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When we reach a certain age, we look back at all those times in our lives when we made a subtle shift in this direction or that, and try to figure out why it happened.
These moments can be revelatory, sobering or just plain sad. But dollars to donuts… they nearly all lead back to something a parent did.
These 12 people share their parents’ misguided approaches on Reddit and let’s just say there are some real doozies.
1. “She never went to the police…”
“They instilled in me a fear of the police and not snitching, compounded by both sets of parents making me feel like every emotion I had aside from happiness and gratefulness was disallowed and virtually banned.
So, I ended up in a lot of situations in college that I just figured, ‘Meh, I must have done something to deserve that because I’m dramatic and a bad person and friend.
When I was assaulted, I didn’t think I had a right to be upset about it and I didn’t go to the cops because I was always told the cops would just bring trouble and I was afraid of police.
I’d never been in any legal situation and didn’t know what to do and didn’t think anyone would believe me anyway.
It led to a lot of trouble last year when I started talking about it. It got back to the man who assaulted me, and his mom threatened to sue me and a lot of people called me a liar.
If I’d just gone to the police right after it happened, I would not be in this mess and I’d actually have evidence.
I remember when my mom was assaulted by her ex-husband, more than once, she never went to the police.
The one time she did call for the physical abuse, we fled to my sister’s house. The cop came and looked at the bruises on her neck and said he couldn’t do anything because she left the property and, for all he knew, she could have bruised herself.
I think that probably resonated with me too because I watched that happen and knew at that moment that we were going back and my stepdad wasn’t going to jail.
As much as it seems like a fix-all to step in in these situations, I can think of a lot of people, myself included, that have functional mental illnesses or disabilities that would probably be barred from having children if there was a blanket restriction on mentally disabled people having children.
Some kind of capability test, I feel like, would be better. My boyfriend has OCD pretty bad and I have a panic disorder and am mildly autistic. If ‘society stepped in,’ we’d probably be restricted from ever having a kid even though we’re both fully capable of loving another person and being responsible for one.
On the flip side of the coin, my mother should have never been allowed to breed.”
2. Transforming things suddenly
“When I was a kid, maybe 5 or 6, I was riding in the car with my mom. I was playing with a Transformers toy, and telling her about it.
At some point, she stopped me and said something to the effect of, ‘Son, do I talk to you about makeup or clothes or anything I’m interested in?’
I answered no. And she said, ‘Then I don’t want to hear about Transformers or whatever you’re playing with.’
In that moment, she just wanted me to shut up because she didn’t care, but over my life I’ve realized it destroyed my ability to talk about things I care about with people unless it’s someone I’m very close to, so I come off as very boring until people get to know me.”
3. “It was a 10-plus year saga of insane blow-ups and tears…”
“My mother Tiger Mom-ed the crap out of me, specifically when it came to classical music. She was a violin teacher and had me play piano, but that didn’t stop her from getting VERY INVOLVED.
What was the worst incident?
When she got so mad at how I was practicing, she threw the piano bench out the door? When she scribbled all over my music in a rage and had to buy a new book so my teacher wouldn’t see she’d lost her mind?
When she was screaming at me in the car after a lesson and just laid into the horn while driving down a busy street?
When she drove me, crying, to my friend’s house for a scheduled play date and made me ring the doorbell and explain to my friend I couldn’t stay because I hadn’t practiced enough?
It was a 10-plus year saga of insane blow-ups and tears that only stopped when I left for college and quit.
But I’m the lucky one. I was the fighter. My sister was the people-pleaser. Once my mom gave up on me, she focused the full brunt of her attention on her.
Now my sister’s got an undergrad degree in music and a whole lotta angst about whether she even likes the freaking viola or has just been forced into it her entire life.
I got quite good at piano, but I’ve barely touched it since I quit lessons.
Doubt I can play well any more. There’s just way too much baggage for me to figure out whether I actually hate piano, or I could’ve liked it but hate what my mom turned it into!
She originally planned to start me on piano and then add violin, because piano’s helpful for visualizing chords and learning music theory, or something.
I’m actually not sure why she never followed through with that plan. Maybe it was just too time consuming once my sister started lessons.
Regardless, THANK GOD.”
4. The changes in dad…
“They were a normal, happy couple at some point in my childhood, but when my dad started getting moved around, that all changed.
Things became so vitriolic toward my high school years that they could hardly be in the same room together during the day.
Any time we ventured out there was always an argument or fight. I gained my coping mechanism of listening to music in my headphones during car rides from this.
If anyone bothers me with them on I instinctively get upset now.
Another thing is that mom always wanted to fix up our house.
My dad, who was moderately wealthy, wouldn’t give her a penny to do any of the renovations, so she had to get a part time job.
Even when we got a new washer and dryer, she had to twist his arm for years. They stayed together a little while after I left home, which I did because I felt I was what was keeping their relationship together.
In that time, my dad left for another country to see his family for three months without contacting my mom.
She was furious because all of her peers their age had the kids out of the house and were going on vacations as a couple and she was just left to the wayside by my father who didn’t consider her very much anymore.
Flash forward now and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to commit to a relationship into marriage, and I’m no longer having kids.
Mom loaded me up with self image issues to boot. She also went on to get plastic surgery after getting divorced from Dad.
I don’t think I should do either of these things because I’m set up to fail. I’m waiting until my father dies and I can receive my inheritance and maybe then I can get married.
Because at least I can protect my inheritance in a prenup.”
5. “They pick on my younger brother now too and I just want to scream.”
“My younger sister and I both hit puberty pretty early. We were healthy weights and active but understandably were tired and had stretch marks.
Ya know, like bodies get when they have rapid growth spurts and hormonal changes. Our parents had the genius idea of calling us in one night and telling us we needed to lose weight – because we had stretch marks, from being growing people.
This was on top of years of ridiculous diets and fad routines, with no actual nutritional guidance.
We would also get in trouble for not knowing how to cook, after being banned from the kitchen.’
What their hearts were trying to say was ‘we don’t want you to have all of the health problems the rest of the extended family has.’
The actual result was an eating disorder I’m still fighting 16 years after that conversation. They pick on my younger brother now too and I just want to scream.
Hey, Dad, maybe put down the chips and eat a vegetable before you say anything about anybody else’s body.
The kind of parents that, while meaning well, give their kid an eating disorder are not the kind of people that react well to finding out they caused something to be wrong.
We’ve had related talks, and they did not go well. And I do have candid conversations with my brother.”
6. Parental Thieves
“They demand I pay for things (which is fine, in itself, really) except I wasn’t really allowed to have a job until right before I left for college.
Basically any gift money I got from relatives they somehow took. My mother especially has always felt entitled to anything that’s mine.
It was beautiful when I moved overseas to study and had my own bank account in the local currency. She had no say in any transaction or deposit or anything for that matter.
Disclaimer: they were never short on cash.
This was purely an ‘assert control’ thing. This was all about asserting control and reminding me that I ‘owed’ them.
I was never taught the value of hard work or saving up, I was never allowed to have a job until l was just about to leave for college because ‘school comes first and your life will be over if you don’t succeed in every way.’
It felt oddly foreign not to be asking permission to buy things.
I had a bit of an impulse buying problem initially (it truly wasn’t that bad, $30 for clothes here and there) because I had absolutely no concept of budgets or anything.
But suddenly having the freedom to make decisions on my own was very overwhelming. I had to be extra careful if I got into a tight spot financially not to ask for their support because I’d never hear the end of it.
Now it’s even worse, as I’m unemployed due to some serious health issues.
Whenever I hear, ‘You need to pay for that,’ all I can think is, With what income?
It’s really unsettling.
It’ll be anything from new clothes or whatever. Parents will first insist I need them, then drop the bomb that I’m paying.
Or, on occasion, they’ll go buy things for me (craft supplies, greeting cards, books) and then they’ll announce out of nowhere that they’ll take the money out of the shared account we have.
My parents are so weirdly inconsistent with money.
If I want to order something online or a present for a friend, they SCREAM at me for spending and to ‘save your money!!!’
But clothes, shampoo, high-end makeup? ‘You have cash.’ It makes no sense and it goes around in circles.
Believe me, I would give absolutely anything to just cut off both my raging narcissistic, heavy-drinking mother and enabling father.
However, I had to come home after living away for like 5 years. I was born with a chronic joint deformity, and had to get a massive operation to correct it, and it wasn’t feasible to do overseas where I was living (given both the local standard of care and also the cost of their medical system).
So I am back under their roof, generally on high-alert and survival mode It’s exhausting, recovering from a handful of operations and extensive rehab and just dealing with their craziness day in and day out.
I have extended family that’s prepared to swoop in and help.
Also a pretty darn swell significant other who is ready to do a rescue operation when I am well enough to function without significant help.
I’m thinking I’m going to drain the joint account, and put everything remaining there in the account in my name that she has no access to.
I feel that in adulthood, having my own money is a completely reasonable boundary.
I think I’d have to be realistic enough to expect a great deal of blow-back from her.
Whether it’s screaming or rage or some other childish nonsense, I’m going to have to take that step.
Also, I would very much like to get everything that’s reasonably mine (stocks, savings bonds, even documents such as birth certificates) in my own possession.
There is no actual reason my mother should hold onto those things.”
7. “She died within 12 hours.”
“Oh gosh, where could I start?
Well, first, she didn’t believe me about my stepdad assaulting me. But no one in my family did.
Just thought I was trying to get attention. But he was abusive to her in other ways and she just ‘took’ it, thinking she was giving us a better life because she wouldn’t be a single mom, we had a better house, etc.
So that’s number one.
When she realized he was just a piece of garbage, she finally had the guts to divorce him and he remarried some other poor soul.
She started drinking again after 14 years of sobriety. I don’t think she intentionally wanted to ruin my memories of her, but she got cancer and died shortly after, so all I remember is her last few years, which was wasted, pathetic mom.
That’s number two.
But the one that really messed me up is how on her deathbed, she refused to talk to me about any of it – her feelings, what she wanted for me in life, if she’d miss me.
Nothing. She waited until I left one night and refused life saving treatment. When I went the next day, she was comatose and we never spoke anything again.
She died within 12 hours.
Don’t ever freaking do that crap to your child. Thanks a lot, Mom.
She was also taken advantage of by a family member and grew up with a heavily drinking father, and a schizophrenic mother.
She had no good role models. She tried really hard to give us a better life and failed. I think she felt really ashamed and just didn’t know how to handle it.
If the cancer didn’t happen I wonder if she would’ve come out of it. I have tried a lot to forgive her but I’ve not been able.
Can’t even forgive myself, leading to a lot of dark thoughts.”
8. The perils of not understanding autism…
“‘If only you were nicer, they wouldn’t bully you.’
‘Your sister can make friends, so you can, too.’
‘Why do you have these weird hobbies?
No wonder you have no friends.’
‘What is it? Are you too lazy or too shy to make friends?’
I got diagnosed with autism eventually, but that was after 40 years of beating myself senseless over my inability to fit in.
The thing is though, while my mom is not the most sensitive person in the world, she is not a bad person and she thought she was helping me.
She thought she had a smart, but kind of shy, kid and she was encouraging me every single day to go out, make friends, stand up for myself.
This was the 1970s and autistic girls were not yet known to exist.
I don’t hate her for it. I always said that my mom would kill a dragon for me, but she will never understand me.
It never occurred to her that doing the social things that were normal for her took everything I had, and some things I could not do at all.
All her encouraging and assuring me that, surely, I could do it left me with a lot of self hate. Being told every day that you can make friends, and still being mostly alone and bullied within an inch of your life led me to conclude I had only myself to blame.
I don’t think I will ever get over that.
This is why it is important to diagnose autistic kids early, people!
I got mis-diagnosed. I’ve had a lifetime of dealing with episodes of severe depression, but that’s a symptom, not a cause.
Because I was an upset suicidal female, I got labeled as ‘borderline’ because that is, apparently, the standard go-to ‘hysterical female’ diagnosis.
Also I learned at a young age to hide my weirdness like my life depended on it and I got good at it, even if it came at a high price.
This label stuck to me for 20 years or so and, at one point, I was sent to a help group for borderliners, and when listening to their problems it became very clear that this was not what I had.
So, I did a few online tests and the pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place. I finally got an official test and it was a very clear cut case.
I’m generally a mild mannered person, but have a fierce hate for pro-diseasers.
They spread lies, and hate, and fear. As is now well established, there is no relation, and autistic people always existed.
I was already autistic in 1970. But many of my generation, especially women, only get diagnosed now.
The rise in numbers comes from better understanding of the condition, and it is a very good thing too.
Finally knowing I have a medical condition and I tried hard enough, way too hard in fact, helps. But 43 years of believing you are a bad person does not just go away.
I wish I had known sooner, I would have chosen a different path in life and understood my strong and weak points better.
Autism in itself does not have to be a disability but chronic depression because of constantly trying to be somebody you are not is crippling.
I’m glad I know what caused my problems, but the life time cycle of self hate is a hard one to break.
I like to think that I would have made more realistic life choices, and I would have been able to keep my job.
Right now, I’m 48 and completely tired of life, I just want it to be over with. But I’m well looked after and there is much to be grateful for, and I think I will carry on for a while.”
9. Currently in need of a therapist…
“My emotionally challenged mother brought me into the world though an anonymous donor. Then, she married a heavy-drinking narcissist who didn’t even appreciate his own kids when I was 10.
Most of us still live at home and/or have no future and have addiction problems, along with psychological issues.
Both of them have gone bankrupt at least once and when my mother finally got approved for disability, she let my stepdad blow it all just like every ‘large’ amount of money they ever came into.
She never says no to him, even if he’s being unkind and unfair to any of us or to her. They both are very out of touch with themselves and don’t like to talk about feelings… at all.
One of the worst parts is that out of the 6 of us, I (26) am the only one stuck here with the both of them.
His three children (23-26) still live with their own mom, my older brother (30) lives with his addict girlfriend, and my younger sister (21) is the only one going to college as a full time student.
This is currently something that has really been bothering me lately.
I’m looking for a therapist but it’s hard to find one that I resonate with in my area.”
10. The Guilt Gun
“My dad basically never interacted with me except to make dad jokes. My mom used me to vent about her problems because my dad didn’t know how to discuss emotional topics.
She also engaged me in long, boring, one-sided conversations that I couldn’t get out of without making her upset and often ask me to go out and do things with her which, again, I couldn’t refuse without making her upset.
Guilt is her go-to weapon of choice.
The thing is though, her venting wasn’t even very common compared to just…
talking. About whatever book she’s reading, or something she saw on the news, or something happening with her friend, etc.
And she did have friends she could talk and hang out with as well. I don’t why she forced me into it so much.
I’d see how long I could be quiet before she required my input and it was pretty much endless.
That pretty much became my default state, because anything I said would just trigger more words from her.
It hasn’t been great for my conversation skills in general. They also praised me for being smart rather than for working hard, which crippled my work ethic.
I hear that’s a pretty common one.
Could she be a narcissist? Yeah, that sounds likely. For some reason, I was under the impression that genuine narcissism was somewhat common.
She did have a fairly messed up childhood with an abusive mother.
All this when I was already constantly exhausted from school and depression, and extremely introverted.
So, now I associate relationships of any kind with exhausting obligation. It’s a big part of why I’ve always had difficulty developing a social life.
I know this all came from a place of love, which is why I feel bad complaining about it, but it really damaged me.
Incidentally, I’m terrified of having kids because it seems like the slightest mistake on my part can mess them up for life.”
11. Stranger in a strange land…
“I was sent to a Muslim school in a Muslim country with my brother at 12 years old, the moment I graduated sixth grade.
Dad thought he was securing a place for us in Heaven, but I have a feeling he only secured his own place down below for that sheer neglect.
Big bro had spent a great deal of time there prior and had a decent support structure.
He had already made friends from before. Wasn’t the case for me because Bro was the jerk type of sibling who never included me in anything.
The few friends I made, apparently in the same boat as me, didn’t last as long and went back to their respective countries.
The longest friendships I had from seventh to ninth grade lasted a month.
Aside from changing to an introvert caused by the culture shock and the hostility toward Americans, it also made me a middle school dropout.
Spent the first year alone without parents, the two years after that without friends, and I just spent the majority of my time exploring the city in silence.
As a result, my voice didn’t fully develop, and my communication skills suffered a great deal. My confidence went out the window.
Sometimes I wonder if my symptoms are a result of that trauma.
The 4th year, after so much trash talk from my mom, Dad finally agreed to put me in a private school taught in English.
Started as a freshman at a sophomores age. But by then, I could barely function socially. I still had my jokes and crazy sense of humor, but no confidence behind them.
I hit a lucky break, with an extreme extrovert who was the most popular guy in that small school. The extrovert adopted me, the introvert of all people.”
Long story short… if your parents were awesome to you when you were growing up… LET THEM KNOW!
Because you see how others have turned out.
Yeah, not good.