Ah, parents…they try their best with what they have, but like it or not, they’re still going to somehow pass down some negative traits, even though they have the best intentions.
Recently, Redditor u/FeralViolinist asked people to share examples of this, but only after they shared an example from their own life. Here’s what they said:
What was something your parent(s) did that was in good faith, but ended up kind of messing you up?
I’ll start, my mom is great and she was a devoted and respectful parent. However, she was a “not like other girls” kind of woman.
She definitely took the opportunity to bond with me by talking down about other girls in my class. We made fun of pretty girls for being vapid, or ditzy blondes, or whatever other stereotypes we could think of.
She also body-shamed (not me, thankfully), bragging that she still had a decent figure at her age while a lot of women had “let themselves go.” I think she did this as a coping mechanism because she was a heavy woman and was punching down on heavier women.
I love her but those things set a poor example for me and I spent a long time talking shit about my fellow women and dismissing anything feminine as dumb and unintellectual (barf)
What complexes did your parents pass down to you?
Here’s what commenters shared:
I was a very well-behaved child and they kinda left me on cruise control which has had so many fucked up residual things…
Raised us, 1 boy and 3 girls, devoutly Catholic.
I remember a tweet that stuck with me: “Spiritual trauma is someone handing you an inner critic and telling you it’s the voice of God.”
If you were raised religious, you know.
If you were not, it would take years for me to enumerate all the ways being raised close to the church has negatively affected my life and the way I was taught to think and feel about the world and myself.
Suffice it to say, guilt/shame being the predominant emotions ruling one’s life is not a healthy or pleasant way to live.
Poor boundaries and people-pleasing tendencies. Took me quite a bit of time to even understand it.
My mom is autistic, and because she grew up in the 60s, she was never diagnosed and was treated badly at home and at school because of fairly normal autistic behavior, and labeled as stupid because of her dyslexia.
She punished me severely because of my autistic behaviors and taught me to mask really, really well. She taught me to always lie about how I was feeling physically and emotionally because stiff upper lip and stoicism was super important and showing any emotion other than anger was weak. My celiac disease went undiagnosed until I was 30 because I thought I was supposed to lie to doctors about my bowel habits and pain because she forced me to when I was little.
My sweet parents never fought and never argued… When they told me they were planning to get divorced (& had been wanting to for years) in my late teens, I was FLOORED. Turns out, couples who never argue tend to be couples who never communicate…which is super important for the health of a relationship.
I ended up with massive insecurity in romantic relationships and a bit of an identity crisis.
My dad, who I was incredibly close with and was my ONLY good parent, pushed me to maintain a relationship with my emotionally abusive adoptive mom for years until I finally cut her out completely when I was 26. He did it out of kindness, but it hurt me much more than it helped me.
1. I was very attached to my pets. When they got sick mom would put them down without telling us, just come home and say they were dead.
2. She wanted me to be tough so gave me a speech when I turned 13 of “being a teenager is hard and you’ll feel angry one minute and sad the next and you won’t know why. There are no hormones in this household, you keep all that to yourself.”
3. She wanted me to be more like my brother and not like my sister. Said my sister had more evil in her little finger than my brother had in his whole body. (When I asked how much evil I had, she said more than my brother but less than my sister.)
4. Wanted me not to “go skipping into the sunset” and be naive. Whenever I said something like “that’s not fair” she could respond “well life’s a bitch then you die.” I’d have been around the ages of 8-10 when that was her constant refrain.
Hit us to keep discipline. She said kids needed boundaries like that or they’d get scared.
My dad insisted that I couldn’t be mentally ill because I was a high-achieving gifted kid. It definitely came from a place of wanting nothing to be wrong with the kid he loved, but it meant that I didn’t get help for a long time, and I’m still undoing the damage of maladaptive coping mechanisms.
This is going to make my dad, who is a great guy and an excellent father, sound like a terrible person but he has a way of making comments about what I eat, implying that if I eat such and such I’ll gain weight. Thankfully it’s infrequent, but I’ve definitely told him multiple times that I don’t care to hear those comments at all and yet it sometimes still happens. He actually just made a similar comment about my husband a few weeks ago, when I mentioned that he was planning to order a pizza for dinner (“He really likes junk food, huh?”). Yes, dad, my bean pole husband sometimes orders pizza for dinner when we’re not eating mostly vegetables and lean protein and exercising four days a week.
I’m the only one in my family who hasn’t had weight struggles and I’m the only one who gets the benefit of this commentary. Between this and being raised in the heroin-chic culture of the 90s, my relationship between food, exercise and my body can sometimes be a bit shaky.
I did ballet and loved it – I wasn’t much good at it but I enjoyed it. Mom came & watched me as I showed off on parents day and then, as we left & I waited for her to say how good I was she said:
If you are only going to show off then there is no point wasting money on classes. You need to try harder to be good at ballet for me to keep paying for you to go.
So I quit. And then a few years later I quit piano lessons for the same reason.
Now? I try to tell myself it is ok to just enjoy something for the fun of it, like swimming or crochet, and not to give up when I realize I will never be good enough.
Also, that exercise is the same: you don’t need to be good to do it.
I started working very young. Once I was in high school it was mandated that I either had to work or volunteer full time during summers. Now that I’m in my 30s I wish I just had a summer to enjoy for myself before being off for the summer wasn’t an option anymore.
My mom did something similar, she loved to put other women down and if people go to the gym, she used to make fun of them like they were too stupid to have active hobbies. “The gym is for people who don’t have lives.” She has always been heavy, even after having bariatric surgery.
She denies ever having said that, by the way, but I distinctly remember her saying it as a dig against my father who went to the gym a lot at the time
When I told her I had Graves’ disease she said “only skinny people have that.”
I was just under 140 pounds when I told her this. I was literally the only person in the entire family within a normal BMI range. I was, and still am, the only one who gets exercise of any kind. Every single member of my family is obese – I am the only person who isn’t. and she’s sitting there telling me “no, you can’t have hyperthyroidism. Only skinny people get that.”
My numbers were close to storm levels. I could have been hospitalized, I could have died. But no, that only happens to skinny people
Stayed together instead of separating/divorcing. They were miserable, and my mom was depressed and separated from her family because my dad didn’t want to move closer to them. Some other factors too but I am convinced that this misery contributed to my mom’s death at a relatively early age.
My mom is a petite blonde perfectionist that comes with lots of baggage. She can’t communicate her feelings and didn’t talk about what’s going on with her ever to protect me. Growing up with her I would constantly know there was something wrong but couldn’t ask about it. I had to sense what mood she was in. Sometimes she wouldn’t speak to me and I couldn’t be sure if it had anything to do with me or my behavior.
She always presented as extremely tough but she also seemed on the verge of breaking which she never did. I became very good at regulating her emotions as well as mine. I became a sort of mind reader when she was in a bad mood. I have become very sensitive as a result, which led to her telling me I was too sensitive, emotional etc..I immediately know if someone washes a plate at me angrily. I can read a room super quickly. I still can’t put my own needs first if someone seems less than perfectly well. No matter how much I might need to.
Did everything for me. My mom helped me choose my clothes, told me who to be friends with, cooked for me, did my laundry, and cleaned my room. All I had to do was be a good girl and get good grades. I never rebelled and did everything she asked. Then I went to college on my own, and realized that I had no life skills, did not know how to navigate friendships and other relationships, and couldn’t even manage my class load without my mother micromanaging my life. I never finished college. My 20s were spent LC with the family as I learned how to be an adult on my own. Made a lot of mistakes and it was only in my 30s I started feeling like I have a grip.
I wish that I had been less ‘loved’ as a child so that I could have been more prepared for life
A family member that meant well spent the entirety of my teen years telling me “if you just lost 15 more pounds, you’d look so great.” The implication was that my weight is what held me back from having boyfriends at the time. (I know now that’s not at all what it was, but I let this person convince me of it in a passive-aggressive way) The thing is, I wasn’t skinny, but I was not even overweight at the time. I dieted all my teen years and then lost control as an adult when I got away from that mentality.
When I look back at my pictures from that time and think about how fat I thought I was compared to how medically overweight I am now, it makes me so mad that my mind got warped into thinking I was too big.
“You can’t pursue cosmetology bc that’s not a real career! You’ll not be able to pay your bills and need to go after a traditional 4 year college degree!”
Newsflash lady – thanks to social media the beauty industry has blown up and hairdressers make more per client than I do per hour working my mundane office job that I hate. They also have more scheduling freedom and can work almost anywhere there’s a sink and chair such as a home.
I am still angry and bitter over this.
ETA: This was less about me being able to support myself and more about her bragging that I was a college graduate.
My parents were good parents but were especially shitty to each other during their divorce and used me and my brother as go-betweens when they really should’ve been using their lawyers. To this day (20 years on!!!) they still can’t get along and hate each other’s guts. It’s so immature and time-consuming to deal with the potentiality of the two of them being in the same room that I eloped and didn’t have a wedding bc they would have made it all about their own failed marriage. Fuck that.
My mother is a mentally ill (ADHD/BPD) narcissist who gave me body dysmorphia, unhealthy attachment styles, imposter syndrome, and a lot of guilt about putting up my own boundaries to keep myself safe from her as an adult.
My parents were desperate to keep me from being a teenage mom or a failure that they kept me in the house on “punishment” for basically all of my preteen years and dished out ridiculous punishments for the crimes examples are:
Got a C on a worksheet, can’t go outside for 2 weeks. Didn’t clean the kitchen well enough, physical violence and can’t go outside for 2 weeks. Felt I ate too much, a whooping and can’t go outside for 2 weeks Didn’t like how I said good morning, a smack across the face, no radio and can’t go outside…
Y’all get it. Just mad crazy abusive because of their own fears.
Trusting me to raise myself from 12 on, no worldly advice, no financial advice, no say about when I came and went, no boundaries
Mom said “finish school, go to college, get good job, then boys.”
Sounds smart right?
Nope, I had no social skills on how to date or decern a healthy partner from a bad one, so I went from one abusive relationship to the next. I clung to those toxic ones because it was supposed to be “right” since I did all the things “right.”
Single a long time now, healing, learning about character, values, and my own needs and boundaries. A man is not a reward for doing things in A, B, C order.
Comparing people’s bodies. I was like a tween when I heard that I was similar to my sister with more meat on my bones.
My mom did the same thing to me, but probably showed disdain towards more types of people. She even spoke with derision about my brother “being weird”, “not having friends”, and “not being good at anything”. Of course, this left me feeling pretty awful when I developed the same problems as my brother a few years later.
Any woman who looked sexy was a “bimbo”. Any woman who had a divorce was a “skank”. She didn’t like Mormons or people who liked or played sports.
Now that I’m an adult I realize that it all stemmed from her own insecurities. I’m still learning to see myself and others more charitably. I love my mom, but wow did she teach me a lot of negativity.
Locking all sweet things away. Hello binge eating
And constant crash diets that wound end early with “celebrating our weight loss” with cupcakes. Add that on top of abusive/neglectful parenting and me developing comfort eating as a coping strategy and boom, guess who had bulimia as a teen and has some degree of food issues for the rest of their life.