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17 "Normal" Things Families Do That Are Actually Very, Very Toxic

"Parents, your kids don't 'owe' you something just because you gave birth to them."

We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us which "normal" family things are actually toxic, and they didn't hold back. Here are the eye-opening results:

1. "The idea that you have to confide in your parents, or other family members, about your problems."

Two people have a hard conversation

2. "Can we PLEASE stop talking to our children like they owe us something just because we gave birth to them?"

"They didn't ask to be here; they're children, not our own personal assistant."


3. "When families sweep everything under the rug to appear like nothing is wrong. Things like communication, discussing feelings, and problem solving don't exist in this environment, and if anyone ever mentions a problem, the general attitude is that 'it never happened.'"

"I still love my family, but I keep a fair distance."


4. "The belief that grandparents should spoil their grandkids is toxic."

"It's awful when you have your own family, and your parents refuse to not respect your choices when it comes to your kids. My mother-in-law would repeatedly disregard things we said even if it affected our children's health."


5. "When families constantly ask questions like, 'When are you getting married? Have you found someone yet? Do you want me to set you up with XYZ? They would be great for you!'"

A young single person looks outside a window, looking pensive

6. "Expecting children to take care of their parent(s) when they're unwell or aging, especially when the child is still just a kid."

"I was shamed constantly by my aunt for not 'doing enough' for my mom, when in actuality, my mom was severely mentally ill, and even the nurses at the home where she lives now have difficultly caring for her. I was not a trained professional — I was just a teenager — so it's really shocking to me how much care I was expected to provide just under the guise of 'she raised you; now you owe her.'"


7. "Corporal punishment. And you can't say, 'Well, I turned out fine.' I am not fine."

"There are many, many negative outcomes that come from using corporal punishment on children, and it stays with you. This intergenerational cycle needs to break."


8. "I know there's a fine line, but don't hold back praise and compliments from your kids in an attempt to raise them 'humble.'"

"Obviously, a big head can be obnoxious, but if you go too far the other way, your kids will simply think you're not proud of them."


9. "Talking sh*t about certain relatives for valid reasons and barely talking, but then inviting them to Thanksgiving, weddings, and other occasions to make everything look 'OK.'"

Family members smile and chat over Thanksgiving dinner

10. "Putting so much effort into getting 'the perfect family photo.' I hate it when someone puts so much pressure into getting the perfect family photo where everyone is required to smile and look nice."

"The pressure just stresses everyone out, making it even harder to smile. Having photos where the family is complete is nice, but not at the extent of people's sanity. Genuine photos that show off everyone's personality are way better than forcing every member of the family to smile when some are clearly depressed."


11. "Just because they're your mom or dad or your elder does not mean you should NOT stand up for yourself when they do or say something to disrespect you."

"Nor should you feel guilt tripped into cutting them out of your life, especially if it's your parents and the 'I gave birth to you' card gets played. Respect goes both ways."


12. "My parents always pitted us against each other. I'm the youngest, and I grew up hearing, 'Your sister never gave me this trouble,' or, 'We never had these problems with your brother.' It made me feel like a complete failure from a very young age."

An excited college grad poses while their parent takes a photo

13. "The 'blood is thicker than water' mentality, which means yeah, stick together and stick it out because you're family. That is SO toxic."

"Just because you all share DNA doesn't mean you all share the same opinions and behaviors — or that we are the same at all. A great family with great relationships isn't granted. You have to work at it like everything else. You cannot forgive or simply get over something just because they are family."


14. "Narcissistic mothers/mothers-in-law: She thinks she's basically the Don of the family and makes everyone around her miserable."

"Fakes illnesses for attention and so she's never alone, hates when she isn't the center of attention, etc. Everyone is sick of her mess, but everyone HAS to deal with it because, 'Well, she's our mother,' and her husband thinks, Well, that's my wife. They also seem to be the type of mothers who desperately want grandchildren but run off every woman in her son's life. It's not some cutesy sitcom joke; it's a real-life MESS."


15. "When families constantly put their children on the internet. I absolutely can't stand family vlog channels, especially ones that do stuff about potty training or their daughter going through puberty. Or if their kids are crying and melting down, and they just keep vlogging, making a joke out of it."

A parent takes a photo of their baby

16. "When parents put an end to any request with 'end of story,' 'this isn't up for debate,' or any other version of the same. It kills any chance of a child learning self-advocacy."


And finally...

17. "The idea that children must hug relatives. Just because you're related doesn't mean you don't need consent."


What are some other "normal" things families do that are actually toxic? Let us know in the comments below.

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