Some would say that parenting is the hardest job in the world and after seeing our fair share of obnoxious kids throwing tantrums, we might have to agree. The financial burden, the perpetual responsibilities, and the loss of me-time are just a few of the sacrifices that parents endure. Some may even call them heroes... but not all parents are equal, and these stories prove it.
My mom quit having her own life the moment my brother and I were born. She was an incredibly devoted and loving mother and was very kind to us, but when we were born, she stopped having friends. She didn’t work, and was home every single day from when I was born to when I moved out in my early 20s. She was very easy to upset because she had no other source of self-esteem and any time I screwed up - and I screwed up a lot, it was as if I had levied a very personal attack against her.
In the last five years or so before I left, I don't think we had a single conversation that didn't drive her to tears, and I promise I wasn't that bad. I constantly felt cornered and stressed and fell into depression as a defense mechanism. She took my resulting lack of performance very personally, creating a very treacherous cycle that was only broken when I enlisted and finally got away. To this day I often feel like I'm a bad person who failed to live up to her love.
I remember my parents didn’t come to most of my chorus concerts. It really sucked to see my classmates’ families cheer them on, while my parents were absent. I brought home one of my chorus program papers to show my parents, and I found it in the trash the next day... I was sad because I wanted to keep it, but seeing it in the trash, I didn’t want it anymore.
I love my parents and I don’t blame them for not showing up. They are small business owners and it was hard for them to find people who could work for them whenever I had concerts or anything. It still hurt though.
I grew up with friends whose siblings would target the one with the bad temper, provoke them into a rage, then cry and play victim when they got slapped. But no matter how many times this happened, the parents would always blame the kid who lashed out, saying "I don't care who started it!" Look, I get it: A parent has to make it clear that violence isn’t okay, but neither is provoking someone into said violence.
It doesn’t matter that said person never hit or kicked while their sibling did- they never would have gotten hurt in the first place if they didn’t encourage the aggression to begin with. Children are clever and will find loopholes in their parents’ rules. Parents need to be better and snuff out that kind of stuff when it starts. If they don’t, they’ll raise a manipulator and a scapegoat. The parents stuck to that one stupid rule so intensely that the siblings' relationship was almost ruined for life.
My parents always told me that they "didn't care about justice, they cared about peace and quiet" and "life isn't fair." So, I believed them. Since life wasn't fair and all they cared about was peace and quiet, I didn't tell them things or ask for help. I was afraid to yell for help when I was stuck on the porch for hours. They like to tell this as a funny story now, but it's awful for me because I just remember being stuck and in pain and yet too scared of my own parents to call for help.
There was no point in telling them things either. Like being touched inappropriately. And now as an adult my parents are all like, "Oh, but we just wanted you to be quiet, we didn't mean it." No, they did mean it. That is exactly what they meant and that's exactly what they said. They wanted me to be quiet no matter what. Quiet. That was the only thing that was important to them.
I used to love to sing. I was in chorus and would play my favorite songs over and over to learn the words. Not only did my sisters tease me for it, but my parents told me to shut up constantly. So, I stopped singing. I must have been terrible, right? I sing when I'm alone, or jokingly with some friends. But here's the moment that really broke my heart into a million pieces.
When I went to visit everyone for the holidays and my sister said that she was surprised I never pursued singing since I seemed to love it so much when I was younger. I nearly started crying and had to bite my tongue so I wouldn't scream at her for being one of the reasons I stopped. It's always funny for the ones doing the teasing. But it actually hurts the ones being teased. Especially when it's coming from people who are supposed to love you.
My mom used to go through my trash. She always said it was to make sure I wasn’t throwing out anything "important" but I know she also just wanted to be nosy. She used to rummage through my drawers and read very private adult fan fictions and then confront me about them. I used to draw some weird stuff to vent my teenage angst. She'd find these drawings and, again, shame me for them.
She did this all the way into my adulthood. The last time, she rummaged through my sock drawer and found a box of condoms, and confronted me about it at work (we used to work together in the same department) and shamed me for sleeping with my boyfriend. At freaking work. She humiliated me and shamed me until I cried. I was probably about 25 when this happened and I moved out shortly after.
I’m 31 and just now starting to learn to respect my boyfriend's boundaries and privacy. For a large portion of our relationship I would go through his very personal belongings, throw out items of his that I didn’t view as valuable, and just violate his privacy in all sorts of ways. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. It just didn’t strike me as wrong.
Bless him for sticking by me for eight years. I have really come a long way and I have learned to stop being so intrusive and controlling. But heck, I didn’t think it would take 2 decades to unlearn that one.
My parents were helicopter parents. I was not allowed to lock my bedroom door. My mom listened in on my phone calls (this was in landline phone days) and went through my personal belongings when I wasn’t home (including reading the notes that friends and I passed in school). I wasn’t allowed to talk to boys or date (I’m a girl). Doing this only prevents your children from learning how to form healthy relationships; you should teach your children how to do things (such as date) in a safe and responsible manner, rather than ban it.
My girlfriend is 23 and despite being entirely independent of her family, her mom treats her like she's still a child. As in, too-immature to make her own decisions, inferior to her/not equal (she was recently told to "learn her place"), invalid in feelings, emotions, etc. This invalidates her self-worth, her opinions, her views and stances. It’s wildly damaging, and extremely toxic. She can’t hold an adult conversation with her adult daughter, and it’s extremely frustrating.
My parents would go out of their way to justify any mistake they made and make it seem as if they were right, no matter what the situation was. This backfired intensely. It gave me a really messed up view of right and wrong, made it hard for me to learn from my mistakes, and along the way, it lost me a lot of friends. In a way, it kind of made it hard for me to grow up at all. If you can never admit you're wrong, how can you learn from the past and get better?
Starting from the age of seven, my mom would sit me down and complain to me about her life for hours. She'd talk about my terrible dad, how she wanted to leave him, her suspicions that he had a secret girlfriend, plus she'd rant about how she fought with her sister. She made it my job to validate her and in the end, it was like I was the parent and she was the child, even though I was literally seven years old when it started.
She was also really abusive and emotionally neglectful so being her therapist was the most attention and validation I ever got. I'm a really good listener now.
I grew up in a very strict Asian household. My parents were very strict on the "never wake us up" policy. To this day, I get very anxious and refuse to wake people up. I'm genuinely still afraid of being yelled at and locked in a closet. I'm 22 years old.
My dad in particular used to yell at me for crying, which only made me cry more, which made him yell more. In high school, I tried to bring up the possibility of me having anxiety problems that I'd spoken to the school counselor about, because my friends made me go since they were worried. His response was so cruel. He told me I was just a drama queen. I can't express that I'm anxious or stressed around my dad because, "Others have it worse."
Even now, I'm 21 and seeing a psychiatrist in a couple weeks because I've just felt so bad lately and I would never let my dad know. I think I'd rather die than my dad know I've been seeing a psychiatrist and discussing the possibility of me having OCD with said psychiatrist (which does explain a lot and is actually kind of comforting for me to know) because he'd get so mad at me for being weak.
Mine is an extreme case, but my mom left me when I was around three and started a new family shortly after. My entire childhood was filled with "I'll do XYZ" and she never would. She was most famous for "I'll pick you up tomorrow" or "I'll be there in X minutes" and just never show. She even did this on my fifth birthday. I remember it SO vividly.
My dad got me up before dark. He got me all dressed, did my hair and took cute pictures with a Little Mermaid Doll she had brought by a few days earlier. I was SO excited. Then I went and sat on the front steps as the sun was coming up. I sat there all day long. I didn't want to move because I didn't want to miss her coming down the long driveway.
Finally, my dad's girlfriend told me it was nap time... 2pm. I said I couldn't take a nap because mom might come while I'm sleeping. The way she told me, "Honey, I'm sorry but I don't think she's coming today." It just broke me. I still went and sat back on those steps. She never came. I still trust no one. I'll never forget that day. I worry I'll never be right after years of her doing things like that.
It was like a moment ingrained in my head as when my heart broke and was never the same. Always do your best to do what you say for your kids.
My mom was mad at me because I got a 9/10 score on a test instead of the 10/10 that she wanted. She got so angry that she actually hit me and yes, it hurt a lot. I wrote her a letter tell her about it, how sorry I was, how I tried my best, and that the one point was about the grammar that I did not know. She told the entire family at our meeting, including my grandparents, and all of my aunts and uncles and they made jokes about how I "failed" and how I was such a pathetic loser.
Now, even though I am a senior at high school, they still talk about that at every family meeting we have. And she keeps asking me why I lock myself up in the room and live my own life and don't even try to talk to her. She and the family also tease me for having a boyfriend, she keeps calling me telling saying that she knows he does not love me, and I'm going to get dumped, and more stereotypes that she has in her mind. Literally one year ago she and the family tried to bring me to the hospital for a "gender check" because I keep watching soccer.
My mom only just recently started apologizing to me when she gets worked up or angry over something inconsequential. It's a small step, but it's made a big difference in our relationship. When I was younger, she refused to say sorry even if she treated me horribly and over time, a lot of resentment built up inside of me. Also, I have trouble saying sorry because of how I was raised. Tell your kids sorry, especially if you over react to something they did.
My parents babied me a lot when I was young. I never had to do anything I didn’t want to do. It sounds great, but over the years, it came back to haunt me. For example, when I started getting bad grades because I wasn’t doing my homework my parents would have conferences with my teachers so they could give me extra credit. I had a rude awakening in college when I realized how hard life is.
I 100% love and adore my parents. But when I have kids I, I already know a few things I'll do differently.
My parents always made me finish all my food, even if I said I was full. This taught me to ignore my body's cue to finish eating and, instead, not stop eating until everything is gone. I started overeating and I'd feel this awful sense of guilt whenever I didn't finish everything on my plate. In the end, I became overweight and had to relearn basic eating habits to become healthier. It's not entirely my parents' fault and I know they meant well, but growing up, being overweight caused me a lot of sadness and pain.
I found that when my parents teased me about stuff I was clearly uncomfortable with, it made me close up and not tell them about the things I actually cared about later in life. I have a good relationship with my parents but I don't tell them lots about my life because it's easier if they don't know because then they can't say hurtful things about it.
I'm 17 and I'm just now starting to make actual friends outside of school. When I was younger, my parents were incredibly over-protective. I was never allowed to go do anything as a kid. I could barely leave the house if I wasn't going to school and coming home the second the bell rang. I know that treatment came out of my parents caring about me, but it's hurt me more in the long run. It's caused some serious social anxiety.
My parents never once gave me a definitive curfew. They would just let me go out, and then blow up my phone at whatever arbitrary time they had decided they wanted me back that night. They never communicated that time to me, of course, they just got incredibly angry when I didn't magically know exactly when I should be home.
Some days it was 10 PM, some nights they wouldn't blink an eye when I strolled in at 2 AM. The lack of consistency was stressful, and it made me completely lose respect for their authority. I'm 21 now but still stay with them during breaks from college. If they start blowing up my phone while I'm at a friend's house now, I just silence my phone and go home when I well please.
My mom would get so mad when I’d wet the bed. It started when I was eight years old and continued until I was 12. At least three nights a week. It got to the point when I was about nine that I would get up, change my mattress cover, sheets, and pyjamas, wash and dry them myself and clean up without ever waking my mom because she was so upset every time.
The entire thing felt so, so shameful and I became a very secretive and introverted kid. I formed this unending desire to be perfect and would verbally abuse myself (talking in my head) whenever I made a mistake, especially bed wetting (I’d usually end up in tears every time), shattering my self-confidence. If I have kids, I will make sure to be a lot kinder and more understanding about that stuff.
My mother complains about how she feels like she doesn't know me anymore because I never call or share what's going on in my life. But she doesn't understand that the reason I don't share things with her anymore is because she actively makes fun of everything I like. And if she doesn't belittle my passions, she'll dismiss them or decide they're not appropriate and then take them away. Even when I was a kid, I knew to hidee my sketchbooks and my drawings from her for fear of what she would say.
My dad always made a point to take an interest. He took me to kid movies I wanted to see. He played video games with me. He knows more about Pokémon than any man in his fifties should. My relationship with my dad is awesome and I love sharing things with him because we turn it into something we can laugh about together.
One time when I was eight, my mother accused me and my brother of stealing her share of some leftover pizza. We both, of course, denied it, so she threatened to get the belt. We kept denying it. So, she started to spank us, five times each, until I confessed to stealing the stupid pizza. Then I got an additional few spankings (somewhere in the 10 to 15 area) and locked in my room for an hour.
Later, when my dad came home from work, she had me confess to my dad that I stole my mom's pizza and lied about it. And that's when he said it wasn’t possible. Because he took it to work for his lunch.
I was one of those "smart kids." I went to a very good middle school in a good program. I played soccer, and the guitar. On top off all the homework, it was very hard to keep up in school. I got my first ever B+ and my parents went Super Saiyan on me. I was so stressed throughout all of 8th grade because I had to keep my grades up and I was scared if I didn't, I would go home and get yelled at. This led to me losing friends in 8th grade due to being too focused on schoolwork.
I thought elementary school was bad, but high school was so much worse. Only 10 or so kids from my old school went to the high school I went to. I was getting pressured by my parents to perform well, as now colleges were looking at me. This made me even more stressed, resulting in anxiety and depression. I lost all my friends, got bullied, had wild mood swings, all while having my parents yelling at me when I got home for getting C's. And guess what?
After all of that I didn't even get into a good college. I went to a local community college, dropped out after a year, and now I work at guitar center and live with a girl I met in college. How'd that work out mom?
My “adult education” consisted solely of my mom handing me the Period Book in fourth grade. My parents would freak out and cover the television when anything vaguely sensual happened. I am now a 27-year-old virgin and have no idea how to healthily engage in a romantic relationship. It hit me in the last year or two that I should be able to do adult things without feeling dirty about it.
I work with children who are victims of physical abuse. The worst part aside from the obvious is when the child has no support from family members. It's sadly more common for the non-offending parent to not believe the child or to try and quiet the abuse, than for the parent to stand behind their child 100%. The entire situation is completely heartbreaking.
It's all too common that I get a case where dad is assaulting his eight-year-old daughter, and mom isn't sure she believes it's happening... but it's very obvious that this misconduct is definitely occurring, based on what the kid says and the details she can provide about the incidents (that a kid who hasn't been abused would never be able to provide).
Parents – please, please, please always believe your children if these allegations ever come about. It's so sad when a child comes in to talk about the issues, but they tear up saying, "Mommy said she doesn't believe me." It's so unfair. Makes me hate some of these parents more than the abuser!
The only time my dad told me he loved me was after I said it first, when he told me he and my mom were getting divorced. I was 14. It’s so cruel to fail a child in this way. It wasn’t that I questioned if he loves me, but that he struggled to convey it, and I in turn have always struggled to convey love to others or receive love from others. Children mimic everything, including stifling emotions. This is so big of an issue that could’ve been prevented by something so small. It’s sad.
My dad and older brother would tickle me as a child to the point that I peed my pants, despite me begging them to stop. It started as young as I can remember and didn’t stop until I was around 10. I was laughing because it tickled, not because I liked it. I meant it when I told them no, but they would keep going anyways. I now hate being tickled and have serious issues saying no when I am uncomfortable and maintaining my own physical boundaries.
Teaching your children their language is powerful. When they say no, even if it’s playful, listen to them.
My parents were incredibly religious and wouldn't let me do basically anything as a child. No normal music, no evolution, no games, no movies that were the slightest bit scary or involved magic, the list goes on. My social development was irreparably stunted because I had nothing in common with my peers. Plus being constantly told that anyone outside my religion was "worldly" and would "lead me astray" left me with almost no friends until college. Not to mention the bizarre hang-ups that I'm only just managing to undo at 35 years old...
I have a dad that is interested in my passions, except he doesn't know when to stop. I used to enjoy playing soccer for fun, so he signed me up for classes and extra practice practically every day of the week, sent me to a summer camp for soccer, and essentially burned me out of soccer permanently. I wasn't allowed to skip any days or otherwise do anything other than soccer, and for a few months, I was only allowed to move around the house while having a soccer ball at my feet.
My life was essentially devoted to soccer and I was guilted into continuing for a few years after I didn't want to do it anymore. To any parents that want to be involved in their child's life, do it. It seriously means a lot to them, but know when to stop.
If I received an A on a test, and I brought it up at the dinner table, within five minutes, my entire family would be having a tense discussion about some other class I should be doing better in, or my parents would turn my success around on one of my siblings and make them look bad. My parents would also spring important discussions on me when I was trapped in the car or couldn't get away. It led to me having bad anxiety and basically feeling like I could never relax around my parents. Also, they have no emotional intelligence and are the most judgmental people I've ever met.
My brother, who is four, is having issues with getting fully potty trained, and my dad's response is truly cruel. He spanks him every time he doesn't use the bathroom, and he tries to scare him into using the toilet by screaming at him while he's on it. My dad doesn't seem to realize all this is doing is traumatizing my brother, and making it even harder for him to use the restroom.
Any attempt to broach the topic with my dad is met with anger towards me, and he doesn't seem to take into account that this is literally my area of study (Developmental Psychology).
I was the oldest of three kids and would always have to wait patiently to hit an arbitrary age limit my parents had set, only for them to go ahead and decide to let my younger siblings do it too. I wasn’t allowed to go see PG-13 movies in the theater until I was 13, no exceptions. It was so embarrassing to not be able to see any of the movies that everyone else had seen in middle school. Then, when I was finally 13, my youngest sibling was only eight and she was allowed to tag along with me to PG-13 movies. I was furious.
A good friend from home has a very wealthy family. They buy him new cars and let him live at home rent-free when he has a decent job with the family business. If we go on a night out, he will spend in excess of £500 on drinks for everyone. He once had £400 in notes and was buying drinks. When I realized he was out of cash, and I stepped in to insist I get the round, he pulled out his card and said, “No worries!”
He’s a great guy and honestly his family are lovely people, but he’s just got no understanding of what money means, and I dread to think how he would handle things if, god forbid, something happened to the endless supply of money. In his own head he’s doing something nice for his friends, no matter how much we try and pay.
My parents never supported my interests. Instead, they controlled what I did and basically only encouraged me to follow their passions. I always loved music but my parents refused to go to concerts because, “well, the band isn’t very good." I also loved soccer, but they ruined it for me by saying that the entire thing was a waste of time if we weren’t going to win. I was told that going into college that theater wasn’t worth pursuing because it isn’t a “safe” career. The only real encouragement I got was when it came to academics (it will possibly not come as a surprise that my dad works in academia).
Now nearly a decade out of college, I have no real career after trying and burning out on two grad school programs, primarily from some heavy anxiety, and not even completing assignments if they weren’t going to be perfect. I wish I had pursued something I was passionate about, instead of dropping them one at a time because they weren’t “worth it.”
I really hate that so many parents teach girls that their looks are the most important thing about them. This goes hand in hand with encouraging girls to develop body issues and disordered eating at a young age. I vividly remember my mom telling me at nine years old that the piece of bread I was eating would go to my hips... I was already under BMI.
My parents went through a divorce so messy it was in our state newspapers. My mother treated me and my sister as property not children, and she attempted to teach us to hate our father. I spent years influenced by this. When I lived on my own as an adult, I realized just how messed up it all was. Thankfully my dad is literally the nicest person in the world, it just took forever to realize it. Using your kids as pawns in a divorce literally messes them up for years and causes self-esteem issues, emotional growth, and overall a jaded perspective.
I’m a high school junior doing college stuff right now, and I see this all the time. The insane amount of parents who over pressure their kids into getting into top colleges. Forcing them to only focus on school and have no actual form of a social life, and then making them feel guilty when they want a break. “Can I go hang out with friends? I finished all my ACT work.”
“I guess you just don’t care about all the money we’re putting into your work to get into Stanford!” That stuff destroys kids. Sure, I get wanting them to succeed, however it’s such a toxic way of doing it. The number of students I know who either stress out so hard and resort to prescription drugs, or just straight up stop trying and fail, just to rebel against their parents is staggering.
When I was in the sixth grade I hung out with the nerdy, artsy, and weird (but in an interesting, not off-putting way) kids. My mom didn't like them. I mean yeah, one or two were bad seeds but she thought they were all "rejects." So, for my twelfth birthday, she decided to invite all the girls from my church youth group who I didn't even get along with. She was so controlling and I still remember that birthday as being one of the worst days. It was so miserable and humiliating.
My parents loved to pull the “There are starving children in Africa!” line to get me to eat everything on my plate. I understand children are picky eaters and need nutrition and such, but they also need to learn how to regulate their own sense of hunger/satiation. They didn't mean to hurt me, but their words had horrible consequences.
I started off as an over eater, and became heavy, then I started starving myself to lose weight. Then I stopped and gained a ton of weight. It’s taken me decades to develop a healthy relationship with food and to learn how to manage my weight.
When I was growing up, I lived with my grandmother, and her rules were both bizarre and utterly brutal. When I was showering, I wasn’t allowed to let the water hit my chest, because she thought it could kill me. Even worse, she didn’t let me walk up or down stairs—I was relegated to a single floor when she was around. Again, she was convinced that the stairs would kill me, so they were off limits.
It was so frustrating, but eventually, I discovered the heartbreaking reason she was so paranoid. One of her kids had heart problems as a child. Because of multiple surgeries and the generally weak state of his heart, he hadn’t been able to shower or run up and downstairs. My grandmother was forever marked by his difficult childhood and tragic, untimely death.
I wasn't allowed to make noise. If I spoke above a mumble I was being surly. If I was playing it could not be audible outside of my shut bedroom door. If I was cleaning, which I usually was, then I couldn't make noise while doing it. The consequences varied; usually being screamed at, having something thrown just past my head, or having something I valued taken away.
My brother did not have the same restrictions. He's always been an avid musician. Played video games at full volume. Cracked jokes and was generally encouraged to speak up. The only time he had the same rules was when our mother was on the phone, which was pretty often. I don't resent him for being treated better and he frequently advocated for me.
Now I have some interesting quirks. I can wash dishes in complete silence. I still leave drawers and cabinet doors slightly ajar. I sneak up on people at work by accident. If people are watching TV with me I have to remember to turn up the volume for them. There are days when I can't handle the sound of turning on the shower or running the vacuum cleaner.
I have a decimeter app on my phone and frequently check to see how much noise I'm making. I even sneeze silently. But I blast the radio in my car and through my headphones.
Yes, I'm in therapy.
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