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People Are Calling Out "Seemingly Harmless" Things Parents Do That Actually Cause Serious Consequences, And There Are No Lies Detected

"Comparing them to other kids. It can really mess with their confidence."

This week, Reddit user u/DL4MISH posed the question, "What seemingly harmless thing do parents do to their children that can actually cause them some serious consequences later on?"

A child and an adult holding hands
Casarsaguru / Getty Images/iStockphoto

And there were so many thought-provoking responses! Here are some of the top-voted answers:

1. "Being overly strict. The children of really strict parents learn how to lie, steal, and sneak out. It doesn't teach a child anything, except that they cannot trust their parents to have their back. Yes, you need to have rules and boundaries with your kids, but they're allowed to have secrets! Kids need to know they're trusted."

u/SassyDivaAunt

"Something I've become really aware of in the last few months is how much I lie or manipulate information. I lied about everything growing up because if I was doing something my mom didn't like or agree with, I would get screamed at, grounded, etc. I learned how to lie and deceive my mom in order to stay out of trouble. Now that I'm out of the house, I'm realizing how much I lie, and now, instead of lying to my mom, I'm lying to other people in my life. I don't even realize I'm doing it, and by the time I do, it's too late, and I feel horrible about it."

u/jonserlego

2. "If parents are divorced, saying really bad stuff about the other parent in front of the child."

u/SalFunction12

"I've personally experienced this. Now that I’m older, when I look back on the things my dad said to make my mom look bad, it makes me have less respect for him."

u/Substantial_Ad7387

3. "Overly complimenting a child on on their intelligence or something that is a natural talent. There have been studies that showed that children who were told how smart/talented they were on a regular basis grew up to be apathetic and lazy. Compliment a child on their efforts regardless of skill or outcome. They grow up to be a lot more proactive and productive."

u/InferiousX

"I feel like this ties into the 'burnt-out gifted and talented kid' (GT) thing. I was always told I was smarter in elementary school and got put in the GT program. Now in high school, I have trouble studying and being proactive because I was never taught how."

u/Substantial_Ad7387

A child doing schoolwork
Ridofranz / Getty Images/iStockphoto

4. "Not letting them have privacy. My mother never let me have anything private. She always searched absolutely everything, and if she found something she didn't like, she humiliated me for it or threw it away without telling me anything."

"Now, I am extremely possessive of my things and panic when someone looks in one of my drawers or anything like that. My partner thinks I don't trust him, but I just have an absolute trauma with anyone looking at my stuff, and I feel ashamed and guilty for anything private that I have."

u/Denislovage

5. "Downplaying their children's ‘trivial’ issues."

u/cleanredstreak

"It teaches kids that their problems are never good enough to struggle over. Makes them feel guilty when they need help with something."

u/Dinosaur-Hugs

6. "Forcing them (especially little girls) to hug or kiss people when they don't want to. This establishes lack of ownership over their own body, the inability to say no to unwanted touch, and teaches them it is their job to make others feel comfortable at the expense of their own comfort."

u/BaylisAscaris

A child hugging an adult
Fizkes / Getty Images/iStockphoto

7. "Bulldozer parenting, which, in my opinion, is worse than helicopter parenting. For those who don’t know, bulldozer parenting is when you essentially remove every obstacle your child faces out of fear of them getting hurt, discouraged, down on themselves, or failing at something. As a parent of four, it’s extremely hard to not do this because it breaks your heart watching them hurt. However, it makes them stronger."

u/ShextMe

"100% agree with you! Wanna raise kids to be adults with no grit, too easily overwhelmed, be the first to quit, and to be unsuccessful in life? Use bulldozer parenting! Source: I'm a therapist."

u/9mmway

8. "When they reprimand their kids about a certain habit or action that the parents themselves do (or do to the kids). It gives the idea that yes, my parent knows that this is wrong and is telling me that it is wrong, but they still do it, so maybe I can do it as well. Seems like it's a way to develop cognitive dissonance in kids."

u/UnderTheFishHook

9. "When your parents are tired of your rambling and ask you to stop talking. In their defense, they're exhausted from taking care of you and just need some peace and quiet for maybe 5 seconds and likely asked you to stop because they were overwhelmed. This was what happened for me, but in that moment, I remember thinking this meant my dad didn't actually care about all my stories, so that was when I stopped telling them."

"I also stopped telling them to pretty much everyone because I just assumed no one cared. It wasn't until my late teens/early 20s that I realized people did care, and I came out of my shell a bit more."

u/ThrowRARAw

A parent with their head in their hand as a child talks to them
Katarzynabialasiewicz / Getty Images/iStockphoto

10. "Whenever I get a bad grade on something, my parents always tell me that 'I’m smarter than that' or 'I’m not trying my best.' It doesn’t sound bad, but it has seriously messed me up because I really am trying my best, but it just isn’t good enough. They think I’m smarter than I actually am, and it sucks because they have unrealistic expectations of me."

u/MallowBrain13

"100% agree. It can also create a fear of failure. At least, it did for me."

u/Substantial_Ad7387

11. "Talking over them or encouraging the whole 'good kids don't talk' bullshit. I'm nearly 40, and I still assume that I have to talk fast or that people will cut me off or tire of me. And when people do talk over me, I kind of just shut down."

u/big_nothing_burger

12. "Simply handing them money. It's quite the needle to thread to figure out how to get money into your kids’ hands without it becoming an expectation, an entitlement. We want to give our kids stuff. But we don’t want it to create problems. Helping kids learn the value of money is important."

u/geo_mallory

A person holding car keys out of the car window
Tommaso79 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

13. "Comparing them to other kids. It can really mess with their confidence."

u/Dozer2023

14. "Discussing adult problems/fears with them or around them. It can instill unnecessary fears that lead to anxiety problems."

u/QuestionDarts


15. And finally, "I think a lot of parents cause food/weight issues unintentionally. And that is something I have personally taken very seriously as a parent: creating a healthy relationship with food."

u/wh_ro_ry

"My mom was a huge food moralist, and growing up, there was never any junk food in the house. No cookies, no candy, no pop, no going to McDonald's. A cake on our birthdays, that was it. You're hungry? Eat a carrot. When I got out on my own, I had to learn how to deal with the instant availability of junk food. I figured it out, but my parents sure didn't do me any favors."

u/Princess_Parabellum

"My mother used to guilt me about not finishing food, so I'd never decline and just kept eating. I got fat and developed binge-eating and body issues. She never meant it in any bad way; she simply didn't know better. Took years to unlearn bad habits and get to a good spot."

u/PriapusTheFox


A child with a plate of peas
Catherine Delahaye / Getty Images

Can you think of something parents do that has serious consequences on their child? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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