31 People Share What They Thought Was Normal as a Kid That Definitely Wasn’t

When we’re kids, we live in a bubble that’s largely made up of our family. Our parents, our grandparents, our siblings and cousins answer our questions and show us the way the world works.

We have no reason to question them, and really no avenue to ask questions, even if we wanted to.

Which makes me believe these 15 people, who found out later in live that their families weren’t exactly “normal,” aren’t alone.

1. Bless his heart.

Whispering what I just said back to myself.

Apparently I did it all the time as a kid and never noticed until a couple of friends pointed it out to me.

I would be like “Let’s play Barbies!” and then quietly let’s play Barbies. I have no idea what that was about.

– beautifulbroomstick

2. His parents never told him?

I smiled with my lips on the inside of my mouth.

I don’t know how I managed to not learn how to smile properly, but I thought I was smiling normally until a kid said “stop smiling like that, you look weird” and I spent a good week looking up pictures of smiles and practicing how to smile

– LiaLovesCookies

3. What did I just read?

Collecting roadkill and utilizing insects to clean the bones so I could collect them.

– [deleted user]

4. That’s one way to keep kids safe.

When you went to the sitter everyday, you were to sit on the couch and never move.

Seriously, my brothers, sister and I were forced to sit on the couch with the TV on at the sitters house, while her kids ran around like a bunch of hellions.

When we got a new sitter after moving, all four of us promptly sat on the couch and stayed there. Our new sitter pulled a bunch of toys out and sat in the floor and played with us.

– gunbunnycb

5. He was trying hard.

Sleeping in the display beds at the furniture store.

My parents are divorced and when we were little we’d go week to week at each parent’s house.

Well my dad worked at Montgomery Wards and opened the store maybe 3 days a week. That meant he had to be there at 5 am.

During his weeks, he’d stuff us in the car in our jammies, and drive us up to “monkey wards” as he called it.

Then we’d all get snug in our own display beds and sleep for another hour and a half.

Once some other employees showed up and it got closer to school hours, he’d get us dressed in the dressing rooms and drive us to school.

He really did love us. And tried hard for us.

– YaDrunkB*tch

6. Definitely bizarre.

Not telling your family when or where you were going or what you were up to or how long you would be gone.

I remember as early as 6 I wandered off to another neighborhood and across a busy road to find playmates.

As I got older, I would go to friend’s houses for days on end, still never needing to check with anyone or let anyone know at home I was going.

It didn’t really click until I got my first roommate after college who bugged out and was about to call the cops because I went to my boyfriend’s house, turned my phone off and took a long nap in the middle of the day as he worked nights.

We had an argument where I kept saying “I’m an adult, you don’t need to keep track of me” and it took a while for me to understand that even adults check in with each other for safety and they don’t normally just disappear for a few days.

– Chazkuangshi

7. Brains can be rude.

Have ‘speed up spells’ where it feels like I just got off a treadmill and my internal monologue is yelling.

Turns out I have epilepsy and was having seizures. Didn’t realize back when I was like 7, but presented with tonic clonics (grand mal) at 15.

Or listen to the air vent and hear music in white noise. This was likely auditory hallucinations, also due to epilepsy.

Stupid brain.

– greffedufois

8. What a life.

Wash my two pairs of pants and two sweaters every few days…because they were the only clothes my parent had bought me for school.

Eating canned button mushrooms for lunch because there was nothing else to eat in the house.

Not for a lack of parental funds.

Didn’t realize other kids didn’t live like this until I hit 13-ish.

– PetulantWaffle

9. Normal is relative.

My family are not comfortable around each other. Never any touching, kissing or cuddling.

Any physical contact is forced and horribly awkward. No one also talks and any disagreements simmer for years with a grudging resentment.

When I first starting dating my now husband I was shocked his family would just sit close to each other, like their legs would touch on the couch. Like not overly touchy, just normal, but not normal to me.

They also spoke to each other if they were upset. I was quite envious.

– CarmanBranson

10. Tough lessons.

Trusting everything people say to me.

[…] For some reason I think I was born an idealist or something. I was told as a kid that lying is wrong (because I clearly and intentionally lied once) and that we should always tell the truth.

So i just thought that everyone told the truth and if someone lied, their feelings would be hurt *immediately* as if somehow the person knew right away.

So I’ve always trusted others 100%. I’ve slowly gotten depressed because thinking everyone else is right makes everything i think wrong. And now i’m trying hard to learn to NOT trust others always.

– FortFighter

11. Bless her heart.

Having camping nights.

Mom would light candles and make dinner with camping gear. She and I would play games until my bed time huddled up in the living room.

It was because she was crazy poor when she divorced my dad and a few times she couldn’t pay the electricity on time. I thought it was fun.

– immora

12. Mother knows best.

My mom HATES lies. She is also very good at telling when someone is lying and everyone knows it.

Most people don’t flat out lie to her or around her (it isn’t worth it)…

This resulted in me growing up with the assumption that the vast majority of people normally tell the truth.

It wasn’t until college that I found out most people don’t consider lying a big deal and do it fairly regularly…

Which I honestly still find really messed up.

– WateredDownHotSauce

13. He had to pass on the knowledge.

I was trained by my father to believe that a proper salami sandwich has 15-20 pieces of salami on it – imagine my Aunt’s horror when I did that at her house, while she was putting 4-5 pieces on the sandwiches she was making for my cousins.

The story lives on til this day, like 30 years later – no regrets.

– Rocket80

14. Way to go, Dad.

Apparently when I was a kid I used to pick up quarters on the street.

My parents didn’t want me doing that so my dad told me to not pick up coins, because people put them in their butts.

I didn’t use change for anything until I started driving at 16.

– ClemmiePantoja

15. They’ll always find out.

I had a neighbour who had extremely (and I mean extremely) strict parents.

We were invited to a sleepover of about 5 or 6 girls at one of the other neighbor kid’s place and she was shocked to see that we had candy and popcorn and soda/pop to eat at our disposal after 6pm.

She had no idea. To us, it was normal sleepover snacks but to her it was like looking at Willy Wonka himself. Crazy.

– Yippee614

16. That could seem fun?

Having a “path” through the house surrounded by boxes and junk stacked to the ceiling.

I grew up in a hoarder house.

Occasionally us kids would run too fast through the “path” knocking into the sides and the boxes and stuff would collapse on top of us.

– AliceHart7

17. That poor kid.

[My parents] were racist. According to them all money could have been up a N-words butthole. When I was in 4th grade I actually asked a black kid if they did that…

He just stared at me with a blank look on his face and shook his head no

– Sapper778

18. The sound I just made.

I remember in year 8 in school we watched a video about mental health. One of the kids said that at a low point he considered suicide. I didn’t think that was a big deal, because I thought about killing myself almost every day.

I thought it was normal and everybody did it.

– Genocide_Fan

19. Not just in the movies.

Sitting together at the table for meals (especially dinner).

We frequently got McDonald’s, had TV dinners, or had ramen/mac and cheese. I didn’t know until I was an older teen that families actually sat down to talk to each other EVERY DAY because I thought that only happened in shows and movies.

Sitting down at the table makes me uncomfortable, even to this day. Like, I don’t even know how to prep the table.

– nomad_minus_the_no

20. My heart hurts.

I grew up on a farm outside a small town, didn’t realize until I started going to school that running around naked outside often, playing with hatchets and pockets knives, or breaking off pieces of salt lick to suck on, were not normal things.

My parents fostered 2 young girls very close to my age. The things they expected from my parents/thought were normal were so sad. The eldest tried to undress for my dad, he was mortified. They thought they would get in trouble for using soap in the bath. They asked permission to get drinks of water, and to go to the bathroom. They were amazed we weren’t locked in our rooms at night, amazed I had my own room and they had theirs. They didn’t know what bed frames were.

– EhDub13

21. An innocent one.

Jesus. I was going to say cutting pickle spears into little triangles to eat alongside your sandwich…

This thread went in a way different direction.

– strengthof10interns

22. I am full of awe, not in a good way.


Over the period of about a year when I was 9-10 years old four different people on the street I lived on died unnatural deaths.

The old lady next door electrocuted herself trimming the hedges. One of the neighbor kids I played with accidentally shot himself playing with his father’s gun (in front of his sister), another playmate’s father was a cop and was shot and killed in the line of duty and a 16-year-old girl was r*ped and murdered in her own house (never solved, even though everybody knew who did it).

I also had a cousin I was close to die in a car accident, but he didn’t live on the same street.

So with all that I just assumed that was a normal rate of death.

So naturally, I assumed that I was going to die at some point in the near future.

Took a few years to get over that.

– coprolite_hobbyist

23. So wholesome.

Building homes for snails and slugs when it rained.

My older brother and I would love to go outside when it rained and collect slugs and snails to put in these little pebble shelters wed make for them in the backyard.

– wormsoffastring

24. All good reasons.

My parents sleeping in separate rooms.

My mom snores like crazy and I understood why my dad would hate that.

Turns out, dad was gay

– Bkbee

25. You never think about that.

My parents have what we now know was developmental disorders but was previously known as “being slow”. Think it was second grade when I started doing math for my parents. We went out for shopping or dinner, then I’d check the grocery receipt or tally the tip. In more ways than one I became very independent from my parents at a young age.

I didn’t realize until late high school, interacting with my boyfriend’s family, that normal children don’t speak to their parents like equals. It was, awkward to say the least. It took many years to learn how to be respectful to your elders and not throw my “weight” around. I had thought every kid needed to keep their parents in line.


– [user deleted]

26. Whatever works.

My parents slept in different beds my whole life. I guess it started when my dad got injured in the army and my mom was afraid of hurting him in her sleep, then he snored, she liked to stay up and read in bed. It just worked. They had a super happy marriage. I remember bringing new friends over and giving them the tour “this is my dad’s room, this is the bathroom, here’s the office and this is my mom’s room”. They would be so confused lol.

My mom still is upset that whenever we went to my grandma’s she made them sleep in the same bed even knowing they never did. They were so used to sleeping alone they stayed up all night worried about keeping each other awake.

I have to add that getting up late at night and looking for one of them only to find them both in the same bed was always awkward.

– justmyusername2820

27. Everyone should use them, though.

Using corn bags.

They’re cotton squares or rounds filled with dried corn. You put them in the microwave for a heating pad and the freezer for an ice pack.

I still use and make them, I just didn’t realize nobody else used them until like… High school lmao

– SnakesCatsAndDogs

28. Parents are so weird.

Being forced to eat way more than what I could, until my stomach would hurt for hours. Not traumatizing like other stuff in this post, just something I don’t miss.

On a lighter note, walking in stealth mode throughout the whole house all the time because I wanted to be like Pocahontas when she spies on John Smith.

– YouLikeReadingNames

29. It was a different time.

Cracking open cans of beer and pouring them into styrofoam cups.

So my parents could drink while they drove the car.

– morebutter09

30. Lots of people!

Talking to you parents and them being affectionate.

What do you mean you play “board games together” and no one yells? You willingly sit down and spend time together????

Dated a girl and the first time I met them, her mom hugged me. Weirded me out plenty. She just sits around the living room doing her own thing while her parents may also be there.

Who even does that????

Turns out, a lot of people.

– _apollo-the-sun-god_

31. A great lesson.

Shoveling food into your face as quickly as possible while huddled around the TV.

It wasn’t until a sleepover at a friends house that I encountered a family sitting around a dinner table talking about their day.

At the time it made me super uncomfortable but I’ve learned to slow down and appreciate it more with time.

– Nonsenseinabag

I’ll bet we can all think of some strange things about our upbringing, right?

What’s coming to your mind right now?

Share it with us in the comments – we’re here for it!