Parents Share Which Life Lessons Completely Backfired On Their Kids
You try to do your best. Being a parent is already so hard. But sometimes, it just blows up in your face.
Here were some of the answers.
A Logical Fallacy
Not a parent, but my in-laws love telling this story about my fiance.
He was resistant to potty training, and they eventually got him to start using the potty by telling him that he had to be out of pull-ups before a family trip to Disney World, because "Mickey Mouse only sees big boys and girls." And also who wants to log a diaper bag around Disney?
Anyway, it went great, they had a great trip... and the day after they got back, he took a sh*t in the living room. When asked, he said "I don't gotta use the potty cause I already saw Mickey Mouse." They very firmly told him that if he was old enough to use logic, he was far too old for diapers, and that was the end of that.
Great And Terrible Power
Saw a clip on local news about a toddler saving her mom's life by calling 911 when she collapsed. Figured it was a good idea to teach my toddler 911. Had two cops at my door 5 minutes later.
Payment In Kind
When my daughter was young I was trying to teach her the value of money and decided to start giving her an allowance. She had a few tasks to do around the house and afterwards on the weekends before we would go out, I'd give her 5$. I explained that because she helped out and did her chores, she had earned money to spend on whatever she wanted. She happily accepted and stashed her money in her room, I thought nothing of it. Later that evening before I tucked her in to bed after reading to her, she goes to her money jar, pulls out 2$ and hands it to me, and explains that it's for being a good daddy.
My aunt and uncle were trying to teach my cousin manners, and wanted him to address people as Mr and Mrs. They used each other as examples, and consequently were known as Mr. Iannuccilli for ~ 2 months. One of the funniest moments of my life was hearing my uncle describe how in the middle of the night instead of 'dad' he started hearing 'Mr Iannuccilli!' Cracks me up every time.
My dad tried to implement the whole you MUST eat ALL the food on your plate in our house during meals. My mom was never a fan of that lesson, but my dad was stubborn so she just let it go. Well, one day my sibling had 2-3 bites of food left on their plate and was very clear that they were absolutely full and couldn't eat another bite. Dad wasn't having it and insisted they could not leave the table until all the food on their plate was gone. My sibling realized they weren't going to convince our dad that they were too full and finished the last few bites and then proceeded to upchuck on the table. He stopped enforcing the rule after that.
When my older son was about three or four years old, we realized he was starting to act very spoiled and materialistic. We always tried to make him see how lucky he already had it, but he constantly begged us for every toy, candy, and treat he saw anywhere and everywhere.
Around that time, I came across a great photo spread that involved the photographer traveling around the world and snapping photos of different children with their most prized possessions. Of course, the kids in the US, Canada, and Europe were mostly photographed in rooms filled with stuff. But there were also photos of children from impoverished nations, usually showing the child with only one old, dirty stuffed animal.
I thought I was going to accomplish this brilliant parenting move by sitting him down and going through the photos with him. I'd explain how the kids with rooms like his were beyond lucky and he should feel more than satisfied with all of the great stuff that he had. Then I would show him the other photos and he would finally understand that there are so many other children in the world with far less than he had.
We looked through the photos and talked about each one. We finally got to one with a little boy standing on his cot with his one possession, a well-loved, dingy-looking stuffed monkey. My son looked at if for a long time. I could see his wheels spinning. "Success!" I thought. After a long bit of silence, he finally looked up at me, gave me a sweet smile and said, "I want that monkey."
In order not to teach him how to "lie better," I never challenged his lying and we just told him what needed to be fixed. I never told him how I knew he was lying, I just avoided confronting him and got to the point of what needed fixed, despite attempts to deny it.
For example, if someone ate all the brownies, and his mouth and fingers were stained with chocolate, I never told him, "I can tell you are lying because of the evidence," I just said he now had to make a new batch or do chores because the old batch was gone. I was figuring, "hey, he'll figure out that eating the brownies and lying about it still had consequences."
Thus, he never really got very good at lying. But he keeps trying, which is the part I didn't expect. He's 28 now, and just so terrible at it because he doesn't understand how people can so easily figure it out. This has socially crippled him in ways I did not understand when he was young.
I think learning how to lie is essential to social development, and I thought I was being all high and moral. Oops.
When I was about 2 years old my family was at a game in Angel's stadium. My mother went to the restroom and left me and my siblings with my dad. While he was busy watching I wandered off. When they eventually found me I was halfway around the stadium. A crowd had gathered to watch as a police officer held me out at arms length while I screamed "call the police, this man is not my daddy" over and over again. My parents had taught me stranger danger, but forgot to teach me what police look like.
It All Worked Out
Taught my now 16 year old to always compliment people who insulted you. We were in a Burlington Coat Factory in Michigan when my mother was shopping for a bathing suit to take to Florida. There were few to choose from, so she was complaining. My kid was 4.
A woman trying on pants and said something rude to my mom who was asking my opinion and my daughter caught on that my mother was agitated. She squeezed out behind me and told the woman,
"Your teeth are such a pretty yellow!"
I told him no food downstairs. He had to eat at the table if he wanted to and not his play room. When the second kid came I would bring down his bottle and snacks so he could eat solid foods that helped his teething while we played. My older kid flipped out because there is no food downstairs that was like a basic rule of life to him. When I said it's ok because his brother is a baby and I'm here he took advantage of some shared snacks the kids had later. He would try to give his brother snacks that he liked so he could eat them downstairs too because his brother was.
So I see him sitting in his play tent eating animal crackers and giving his brother one as they hide from me because he knows it's technically wrong. But he eventually saw the reason why I made the rule because although the younger kid would eat 1-2 he would then mash the third into a paste and rub it over the toys.
City On Fire
My friend's 10 year-old daughter was going over to a friend's house in the same apartment complex, but a few buildings away.
Mom: "Ok, what do we do if someone tries to grab you?"
Daughter: "Kick him in the balls and yell 'FIRE'!"
Mom: "Ha, right, but that's not a good word, it's 'testicles'."
Daughter: "Ok, kick him in the balls and yell 'TESTICLES'!"
Mom: "You know...that might work too."
Good Idea, Bad Execution
Trying to keep.my 4 year old in bed. He gets up 4 or more times saying he has to go to the bathroom. Most of the time he doesn't have to go and we send him back to bed. 5 minutes later, he does it again. He knows that he can get out of bed this way. My wife decided to make tickets. He could use the tickets if he got out of bed. Once the tickets were done, so was he. If he could stay in bed the rest of the night he got rewarded with stickers. The first night we tried it, he sh*t himself.
A Fair Question
Not a very big backfire, but here's a true story:
My grandmother died a few years ago. My brother decided to use this as a teaching moment for his two daughters, and he did his best to explain what was going on. He told them that he was flying out to Florida to attend the wake.
"What's a wake?" His daughter asked.
"It's a thing that happens before the funeral, where we go to see Nana's body."
His daughter's eyes widened with fear. He had a moment of panic, like maybe he'd made a mistake. Then she asked, "... What do they do with her head?"
Teamwork Makes The Dream Work
Due to a last minute adoption (long story) my wife and I went from one kid to two kids very quickly. They are close in age (18 months apart) so we tried reading books about how to avoid sibling rivalry and encourage a positive sibling relationship as they got older. One of the books said to teach the kids that they are a team. That's what we did.
It resulted in my daughter getting pissed at me any time I would discipline her brother because he was her baby. I would try to explain that discipline is part of learning but she wasn't having any of that. She agreed that she should be disciplined for bad behavior but not her baby brother. You have to stand up for your teammate afterall. That's really the only times she would ever throw a full blown screaming tantrum, so then I would have to deal with my son crying because he is being disciplined and my daughter crying because her brother is being disciplined. As they got a little older any time I would try to break up an argument or settle a dispute, both of them would get mad at me. They needed to work it out together. Teammates stand up for each other and work things out together (unless you are Odell Beckham Jr.) so parental involvement wasn't needed in their view and only worked to make them both angry at me.
Both of them are well behaved teenagers now and despite being very different from each other, they are still very close and value each others opinion. My son has been able to convince his sister to audition for a solo in her orchestra concert and for the school musical and she is the first one to comfort him after his team loses a tough loss and helped him with his successful class VP campaign since he couldn't make a poster that didn't look like it was made by a deranged monkey. I wouldn't discount the method completely because I am happy with their relationship but when you have two toddlers screaming bloody murder because you put one in time out, you question what the hell you are doing wrong.
Everybody Loves Louie
When my oldest kid was 3 or 4, a few months after I separated from his mom, I found a home with a couple of these DJs who needed a roommate to split the bills. Mike was terminally ill, Louie was a pothead. I was a young divorced dad. Pretty suave home amirite?
One day after cleaning the kitchen I stepped out to pick up my kid, came home and the kitchen's a f*cking wreck. Louie got high and decided to make himself a smoothie. He left milk, ice, bits of juice and just gross crud, everywhere.
I told Louie he needed to clean it up, he told me he'd get to it in a little bit, I told him I needed to make my kid dinner now and needed to work in the kitchen, he told me so clean it up yourself, one thing led to another and pretty soon we're in each other's faces, really close, almost bumping chests, fingers pointing at each other, yelling really loud, lots of cuss words, before we both storm off.
I go up to my room, and kiddos up there with a quivering lip and eyes welled up. He bravely tells me "Louie is our friend and you yelled at him very mean."
I go back to the living room. "Louie, could you come down here please?"
"WHAT??!" .. he stomps into the living room
".. sigh .. I was very frustrated because I worked hard to clean the kitchen, then I saw it messy again, but I did not ask what you were doing or how your day was before getting mad about the kitchen. I should not have yelled at you or said bad words. You're my friend and I will try to use nicer words from now on."
Louie looks at me and says, ".. the F*CK??!"
Then he turns and sees kiddo watching both of us. "Oh god dammit! Fine .."
And he cleaned the kitchen.
My kid asked us to hug each other afterward.
Louie and I are still friends. He's got his own baby now. Karma's a b*tch, Louie!!
Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are
Not a parent, but my I remember when I was 17, my parents thought I was lying about where I was when I was going out. Like I wanted to extend my curfew or something. Backstory, I am from a REALLY small town, with really not a whole lot for teenagers to do. So my friends and I liked to hang out at the waffle house by this bar. Every Friday/Saturday night, it never failed, like 3 or 4 drunk people would get arrested and my friends and I liked to watch. It was 10/10 entertainment.
So one night, sh*t was going DOWN one night at this particular Waffle House. So I called my parents and asked them if I could extend my curfew. I told them why and they didn't believe me, so they called the Waffle House where I was and asked for me. When the waitress (who knew me well, because I was there A LOT) handed me the phone, my mom was like, "...Oh, you really are at the Waffle House." I think that was the first time my mom realized that I was a loser. Needless to say, I got my curfew extension.
Racism is an insidious, and unfortunately prevalent, force in all of our daily lives. Maybe we're on the receiving end of it, being treated differently and losing opportunities because of others' preconceived notions.
Or maybe we're on the other side of things. Even those who aren't actively racist or discriminatory still have to process the world through the filters of the things they've been told about people who are different.