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    14 Parenting Tactics That Seem Normal But Are Actually Toxic

    "Don't make your kids consent to being touched when they don't want to. Teach them that it's OK to say no to things that make them uncomfortable."

    We recently shared a post where people shared "normal" parenting tactics that are actually toxic. In the comments, many of our readers from the BuzzFeed Community called out even more parenting tactics that are problematic and why. Here are some of the most eye-opening responses:

    1. "Punishing children or teenagers over their mental health. Your child with anxiety or depression needs to feel loved and cared for, or you’re just making the situation worse."

    A child sits alone in a dark room
    Annie Otzen / Getty Images

    2. "Don’t call attention to your child’s growing body during puberty. I started developing breasts at 10, and my mom and cousins would comment all the time about how 'cute it was that I’m growing up and growing boobs!' I hated it and was mortified like any kid would be."


    3. "Don’t make your kids your dumping grounds for your negative emotions or expect them to fix things in your life, but absolutely do have age-appropriate discussions about mental health and relationships."


    4. "DO NOT make your kids consent to being touched when they don't want to. Teach them that it's OK to say no to things that make them uncomfortable."

    A child crosses their arms, clearly uncomfortable
    Nay Piy Phr Luxnam / Getty Images/EyeEm


    "Forced affection always bothered me. Being forced to give hugs to relatives I didn't particularly like and saw twice a year really bothered me — even relatives I was close to — because sometimes I just didn't (and still don't) want to be touched. I have made it very clear with my kids that if someone asks them for a hug, they are allowed to politely decline, and I will always back them on it. Their bodily autonomy is more important than offending someone. In turn, they also need to respect others' bodily autonomies."


    5. "It's definitely toxic to tell too much to your children, but it's also toxic to not tell them anything. My mom often kept things from me because I was the baby of the family, and I would find out months later that something life-altering happened. That created trust issues and as a result, I didn't (and still don't) tell her anything super personal. I have a good relationship with her, but I wouldn't call it a deep one."


    6. "Telling your kids to 'not be sheep' and form their own opinions, then shutting down any discussion on topics they disagree with you on."

    A child looks upset during a hard conversation with their parent
    Kali9 / Getty Images

    7. "Parentifying the eldest kid(s). DO NOT make them take up parenting duties on their younger siblings. Babysitting is okay, but they shouldn't be doing more caretaking of themselves and the other kid(s) than the actual adults are doing."

    "If your kids are under 16 and planning and fixing dinner five nights a week, rarely having plans with friends because they can't bring along a small child, can't do school activities because of childcare duties, won't even consider dating because they don't want to possibly deal with yet another kid, etc, you're likely a toxic parent."


    8. "Don't tell your child, 'If anyone ever hurts/touches you, I'll kill them.' That just makes your child afraid to tell you anything. Children believe that you WILL kill someone, even if you say it in jest — they know that it's bad and that you will go to jail or be killed by police. They will suffer in silence to protect you."


    9. "Not teaching your children how to solve problems or do basic self-care. Learned helplessness."


    10. "Not letting them help when they want to. A lot of parents don't want to deal with the assistance a child wants to give because it makes chores take longer, etc. You really need to let them contribute when they want to. It will make them feel less like a part of the family if you don't."

    A child is helped by their parent while washing dishes
    Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images

    11. "Being overprotective — all it does is teach your kids how to lie."


    12. "When parents treat the issues their children are going through as casual topics of conversation. My mother used to (and still would if I had never learned how to enforce boundaries with her) tell our family and her friends about the issues I was having at school, breakups I was going through, or whatever else was sensitive information to me. Parental enmeshment is surprisingly common and accepted but also totally unhealthy."


    13. "Forcing kids to eat everything on their plate even if they aren’t hungry, don’t want it, or don’t like it, and guilt tripping them by telling them how lucky they are to have it because other kids are starving in the world."


    And finally:

    14. "Never saying 'I love you.' During and immediately after my parents' divorce, that was a huge part of them taking care of and reconnecting with me and my brothers. Of course, we knew it, but it's nice to hear it out loud, too."



    Do you agree with this list? What are other normalized parenting tactics that should not be considered normal? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

    Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.