27 Things Parents Do To Their Kids That Mess With Their Heads Into Adulthood

Liane Metzler
Found on AskReddit.

1. Badmouthing the other parent.

“Badmouthing the other parent. I understand you might lose your shit during a divorce, but keep your kids out of it. My parents’ divorce really fucked me up emotionally, not because they got a divorce, but because of how they behaved as a result. Get some therapy if you can’t handle it.”


2. Staying together and arguing instead of getting a divorce.

“Stay together instead of getting a divorce because they think it’s ‘better for the kid that way.’ So instead of what could be a peaceful, amicable separation, they force themselves to stay together, leading to constant fighting, resentment, cursing, and ultimately the kid growing up in a love-less household that doesn’t feel safe. :( Source: this was my situation growing up.”


3. Trying to be their friend, not their parent.

“Social worker of 25 years here and I can tell you the number one thing is trying to be their friend not their parents. Kids need a calm authority figure to enforce rules and expectations, especially teenagers. Kids need to have reasonable boundaries and expectations and need to know that they will be enforced and that their behavior has repercussions.


4. Making negative comments about their appearance.

“Comment on their appearance/weight/body.

‘Suck in your stomach!’ ‘Shoulders back!’ ‘Why aren’t you wearing makeup? You know better than that! How are people supposed to notice you if you don’t look your best?’”


5. Shitting on their dreams.

“Shitting on their kids’ dreams.

‘Fuck doing what you love, son. Be a seafarer!’”


6. Failing to realize the world has changed since they were kids.

“Parents basing all their opinions on their own life experiences in life rather than considering that the world has changed since being their kid’s age.”


7. Comparing them to other kids, especially siblings.

“Comparing them to other kids, especially siblings.

No kid likes to hear ‘Why can’t you be more like so and so?’

It’s just so damaging. Your child is not so and so, they will never be so and so. Just help them along with being who they are.”


8. Never standing up for them.

“Never standing up for them. Parents shouldn’t be fixing their kid’s every fuckup but they should be there for their kid when they get bullied. It’s hard for kids to trust their parents if they can’t be certain they have their back.”


9. Refusing to believe their child could do something wrong.

“Refuse to believe their child could do something wrong. I know a few fuck-ups and their parents are either totally apathetic towards them or no matter what the situation, blame other children or claim its some sort of conspiracy against their child.”


10. Instilling their own fears into their kids.

“Instill their own insecurities and fears into their children.”


11. Refusing to ever apologize or admit when they’re wrong.

“Refuse to apologize or admit when they’re wrong to their kids or to other people in front of their kids.

Your children will remember all the times you hurt their feelings and then tried to pretend like it never happened. They will remember the cashier you yelled at for a mistake that you made but wouldn’t say sorry for. They’ll either turn into an asshole or they’ll overcompensate and feel responsible for everything that goes wrong because you set a horrible example.”


12. Physically punishing them after they’ve admitted to an honest mistake.

“Physically punishing and screaming at your kid for fessing up to an honest mistake.

I accidentally broke a window when I was 5 and told the truth about it. I was promptly spanked pretty vigorously and sent to my room and told to stay in there.

What did I take away from that? Lie if it prevents you from getting into any sort of trouble. I was a pretty dishonest kid for years after that.”


13. Using them as an emotional dumping ground.

“Using your kids as an emotional dumping ground. My mom has always told me everything bad in her life. She always tells me about her issues with my dad. It makes me super uncomfortable so I keep telling her to get professional help which she does for a while but doesn’t stick to it.”


14. Never being able to give a compliment without wrapping it in an insult.

“No matter what achievements one makes, the parent relates it to a failure.

‘Nice job making Eagle Scout. If only your grades were better.’

‘Good work mowing the lawn. But you couldn’t do the dishes?’

‘I can’t believe you lasted this long living on your own driving a forklift.’

Fuck you, Mom. Last I checked I’m employed, not in debt, and going back to school while completely supporting myself. I’m doing pretty God damned well for someone my age.”


15. Giving them too much freedom.

“Giving a kid freedom as a teenager is key. However, giving a kid so much freedom that you essentially check out from any sort of parental role is bad parenting that ultimately leads to the kid trying to make life decisions without any real guidance and somewhat fucks up their life.”


16. Training them to be doormats.

“Train their kids to be doormats. Drop what you’re doing and do whatever I or any adult you know tells you to is a reasonable rule for a 5-year-old, but tons of parents continue to enforce that upon teenagers because it’s more convenient to them for their teenagers to be doormats, and then big shock, they grow up to be adult doormats, unable to stand up for themselves or even assert their own desires.”


17. Invading their privacy.

“Besides the obvious abusive answers, invading the kid’s privacy. My mom (along with many other parents) would read my texts sometimes and confront me about them. I never felt comfortable locking my door, it was always associated with being angry or spiteful. I didn’t even realize knocking was normal.

It kind of messed up my idea of privacy in relationships. Didn’t really think snooping was that wrong for a while.”


18. Giving in when the kid throws a tantrum.

“Give in when kid is being demanding or throwing a tantrum. And I don’t mean giving in once in a while to keep the peace in a public place, I mean every time.

I found a dollar outside once when I was about 9, I was with my 4-5-year-old neighbor who got really jealous and demanded I give it to her. I refused (fuck you I found a dollar and I’m a 9-year-old that’s a big deal!) and she ran home to her mom upset and about to cry. Her mom tried to explain that I found it, so it was mine only one time before she solved the issue by grabbing a dollar from her purse and tossing it into the bushes while her daughters back was turned. ‘Hey look! There’s another one! Now you found one, too!’

That kid was a nightmare with a very warped definition of ‘fairness.’”


19. Making sex and sexual anatomy taboo.

“Making sex and sexual anatomy taboo. Parents who refuse to talk to their kids and write it off as ‘embarrassing’ are doing their kids a huge disservice,

I actually just posted a PSA about it in the parenting sub yesterday. My son woke up yesterday with extreme pain in his testicles. We ended up rushing to the hospital and found out his has testicular torsion. They were able to do surgery and he’ll be as good as new shortly. The doctor told us that his last 3 cases of testicular torsion involved having to remove the testicle because the person waited too long. All three were teens around my son’s age and all were too embarrassed to speak up sooner. Don’t do that to your kids. It could cost them their ball(s).”


20. Overprotecting them.

“Overprotectiveness. Of course, there are always some things that need to be tightly watched around kids, but when you shield your child from every possible inconvenience they’ll end up either spoiled or overly dependent.”


21. Telling them how expensive it is to raise a child.

“Telling them how expensive it is to raise a child. Seriously. A kid should not have to worry about family finances, or feeling like a burden.”


22. Frequent nitpicking and disapproval.

“Frequent shows of disapproval. Kids are primed to be approved by their parents for who they are. I’m not saying turn a blind eye to bad behavior, but even things like: ‘you aren’t feminine enough,’ ‘boys like quiet girls,’ ‘why can’t you be interested in more boy stuff?’ ‘You should keep your hair short.’

My mom had a personality disorder and hated me. I was more outspoken. My brother appeased her. But I see this dynamic play out even among ‘normal’ families. They get onto a cycle of not appreciating the child they have, and it creates a negative feedback loop.

That disapproval stays with kids. I’m trying to do better with my sons.”


23. Forcing them to go to church.

“Force them to go to church past a certain age. Your kids know by about age 12 if they get ANYTHING at all out of going to church. My mother was super religious and it was forced upon me. If I didn’t go, my mother would say ‘well, I guess you’re too sick to play with your friends next weekend.’ It was cruel IMHO and I will never go to church again for the rest of my life. My aunt and uncle, who my mother looked up to came to my defense and said ‘your kids are old enough to know if church is for them, and if you make them go to something they find boring they’ll fucking hate you for it.’ Thanks, auntie and uncle!”


24. Body-shaming.

“Body-shaming. Instead of being taught how to live a healthy lifestyle (good diet + exercise), I was given criticizing comments about my weight since I was 9 (and still today). My mom would point to my stomach and upper thighs and say ‘it’s only bad here’ and ‘you would be so beautiful if you just lost some more weight.’ Despite the comments, no one ever tried to teach me how to make a balanced meal and show me what types of foods I should be eating. This led me to a combination of starving myself and purging when I felt like I had eaten too much. To this day, I still can’t eat a meal without overthinking the effects it will have on my body and feeling guilty. The thing is that I’ve never actually been in a percentile that was even close to being considered overweight.

PARENTS PLEASE DO NOT BODY-SHAME YOUR KIDS!!!! I know you’re just trying to protect them from a life of receiving harassment about their weight, but you’re their support system. Show them how to lead a healthy lifestyle instead of thinking that your comments will motivate them. I cannot stress enough how much of a negative impact those words will have on them.”


25. Arguing in front of the kids.

“How parents treat each other is another way to really fuck up a kid. Physical, verbal, and/or emotional abuse are obviously major, but even as much as arguing intensely over something completely stupid and finding no peaceful resolution. If every dumb argument ends just because you get too tired of screaming at each other, how is the kid supposed to learn how to have a healthy argument?

I heard every argument between my parents because it was essentially the same stupid situation over and over again and besides the fact that it nearly annihilated my relationship with my dad, I’m convinced it’s why I get major social anxiety at the first hint of conflict in any of my relationships because I literally don’t know how to handle it.”


26. Spoiling them financially.

“Spoiling them financially. Grew up in the suburbs around a bunch of entitled brats. Some got anything they wanted from their parents. I feel this hurts your kids in the long run, and doesn’t teach them a reasonable way to earn something.”


27. Keeping the kids from their fathers.

“Their mothers with the help of the man hating family court system, keeping the kids from their fathers. Taking financially from the man causing an endless cycle if him having to work more to be able to afford food, housing, causing less time with his children. Thanks for that family court system, see you fuckers in hell when I have my time to rule.”

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