People Are Sharing The Toxic Things Their Parents Taught Them, And I Just Want To Give Each And Every One Of Them A Big Hug
Breaking the cycle is hard work.
1. "I have genuinely wonderful parents in most ways, but in my family we never showed or talked about our feelings. If you were angry or sad, you made an excuse to leave the room, then came back and pretended it never happened. Even when we were really happy, we dialed it down so it wasn't over the top. It took me until my 30s to be able to cry in front of people, or tell people I loved them without being embarrassed."
2. "I'm still learning to love myself and be proud of my efforts in life because, growing up, my parents were so critical of me. No matter how much effort I put in, no matter how well I did, my efforts were never enough. And if I did accomplish something, my parents would be the first to say that I didn't earn it. That kind of upbringing isn't the worst thing in the world, but I can't remember ever feeling any sense of pride in myself. I've never been pleased with myself because I was taught that I wasn't good enough. Don't make your kids feel this way."
3. "My father made me pay 50 cents whenever I burped and didn't say 'excuse me' immediately. I was terrified whenever I had to burp, and apologized over and over just so he wouldn't yell at me. Even now, after six years of no contact, I always apologize immediately after burping, even when I'm on my own."
4. "Ever since I was a child, my mother has always made me feel like I 'owe' her. It took me until I was well into my 20s to see how harmful that really is. If I ever needed something, whether it be financial or emotional support, without fail she would always hold it over my head and use it as leverage if she wanted or needed something from me. Whenever I wouldn’t give in, she would always pull the, 'Oh I did THIS for you, and this is how you treat me?' card, and say a bunch of other hurtful things. It’s really gross to act that way toward anyone, let alone your children."
5. "That crying doesn’t deserve punishment. If I had a dollar for every time I was told, 'Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!' I was so ashamed to cry; I would rather be angry. This did so much damage and took so long to unlearn."
6. "Saying, 'I love you, but...' I've caught myself saying it to my partner a couple of times, and mentally kick myself each time."
7. "Judging people's work ethic and character solely from their job position. Growing up, my parents would often tell me if I had gotten a bad grade on something in school — and by 'bad,' I mean getting a C by their standards — they'd often resort to yelling at me, asking if I was going to flip burgers at McDonald's for the rest of my life or work at Walmart. To them, anyone who didn't have a college degree or made below a certain salary was an indication that they weren't willing to work hard, were lazy, had no ambition, and didn't deserve respect."
"They'd ask what my friends planned to do after high school, and told me to 'get rid of the ones who don't choose to go to university.' While I always disliked when they'd go on one of their rants, I found myself subconsciously parroting those things in my head whenever I'd hear a classmate say that they didn't want to go to college. It took a lot of hard work and help from my therapist to undo the damage my parents have done to me as a whole, and I've sworn to myself that when I'm ready to have kids, I'll never ever repeat what my parents told me. All people, regardless of their job, educational background, etc. deserve respect."
8. "I was a child in the '80s, when 'hands-off' parenting was the style. Parents were expected to be material providers, and children were expected to learn to solve problems and navigate the world on their own. All fine in theory, but looking back, it really feels like I was just raised by the television. I had no structure at all growing up, and it's left me struggling my entire adult life to figure out how to provide structure for myself."
9. "Eating disorders. My father loved food, but he loved thinness more. His idea of 'dieting' was to eat nothing but sugar-free Jell-O and Lipton Cup o' Soup. My mother? Wonderful cook, but a lousy eater. She eschewed real food but loved her some crackers, wine, and candy. Cut to me — a fat child — developing anorexia and bulimia, and my parents were somehow surprised."
10. "I grew up with a tremendous emphasis on being attractive and likable. I wasn't supposed to upset anyone or hurt their feelings, ever. It was hard for me to say no or turn down any request. I tried very hard not to communicate these ideas to my daughter."
11. "I had to unlearn the difference between what one could call 'masculine' vs. 'feminine' when it come to things like colors. My parents don’t always love when I buy pink things to this day, even though it has been my favorite color since day one. I’m a 22-year-old gay man, and I still receive judgment for things like wearing 'feminine' Halloween costumes, but I've learned to say something when I feel the need to stand up, and how to love the life I live."
12. "I'm still trying to learn that many people will give you help just because you asked. You don't need to be going through a tough time, have an illness, or be completely uninformed. I used to do absolutely everything by myself because every time I asked for help, I was met with my mom's temper tantrums or criticism that I was 'ungrateful.'"
"It turns out that asking for help and giving help to others is an essential piece of relationship building, because you're essentially giving a piece of yourself to someone else, and that's part of forming a bond. I had a HORRIBLE time maintaining any type of relationship, but especially romantic ones, because I couldn't let anyone do anything for me."
13. "Lying about little things to spare people's feelings. It may feel like you’re doing the right thing in the moment, but it's ultimately going to hurt everybody in the long run."
14. "The subtle patriarchal differences between men and women that society enforces on us. My parents treated both me and my brother equally, and gave us everything equally. But, as I've grown up, I've started to realize the common change in attitude and behavior they have with me compared to him. I'm not allowed to do certain things, but my brother is. I'm in the process of unlearning this patriarchy."
"I also always judged other women because of my patriarchal mindset. For example, If I ever saw a woman who was outspoken in family decisions, I would see her in a negative light, because patriarchy teaches you that the man makes the final family decisions, and the woman mostly follows him."
15. "My parents raised me in a fairly misogynistic, homophobic household. However, the one thing that stands out to me more than others is the body-shaming. It was, and still is, commonplace for them to make negative comments on other people’s bodies. They’d target anything from weight to hair to clothing style. As a kid, I was also encouraged to make judgmental comments on someone’s appearance."
"My attitude changed at about 12 years old, when I became the target of their ridicule myself. Everything from my hair to my glasses became a ‘problem’ for them. I’m in my early 20s now, and it still hurts. I know that it’s the one behavior that I’ll never ever subject my future children to."
Is there something you had to unlearn from your parents? Share it in the comments below.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.