16 Common Things Parents Did While Raising Their Kids That Were Actually Very Damaging

·9 min read

We asked people of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the biggest mistakes their parents made while raising them. Here are their most interesting responses:

Warning: This post mentions emotional abuse and eating disorders.

1."We had to go to church pretty much every time the doors were open. Sunday morning service, Sunday school, Sunday nights, my mom’s choir practice, my choir practice, Wednesday nights…literally all the time. I felt I never had any downtime. I understand their intentions were good for the most part; however, my mom, especially, would say things to the effect of ‘How is it going to look if we don’t go?’ Now as an adult, I go to church because I want to go, not just to say I went, which means I may not go for two months because I just need a day off. However, I still struggle with what others think of me, to a fault at times, which I know is not healthy."

"I appreciate my downtime and am okay with being alone (which of course, as a mom, is hard to come by!). I don’t force my kids to go either. I am a Christian to this day, and I’m thankful for that because my faith has been the only thing to get me through some rough times. However, I don't agree with going to church three to four times a week."


people in church

2."When I was a preteen, my parents purchased me a two-piece bathing suit. Later that night, we were eating dinner, and I went to get seconds. My dad made a comment about not wanting me to look pregnant in my new bathing suit. And that was the beginning of my body image issues. Twenty years later, I still look in the mirror every day to see if I look pregnant."


A family eating takeout and the child looking sad
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

3."Whenever I got dressed into an outfit I liked, my mom would just go after the small things like how I didn't brush my hair right, or I must straighten my clothes. And that has led me to say I don't have anything to wear, and that gets her even more upset."


a mother and daughter looking in the mirror
The CW

4."My parents never really showed any affection or told me they loved me. Of course, they did, but they were also raised in a house where you didn't say that. I'm an adult now, and it still feels really awkward when I tell my boyfriend that I love him."


A man putting his arm around a teenager

5."My mom is very much an 'It's not clean unless I clean it' person, which was great growing up because my brother and I didn't really have any chores and knew if we were asked to do something and left it long enough, she would do it for us. However, now as an adult, I realized there are so many things I don't know how to do. I had no idea dishwashers had a filter that needed cleaning despite having a dishwasher pretty much my whole life. I have no idea how to fix anything in my house, and I tend to leave cleaning and tidying to the very last second, meaning it piles up, and I spend entire days cleaning if someone is coming over."

"It also means if my parents are coming over, I get obsessed with everything being spotless because I know my mom will criticize if it's not (usually she will find something that's not up to her standard no matter what I do). I'm 33, and I've only just got my head around clearing the kitchen up at least every couple of days and not letting things pile up."


people doing laundry

6."My parents enforced gender roles, and it was so fucking stupid. I couldn't ask for a short haircut, or else I’d be immediately told that I can't get a short haircut or I'd look like the f-word. I remember one time I was wearing a red Snoopy shirt and blue shorts, and my dad started yelling over how I ‘looked like a boy.’ My mom forced me to wear a dress everywhere. It sucked."


a woman looking at her screen in concern
20th Century Fox

7."If my dad saw me laying in bed or just sitting around, he'd always yell at me to find something to do. To this day, I still feel a tiny bit guilty about just relaxing because I always feel like I have to be busy."


a woman putting her hands up to her head

8."I wasn't allowed to show emotions. No crying or laughing. So I was in my early 20s when I learned how to laugh out loud, but crying while making noises terrified me. Both the sound was weird and the emotion was something that scared me to bits. Imagine being numb to the point of feeling dead for most of your life and then feeling the emotion of losing a best friend, so the emotion itself makes you wish for death. I’m still very scared of feeling truly happy and deathly afraid of sad emotions. So I just try to minimize any contact with the outside world."


a woman looking at her phone screen

9."Christian purity was BS to me as a teen. My mom and my dad really pushed the 'No sex 'til marriage or you’re going to hell' thing. It caused me so much guilt around my own sexuality that I tried to kill myself at 18. I thought that I was going to hell and that no one would ever love me because I was 'damaged goods.' To my mom’s credit, she apologized. She said that in trying to protect her kids she really caused some damage. I forgave her a long time ago, but it was still nice and validating to hear that from her."


a cheerleader praying

10."My parents recorded all my phone calls (even though I was only allowed to talk for 15 minutes because this was in the day of landlines before cellphones). They would listen to my conversations and then punish me for anything bad or disapproving they heard. So, none of my friends ever called. If I asked to do anything with my friends on the weekends, they'd ransack my room on Fridays. I'd come home to every drawer of my desk and dressers overturned on the floor, everything pulled out of my closet, and clothes all over the floor. Everything pushed out from under my bed. They would then tell me I couldn't do anything that weekend because my room was a mess. I was never allowed to join any school clubs or attend football games or stay the night at friends' houses. My childhood was school, home, chores all weekend, and repeat 'til graduation. They couldn't understand why I went so wild after I left for college."


a woman looking concerned

11."My mom constantly accused me of faking and told me to suck it up when I had any health issue. She would also always complain if she had to help me with any of those issues in any way. I have a heart condition that would cause me to go unconscious until I got a pacemaker. When I started having issues, I would get random dizzy episodes. Like, debilitating dizziness. Such an episode happened at an amusement park. She bitched about the fact that she was stuck with me instead of going on rides while I'm on the verge of going unconscious. The entire time she kept telling me to stop faking it."

"So in adulthood, I constantly second guess myself when something's wrong with my health. I have to have full-on conversations with myself where I convince myself that what I'm feeling is real and isn't right. I always remind myself how I have never been wrong. Every single time I thought something serious was wrong, it was."



12."A simple but flawed logic that was instilled into pretty much every kid I knew growing up was to finish everything on your plate. It didn't matter if you were full or didn't like it; if it was on your plate you finished it. I remember we weren't dismissed from the table until every bite was gone. Once my mom made me sit in an empty dark kitchen until 1 or 2 a.m. while I silently cried in front of a half-finished plate (I must have been 8 or 9). I'm in my 30s now, and I've struggled with weight, food, and overeating pretty much since childhood. My husband is the same way and definitely overeats on a regular basis. We've both acknowledged we have this terrible habit and have to remind each other constantly not to berate our own kids about eating habits."


a woman looking angry at a dinner table

13."My parents never talked about their feelings or asked about my feelings; instead they would just yell if something was bothering them. I understand that we all go through tough times, but kids should not be blamed whenever something bad happens. Now I can’t talk about my feelings with anyone because nobody ever asked me so I never found it necessary."


a woman looking at a man's back

14."I had a general lack of privacy growing up. If my bedroom door was closed, my parents felt they could just come bursting in without knocking whenever, and, as an introvert, I liked to spend time by myself reading or listening to music and drawing or whatever. They always acted like I was up to something nefarious just because I had my door shut, even though I was a good kid and my biggest flaw was being a little messy. Oh, and that was the end of the world too, but they never actually helped me through it, so guess who has extreme trouble keeping up with housework as an adult."


A woman going through a dresser drawer
The CW

15."My dad and stepmom have spreadsheets about how much money they have spent on us kids. Every Christmas and birthday when they send birthday or Christmas money they write on the card that they used the same amount to pay off our 'debt.' My mom on the other hand never does that."

"My dad and stepmom also gave my little sister an eating disorder because when she was 8 'they thought she was getting chunky' so they gave her smaller portions of food and she had to ask for a snack but only something healthy. We all had to ask for a small snack while my dad would have pop and all the unhealthy snacks he wanted and double portions of food."


a woman looking at another woman with concern

16.And lastly, "My mom always told me white lies but about HUGE things. Like when family members were on their death bed, my mom would say she was just going to visit them. It still happens. No one told me how bad my dad was until a couple of days before he died. (I was 32. Not a child.) By trying to protect my feelings, I've been robbed of a lot of goodbyes. Which I'm sure is much more damaging."


people at a funeral

Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity. 

What is the biggest mistake your parents made while raising you? Let us know in the comments.