Former child here. Parenting is hard, but being a kid is even harder. Everything parents do affects children for life, and little things like constant criticism add up.
itallwenttitsup asked: What's the worst thing you've seen a parent do that will f*ck their child up for life?
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
I didn't see it, but my mother told me about it.
My aunty and uncle were very abusive to their eldest daughter. When she was 11, she did something to get in trouble, so my uncle pulled her pants and underwear down, smacked her arse.
My cousin just recently underwent ECT for depression, anxiety and bipolar.
Don't do this.
Pointing out their child's insecurities/mistakes in front of a large group of people, as if it were some kind of story to tell.
My mother has done many things to hurt my trust with her, but out of all of it the one thing that hurt me the most was when she told her friend (who is a big gossip) about one of my insecurities. I haven't told my mother another damn thing since that moment, and I don't plan on telling her anything ever again.
My step mom used to tell me I'd never graduate high school and that I'd grow up to be the next Tim McVeigh. Got my bachelors degree and haven't bombed any buildings yet but it still hurt to hear.
My step mom did the exact same thing. Told me not to bother with college because I'd spend the rest of my life working McDonald's, and Dad just let her run her mouth. Yea, that did wonders for a depressed 17 year old.
Not taking depression seriously.
Probably the parent who called the library screaming and threatening me because I gave her daughter the depression resources she requested. Gee, I wonder why the f*ck she came to the library instead of coming to you.
How old was the daughter?
Old enough to be in the library unattended, so beyond that it's not really relevant. The library considers the information needs of all patrons to be private, so telling the parent would have been a violation of professional ethics. Consider a teenager looking up information about LGBT issues or contraception--things that might get them disowned or kicked out, if their family found out.
Shaming over a crush.
My dad did a bunch of things that f*cked me up, but this in particular sticks with me. When I was sixteen and texting a crush, he spent the whole night reading my entire message thread. He'd read aloud the ones that sounded too "needy" and too much like I was being "a whore", and he made me stand in front of him as he sat on the sofa and read.
Once in a while he'd get up to slap me or punch me in the stomach for sounding too much like "a b!tch in heat" - this is a phrase I've never been able to forget, five years on. The contempt in his voice when he said it, the utter assurance that I was being a needy shameful little whore - I've never been able to forget that, or the feeling that accompanied it.
The texts weren't even sexual - weren't even romantic. Just two people in the early stages of showing interest in each other.
Your texts with your crush like that, exposed, for the whole family to hear, interspersed with the occasional jeering remark - I've never been able to get over. I still have trouble talking to people. Sometimes I'll talk to my boyfriend, my kind loving wonderful boyfriend, tell him I miss him or I can't wait to see him and that phrase will ring in my ears.
He was wrong. And you know that.
Maybe try, when those thoughts trouble you, calmly saying to yourself, "He was wrong." Make it be, like, the close of a paragraph or the end of the sentence. Maybe that will help you more strongly frame this event as one where he was wrong.
Police fail. Big time.
A girl I had drivers ed with had skipped class that day. The school called her parents so her dad came to pick her up from the drivers ed school that was privately owned.
I was in the lobby studying for the written test when I see them sitting in the parking spot directly in front of the big front windows. I was sitting still and there were like fake plants between me and the window and probably glare on the window. The dad didn't see me. He's screaming at her and he reels back and sucker punches her like she's a man. He held nothing back. I stand up, completely shocked. He sees me and peels out.
I tell the owners, they call the cops but supposedly the cops couldn't do anything. She lived in the next town over. So our cops couldn't go to her house. I feel like more could have been done. They could have at least called CPS in that town or called her school to get involved. I was 15 and the owner of the drivers ed school was literally in his 70s. We were both clueless. Cops could have given us advise.
What the f*ck is wrong with the law if the Police can't go a town over to investigate possible child abuse? It's not like the next town over is going from the U.S. to Mexico.
Usually what they do is call the other station when things cross town/county lines. But there's still something wrong with this situation cause that seemingly didn't happen.
If you're a municipal cop, you have no jurisdiction in another town. We'll usually do a DFS call to investigate but you need an address to send them to. However, since the initial assault happened in their jurisdiction, they could charge the father with that. They just cannot go to another town to investigate the abuse but they can contact that town's PD to start one. Just need an address to go to.
No wonder developing healthy relationships is so difficult.
Constantly criticize them and never praise them. Also dysfunctional married couples that have aggressive fights in front of their children instead of getting a divorce. I don't think parents realize the stress they cause their kids by always fighting in front of them.
I never understood the mentality of "staying together for the kids" if the parents violently hate each other. It does no one any good to see their parents smash things or beat each other.
Violence doesn't even need to be in the equation. My parents had five kids. I am the oldest, and thinking back there is not one moment I recall of them being happy together. I don't think it is a coincidence that my siblings who were near my age, and remember them being together, all have problems with committing to long term relationships. My younger siblings who don't remember them together, and saw our parents marry with people they actually liked after divorcing, all have healthy long term relationships.
I don't think it is a coincidence that my siblings who were near my age, and remember them being together, all have problems committing to long term relationships
I thought I was the only one who had this problem. I never saw my parents together as a couple and anytime they were together (divorced/ post break-up) they only argued. Probably why I've always feared getting into committed relationships, the fear of the same thing happening to me.
Treating kids as pin cushions.
Where I work, I see many children just throwing absolute fits and the parents not doing a damn thing about it. Rarely we get really sweet, well-bahaved children.
The other day, there was a lady with a boy who had to have been at least 12. He was really quite, polite, said hi to any employee he saw, had the cutest little chubby face. He picks up a pack of hot dogs and says, calmly I might add, "Do we need any of these?" His mom just flipped out on him! "No! I told you already we have some goddamn hot dogs! I'm so f*cking tired of you never listening to me!" The look on the kids face broke my heart (and I definitely don't have a soft spot for children.) I just wanted to give him a hug.
The thing that really got me was the woman was well dressed and acted extremely polite when she asked where something was. I wanted to just knock her out. That poor child.
It reminds me of the other day in the grocery store. There was a dad shopping with his little girl, about 4 years old. She was a quiet and cute kid, and was following beside the shopping cart. She went to pick up eggs and handed them to her dad because she couldn't reach the inside of the cart. Dad had already picked some eggs before his daughter did.
Dad proceeds to lash out at his daughter for picking eggs as he already did. I don't remember his exact words, but he pretty much told her she was dumb and to put the eggs back. I don't like kids in general, but his attitude really annoyed me. I saw them before and after the incident and never saw the girl misbehave. She just wanted to help grocery shopping.
Shaming for no reason.
Making them feel guilty for doing normal things.
On a similar note - making them feel guilty for not knowing how to do normal things. They're kids. They're not born with any knowledge. If you ask an 8 year old to start the dishwash machine, don't get mad at them for filling it with dish soap, resulting in a massive bubble explosion all over the kitchen floor. They were told to wash the dishes, and the bottle says dish washing soap.
And when things like this happen, don't say "What did you do?" instead you can say "What happened?" It's much less accusatory.
Making fun of a stutter.
My mom was my biggest bully growing up. She wanted me to be one of the popular girls. Well I developed a severe stutter when I was eight and she used to scream at me and punish me any time I stuttered... which only made it worse. She used to tell me that if I didn't stop the kids at school would make fun of me. The kids were no where near as bad as her.
It took me going to a conference to see how f*cked up she was. I was shocked to see so many parents supportive of their kid's stuttering.
But yeah had very low self esteem through my childhood, had trouble making friends and now I have a small social group. I'm still in contact with my mother but I don't love her.
They actually did a (horribly unethical) experiment on this - belittling children with speech imperfections.
It was called the Monster Study because it permanently f*cked up children for life.
I mean I can understand that some research just has to be done, ethic be damned (like the history of smallpox vaccine has a few moments that just wouldn't fly today). But this was not one of those cases.
We are told that, if you're not confident, you should just "fake it til you make it."
This is great--in theory. In practice, sometimes "faking it" can have extremely real and terrible consequences, which these people found out the hardest of hard ways.