1. "Children should never have to initiate communication or try to have an active relationship with their parents; that is solely the parents' responsibility. I asked my dad once why he was so absent my entire life, especially after the divorce, and he said, 'Well, you don’t call me either.' I was 10 when they split."
"As an adult, this is so hard to explain to my parents. They tell me I never call...I was like...you didn't even call me on my BIRTHDAY. Yet, I'm supposed to think to call you regularly? For what? To feel like shit?"
2. "How about identifying things as 'boy things' or 'girl things'… No kid should be shamed or dismissed or dissuaded from expressing themselves however they want to. Even if it doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes."
"This. I was a tomboy, and my mom and grandma supported my love of Scooby Doo and dirt and worm colonies. My son (he’s 5) likes it when I paint his nails. He sees me do mine and loves it when I do his, too. The first time his dad and I got into a big fight over it. His dad came around, and it definitely stemmed from the rigid, traditional way he was raised. But I have never and will never gender things like that."
"I identify as nonbinary now, but as a kid in the '80s/'90s, I was only able to play with girl things like Barbies. No one ever thought to get me a chemistry set or anything, even though i thought science was very cool."
3. "Not keeping promises you keep with your children, especially those on the spectrum... I'm on it myself, and I do take people's words and promises very literally, and when I was going through both high school and college, my mom and my grandparents promised me trips to California and Europe, respectively. My part of the agreement was to finish school and show them diplomas. I did my part, even though I damn near burned out. What did they come back to me with? 'Oh, well how's the trip going to be paid for? Where's the money going to come from? You want the trip, you pay for it. We only said this to motivate you...' WHAT. THE. FUCK. And you ask me why I'm so unsure about you lot?! I DID MY PART!"
4. "Forcing your kids to do things that they don't want to do. Physical touch is one definitely, but also activities and such. If they say they don't want to do something, they don't have to do it (unless, like, something important for them like going to bed at a decent time)."
"Ugh, this. I was not an athletic kid, at all, but my parents made me play every sport that their friends' kids were playing. They wouldn't let me skip any of it, and I hated it because I was awful and disliked because I was not an asset to the teams, also I was just never into sports and am still not. If they would have followed my lead, I would have probably excelled in my actual interests of music and art, but I didn't get into that until high school when it was finally available to me. They always said I had to do sports for physical exercise, but I could have gotten into aerobics or dance — they only picked sports because it was their social event with their friends. That part of my childhood was so miserable."
"My parents would force me to do sports, but I never knew the reason. My mom asked me once, 'Wanna play soccer this season?' I said no, and she got mad and said she'd talk to my dad about it. Idk if they even talked, but they signed me up anyways. They wouldn't let me skip practices, even if I felt sick. And then if I ever complained or said, 'Can I skip this one? I'm not really feeling like it today,' they'd be like, 'We spent all this money for you to do this!! How dare you?! Blah blah blah.' I didn't even want to do this! So frustrating."
5. "My dad figured out I was good with painting when I was about 10, and he always demanded that. Instead of wasting time hanging out and having a good time with friends, I painted. He wanted me to a prodigy. I wasn’t. But he insisted that I paint all through my teens and early 20s. And every time I did paint something, he’d always start out his critique with 'it’s good, but this needs to be changed…and this…and this…and this.' It would always come down to him being disgusted with the end result and me being in tears, because I couldn’t do what he wanted me to. I threw the brush in 15 years ago, and every time I do want to start painting again, I find a shit ton of excuses not to, because I’m afraid it’ll be shit. And I’ll be disappointed in myself."
6. "Denying your kids from engaging in activities on 'religious' grounds. Growing up, my father was extremely religious and would constantly watch and read 'religious' news, and as a result, he came up with certain things that were banned for us (even though other kids in my church were not). Like, I never got to celebrate Halloween (go trick or treating, dressing up, or even being in school that day), I was not allowed to watch or read Harry Potter, I could not play Pokémon cards or watch the cartoons. Being forbidden from these really popular things really isolated me from my peers. And as a result, I had a hard time bonding with others and making friends. I think it's the reason why I became so shy, something that I still can't get past even as an adult."
"Same. I was raised Jehovah's Witness, and the things I wasn't allowed was LONG. No holidays or birthdays, no hanging out with my school friends outside of school, I couldn't read FICTION like the fucking Baby-Sitters Club. There was one time my mom was feeling particularly zealous, and she made me throw out my books (I am a reader, so it hurt). When I wasn't studying for school, I had to study bible shit. I was encouraged to literally tell kids at school about 'The Truth' to get them to convert. I had to tell my best friend that we couldn't see each other anymore ever because I had to go to another district for high school. It was heartbreaking."
7. "My parents thought it was appropriate to ban me from going to school dances my freshman year of high school. I wasn't allowed to go on a date until age 16. Guys thought I turned them down because I was stuck up, because there was no way I would admit the truth. I would actually trust my child and never, ever tank their social life."
"My parents are Gen X and banned me from going to any dances, games, or social activities my entire time in high school and college. I wasn’t allowed to have friends, couldn’t even be caught talking to anyone. I had a strict 3:30 p.m. curfew. It was hard and so socially isolating to the point where I struggled with social skills well into my adulthood."
8. "My mother complained about me eating snacks outside of mealtime all the time. She also didn't feed us very nutritious foods. And when I was half anorexic in high school and the only time I ate was after school, or very late in the evening for band practice reasons, she'd tell me I was gonna get fat. ... Parents need to stop projecting on to their kids."
"I love my mom so much, but I have been dieting since I was 6 years old. I distinctly remember being in first grade and weighing 60 lbs. and having to use our weight for a class assignment, and I panicked because I didn’t want anyone to know that I weighed so much because my mom was upset I weighed that. It also led to untreated eating disorders all throughout my teens. She did the best she could, but she clearly has undiagnosed eating disorders because to this day, she’s most proud of me for being thin."
9. "Always being forced to clear my plate and/or eat more than I wanted to…or when I’d be hungry outside of normal meal time for a snack, I’d be asked if I was actually hungry or just bored. All of it conditioned me to not understand my body’s hunger cues. Either to not trust my body when it said it was full or create disordered and guilty eating habits. I never properly learned how to listen to my body’s hunger cues because it was either lying to me that I was hungry or lying to me that I was full."
10. "We had a pig in our fridge that would oink every time we opened it (triggered by the fridge light). It was so we wouldn't eat except for the meals provided, but it sent some pretty clear signals. Also, sometimes we were fucking hungry and should have been able to eat."
11. "My family never talked about anything uncomfortable. I never got the sex talk, just 'God doesn’t like it so don’t do it.' What is it? How does it work? What happens if I’m in xyz situation? I think the first time my parents heard something about me having a crush when I was little, I was told that I better not have a crush. Even if it was joking, it stuck. I’ve never been able to tell my parents who I had a crush on."
"I never got to talk to them when things went wrong, or things that went right for that matter. I couldn’t ask about intimacy or get any relationship advice. I wish I had that kind of relationship with my mom."
12. "One thing that was always said to me was that if I follow my dreams (I'm still playing music to this day — that will never stop), I'll end up homeless and/or broke. This was told to me by a lot of adults when I was growing up. What they didn't realize is that saying something like that to a kid when they're growing up will have a huge impact on their adult lives. Now, I keep putting off things I want to do because I have the images and memories of these people stuck in my mind. it traumatized me to the point that even when I had a record deal (which I lost later, long story), I felt like I was cheating people out of an opportunity, and again, those words I had been told growing up kept echoing in my mind. I will never do that to my two wonderful sons whom I love very much. Watch what you say to kids, man. For real."
13. "I don't have kids, but if I did, I would never embarrass them by talking or teasing them about their bodies. I don't mean important, necessary conversations about health, bodily functions, consent, sexuality, etc. I mean grown-ass adults teasing kids and asking things like whether their boobs are growing or if they have body hair yet."
"Maybe my extended family was just weird, but they told each other EVERYTHING. I was a quiet, private child, and I would just want the floor to open up and swallow me when they made me the center of attention at a large family gathering just so they could ask me embarrassing questions. I'm 53, and my mom gets so mad at me because I still don't share health or body-related things with her. It all stems from that shame and embarrassment as a child. My body is MINE, and we're not going to talk about it unless and until I want to."
14. "Choosing your partner over your child is a big one for my childhood. My ex-stepdad used to emotionally and mentally abuse me day in, day out. I ate too much, I was worthless, I was stupid, I was pathetic, I was a waste of space, and everyone would have been happier if I'd fucked off to Australia with my dad. My bedroom wasn't *my* bedroom, it was my 'room to use.' I had literally no boundaries — he would just fling my door open, look round, usually laugh at what I was doing (because the idea that I could read was hilarious somehow), then disappear again."
"No one ever stood up for me so I didn't know how to stand up for myself until I was 29. With my own kids, I'm overly protective to a point where my partner reminds my kids (gently, I might add) to clean their room like I asked or do the dishes like I asked, and I'm jumping down his throat. It's a lot to undo."
"For me, it’s the fact that my parents (who had me at 18, and divorced when I was 12) consistently chose their love interests post-divorce over parenting me and my younger sister. It wasn’t a short-lived thing; it went on to the extent that when my mom remarried and the man didn’t like us, he gave me and my sister a choice: pay rent or leave. We were 16 and 14, respectively, and my mom went along with it. I’m now a parent of a 15-year-old, and I would literally take felony murder charges before I would let some man treat my kid like that.
PS: Our dad was an active alcoholic who was in and out of mental health facilities and homelessness, so he wasn’t any help or refuge. My sister ended up moving across the country with random second cousins, and I moved out on my own at 16."
15. "My parents are wonderful, but like all parents, they made mistakes. One that really ground my gears was comparing me to their friends' kids. In *that* tone, they'd say, 'Well, Billy just made the dean's list and has been pre-accepted into so and so law school...' Like...okay? Good for him? Am I supposed to be sorry I'm not like Billy?"
16. "My parents didn't discuss things like politics or current events with us, not ever. I grew up having no idea what their political leanings were, or what my dad's religious beliefs were (my mom is a Jehovah's Witness, and religion was NOT up for discussion AT ALL unless it was to say how false every other religion was)."
"My kids know where my husband and I stand politically, why we're pro-choice and why we feel that way, why voting matters, and so on. We talk about what our privileges are and what we can do to help those who don't have the same privileges. We have dinner table discussions about what's going on in the world. We took the kids to church when they were younger but didn't make them keep going once they were old enough to stay home alone, and we accept that our oldest is agnostic (but still likes to be involved with the youth group because he enjoys the people and the charitable work) and that our youngest is still figuring it out."
17. "I would never belittle my child for their chosen profession. I was almost spat at when I said I wanted to be a teacher. I felt so crushed and hated I went to law school. That didn’t happen, and long story short, I ended up being a teacher anyway. It just took longer. I am good at what I do and have been doing it for 26 years."
"I see my family and loved ones doing this to the next generation now, and it makes me die a little inside. I do what I can to talk to and support them in being themselves. But my husband and I will NOT do this to our son."
18. "I grew up in a show no feelings and then explode and scream household. I’m an emotional person and a crier, so as a kid, I was regularly told to stop crying or called oversensitive. It took me until I was in my 30s to really learn proper emotional regulation. Being told I’m too sensitive is still triggering to me and signals to me that the person really has no desire to hear or try to understand where I am coming from."
"My father has also never in my memory told me he is proud of me or loves me. I know he does, but still, 'I’m proud' or 'I love you' would be nice to hear."
19. "I have children and was successful in changing a pattern. My mom could NEVER admit that she was wrong and would be furious if a mistake was pointed out. My husband and I will admit when we are wrong. We also got teased or shamed if we didn’t know how to do something. It took me well into my adult life to feel okay about asking someone to show me how to do something."
"My parents had a rule that if you had to ask for an apology, then I didn’t deserve one. Never had to take accountability."
20. "Having a certain idea of who you want your kids to be and forcing it on them. My parents had this expectation that I would be perfect, I’d only focus on school and become a doctor. As a result, they would blow up every time I didn’t know something or made mistakes. They also put this pressure on me to always have straight As and to be a prestigious doctor. Since I was little, anytime I shared any ambitions for a different career path, they would shut me down and say that it wasn’t good enough because I didn’t make six figures and that I would be wasting my time on something that wasn’t being a doctor. Now they wonder why I never open up to them about things, but if they'd have been more supportive and didn’t force their idea of a perfect daughter on me, I’d feel comfortable sharing about my interests or my struggles."
21. "A mistake that pretty much all parents do in my country — yelling at the top of their lungs EVERY TIME they do something bad. This not only can cause anxiety as an adult, but forcing the kid to act like an adult increases the chances of being immature as an adult."
22. "I will not minimize my kids' emotions. I grew up with parents who blew off any negative feelings I had. They told me to grow up, or deal with it, or called me ungrateful or selfish, anything to avoid the fact that I was upset or invalidate what I was feeling. I had vicious mood swings and would lash out because I didn't ever feel like I was being heard. Turns out I had an undiagnosed mental illness caused by a hormone imbalance, and if they took my moods seriously, I might have been diagnosed and medicated before my 30s."
23. "My mother was a single parent by choice, and yet, she acted like I was a burden, and if not for having to deal with me, she could be happy and do great things. It was especially annoying because I was a child actor so I paid most of the bills growing up. I’m the burden? Please, I’m the only reason we had a roof over our heads and food!"
"She’s passed now, but it still upsets me, and sadly, she died when I was 15 so we never spoke about it. The only good thing about it all was I was able to become emancipated at 15 and live on my own. I had pretty much raised myself so I was able to function."
24. And finally... "I'm not having kids, but if I did, I wouldn't make fun of everything they enjoyed. I was mocked over every single thing I loved. I hyper-fixated on my joys, which turns out was because I had undiagnosed ADHD all along (and I might be ghosting along the spectrum), but I was relentlessly made to feel bad and stupid about the things I loved. Music, movies, writing, didn't matter what."
"Ever get really excited about something and tell your parents, only to have them tell you, 'That's not that big of a deal, don't get so excited, and you better not get a big head about it.' Now, they don't hear anything about my life, good or bad."