There's no doubt about it: Bad parents run rampant, leaving destroyed dreams and trauma in their wake. Sadly, these poor Redditors were raised by the most toxic parents imaginable, and still carry the scars of their poisoned childhoods. Here's everything you should not say to your child. You might just save them a lifetime of heartache.
1. An Eye For An Eye
When I was about 12 years old, my younger brother, who was six at the time, and I were playing pretend knights in our backyard, hurling our pretend spears at a blanket adorned with a cross. Sure enough, this was a recipe for disaster... Once, unaware that my brother had gone behind the blanket, I threw my spear and it went directly into his eye socket. Miraculously, he survived, but the rest of the day remains mostly a haze.
What I can vividly recall is the blood, my parents shouting at me, and me stood there in shock, crying while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. It felt like an eternity. Everyone seemed to forget I was there. The hospital trip was a nightmarish blur, and feelings of guilt engulfed me. I was just 12 and I could feel the disapproving glances of the nurses. But, there was more to come, worse than I could imagine.
With time, while he lost his sight in one eye, my brother improved and grew normally otherwise. About a year later, he had to visit the doctor to get a prosthetic eye and I was forced to tag along. I can still remember how it felt, sitting in the waiting room and hearing him wail, "It hurts, it hurts". It felt like the longest wait of my life. When my mother finally stepped out of the doctor's room, her expression was stone-cold as she told me, "Now you know what you've done".
2. Ripped To Shreds
My mom, unfortunately, struggles with anger. My parents separated when I was little, and my time was split between the two of them. Mom always had a hard time dealing with dad, and she held onto a grudge to a terrifying degree. She disliked that I also loved my dad and enjoyed spending time with him. She persistently tried to make me confess that I loved her more, or didn't love him at all, and so forth.
That alone was a negative environment, but one incident takes the cake: I was about seven or eight and had mentioned something that made her mad, possibly about plans dad and I had for the weekend. She got agitated, shouted at me, and became even angrier when I didn't apologise right away, and so forth. Then, with a direct gaze at me, she picked up a cardboard egg carton from the recycling heap and began tearing it to bits.
As she stood there, shredding the egg carton with so much anger, she blurted out, "I wish I could do this to you".
3. Eating Disorders
When I was just eight years old, my mom said to me, "No one finds overweight girls attractive". I wasn't truly overweight, but her words sent me down a really dark path. Soon, I found myself battling a nearly-fatal eating disorder. And it didn't stop there. Fast forward over 30 years, and I'm still dealing with the impact of that disorder. Eating properly is still challenging for me.
4. This Is Who I Am
My mom and I had a strong disagreement about the LGBT community. I believe it's natural, and not up for debate, but she says it's not in line with God's will. I asked her how she would react if I were gay, and she replied that she'd disown me. The truth is, I am bisexual. It's heartbreaking to think my own mother could react that way.
I won't come out until I'm able to move out, but given my lack of advanced education, low-paying job, and few desirable skills, it might take a while. But someday, when I'm on my own, I'll send her a photo of me and a girlfriend, to make it clear just how real my life and love are.
5. Fulfilling A Prophecy
Growing up, my parents tried to instill the idea that I wasn't enough just as I was, suggesting I needed to morph into someone entirely different to be liked. They seemed convinced there was a natural, inherent issue with me that required acting like a different person to find any measure of success. It has haunted me for the rest of my life.
The lively, goal-oriented kid I once was turned into an adult plagued by a low self-image and devoid of personal identity. I'm really scared that the damage is permanent. Over the years, they consistently put me down through a myriad of small, perhaps unintentional actions, which only strengthened my belief that I was somehow inadequate.
They labeled me abnormal, choosing not to cater to my individual needs as they thought I should adapt to 'normal' people. They attributed my difficulty in making friends to things as trivial as not having blonde hair. They proposed people were simply 'intimidated' by me and critiqued my self-expression whenever I expressed pride in my accomplishments.
Shockingly, as a teenager, they dubbed me selfish and went as far as discouraging the use of the word 'I.' This and a million other things left me feeling like I was always in the wrong. I realize I shoulder some of the blame for allowing it to shape me this way and for not adequately addressing its effects.
Instead of facing my issues head-on in a positive manner, I allowed them to wreak havoc in my life, causing me to spiral downward until I was completely stripped of self-respect. I've lived with the heavy conviction that I'm fundamentally flawed, and despite a glimmer of understanding that I have the power to shape my own life, this belief in my 'badness' has dominated my self-perception.
6. Low Grades
My mother once told me, "I brought you into this world, provided for your needs, and this is your way of showing gratitude? You're good for nothing and you will amount to nothing in life" This was because I got a C in middle school. My teachers say that my low grades could be due to an undiagnosed learning disability, but she wouldn't entertain that idea.
Even now, she insists that my poor performance just because I'm lazy.
7. My Dad’s Words
My dad has never thought I was good enough. I keep hearing the same complaints: "Why can't you be as successful as those guys?" "You should be leading the way". "You're so lazy, other people work ten times harder than you". I'll tell you why. Could be because I had to start working at 15 since my dad couldn't finance three kids' education.
Maybe it's because his ex-wife squandered all our money or used it on her own child. Maybe if I could dedicate time to studying instead of spending my nights making fake IDs, my grades would be better. I might then be able to make something of myself and not have to work all my adulthood in retail or the food industry.
8. Back In My Day
"By the time I were your age, I had my career all figured out". Sure, when you were my age, you knew your career path. But remember, it isn't 30 years ago anymore. For starters, college isn't a bargain like it used to be in the 70s. Plus, today's job market is an absolutely nightmare! And let's not forget, we were locked up for two years.
You really think what you went through is at all relevant to me? It really drives me up the wall.
9. End Of Year Ritual
I used to dread school year endings since we had to clear out our desks, bringing all our work home. My mom would sift through our backpacks, but she'd only scrutinize MY notebooks, laughing at MY drawings and stories, calling them embarrassing, and so on. She'd even share them with my siblings and dad, so the whole family could make fun of me. They did the same with my diaries. They just laughed.
These days, they'd tell my kids, "Your mom used to enjoy drawing a lot, I wonder why she stopped!" Well, I can't help but wonder why...
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10. Blessed Disbelief
My folks are honestly pretty devout, and I was raised in the church since I was a baby. Once I hit 16, I made the choice to step away from the church for a variety of reasons, but at the heart of it, I simply didn't believe anymore. This news hit my parents hard, especially my dad who sunk into a bit of a slump. The really sad part? He couldn't help but blame himself. He was constantly asking himself, "Where did I go wrong?"
Fast forward to present day, I'm 34 now, happily married, and no longer aligned with the church. We're blessed with two wonderful boys and life is really good. However, there's this lingering thought that no matter how content I am, my parents continue to think I could be happier if I was back in the church. They can't shake off the feeling that they somehow failed as parents, and that's tough for me.
11. Breaking Everything
I recall how minor mishaps at home, like breaking a clothespin, would be treated like major disasters. These small incidents would make my dad absolutely lose it. And worse, if something broke around him or even if he broke it, the blame automatically fell on me. I remember a time when my brother innocently spilled a carton of orange juice, and it became my fault because I supposedly didn't place it correctly in the fridge.
I also bore the blame for a broken door handle, which was attributed to me allegedly being too rough with it. The finger-pointing continued even after I moved out. Everything happening at the house was still somehow put on me. After I turned 18, they didn't give me any financial support. However, if they couldn't afford to pay their bills, they'd blame their financial strain on having had me.
One memory that still baffles me is when their house was flooded and, unfathomably, they said it was my fault. Their reasoning was that a couple of weeks earlier, I had washed my hands there and apparently damaged the faucet, which "must've" caused the flood.
12. Putting On Makeup
My mom is old school, the kind of Southern lady who gets up at the crack of dawn, even on weekends, to do a full makeup look and curl her hair. From the moment I entered my teenage years, let's say around 12 or 13, she was on me to wear makeup daily. She would say things like, "You just look better with makeup on," and "You're too plain to skip makeup," or even a personal throw of "Some girls are beautiful without makeup, you're just not one of them".
These comments really shattered my self-esteem as a vulnerable teenager. It was nerve-wracking to face my family or, heaven help me, step out in public without makeup on. Unfortunately, she still tosses these comments my way, but I'm glad to share that now, as a 21-year-old, I can head out and feel secure in my own skin, makeup free. A parent should never tell their child that they're not beautiful just as they are.
13. Bats For Sure
Last evening, while strolling with my dog, I spotted a dad accompanied by his son and daughter at the local pond and nature preserve close to my home. There are tons of bats around there, which people often don't know because our area, it being the UK, is typically home to less exotic fauna than say, foxes. The son, about nine-years-old, excitedly told his dad, "Look dad, there's a bat!"
Instead of encouragement, his father lightly chuckled and dismissed, "Hmm...I doubt it..". My heart felt for the young boy. However, under a streetlight, the dad saw it for himself and blurted, "Oh my god look at all of them!" The little girl, who looked barely four, began to scream. Hats off to you, young man, for standing your ground!
14. Be The Know-It-All
My folks set the bar super high for me, so high that I couldn't reach it even if I tried. They dreamt of me being an effortless genius, knowing random facts like the World Cup winners or the capital cities worldwide. Yet whenever I opened up to ask a question, their response was to tell me to "pipe down".
Throughout my school years, I put in every ounce of effort to outshine everyone else intellectually. Even now, when friends tell me that I'm pretty smart, I find it hard to believe.
15. Waiting By The Window
When I was a kid, my Dad would phone and tell me "I'm on my way to pick you up". Every time I heard this, I'd sit by the window eagerly waiting for him, but he never showed up. My mom said it was really sad to watch. Now, at 40, I can count on my hands the few times I've seen him in my whole life. It still stings when I reflect on it.
16. A Pizza Fight
"We're moving and you can't come with us". These were my dad's harsh words to me after he took my sister's pizza that I had made for her, ate it while I watched. I asked him, "Why do you have to be this way?" then he tossed the crusts at me. After that I just stormed out.
17. Beast Of Burden
I'm the youngest in my family with a pretty significant age gap from my older siblings - six and seven years. My folks used to say all the time, they hadn't initially planned for children. Surprisingly, they wound up with two kids close together, which already stretched their finances. So when I showed up quite a bit later, it felt like things got even tighter. One phrase that echoes from my childhood is, "We were really scraping by after you arrived. Life became a lot tougher. But we love you".
They didn't mean to hurt me, I know. But constant talk about how challenging and costly it was to love and support me left a mark. I've been in therapy for years now, and it's helped a lot - I'm doing well. I have self-love and I'm in a good space. Yet, I can't shake off a tiny pang of guilt whenever someone expresses love for me. In my mind, love is associated with burden, and the last thing I want is to be a burden for anyone.
18. You Missed A Spot
My brother and I spent an entire day scrubbing the bathroom once. Somehow, I overlooked a smudgy patch. Later, I overheard my dad talking to my brother. What he said hit me like a punch in the gut: "The message you should get from this is to never depend on your brother for anything".
Sadly, this was just one comment among countless others I heard during my childhood. Let's just say, my parents were very straightforward with their criticisms.
19. The Boys Aren't Back In Town
When I was about eight, my mom and I went shopping. We were heading towards the mall, trailing a bunch of young men, probably in their late teens or early 20s. They were carefree, joking around, clearly enjoying themselves a lot. It seemed like such a blast to me. I nudged my mom and told her it reminded me of that old Thin Lizzy tune my dad loved, "The Boys are Back in Town".
My mom kept her gaze forward and responded firmly, "That's not something you'll ever experience". I was actually speechless. All I managed to stammer out was "...Huh?..". "You won't," she closed off the topic. Well, that put a damper on my Friday night, thanks Mom.
20. Ruining The Family
When the authorities turned up at our place, my dad claimed that I had ruined our family. Why? Because I told someone at my school what went down in our home. I didn't even know it wasn't normal! Yet my dad wasn't pleased at all. He felt humiliated that I spilled the beans.
Fast forward to today, I'm 42 and have sons of my own. I take pride in stating that they don't interact with my dad. They're oblivious of him. On the flip side, my father-in-law serves as the most amazing grandad to them.
21. Helicopter Mom
My mom was super vigilant about my computer usage. Even though I was a reserved, introverted teenager who didn't want to make trouble, she literally never stopped worrying about what I was doing online. I wasn't one to explore controversial stuff and definitely didn't feel the need to clear my browsing history.
All I would do is chat with friends, purchase music on iTunes, and enjoy games like Roller Coaster Tycoon. I was pretty transparent about these activities. Still, she would frequently check my browsing history, listen in on my innocent chats with friends about school or games, and incessantly ask me what I was doing. Any time I closed the door due to block out noise, she'd get insanely paranoid.
She was irrationally suspicious that I would visit forbidden sites, despite my consistent track record proving otherwise. Her concerns extended to anything mildly private, and she was overly eager to catch me in the act just so she could reprimand me. Yes, I'd have my private moments, just not when anyone was around. However, her over-parenting didn't stop behind my bedroom door.
Staying too long in the shower would cause a commotion, and she would abruptly enter my room if the door was closed. Once, she was outraged at what she thought she'd discovered, labelling it as "disgusting" and "improper". But in reality, I was on the bed playing with my dog. That moment still baffles me to this day.
Living under such scrutiny made me unnecessarily anxious about my text and search histories, to an extent where I'm still insanely careful about it even though I live alone. This obsession not only messed up my perception around my body, but it also delayed my comfort level with intimacy. It wasn't until I was nearly 21, and two years into a relationship, that I felt ready.
My wrong impressions about intimacy left me feeling guilty and deserving punishment, concepts reinforced by my Catholic background. So, I'd recommend parents to be more understanding towards their teenagers' natural curiosity. It might be uncomfortable to deal with, but accepting the concept is important for their development.
22. A Two For One
Every now and then, my mom likes to say that my dad never really wanted kids. He told her that if she wished to have a family, she was to stay home and look after the children. So, it feels like my dad didn't want to have me and my existence kept my mom from pursuing the job she loved. But that's not even the part that makes me resent her. It's that she didn't mention these things until my dad was diagnosed with early-onset dementia and was unable to confirm or contradict her stories. It was just her word against...nobody's.
I mean, I'm in my 30s now and trying to keep a good relationship with my mom considering she and my brother are all the family I have left. However, these kind of snide remarks are why I decided to move far away as soon as I got the chance.
23. The First Loser
When I was little, I was hooked on Star Wars Pod Racers for the Nintendo 64. After weeks of trying, I finally came 2nd in a race that I had been constantly losing. I was over the moon about this achievement! But when I run to share my exciting news with my mom, her reaction was devastating. She said, "Well, you know second place is just the first loser". This totally broke my heart and shattered all my dreams.
24. Pigging Out
When I was about 16, on a standard drive with my dad to McDonald's, a memorable incident transpired. As someone who has been overweight my entire life, around 260 to 270 pounds at the time, I had a penchant for Big Mac combos and 10-piece nuggets, just for the variety.
To this order, he responded somewhat strongly, "Why do you always have to be such a pig?" From the look on his face, he knew he screwed up. He quickly apologized, but the harsh words left a lasting imprint on me, and they often echo in my mind. It was jarring because my dad has always been the level-headed one in comparison to my mom, who's typically been the harsher of the two. This comment from him, so uncharacteristic, shattered me in a way. Though we remain quite close, those words have never truly disappeared from my thoughts.
There was another incident when I was around six. I once saw my mom emotionally breaking down and when I asked her the reason, she confessed her regret about being with my dad and subsequently having me, in a rather unfiltered venting spree. Those words messed me up for a long time. Yet when I tried to confront her about it later at 16 years old, she accused me of falsifying the story and trying to demonize her. It seems I was always made out to be the one painting her as the "bad guy".
25. A Great Graduation
I was about to finish high school, with everyone asking me about my future plans. My mother suggested, "Just tell everyone you're not doing anything, so if you achieve anything else, it'll be a pleasant surprise!" She's a difficult, competitive individual who seems envious of all I've achieved since I was little.
Maybe it's because she didn't finish high school and I'm on the verge of doing so. Her sisters have noticed this behavior and informed me about it.
26. No One Loves You
My fiancée's father was unfaithful to her mom and left her struggling with an overpriced house. He was consistently irresponsible about paying child support. While her mom worked three jobs, my fiancée and her sister still needed constant support from their grandparents just to get by. I'll never forget the last cruel words her dad spoke to her: "Nobody loves you". She bravely replied, "I think my grandparents do," to which he callously responded, "No, they just pretend to because they pity you".
But her dad isn't the only negative influence in the family. Her stepmom is equally unpleasant. She continually dishes out mean comments like, "That dress makes you look overweight," and, "When will your mom secure a better job so you can wear quality clothes?" They're both beyond lousy.
27. Don’t Discourage
I've always been more introverted and far from sporty. When I started trying to build up muscles by working out, my parents teased me. All this did was make me feel disheartened, making me want to stop. This applies to many situations. Do you have a kid who prefers keeping to themselves? The whole, "Aha, the hermit emerges from his shell," kind of comment can be really harmful and just makes them want to retreat more.
If your child is trying to make a positive shift in their life, don't put them down just to score a quick laugh.
28. A Major Headache
Once, when I had a nasty migraine, I gently asked my mom to keep my sisters quiet as I was in pain. At one point, I considered catching a bus home, but she didn't let me. Instead of showing some understanding, she added to my agony by blaming me for every family issue.
They didn't help me in dealing with my troubles, nor did they let me handle it on my own. And why the heck was I being blamed for every issue? Did they think I wanted to be in agony? Of course not. The pain was so intense that I didn't even notice I had an infection until pus had already begun to ooze out. I certainly didn't ask to be in that much pain.
If I had an option, I would never choose to live in pain. However, I was, apparently, causing every family problem by having repetitive migraines. Great message.
29. Too Little, Too Late
When I was 12, my grandpa made me sit in his car and say, "I love you," to him - something unfamiliar to me at that age. He's been the only one in my family consistently expressing love throughout my life, and I'm grateful for that. My parents never voiced their affection, neither mom nor dad. Now, as an adult who can fend for myself, my dad's new pursuit for a bond between us - often saying he loves me - seems sudden.
Every so often, my mom sends a text saying she loves me. I always respond in kind, but can't help wondering why it took them so long to share these feelings. I must admit, there is a bit of resentment on my part. I desperately needed their love and affection growing up. But now, as a self-reliant woman, I've grown accustomed to a life without their emotional support.
Their now-amplified affections feel a little like a case of too little, too late. Given how I had to navigate growing up and life's challenges primarily on my own, I don't go out of my way to spend time with them now.
30. All In Your Head
"Sure, it's all in my mind, Dad. It's mental health, you know? If only you'd stopped dismissing my feelings and had taken me to the doctor six months ago, maybe I wouldn't have ended up in such a dark place. But who am I to say? You decided to leave school early, while I was on the verge of graduating with straight As, if it weren't for these issues. Yet, it seems you know better than me about mental health. Absolutely".
31. Being Up On Stage
Growing up, I was always the quiet, reserved kid until I discovered my love for dance and being on stage. This led me to start trying out for theatre productions. Unfortunately, my mom made my life a nightmare; She always questioned my abilities and constantly tried to provoke me.
It seems silly now, but her words often got to me, and I'd find myself backing out of auditions, convinced that I wouldn't succeed. I didn't realize the impact of her words until one Christmas while we were decorating the tree. Out of the blue, she pointed out my dramatic flair, suggesting I should audition for a specific role in a musical.
She said with a condescending tone that the part was "just right for me". Her words got to me and I ended up not showing up for the audition. To my disappointment, I backed out in the last minute.
32. Liar, Liar
My dad often accused me of lying, even when I was honest, over trivial matters. I have a vivid memory of him shouting "LIAR!" right in my face when I was about 10. In my adulthood, he's tried to make things right, but the pain still lingers. Whenever I let my guard down, I see a flashback of that moment like a lingering shadow. It's tough for me to move past it.
33. Cold And Distant
I have Asperger's, which made me a pretty tough kid to handle. I tended to keep to myself and wasn't very sociable. Whenever I drove my mom up the wall or acted out, she would tell me something that has stuck with me and impacts all of my relationships. She'd say, "No one will ever love you". Our relationship has improved some over the years, but I still hold a grudge and find myself giving her the silent treatment.
I worry that we'll always have this distance between us.
34. Taking A Stand
My parents were quite strict, and I often resisted their rules. I think the whole "because I said so" mindset, demanding that I respect their authority without question, has affected me. Even though I'm smart and able, I constantly seek confirmation for answers I'm confident about. I find it hard to stand up to authority, especially when I feel I'm being abused.
I have a tendency to take people at face value. Sure, it's better to trust than to constantly doubt, but I've found myself taken advantage of occasionally. I've stayed under terrible bosses longer than necessary. There was a time when I lost control and damaged my three-year-old's dresser. We had been using a time-out chair approach, as opposed to the spankings I endured as a child.
Acknowledging my mistake, I put myself in time-out for the sake of my kids. However, my father just ridiculed the idea, spouting the age-old adage, "the parent is always right". That's when I began to grasp the issues with my upbringing. I'm not always right. I consider myself a decent parent, but there are times when I lose focus, feel exhausted, get lost in my own thoughts, and fail to engage as I should.
This leads to mistakes. So, I give my kids some room to challenge me. It's important they feel able to stand up for their beliefs. My oldest checks me when my temper gets the better of me. Although I may resist in the moment, I realize he's right. In our competitive society, we're often nudged into fulfilling others' desires, whether it's work-related or tied to consumerism.
I want my kids to resist this pressure and know how to stand up for themselves.
35. I'm A Weirdo
"Why do you have to be so WEIRD? Can't you just be normal? Always with that freaky music and all!" Those were my parents' words. The thing is, I loved indie-pop. I mean, really loved it. But after hearing that, it seemed as though I was doing something wrong by not sticking to popular tastes. It was as if exploring different things wasn't allowed.
This shook me up, honestly. I even started avoiding people with unusual hobbies...I started labeling them as odd.
36. Wicked Stepsisters
My father married a woman who had two daughters who were constantly showered with love and attention like royalty. I, being the elder one, confess to being quite a troublemaker during my teenage years. Unfortunately, this put my younger brother in an undesired spot, put in comparison with our stepsisters who were labeled as picture-perfect, or threatened that if he stepped out of line, he would end up "just like your no-good sister".
One of the stepdaughters was cunning, always up to one mean prank or another. She often did things like hide my textbook just before the bus arrived and then pretended to be clueless when asked about it. She was certainly enough mature to understand the severity of her actions. I ended up being scolded for lack of discipline while she relished her victory, knowing the textbook was stashed in her room.
It was always unpleasant visiting that household, knowing that we were viewed as intruders rather than family. Several years ago, when my father passed, I penned his obituary and intentionally left out his second wife from it. It was a satisfying moment.
37. Enjoying Your Job
My Dad once advised me, "Don't look for a job you'll love, find one that pays well and stick with it". When I shared my plans of owning a small business, he lost his mind: "Are you stupid? Are you planning on being poor all your life?" Now, even after 15 years, I haven't mustered the courage to be a small business owner.
My life has always been about gaining his approval.
38. Who Should You Thank?
After putting in extra effort to improve my scores in Math and Algebra, I actually didn't dread the parent-teacher conference for once in a long time. My principal and math teacher told my parents that they were impressed with my progress in math. My mom responded, saying, "Thank you for his grades," to which my principal replied, "Actually, your son deserves all the credit. I didn't do anything different".
My mom just stood there, evidently astonished, without saying a single word of congratulations for my achievements. Somehow, she just couldn't wrap her head around the fact that I could excel. Whenever something good happened to me, she always ended up thanking God, as if I had no role in achieving it.
My mom was super protective of me until I made some friends at 17. Initially, she wouldn't let me do anything or go anywhere with them. Being her only kid, she just wanted to keep me safe. It took some persuasion, but I managed to convince her to let me enjoy myself. I reminded her that I'd never given her a reason to distrust me, and so, she should let me live a little.
Once she recognized that I could take care of myself, she stopped being so protective. And honestly, that change made me feel much happier and more confident. She's even admitted that she wishes she had eased up a bit earlier because she saw how much happier I was having some freedom.
40. About Your Other Parent...
From what I've seen, it can be really confusing for kids when divorced parents tell them, "Don't share this with your 'other parent'," or, "Your 'other parent' is trying to control you". This kind of talk can really mess with their minds. So, if you ever find yourself going through a divorce and you have kids, do your best to resolve the issues with your ex without dragging your children into it more than you have to.
41. Spoiling Everything
When I was a kid, I often acted impulsively. Once, I messed up a visit to my grandma's place at the last minute by doing something silly, and afterward at my house, I heard my family discussing it. Referring to my actions, I heard my mom say something that's stuck with me: "He manages to spoil everything," and it seemed like my dad and sister were in agreement.
This statement pained me then, and even now, the thought of being a hassle to my family still consumes me.
42. Compliments Or Not?
"People only say they like it to spare your feelings". My mom would say stuff like that whenever I got praise for something she didn't personally fancy. I learned to ignore my mom's tricky talk pretty early on, but it didn't sit well with my younger sister. She always craves approval she can never fully accept, undoubtedly because our mom planted that doubt in her.
43. Nobody Needs Braces
I really wanted braces, but my mom wouldn't listen to the orthodontist's suggestion. Her reason was a tough pill to swallow. She said to him, "She won't become a movie star anyway". Also, she suggested to Dad that maybe getting the horse I desired could prevent me from landing in a center for single mothers. What? I was just 11 and these comments understandably baffled me.
To all well-meaning parents, be mindful of your words. They can make a lasting impression. Remarks you find quaint or sharply humorous can be absorbed differently by young minds. After all, youngsters have a keen sense of hearing.
44. University Woes
I'm finding university a bit of a challenge lately. I had to pause for a year three years ago to retake a few subjects, and now my engineering thesis has me feeling pretty unmotivated. At times, I find myself comparing my own progress with my classmates who have not only graduated but also landed jobs, while I'm stuck behind by another year.
Over the past few months, I've kept the fact that I'm struggling under wraps from my parents. I knew that instead of reassuring me and telling me it's okay to take things slow, my mom would likely stack me up against others my age, something I'm already doing to myself. And, unsurprisingly, that's what happened when I finally opened up to her.
45. Making The Grade
Growing up, my parents tied everything I wanted to my grades, even the smallest things. Want to hang out with friends? Only if I score over 90% on the next test. Craving a birthday cake or present? Only as a reward for being at the top of my class. Eager to join a school trip? Nope, I needed to hit the books. Often, my parents would set these high expectations knowing that I probably wouldn't meet them.
On one hand, this kind of upbringing pushed me to work hard and excel in whatever I do. But, on the downside, I feel like it robbed me of a normal childhood. My life was tethered to grades that honestly seemed out of my reach most of the time.
46. Hard To Love
My parents were really something. My mom, for instance, was perpetually anxious. She somehow convinced herself that I had plans to "abandon the family". It was quite extraordinary. Despite having no evidence, she'd insist that her divine intuition had made clear my deepest intentions. Then, she'd lose control and become physically abusive. This harmful environment persisted even as I entered adulthood. But that was just the beginning.
My father displayed worrying signs of sadism. I hate admitting it, but he inflicted a lot of pain and seemed to find joy in it. Once, he struck me with a rattan cane so violently that I bled. His justification? Unforgivable... He declared, "I was testing the cane". Isolation was their next tactic, going to great lengths to prevent me from making friends.
I was the object of their unhealthy attachment, never able to break free. They repeatedly told me that I was "difficult to love" and "no one will love you like we do". It was truly twisted. However, don't worry, I eventually managed to escape. Regrettably, I required extensive therapy to deal with the emotional scars. Still do. Even now, I'm unable to shake off their last words when I decided to leave...
Realizing I was leaving sent them into a rage, they claimed I should've been disciplined more harshly growing up. But thankfully, I’m in a much better place now, completely out of their lives and with no contact. Yes, I have severe complex PTSD, but I'm spared from further harm.
47. Left In The Cold
When I was just 15, my father forced my mother to pick between him and me. His annoyance with me started from something trivial: my refusal to share my email password with him. I was sure my mom would back me up, but boy, was I mistaken. She immediately told me to leave, no questions asked. What's more, it was the middle of winter. Lacking a coat, I found myself wandering aimlessly through town on my own.
Left with no other options, I spent the evening shivering in the cold, finally settling for sleep under the staircase of our building. Later that night, my mom got the 'okay' from my dad to allow me back in the house. After many years, I opened up to them about this horrific experience, hoping for empathy. But I was let down yet again. They yelled at me, labeling me a "fabricator", while I sat there, tears streaming down my face.
48. My Father And I
My dad suffers severely from PTSD following his experiences in Vietnam, and I believe he has several undiagnosed health conditions on top of his confirmed physical ailments. He was heavily medicated for everything, but there was a lack of proper medication management which caused him to be even more unwell. Looking back, I now understand the extent of his pain and feel awful about what he endured.
Growing up with him was challenging after a while. Dad was given OxyContin for work-related knee injuries, and that seems to be a turning point. He dropped a bombshell on me, claiming I'm probably not his son. He didn't desire me, said we don't resemble each other and made snide comments about my mom's supposed infidelity.
I was keen on doing a paternity test but he was extremely bitter about the idea. My mom made me understand that he had a couple of serious hereditary diseases, and him denying my paternity was his misguided attempt to save me from a similar fate. But it turns out he's indeed my biological father, and I have a predisposition to certain diseases. Believe me, that's not even the hardest part.
Another incident involved an unexpected outburst from him when we were seated in his truck, parked in our driveway. He was contemplating taking his own life and planned to do it in his room. I panicked and threw his .45 into a quarry. His response was wishing one day I'd have a child that I detest as much as he professed to detest me. You'd think that was the last of it, but there was more.
When he learned he had a rare blood disorder, he declared he was nearing death and insisted I'd have to mature and not be the "fool" I usually am. I cut off communication for several years after that. At age 16, I faced him again, and his reaction was surprising... It seemed like he was in total shock.
He sat there crying - an unusual sight for my war-hardened, fiercely protective father who wouldn't hesitate to quarrel with another parent to defend me or even turn over the principal's table if I was unfairly punished at school. But there he was, tearful and apologizing profusely. He sought medical help afterwards and got proper medication management.
He remained eccentric but never uttered any hurtful words to me again.
49. Another Family
Alright, here's my story, I'm the oldest child. My mom birthed me when she was just 18, and dad was 16. He took off soon after, leaving me with a horrible stepfather for around a decade. My mom didn't help the situation either, constantly picking on me about weight, even when I wasn't overweight. She also unloaded a lot of her emotional baggage on me because of her unresolved issues.
She had two more kids during this period. Once my second stepfather joined the picture, they attempted to create a better home environment. I couldn't help but feel envious of how my sisters were treated compared to me. One day at lunch, my mom had this major breakdown, she confessed that she viewed my sisters as a do-over for her past mistakes with me.
In one way, I was relieved because I want my sisters to have a better upbringing. But for me, nothing much has changed mentally. My relationship with my mom remains unresolved. When I let her in on the truth about my first stepdad, she backed off, saying she didn't want to report him due to tax issues.
50. What’s In A Name?
I was the only one in my family who went to college, and also the youngest. By the time I was 20, I got booted out of my home. Why? My dad's dinner got burned and he was irate. Instead of knocking before entering my room, he simply barged in and opened my window. I objected, but his reply was simple: "My house, my rules".
I tried explaining that you can't just barge in like that–I could be in any kind of awkward situation. His response had little to do with house rules and more with him catching me in an unplanned moment. My dissent wasn’t well-received and guess what, I got kicked out. I didn’t speak to them for seven years after that. Nevertheless, they ultimately reappeared in my life.
My elder brother had daughters, while I became father to three boys. Both of my parents urged me to name one of them after my dad. Each time, I declined, agitating them further. I eventually reached my limit and laid out the truth: "If you wanted me to name any of my kids after you, you should've raised me better".
Fast forward three months, and we've stopped talking once more. It's likely to last this time after another episode. They misused my credit card for a whopping $7,000 after kicking me out. I've spent a lifetime dodging their manipulative schemes. The last straw? My mom lied about having a life-changing disease she didn't actually have.
51. Big Day, Big Problems
The only daughter of a narcissistic mother and a depressed, absent (emotionally) father, I devoted myself to school and an after-school job at age 15. I had four brothers, one of whom I loved dearly, another brother who was emotionally awful (breaking heads off my dolls, hanging them from the staircase, calling me very misogynistic names), and two younger ones.
I lived a lonely childhood finding comfort in my dolls, school, and my dog. My parents were very involved in their church community and social events. I always felt they had children to fill some societal expectations. Clearly, my mother did not enjoy being a mother. She would gloat and take credit for any of my perceived successes (school, mainly), quite publicly when possible. But she did much worse.
She would also hurt me when she felt like it—things like refusing to drive me to a musical audition in NYC—and mock my “talents,” or humiliate me verbally in front of others. My music teacher had trained me for months for the audition and I stopped going to lessons out of sheer embarrassment after missing the audition. My mother’s favorite saying was that she “rued the day I was born.”
Then I moved away for college. Everything changed in an instant. I survived and thrived. I went to medical school in my late 20s and met a fellow medical student. When I told my parents we were getting married, they wanted a church wedding and to invite their many friends. I never enjoyed being the center of attention, was ambivalent about religion, and the idea of this type of wedding terrified me.
I was passive and caved to everything they wanted. Two-thirds of the guests were their friends. The other third was my in-laws. I have a very small circle of close friends and most were in graduate programs or abroad during my wedding. About five of my friends were present. I lived several hours from my parents at the time and the wedding was being held where I lived. But that was only the start of the horror show.
Most of the arrangements were handled by my mother by phone, as she was paying for it. I picked out my own dress, picked the band, and met with the wedding planner at the event location. My only requests were good food for guests who traveled for the wedding, an open bar, and a relaxed wedding. My mother came to town a few days prior and insisted she stay with me and my fiancé, in my home.
This was part of her control. Being in your small home, hearing everything, controlling everything. Once, she stayed in my college apartment that I shared with another woman, sleeping on our couch, without ever asking permission. When I arrived home from a date, she called me awful names. I never had the fortitude to stand up to her.
There was also the financial control, as she paid for my undergraduate education and made it clear that it could be taken away from me at any time. But I had no idea what was coming. Two days prior to the wedding, my mother met with the wedding planner with me. Everything was in place. My mother was unusually quiet for her.
I was so happy that she was not interfering, meddling, controlling, as had been my lifelong experience with her. I felt overjoyed that my mother seemed to respect me and was not being her typical drama queen self. I thought that she was finally treating me with respect and maybe even a little love. I still was looking for her approval as a 30-year-old woman.
Later that day, she returned for a one-on-one meeting with the wedding planner, without my knowledge. The night before our wedding, there were a few details to work out. Guest gifts had arrived unwrapped, and flowers needed to be picked up from hothouses as they were to be taken to nursing homes after the wedding. That's when I noticed something was wrong.
My parents disappeared to go out and socialize with another family. My mother expected to be catered to and waited on, and did not pitch in to help with anything. I was up until the early hours with my sister-in-law, the night before my wedding, wrapping guest gifts and coordinating final details. My father then told me “We are only paying for the first wedding” just as he was about to walk me down the aisle.
I was stunned and tried to function normally. The wedding itself was a blur. Our friend drove us to the reception in his classic car. My father-in-law and his family moved the flowers from the church to the reception. When we arrived at the reception, my father came over to me to tell me that some of our wedding gifts had been taken from the gift table outside the reception hall and they were unable to stop them.
Ok, bummer. But why tell me now? Why could this not wait until tomorrow? The train wreck kept on coming. My now-husband came over from his family to advise me that my mother had canceled the open bar but his family would pay for it. I was trying to wrap my brain around my mother canceling the open bar without talking to me.
I then realized nothing had changed. My mother was continuing to manipulate me cruelly. If she had told me in advance, it would have been different. I could have made different choices or paid for it myself. My parents have no religious objection to drinking, they are well off, and they never opposed to an open bar in advance.
She just decided to exert her control, 24 hours before my wedding, and to let me learn about it at my reception. I ugly cried at my own wedding. I could not stop the flow of my anguished tears. Friends rushed over, trying to understand my grief. My grief was not over mixed drinks. It was an overwhelming understanding that my mother would never respect or value me, even on the day of my wedding. And here was the most crushing part.
It was that I now understood how publicly my mother would humiliate me if given the opportunity. After 30 minutes of trying to pull myself together, I returned to my wedding. I smiled, I greeted guests, I danced with people. I never had a chance to eat anything. My in-laws had the wedding planner open the bar. I behaved like a happy bride, as was expected of me.
Kindly, someone in my wedding party made a plate of food for me to enjoy with my husband in our room, after the wedding. The next morning, my husband and I held a brunch for our out-of-town guests and family. We paid for it and delayed our honeymoon by a day so we could visit with family we rarely see. We showed up on time.
Once inside, I realized my parents and all my brothers and their wives were already seated, and very early. Then my mother outdid herself with just one sentence. My mother stood up and announced in front of all our guests—my in-laws had just arrived too—that I had ruined the wedding for her and so they were not going to stay for brunch.
Every member of my immediate family then walked out and left. My in-laws and other guests were speechless. Apparently, my mother was so angry that my husband and in-laws stood up to her at the wedding and reopened the bar, she organized this family walkout. For what it’s worth, my mother helps my all of my brothers financially.
Money has been her primary control over the years. They are all frightened to stand against her. We enjoyed our brunch as best we could, avoiding the gazes of onlookers to the drama. Fast forward 25 years. I am still married to the same man. We have six lovely children and a successful medical practice. I cannot bring myself to look at my wedding pictures.
Writing this brought tears. I try not to poison my own daughters regarding a wedding, but I do tell them eloping would have been a happy way to start my married life. I have no contact with any of my family anymore. The wedding was not the end of contact, but the first of many traumas brought on by my mother. My marriage would not have survived my mother.
My mother would always call me a “doormat.” She was correct. I never stood up for myself. I had to remove her and family members who were willing to gang up on me. Life is good these days.