25 People Talk About Hurtful Things Parents Do to Kids That They Don’t Realize

Obviously, being a parent is really hard, and there’s not a guidebook that tells anyone how to raise another human being.

Mistakes will be made. That’s part of the process.

And people on Reddit weighed in on the things that parents do that hurt kids that they don’t even realize.

Let’s see what they had to say.

1. Younger = better

I’m the eldest at my Dads house.

My little sister could literally get away with murder. When something’s broken, I always get blamed even if I’m not the one using it. When he’s disciplining me, he always overreacts. For example, when he thinks I’m on my phone too much when I’m actually just replying to someone, he takes my phone off me. And yet he doesn’t like me being rude to people when I don’t reply. I get blamed for a lot of stuff and sometimes when I make a minor mistake, he will scream and rant in my face. Now you may think this is me being over dramatic but can I just add, I have autism.

I have trouble with my emotions and that isn’t helped by him yelling at me or having a go at me every time I go round.

2. This is such a tricky balance

Treating your kid as a friend / confidant or using them as emotional support.

This essentially robs the kid of their childhood and forces them to be a parent to their own parent. I assure you, it’s not fun. The emotional damage is severe and long lasting. Wikipedia link below.


3. This one is a doozy!

I’m an adult now, but the level of hypocrisy my parents laid on us as teens was difficult to bear at times.

They would constantly instill this fear of “you don’t know what the real world is like, you won’t make it out there, you have no clue how this all works” but would not take the time to teach us about the “real world”. They held onto outdated values, such as “Just walk into any office and ask for a job” or “When you apply for school loans, ask for an interest-free one” as if we had options.

As a teen they would get angry and would threaten with “I pay for your cellphone and can take that away from you in an instant because you don’t do sh*t around this house” but when I began to ask how bills work and offered multiple times to pay my share (because I had a job), they would ignore it and say “We want to pay this for you”. I would constantly ask them to teach me about finances, how credit worked, how to repair stuff, etc. They would ignore it and say “don’t worry about that now” while there was this constant unspoken pressure of “the second you’re on your own you need to know everything before because you will literally die if you dont.” As an adult they don’t understand why I have so much anxiety and that I constantly worry about everything.

If we were in an emergency, like a sudden car repair, they would pay for it and say “Don’t worry about this, we got you, we’re here to help, no need to repay us”…. but then a month down the road we’d have an argument and Mom would yell “I paid for your car and can take it away from you…” when in fact the car was fully in my name and paid off. Accepting any sort of money or help from them was held over our heads, even though we were constantly told “Dont worry about this, it’s what we’re supposed to do”. Many times we had the money to cover ourselves, but they wanted to step in and save us. I now have a very hard time accepting money from even my husband because I have a fear that it’s going to come back at me.

They would constantly threaten to kick us out anytime we would counter or question their hypocrisy, and would throw my brother out the house but then 30 minutes later go hunt him down. At one point my brother had pre-packed a bag and was on his way to be picked up by a friends when they found him, and couldn’t understand why he had prepared for it. Over the years I had learned to have a “bug-out” bag ready to go and to be prepared to be kicked out in an instant. I also learned to read over documents to learn what actually WAS mine and to keep my finances and personal information out of their reach.

I don’t even want to begin to explain the hell they put me through when I came out as gay.

After years of processing it, I think they were just afraid of losing their babies. They wanted to shelter us but also teach us lessons at the same time, causing a lot of confusion and internal battles that I still face with today. I love them and they are good parents, but god that f**ked me up royally.

4. Who are these parents?!

As the internet became more accessible, i began to research more and more as I got older. I tried to ask my parents questions, but they either didn’t answer or gave an answer that seemed like i only had one option and “thats how the world works” as if everyone goes down the exact same path.

By 16, i was ready to move out. I later learned how sheltered and untaught i was. When i started college at 18, i gritted my teeth and tried to push thru living at home to save money bc i knew it was the responsible thing to do.

At 19, i got kicked out bc i forgot to take out the kitchen trash one night (i was required to take the kitchen trash out every night no matter how full it was. Mind u, it was only me, my mom, and my at the time 5 year old brother. The kitchen trashcan isn’t the only trashcan….we have bathroom n bedroom trashcans. Pretty much the kitchen trash was usually empty. Anyways, her argument was i needed to learn the lesson of responsibility. At 19 mom?? Im already responsible and can hold my own.) Anyways, i got kicked out and she told me i cant take anything she bought me. I was so proud of myself wen i was able to pack up half my room and 3/4 of my clothes BC I BOUGHT THEM MYSELF.

In 2 days she begged me to come home bc she didn’t feel like doing the daily and weekly chores (that id had been doing for 12 years) and she didn’t feel like watching her kid 24/7 (i raised him half the time SINCE I WAS 13. That isn’t an exaggeration). I was so self sufficient that i moved out completely comfortable wen i was kicked out. I was ready to be gone. SHE begged me to come home. I did, under 1 condition. That i would be able to move out that summer with ALL my stuff, not half. I moved out 2, going on 3 years ago and i dont regret it. My mom really clouded my mind. I never realized how free adults are.

5. We’re never immune from this

I’m not a kid anymore, and am happy to say that this sh*t is way behind me, but when I was around elementary school age my mother was dangerously obsessed with ‘boosting my immune system’. She had read a handful of popular science books that apparently were very light on the science part, and had made the conclusion that the immune system basically always works in accordance with the ‘whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’-principle. So she began to put little pieces of rotten food into my salad for example, and when I noticed and asked what the matter was, she said I should just shut up and eat.

I sometimes got a bit sick from this spoiled diet, but I wouldn’t complain now, had it stopped there. After I was hit with a rather bad case of the flu one winter, she got extremely worried and felt guilty that she hadn’t “done enough” to protect me. As soon as I was a bit better, she gave me a stinking leathery piece of meat and told me to eat it. I later found out it was the hind leg of decomposing rat she’d found in the attic… Things came to a head when I was 9, and she’d heard that a chickenpox infection was going around my school and she wouldn’t allow me to go, before I’d been properly “inoculated”. I spent about 3 days with her in my bedroom, she going out into the garden every few hours to gather random sh*t like mosses, weeds, crumbs of dirt and insect wings, which she would stick into a blender, heavily dilute and then inject into my arm.

When my father found out (I looked purple and cadaverous, by his account), he told her to stop this at once (he was, ironically, a lab technician who’d dropped out of medical school) and explained to her that putting rotten fruit into my food was sufficient to protect me from most types of infection. I moved out at the age of 16 and was glad to leave this insanity behind, though getting older, my views have changed somewhat, as it is strange how very rarely I get sick. Maybe my mom was onto something and just lacked the expertise to properly pull it off.

6. Be careful with these conversations…

My Mom’s family has a history of heart disease and because of that she’s always been overly cautious about weight etc. I have a build different to her and my sister who are both super skinny without having to put much effort into it. I grew up being fat shamed to the point that even a comment from her sets me off now and I thought I was fat and ugly for the longest time (I wasn’t, gained a little now though can’t lie).

She thinks her constant comments are to get me to care about my health but it made me very insecure in my mid to late teens.

7. Alright… let’s get into this…

Im 30, but i still resent a couple of things.

  1. I paid my own way through university, Dad told me i couldn’t afford to go away to school. I lived on basically nothing for all of university. 4 years later my step siblings both got a free ride to whatever school they wanted. (To be fair i think he feels bad about this, but it still gets me)
  2. Recently during covid he said he didn’t want to get together because of the illness. He’s been pretty sick over the last year so i didn’t blame him. Only to find out he had my sister and step siblings over half a dozen times. They just didn’t bother to invite me. That really rubbed me raw. ( i work at home, i was very low risk)
  3. general exclusion from anything going on, they never tell me anything, I’m always the last to find out. They constantly guilt me about not calling, but then when i do, we talk like 5 minutes.
  4. When my sister bought her house, my dad/step mom probably spent 100 hours working on helping her fix it up. When i bought my house i asked them to help me paint and they said it was to much work.

So yeah, that’s my list.

8. This poor woman!

Okay might need some background my dad is a pedo and my mum moved to another state and spent three years to get full custody of me and my stepdad is a mega neat freak.

There has been a lot of things that has happened but this one actually hurt my mother at the same time.

When my room or anything wasn’t up to his standard he would always call me a “lazy pig daughter of a pedo that will turn out just like him”.

He said this to me from the age of 6 and he actually never thought that he was doing anything wrong.

9. Grandma… depression is real!

I was raised by my grandma, so there’s that gap.

She thinks depression is a “disease of people which have no occupation” because she had to flee her country before the war and she’s just fine.

She isn’t, she just has a great coping mechanism.

10. You don’t owe her anything

One minute telling me I should talk about my feelings, me wanting to talk but knowing well not to ever talk about anything with her, telling her I don’t want to wear out her patience with my spiraling, her saying she won’t

Waking up early today and being screamed at for owing her my happiness. Worst part is she knows about it hurting me, she doesn’t care.

11. Not doing much for self-confidence

Always “critiquing” my appearance which makes me have sh*t self confidence.

I was in a major A.T.V. accident a few months ago and I have some gnarly scars. She never fails to tell me how “disgusting” my scars are.

I work at her office and she will make me change clothes like 3-4 times before she “approves” how I look. And before hand I look fine.

I like to wear colored eyeliner because I think it looks cool and she’ll look at it and say “god you’re so weird” or call me a freak.

12. Well, that’s odd!

Called my mom on mother’s day to tell her happy M-day and that I loved her.

My nephew was there with his trio of kids in tow visiting. I’m 2400 miles away.

She was extremely dismissive and only responding with one-word responses while I’m trying to get her to interact and talk about how things are going back down there.

She ends up telling me, in an almost bored or GTFO way, “Why don’t you go visit your dad or something, I’ve gotta go.” and hangs up.

Month or so later, I go to visit my dad on Father’s Day and got a text from her. Not a happy F-day for me, but a ‘did you visit your dad?’

I confronted her about it and she seemed confused as to why I was agitated and forward with her. I’ve not spoken to her since.

13. Get the details right

Constantly correcting and moaning about minor details makes you feel like you’re incapable.

Even major details. If it’s constant, all you’re doing is flushing the relationship down the drain.

I was overweight as a kid. My parents would constantly police what I ate and outright insult me (You’re eating like a hog! It’s disgusting!) (You look like a sack of potatoes!).

Now at 26 after college, moving out from under their roof, and losing 60 lbs, we don’t talk. You can’t take that shit back.

14. We often hurt the ones we love

You’re too young to be tired, to feel pain etc. It doesn’t really hurt me, it’s just annoying.

My mom did this to me all my life, and even as an adult. When I got out of the Army, I was at her house for some reason, and I was really stressed, and she just looked at me like I was the biggest idiot in the world, and said, “What on earth could you possibly have to be stressed about?”

I was like, “Well, I’m a combat veteran, I’m pregnant, and I just started taking classes in one of the most rigorous engineering programs in the country, but you’re right. Nothing to see here.”

I told my therapist that story a decade or so later, and she explained that parents who treat their kids like this don’t see them as real people. There are people, and then there are “the kids” who are not taken as seriously as people. Made perfect sense.

15. Entitled

My mother constantly complains about paying her own bills 24/7.

My parents got divorced when I was 10 because she cheated and moved out. As a result, she had to get her own place, work, and pay for things. She complains about paying for water, electric, food, her mortgage, etc. All stuff any person has to pay. Stuff that I have to pay too, yet I’m 23 and don’t complain and live on my own.

She genuinely still thinks she’s entitled to some sort of financial support from my Dad and whines about how “poor” she is all of the time.

He still pays for her health insurance and even that’s not good enough. Her constant complaining has always made me resent her. When I tell her to stop complaining because it bothers me, she doesn’t understand why, and tells me it shouldn’t bother me because she deserves more money. She then lectures me on how shitty she thinks my Dad is for not continuing to give her money. He literally gave her $1,000 a month in child support even though I lived at his house and he paid for ALL of my bills until I was 21.

16. Why would you NOT do this for your kid?

My dad refuses to teach me about finances because he wanted me to learn first hand. He refused to help me open my own account or access the account he put all my money in. He refused to teach me the meaning of terms or help me with forms.

I now have a full blown mental breakdown when I have to do anything involving the bank because I just… don’t know how it works. I’m good with cash, but I would consider myself financially illiterate.

Edit: Since some people are confused I’m answering questions here! My dad fully understands finances, he is a successful divorce lawyer married to an ex banker. He also didn’t give me money he took my money and put it in a bank account, told me to access it when I had no form of ID.

I do utilize online information but I have some sensory input issues that make it a little more difficult for me. Not impossible, just harder. Thank you everyone who left advice and sources, I will be checking them all out! I appreciate how kind most people are being about this.

17. Thinking they actually did a good job…

Even as an early adult, they don’t realize their actions can hurt people because they think they’re such great parents.

Growing up I would often get yelled at or threatened to get spanked for making mistakes, not to mention they get annoyed or even angry for simple things I did like laying in my room in the dark, listening to music, wearing a sweater, or even drying my face after washing it.

To this day they still think they did a good job raising me.

18. Just divorce already!

Staying together for the sake of us.

Both my sister and I would be much happier if they just bit the bullet and divorced.

I’d much rather live in two happy houses than in one unhappy one.

19. Teens need “ME” time

When I was a teen and I would come down stairs and they would say something like “LOOK WHO IS FINALLY OUT OF THEIR ROOM” thanks for bringing the attention to it, going back to my room now.

All I wanted to do was be left alone to read and I’d just constantly get interrupted and put down for having my own hobbies. For example, my parents like to go out on the boat. I don’t. I used to when I was little because they would make me but I always just got sea sick and didn’t enjoy it. So then I started saying no and it’s STILL, at 31 years old, a big fucking deal that I don’t want to go out on the boat.

Yes, I know all the ways I can supposedly avoid sea sickness with pills, and wristbands, and behind the ear liquids. I’m just over it and I don’t want to go out of my way to do any of it because I don’t enjoy going out on boats.

20. Let’s start the list…

Not a kid anymore but there’s a few things that come to mind.

Growing up, my parents thought the key to a good job was good grades, that’s it. Nothing else. So they refused to let me do anything else. No extracurriculars because it was a waste of time.

Similarly, they didn’t want me to have friends/a girlfriend because they saw that as a distraction (the latter is pretty common in Asian culture and not exclusive to my parents). So they purposefully “taught” me socially unacceptable behaviour, things like “bully other people first so they don’t bully you” type shit. It was highly effective, I didn’t have true friends till junior year of high school and my social skills are extremely lacking for someone my age. Funnily enough, they’re asking my brother now if he’s considering getting into a relationship, not realizing that the way we were raised makes it near impossible.

Also, they’d constantly ask for my opinion on something, primarily their cooking. Sometimes I didn’t like what was made. But if I said no, they would get upset and threaten to stop cooking for me. If I said yes (which is what I did most of the time), I’d just end up throwing out food anyway. It’s made it hard for me to disagree with someone’s opinion or share my own because I worry that others will get mad like my parents have (and a former friend who did that didn’t help matters).

21. What father does this??

My dad thinks I’m completely useless and a waste of time, he has no problem putting me down in front of other people, and he doesn’t like to be challenged.

Mom just tells me to get over it. “He’s your father!”

Meanwhile, everyone thinks he’s some great guy at home who’s incredibly helpful and perfect and kind and so on.

22. You’re a parent for LIFE

I think my parents think that since I’m self sufficient (I moved out when I was 18, got married in my mid 20s then moved 1000 miles away), that I don’t want to hear from them.

I’m always the one to text first, we go years without actually talking on the phone. I have no idea why they don’t want to talk to me.

I had to reactivate my Facebook to get any “family updates”. It really hurts that they don’t even think to text me when something happens in the family, even if I texted them earlier that week about something else (I text them dumb stuff about the weather — I live in a much different climate now compared to them– or I’ll share an interesting article or whatever. I text at least a few times a month, only to get a “oh cool” response). Anyway, I feel like they think I like it this way and don’t want a relationship with them.

I mean, we’re not close and probably never will be, and it’s true, I don’t “need” them and have gotten by just fine without any of their help, but it’s still super hurtful to have your shit together and feel like a good person yet your parents have zero interest in being in your life. I have a kid too and they show no interest in being grandparents to him (yet they’re super close with my siblings kid)

23. That’s a weird policy…

I had a stepsister. My stepdad refused to hug me or bond with me. He didn’t want my stepsister to get jealous.

So I was kept at arms length. She was spoiled. I was treated like Cinderella.

I never felt loved. I ran away at 16 and my life was really hard, I have only recently began to fix my life and go back to school and stuff.

My advice to you? Try not to let them determine your self worth, and learn to love yourself. One day you will move out and make your own life.

Don’t let them spoil your future.

24. Maybe you won’t be a grandparent!

Constantly asking me why I haven’t had kids.

I tell my mum it’s because no one wants to settle down with me and perhaps there is something wrong with me.

She just shrugs and says— hmmm I don’t Know what’s wrong with you.

25. “A special case”

I got held back a year and my mom pins that for me.

Every time I want to go out with friends or I do want to have fun, she says I’m “A special case” and that I’m different from the rest of the class.

She makes me feel (no offense to anyone) retarded. Everyday I used to feel like the outcast of the class, the thought that I don’t fit in with the class.

But I got over it eventually, I learned how to make my friends into my sort of family, and they really make my life a whole lot better now.

Wow! There are some really garbage parents out there.

The one thing that should be apparent about being a parent… is you HAVE to listen and you HAVE to ask. Kids get their feelings hurt very easily, and it’s up to you to make sure you’re not Enemy #1 when it comes to that.

Have any stories about this topic you want to share? Do it in the comments.