

- mercadilly

"This makes me think of parents who are full on fire and brimstone against homosexuals until their kid comes out as gay and suddenly woosh 180."

"I guess it's great that people change their views but it's quite crazy how insular we are (often as a species at least) until something directly affects us."

- amegaproxy

"Half the problem with society is people's lack of empathy and inability to give a sh*t about anything unless they're directly affected by it. It's a damn shame."

- gristmill

"Yeah, I think a lack of empathy is a big problem. But something I've always thought was responsible for a lot of Karen-like behavior is the fact that it's effective, particularly when it come to retail establishments like stores and restaurants. If you have a little 4 year old kid and he yells and screams for his goddam candy bar in the grocery store, so much that he's embarrassed the crap out of you, and in your desire to get him to STFU, you cave in and buy him his goddam Kit-Kat bar, well, you've just taught him a very valuable lesson. He's learned that by making a huge public scene and keeping it up, mommy will eventually cave in and give him what he wants."

"That's what Karen's learn when they learn on the poor store clerks and food servers, DEMANDING to see the manager and complaining loud and long until management, just like mommy with her 4-year-old, caves in and gives her what they wants."

"If the management of these places would just firm up, stop giving in to these people, they'd eventually learn. A bad Yelp rating isn't going to kill you."

"Also, it would also help if the people around them would speak up when this happens: 'HEY! You figure your food server makes restaurant policy or sets prices? She doesn't. So stop being such a cheap-a**ed bully and leave the poor girl alone!' We gotta stop silently tolerating bullying behavior."

- DancesWithTrout

"As a former restaurant employee I agree with this 100%. Rewarding sh*tty behavior only ensures future sh*tty behavior."

- gristmill

Recovering Karen.

"My sister is a Karen in recovery, and her teenage kids are mortified by her. They had a Karen intervention with her a few months ago, and pointed out that about one out of every 3 visits to a restaurant results in a meal or a drink sent back, and about 1 in 10 results in a conversation with the manager. Unresolved complaints over the phone practically have a pre-written script: 'This is unacceptable! Poor customer service, etc.'"

"She's trying to be more self-aware because she now recognizes that not only can her behavior be embarrassing, but she's a Karen caricature. If someone described the typical Karen by looks, age, race, tone of voice, social standing - they would be describing her to a tee. Sure, it's Karen Shaming, but we're living in a society here."

- doctor-rumack

Dads can be Karens too.

"My dad is a Karen. Also in restaurants. Complains about every meal in attempt to get a discount. Asks for them to send out another steak because his wasn't perfect."

"I just pretend I'm going to the toilet and apologize to the waiter or waitress, I tell them I empathize with them and I know it's frustrating. Luckily I'm older, and I don't go out for meals with him so much anymore. When I was young, I'd do chores for him and he'd complain the same way at me. Like 'you're not washing the dishes right!' and other nonsense. His worst was when I swept the floor, I never got it exactly how he wanted it."

"He had three different sponges for the dishes. You needed to use the right ones for each dish. He would get mad at me for my technique and watch over my shoulder every time. With sweeping the floor, he would treat me like I don't know how to sweep. He would attack my technique and watch over me. He would make me sweep the carpet in a single direction so all the fibers of the carpet bent the same way. Sweeping carpet is hard af anyway, but he said I couldn't use a vacuum because it would damage the carpet (lol). I always washed the dishes perfect, and got every crumb off the floor, but he was madder about technique than end result."

"He's a narcissist, most likely, as there are many more negative things he's done that scream narcissistic personality disorder."

- poop-machines

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"I dated a girl for three years during high school. When we started dating, I went out to dinner with her family (pizza, iirc). After we ate, her dad just started yelling at the waiter and eventually, the manager. He was raising a complete fuss and it was really embarrassing to me. Later, I asked her about it because I thought the meal was fine and she said he always does that to try to get the meal for free."

"The thing was that they were definitely not hurting for money. He just did for grins. Just one of the guy's many a**hole traits. It was the only time I went out with her family over the three years."

- FrostyBeav

"My dad is a male Karen."

"I always hated listening to him call customer service on the phone, because he's such a complete ahole to whoever is just trying to do their job."

- xaradevir

"My dad used to 'help' obvious first-time food servers who messed up by lecturing them, telling on them to their boss, and then stiffing them on the tip. He always justified it with a story about how once in the 90's he actually had a boss thank him for doing it because his staff sucked (it was a very unique situation). I always felt so bad for the servers who were humiliated. Because of that I always tip well as an adult, out of this childhood guilt I carry."

- My_username_is_thus

Karens in Restaurants.

"My mom is somewhat of a Karen (mostly in regards to restaurants) and I have an anxiety disorder. It's a combination made in hell."

- ASzinhaz

Accountability.

"I knowwwww every restaurant has messed with our food, and for good reason. I'm in my 30s now and I won't go out with my mom in public. She doesn't want to either, because I'll give her sh*t for whatever she did to some poor teenaged cashier until she cries. Two can play this game and no one wins."

- Whatsredditimworking

"This! I respect you so much for not letting her get away with it and not letting her have that chip on her shoulder of accomplishment like she did something that had to be done!!"

- DmonLeo047

"The fact that she gets called out on it, and gets a taste of her own medicine until she cries...and then repeats the behavior the next time anyway is something, innit?"

- comin_up_shawt

"The abuse of staff is likely manipulation to get her way. Same for the crying."

- throwaway20348329

A realization.

"When I was a child everything was someone else's fault. We'd speak to managers in stores/restaurants/etc."

"When I came of age, I joined the military and moved away as fast as possible. As an adult, my relationship with her was terrible. I was so frustrated by her asking me to come back to visit her area every time we talked, that I just stopped talking to her."

"Something particularly interesting had happened this past year. I went home to see my grandma on dad's side as she was passing. I called my mom and told her I was taking an emergency trip and would be in the area but wouldn't have time to see her. Her response? 'That's fine, I understand your family needs you.'"

"I was beside myself. I had known that she was working on herself for a while, but living so far away and speaking so little I hadn't witnessed it. Five years ago, she would have demanded that I leave my dying grandma to come see her. I came back to the area the next month and we discussed it more."

"She said that she realized that a lot of problems in her life and a lot of the unhappiness stems from selfishness. I am incredibly proud of the changes she's made in her life. And it has forced me to reevaluate my own actions pertaining to our strained relationship and my life as a whole. And I've come to a conclusion."

"I'm just like her."

- One_Knight_Scripting

"I relate to this on a spiritual level."

"My mother has the same issues with her mother that I have with her. And I know if I have kids, I'm just going to repeat the cycle, so I refuse to have children just in case I'm never able to exorcise that demon."

- Echospite

"You are very brave to take such a candid look at yourself and your mother. And if you are that courageous, you are not like your mother."

- better00pecan

​How to end an argument.

"I learned to end argues by saying 'you're right.'"

- d4ydr34m02

"I like to say 'OK.'"

"Doesn't give them the satisfaction of 'winning' but also gives them nothing more to feed off of."

- AskMeAboutMyStalker

It's not fun to be the kid of a Karen.

"Frankly its embarrassing. You have to sit there while they shriek at a manager and cause a big scene. If you try to chime in you get yelled at, then they are in a bad mood the rest of the day. I've sat through hour long debates with managers over 11 cents disparity on a bill. Everyone is looking at you and you are just kind of trapped there."

- demonardvark

"I once had a customer storm into a store with her daughter in tow, pissed off at me because I processed their purchase as Amex, which had a 2% surcharge. I'd told them about the surcharge and they said 'okay' and switched the card out when I wasn't looking. It was a Visa. So twenty minutes later, this woman storms back into the store, shoves the receipt under my nose, and snarls, 'explain this.'"

"I had to ask my manager how to refund an 80c surcharge because... what else was I gonna do? Stand there and get yelled at? A customer comes up with a problem, it's my job to fix it, as politely and compassionately as I can pretend to."

"It turned into a whole thing. I was f*cking around with the POS trying to figure out how to refund surcharges. Couldn't, so I had to get my manager. So now the customer is standing there, watching, as I explain that she wants an 80c surcharge refunded, and you can see it dawn on her what exactly she's done. It takes half an hour for my manager to figure out a makeshift solution, over the course of which the customer's face went from 'f*ck you' to I have made a terrible mistake.'"

"By the time it was resolved, both mother and daughter looked like they wanted to crawl under a rock and die, and the mother kept on muttering, 'It's the principle of the thing.'"

- Echospite

"I once had a similar situation. Lady wanted like .65 cents back or something. We had one manager who refused to take any sh*t from Karen's, so I called him over for help. A line was starting to form. After arguing for a few minutes my manager literally dug 65 cents out of his own pocket, threw it on the counter and asked if she was satisfied now. She was tomato red."

- PungoGirl

"This speaks to me. I worked at a pizza place in high school. Had these regulars who came in every Sunday and ordered the same thing. Super specific orders. Always rude and never tipped. I am worked Sundays and would typically take their order."

"One day their order is '8 cents more than usual!' Karen starts in on me about how they're loyal customers and know what their total should be. I enter the order a few times, coming up 8 cents higher than usual each time. I say something like 'I might be doing it wrong. Let me get my manager.' Karen says something like 'Yes obviously!' and my manager comes out."

"He tries a few times. Same total as when I took the order. Karen is p*ssed."

"My manager calls the owner and we find out the price of ham went up, so every pizza with ham is now 8 cents more expensive. Karen is beside herself. Starts in about loyalty and customer service again."

"Owner makes us discount the pizza 8 cents. Karen acts like she won a god damn war. I don't care because I'm 16 and just want this to be over."

"Fast forward to the following Sunday. I'm not working. Some other poor soul is. Karen comes in and the same situation unfolds. Over 8 cents."

"Owner is called again. For whatever reason this time the owner basically tells the customer to f*ck off. He must have been having a bad day or was just done with the pettiness, because he got on the phone and told them to take their $15.75 order somewhere else."

- baysh

Though we may laugh at the "Karen's" in the viral videos because they seem so far removed from our everyday life, there are people out there who are dealing with their behavior all the time.

But like many have said, the behavior only continues if they get what they want.

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