50 Ways Parents Screw Up Their Kids Without Even Realizing It

50 Ways Parents Screw Up Their Kids Without Even Realizing It

If you’re thinking about having a child, don’t do these things mentioned on Ask Reddit.

1. Punishing them for doing something good. For example if the kid is in his/her room for a long time while guests are over, and when he/she comes out of their room the parent says, “Look who came out of their cave.” This highlights the fact that they were in their room and will worsen social anxiety in the future.

2. Praising them for their intelligence, rather than for working hard.

Children internalize that they have some quality that makes them better than others on some level in that they can do well without trying. They learn that their worth is based on this intelligence and that it’s the thing that generated success.

A lot of children go on to coast through high school, with everyone telling them how intelligent they are.

They never learn to study or work hard for something and then at some point they fail a test or get rejected for a job, or get fired, whatever. Now they are questioning their self worth. If intelligence was what led to success, and now I’m failing, that makes me a failure. Suddenly they have to learn how to apply themselves and what it means to work hard for something which is much more difficult to learn at that age.

3. Using your kids as therapists. My mother has always relied on me to talk out everything that happens to her. I proof read her texts and emails and it has absolutely ruined any chance of me having a mother, I’m so busy caring for her she can’t care for me.

4. Make promises they don’t keep. Good or bad — it is as bad to not give a punishment that should have happened as it is to not do that trip to Disneyland you said you would. You become unpredictable.

5. Being overprotective and strict, you’re just teaching your kid how to lie and hide things from you, you aren’t making them a better person.

6. Arguing in front of each other, as well as with other people constantly.

7. Compare them to other “better” kids.

8. Making them dependent on you for life by not allowing them to work, to get a driver’s license, to do any housework, not giving access to education, basically intentionally crippling them so that they have to depend on you.

9. Not respecting a child/teens privacy. Yes, kids will do things wrong but not every secret they keep is something negative. Treating everything a child keeps from an adult as something bad will bring on trust issues later in life. Personal growth is something that is learned and it takes mistakes to accomplish this.

10. Vandalizing their kid/teen’s privacy, like reading their journals and going through their phone without their consent.

11. Overemphasizing the importance of grades.

12. Setting them up to have an unhealthy relationship with food.

13. Going from 0 to 100 on anger scale for small things.

14. Being a hypocrite. No way the kid will function normally if (s)he thinks that’s normal.

15. Not saying a word to their kids for hours or days at a time, and never explaining why the parent is mad or upset. The child is left alone, trying to figure out what’s going on in their parent’s head.

16. Take their anger out on their kids and never apologize for it.

17. Berate and belittle them when opening up. Then wonder why, as adults, they don’t call you or answer your calls.

18. Constantly repeating the same lecture over and over again as if I’ve never heard it.

Like mom I get it, you were once poor. Even if I occasionally don’t finish my food, that doesn’t mean I’m ungrateful.

19. Every time they, especially if they’re boys, express a kindness to someone of the opposite gender, “Oh is she your girlfriend?” Ensue snickering. Or indicate they’re “horn dogs” or constantly thinking about sex. Shy people are built with this shit. Knock it off.

20. Constantly worrying about their own appearance and/or judging other people’s appearance in front of the kids is something I feel my mother really screwed me up with and I think a lot of parents may also do this without realizing.

21. Tell their kids that when they misbehave or mess up it makes them (the parents) look bad. My mom did this all the time and I still get anxiety about the things I do, it’s always in the back of my head, ‘Will this make my mom look good? Is this something she’d be proud of?’ Uggggh

22. Tell them to be honest then punish the child when they are. It teaches the kid to lie when they do something wrong rather than understanding what was done wrong and why the corresponding consequence is needed.

23. Try to make their kids little versions of themselves. You were not cloned you made a person with there own thoughts feelings and ideas of success.

24. Force/guilt their kids into hugging/kissing/touching people. There is almost always a reason why little Jimmy doesn’t want to touch grandpa. And no matter what “I don’t want to” is a good enough reason not to make your kid touch someone.

25. Giving a kid anything they want. All this does is make them grow up to be snobby adults that think everyone has to do things for them and that they’ll get anything they want. You see so many stories of athletes going through hardships and coming from terrible families and becoming the best at what they do. How often do we see success stories where the kid was allowed anything he wants at anytime, not as often. Overprotection and babying a kid through his/her life can be just as harmful as a child growing up with a family that can’t provide as easily and makes the child work for things. Long story short: be hard on your kids.

26. Treating waiters/retail workers like shit and/or whining like babies at said places whenever anything doesn’t go their way.

27. Blaming every character or physical flaw on the kid’s hobbies and activities and completely ignoring genetic and environmental factors.

My parents blame all of my problems (Introversion, Myopia, even Depression and other mental issues) on my PC use. They don’t listen when I argue otherwise.

28. Using gifts and basic necessities against them as guilt. Ie. “I can’t believe you think (other opinion) I give you shelter and bought you (insert birthday gift).” Or expecting you to agree to do whatever they ask because they bought you something for a holiday. I’m 21 and still really uncomfortable with being given anything by anyone or asking for any help, because I’m worried it’ll be used as leverage against me.

29. This isn’t a big screw up, but freaking out every time a young kid gets a bit hurt. Children learn a lot of their reactions by observing their parents, and you’ll often notice that after a small tumble or bump kids will look to their parents first and gauge their reaction, and then respond. If their parent is worried and immediately runs to try and soothe them, the baby is going to cry. If their parents are worried, they believe they should be worried as well. If their parents aren’t worried, they won’t cry. Over time, these reactions will become internalized and will develop similar responses to stress when they get older.

And obviously, if they’re really hurt, don’t play it off, but you will know when they’re hurt. A lot of the time, you notice a few second gap between when the incident happens and when the baby starts crying, and that’s when the baby is gauging their parents’ response. If there’s no gap, then they’re truly hurt and need attention right away.

30. Stigmatizing substances. Alcohol and pot are things to use with respect and moderation. I know that if I was introduced to alcohol much earlier in life and taught how to enjoy properly, I wouldn’t have gone through my rebellious period of binge drinking and smoking until I can’t feel feelings.

Legit. Teach your kids when enough is enough early.

31. Not make time for them.

32. Isolate them from other kids for years by homeschooling them and not socializing. Fucked me pretty good for a while.

33. Acting like their kids opinions don’t matter just because they don’t agree with it. Be a person and treat them like a person and have a conversation. In the end you can still say no for whatever reason because you’re the parent, but at least hear your kid out and make them feel like they have a voice.

34. Not vaccinating them.

35. Force them into religion.

36. Mocking them.

37. Ignoring signs of mental health issues and then when they end up in the hospital they act like they don’t know what went wrong.

38. Comment on their weight or appearance.

39. Put an iPad or something similar in their hands to shut them up.

40. Hitting them and not teaching them empathy or emotional intimacy.

Both of those things have royally fucked me up in a fair few ways.

41. Zero chores or pressure ever… then they move out and can’t handle themselves.

42. Leaving for extended periods when angry.

43. Forcing them to do their dream career when the child does not like it.

44. Removing any obstacles in their way that might otherwise help them learn and grow.

45. Punishment for honest accidents, accusing them of not caring if they forget about something. People forget, kids forget, it doesn’t mean you don’t care.

46. Slut shaming a girl when she’s a virgin and knows absolutely NOTHING about how a girl gets pregnant.

47. Thinking that they’re the same kid as when they were 8 and being confused when their now teenager has different interests and wants. Causes a lot of fights and misunderstandings.

48. Making them feel that they owe them for feeding them and taking care of them like it’s not their fucking responsibility since they decided to have a child.

49. Alcoholism. Don’t drink around your kids.

50. Emphasize “success” over happiness, and happiness over meaning. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

January Nelson

January Nelson

January Nelson is a writer, editor, and dreamer. She writes about astrology, games, love, relationships, and entertainment. January graduated with an English and Literature degree from Columbia University.