Note: This post mentions disordered eating, body dysmorphia, anti-gay comments, and abuse.
If there's one thing a child wants from their parents, it's to be loved, understood, and cared for. And even though this is what many parents provide and strive for (because, let's be honest, who wouldn't want the best for their kids?), some of them may have a different perspective on what they believe their child should be doing.
And while some parents' suggestions or comments may seem completely understandable, other parents have a hard time with boundaries and make remarks that can negatively affect their children.
1. "My mother offered to pay for a nose job for my 16th birthday. I never asked for one and have wondered what was wrong with my nose ever since."
2. "My parents have actually asked me to change what I’m allergic to so that they don’t have to deal with hearing and seeing my anaphylactic episodes when they cook the things I’m allergic to. They think that because these allergies manifested later in life, I can swap them out. I don’t complain or throw a fit when they do cook these things — I’ll just silently go somewhere else to have my reactions with my meds and take care of myself. If I become a parent in the future, I’ll give up whatever is harming my child in a heartbeat, whether it's from the time of their birth or later in life. I don’t understand how my health is an inconvenience to them. How am I in the way that much?"
3. "I was always told not to cry, for many different reasons: It made me look weak, it was ugly, people are looking, someone's going to think they hurt me, it's not that big a deal, etc. So I developed into never crying or showing negative emotions. When I graduated from college and stopped having contact with them, I began dating my current partner. He worked with me on opening up about how I feel and being okay with showing emotions. Now I cry at the drop of a hat and about everything. I can't tell if this is a step in the right direction or something I need to fix."
4. "My mother was very sneaky and would constantly pit my sister and me against each other. My sister is older, but she was also very overweight, and because of that, she only had a few close friends who wouldn't make fun of her. All around, she was very guarded and a bit unlikable, which is totally understandable. I was the one going out, going to parties, having boyfriends and lots of friends, and my mother would tell her, 'Be more like your sister — lose weight.' I didn't know about a lot of this growing up. On my end, I would get the 'Don't eat that! You don't want to end up like your sister, right?'"
5. "They essentially asked me to stop my daughter from having special needs. When she was around 8 months old, she needed developmental therapy. My mother drove an hour to take me to lunch — to comfort me, I first thought. However, when we sat down, the first thing out of her mouth was, 'You understand that this is your fault.' She thought I caused my daughter's special needs by keeping her in a car seat too much because my husband and I would take her to parks to hike (within a couple of hours) every weekend."
"Later on, as she grew and the list of special needs and the seriousness of them became more apparent, my mother was worried about how it would appear, and just wanted to fix our daughter to be 'normal.'
"They think if you throw enough money at her problems, it will 'fix' her. They’ve actually offered any amount of money to basically make it all go away. Needless to say, we moved far, far away."
6. "I'm a first-generation child of immigrants here. My father is a totally toxic man. First year of college, he was so bothered that I'd asked him for a ride to campus that he commented, 'Why are you bothering to go to school? You’ll just drop out when you get married or pregnant.'"
7. "My mom constantly treated me as if trying to do anything with my life was pointless because I should focus on my looks. She first told me to 'bat my blues' at a grown man when she needed help in a store when I was about 10. She frequently made comments about how I would just 'marry a rich man' to take care of me, as if I were some princess simply because I was conventionally attractive. It never mattered that I was an A+ student involved in various programs and activities."
8. "Growing up, I was never allowed to be angry or have a bad day even though others around me were. The house rule was, If someone else was having a bad day, I had to go to my room and 'give them space.' If I was having a bad day, I had to go to my room and 'not take it out on others.' I believe this extreme suppression of my own negative feelings while reinforcing the requirement to bend to the moods of others has led me to be an absolute doormat in some of my relationships."
9. "I was always told I was too sensitive and too emotional. I learned to tamp down my feelings until I ended up with serious stomach issues and the inability to show people I cared about them in any way — lest I be seen as ‘too emotional.’ I'm almost 50 now, and I still have a hard time just being myself, even when I’m alone. I don’t laugh too hard or cry too loud. It’s exhausting, but with a great therapist, I’m finally releasing it all."
10. "My mom suggested I shouldn't talk to my husband about my anxiety and anxious thoughts in general because it would drive him away. It hurt me greatly for her to suggest that. All the women in our family have issues with anxiety, and we all handle it in different ways. Fortunately, I didn't follow her advice because I trust my husband and our relationship, and now we can have open conversations about my anxiety, and he knows how to help me when I'm starting to spiral."
11. "My mom made it a point to tell me how I should dress, especially in front of whatever boyfriend she had at the time. When they broke up, I was to blame. Apparently, I was flaunting myself in front of them. I couldn’t even sit next to a man on the train or bus with her around because my body language suggested I was flirting with them. This started when I was 12. I’m 32 now and I still try to make sure I’m not giving off any vibes that are suggestive, even as a married woman."
12. "I grew up in a strict Mormon household with my dad and stepmom. She has this naturally rock-solid, unquestioning faith. I do not. I’ve spent years trying to clarify church teachings I didn’t agree with, using any possible evidence, and I can’t find it. The final straw for me was realizing that if I took my son to church, I’d bring him home and immediately unteach everything they said because 90% of it goes against what I believe, philosophically and morally."
"My stepmom refuses to make any attempt at supporting me but always takes it further, from multi-hour-long lectures, to forcing conversations after I’ve made it clear I didn't want to have them, to rejecting my answer that I’m just not there anymore.
"She'll cry, have guilt trips, or be outright mean. And then she pulled the biggest one yet and used my son against me, saying, 'Who will teach him about God?' It’s exhausting."
13. "I shared with my mom that I have a history of bingeing and purging after she tried to tell me I needed to diet to be happy (again). She responded by crying and saying, 'Now you are going to blame me for your eating disorder.' She then continued to berate me about how body positivity is BS and I will never be happy if I try to accept my body."
14. "My mom told me I should be a stay-at-home mom instead of taking college courses. She called me 'selfish.' I've never forgotten those words, even though I now have a successful career as a software engineer and own four houses. She was wrong, but the words and lack of acceptance really hurt."
15. "I’ve always been a bit clumsy and awkward, yet outspoken. My family (my grandparents, parents, sibling, etc.) would regularly tell me that I’m prettier when I’m quiet. They also told me to shut up and look pretty. I chose to dissociate myself from them four years ago. Sometimes it’s lonely, but the joy I feel by being my authentic self is the most amazing feeling ever."
16. "My parents did their best, but neither was equipped to raise a very flamboyantly gay child in small-town Texas in the '90s. I'm very comfortable with who I am now, but there are times when I hear my own voice and can hear my dad saying, 'Stop talking like a girl.' Or I'll catch my reflection in a window while walking and hear my mom say, 'Stop walking around like a sissy!' We have a great relationship now, and they've both evolved a lot...but that shit stays with you."
17. "My mom always told me I was 'too confident.' It was never an arrogance thing, she just always felt that I should be more insecure, like her or my sister. She honestly would get mad at me when I would say something nice about myself when my sister was around, and ask me not to be 'so confident' because it made them feel bad. I never understood how me feeling good about myself could make someone so upset."
18. "I have curly hair that I would often straighten for school. All of my friends would ask me why I would ever straighten it because they loved when I left it full of natural curls. My mom told me the reason my girlfriends told me that was so they would be prettier than I was. (She preferred it straight, of course.)"
19. "It turns out that most of the stuff I got yelled at about was because I was undiagnosed with autism. I was a smart kid who did badly at school and would get written up for having meltdowns. 'Why don't you try harder?' I was literally trying as hard as I could. 'Stop moving back and forth!' I was stimming. 'Can you go five minutes without talking?' I'm doing a lot of relearning, but I think some of that damage is irreparable."
20. "My mom, when I was very young, made fun of the way I walked — and now every time I am walking anywhere, I am constantly asking myself, Okay, are my arms swinging enough? Too much? Are my steps too small? Too large? It’s honestly ridiculous, but it’s caused a butt load of anxiety later in my life. She was incredibly critical about a lot of things I did and do, and I cannot get them out of my head."
21. "My dad didn’t (and still doesn’t) want me on depression, anxiety, and ADHD meds. He told me it was going to make me have no emotions at all and mess with my brain, and I was going to be dazed and confused all the time. Thankfully, my mom told him he was stupid, and I'm on my meds now."
22. "My parents offered to get me Asian eyelid surgery and breast implants — although I had never mentioned or complained about either parts of my body before."
23. "My mother once offered to give me $100 to lose 20 pounds. This was around the same time she'd criticize me for going out of the house without any makeup on. And then, when she found me playing with makeup a few months later, she told me to take my eyeliner off because I 'looked like a whore.' I was 13 when all of this happened."
24. "The time I confided in my mom that I had been struggling with bulimia for six years and needed help. She looked at me and with tears in her eyes asked me why I would do this to her, and said how embarrassing it would be if her friends or family found out I was struggling with this. It took about six years before I was able to overcome bulimia with the help of my then-boyfriend, now-husband."
25. "Perhaps the one thing that stands out the most is my parents' refusal to recognize my ADHD, despite the fact that I have been diagnosed with it by two different psychologists. As early as second grade, I was exhibiting all the symptoms of ADHD. My third-grade teacher told my parents to have me tested. My parents refused, saying I just needed to try harder and telling me to apply myself to my schoolwork. The same teacher told my parents that I also needed to be tested for dyscalculia. Again, my parents refused, stating that I score high on the state tests in English and reading. My mother even said that only mothers who do drugs and drink alcohol have kids born with ADHD."
26. "My mother told me I needed to 'just get over it' — referring to the PTSD I have from her after years of severe physical, verbal, and emotional abuse — because it’s annoying for her to have to 'walk on eggshells' all the time around me."
27. "So when I was in high school, we had the option of choosing different vocational career choices. There was a brand-new program for computers, and it was something I was really interested in. But my mom talked me into studying culinary subjects because it would make finding someone easier, and working with computers wouldn't give me a steady job or income. She had this habit of really making me question a lot of my decisions, so I never went to school for the things I wanted."
28. "We moved when I was 16, and I was so lonely and depressed. My mother kept telling me to 'reinvent' myself to be totally different from the person I already was. To assist with that, she made sure to pick up the mail every day so that I never got any news from friends who wrote to me. She explained it by saying that I 'never had good-quality friends to begin with.'"
"My dad? He used to tell me from time to time that I 'wasn't someone who any man would want' and I should just make do with whatever I could get. To say that I've had major issues with relationships my entire life is an understatement. But I'm very grateful for mental health medications!"
29. "My best friend and I were walking up to my front door, laughing about something, and my mom told me to 'change' my laugh in front of my best friend. I was embarrassed and upset, to say the least. I became more self-conscious, not only about my laugh but also about other things related to who I was, and had a lingering self-doubt for several years of my life."
30. "My mom told me that I needed to be the bigger person in all difficult interactions (especially with my older brother) and that I shouldn’t express my emotions."
31. "When I was barely 24, my father asked why I wasn't married yet. I stated that I hadn't found the right man yet. He proceeded to lecture me on how my standards were too high, how I needed to accept that ALL men cheat, and how I needed to figured out a way to just deal with it."
32. "I was in school to be a medical administrative assistant. My mother told me I was trying to be 'too professional' and to just get a 'little job' somewhere. I went no contact, finished school, and have been in my field for nine years."
Have your parents ever asked you to change something about yourself? If so, how did it affect you and what did you do? Tell us in the comments below.
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.