"I've Felt Like Her Diary Since I Was Four Years Old": Women Reveal Things Their Mothers Did That They Hope To Never Do To Their Kids

·13 min read

Oftentimes, people will look at their own parents when becoming a parent themself. However, some parents' traits can be a model of how not to behave as a parent.

A woman hugs her mother
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Reddit user u/Ohwell_genz recently asked, "As a woman, what traits/things do you hope not to carry on from your mother if you choose to become another or are a mother?"

1."I definitely want my child to see that I enjoy being their mother. I never really got that from my mom."


2."I don’t want to be fully dependent on a man like my mother. She can’t use GPS to navigate and only knows how to drive to a few places by heart. She doesn’t know how to use the internet to purchase things. She doesn’t pay bills. If my dad passes before her, she won’t be able to fend for herself, and that’s why she’s stuck in a loveless marriage. I want to show my son what a loving household is and what it means for an adult to, you know, adult. Self-sufficiency is so important."


3."No to body/weight shame, or to demonize food. I teach my girls health and self-acceptance by not talking shit about my body and modeling being active with healthy eating habits that include all kinds of food."

A measuring tape on top of a pair of jeans
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4."My mom used to and still does favor my brother, so obviously, even her coworkers asked if she likes me. She also parentified me early in that I took care of her while sick, cooked, and cleaned all starting at age 9. Then I paid bills (rent included) and worked when I was 15. My brother never had to do these things. I won't favor one of my children, alienating another. My children will learn to care for themselves, but they will never need to care for me, not even in old age. They are not born to be my caretakers. I will treat our relationship as parent and child."


5."I would let my kids have friends over either to play or stay the night. I missed out on a lot because my mum was too ashamed of the house."

Three girls sit on a bed at a sleepover
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6."I just want to make sure I have close friends and hang out with people, and have more experiences. My mom doesn’t have any buddies and never really did, minus work acquaintances, and doesn’t really leave the house much on her own. I feel like my mom doesn’t have much independence or social life. I think it’s important your kids see you enjoying life and people, too."


7."My mom told me too much; she would tell me that we were in debt and losing our home, that her boss was sexually harassing her, and what type of men she preferred in bed. It was all just TMI. I've felt like her diary since I was 4 years old. I will not overshare in an attempt to make my child my best friend. I'll recognize children cannot emotionally process adult stress and try to share only what's needed."


8."She was really strict on how we interacted with other people. Once when I was a teenager, we were at a barbecue for her work. Someone had brought a box of 100 freezies. There were maybe 20 of us, so after we all had one, I asked for another one. She scolded me in front of everyone, to the point where her coworker pulled me aside later and said she thought my mom was too strict. She was also very controlling academically; I was never allowed to take the courses I wanted to, and she had to approve everything. She would read my essays to edit them and rewrite almost the entire thing. Basically, I want to be kinder and softer than she was. I barely ever felt like I could go to her with my problems, and that's something I would be desperate to give my kids."

Freeze pops sitting in a fridge
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9."The prospect of becoming a mom is something that really motivates me to be kinder to myself. My mom has never (intentionally) body shamed me, and often compliments me, but how was I supposed to learn self-love when she was constantly disparaging her own appearance? Everyone was always telling me how much I looked like my mother, so I think I started internalizing every mean thing she said about herself. I never want to cause the same issues for my children."


10."To respect their privacy. My phone was constantly raided, and my diaries were always read by my mother, and just resulted in me becoming a sneaky little shit."


11."Let’s just say my childhood was traumatic, and I didn’t hear that I was loved very often. I have clear memories of hoping to hear her say she loved me because I wanted to say, 'I love you, too.' My kids KNOW I love them, and they tell me all the time they love me, too. I apologize to my kids when I lose my temper or make mistakes. I don’t talk down to them like my mom did. I don’t call them cruel, hateful names. I don’t tell them to go find someone who might want them. I make an honest effort on a daily basis to NOT be my mom."


12."Stand up and speak out loud if somebody threatens to hurt them. No one who wants to hurt my kids is worthy of my time and attention; my kids will know this as well as that their mother has their back. It doesn't matter what that person's relation is to me or my kids, they will have no place in our lives."

A mother and her young daughter smile together
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13."I have an amazing mom who is incredibly kind and accepting. But no parent is 100% perfect. I want to teach my future child to feel comfortable expressing an opinion. My mom was always quiet about hers in an effort to maintain peace and calm, and that's my default, too."


14."Her pride. We have plenty of clothes here that we don't wear anymore, and I always encourage her to set up a garage sale, but she doesn't want to because she doesn't want to be out there selling in full view of everybody."

A rack of clothes
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15."Passive-aggressive shaming. When I enjoyed something my mom didn’t approve of (music, clothing, hobbies), she would criticize it in a negative way to shame me or embarrass me out of it. Even at 30, she’ll insult me or the things I do willingly in my own free time because it’s not something she likes. It’s like being negged by my own mother all the time. I had to grow a thick skin and be real combative verbally with her growing up. I learned to double down. But I also don’t share any of my hobbies or likes with her."


16."My mother has zero emotional intelligence and thinks she’s right about everything and is incapable of understanding that people who think differently than her exist. My child will be their own person who is loved for whoever they decide to be, not a doll I wish to live through and control."


17."Living my entire life as a slave to my husband. My mom was an enabling doormat to my father. She SERVED him 24/7, 365 days a year, and he just soaked it up with nary a compliment or even acknowledgment. They both worked and made the same salary. But when they came home, it was her managing the house and him mostly doing what he pleased. The same summer that he spent over $50k on a boat, he was complaining about her wanting to take $50 dance lessons. Now my dad treats me the same way he treated my mom. My brothers are in their early 40s and single because I think they mirror my dad. They are so dismissive toward me, and never acknowledge things I do for them. Women either dump them or are dumped for being 'too demanding' (read: asking them to contribute). My dad doesn’t have much time left, so I am swallowing my anger and trying to be a good daughter. But this ends with his death. I’m never serving another man like this again."

A mother and son on the computer
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18."Tearing you down in the name of 'being realistic' and just having a massively negative impact on everything. I hesitate now to tell her anything good because I'm afraid to hear her response. Even my wedding photos, I had to ask her in advance not to criticize me because she often does."


19."I have a great mom, but one thing I've noticed as I've gotten older is how much she comments on other people's appearances. Whether we're watching a TV show or out getting our nails done, it's like the only thing she notices about a person sometimes, and she doesn't even realize it. I don't currently do this, and I plan to continue on this way, whether or not I have children."


20."Mostly her inability to be just happy for me when I am happy. My mum always feels the need to say something to knock me down a peg or two 'to keep me grounded,' she would say. But all it does is destroy my self-esteem so that I don’t feel like I deserve the happiness I have."


21."I would let my kids go over to their friend's house and allow them to socialize. I was never allowed to do anything because she was so overprotective, which I believe is why I have major social anxiety now."


22."My mother has the gift of leeching arsenic into the atmosphere. If she’s in a bad mood, everyone must know, and everyone must acknowledge it. She'll slam cabinets and stomp around and just make the air feel so heavy and uncomfortable."

A woman closes a kitchen cabinet
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23."No trying to shove femininity down my future hypothetical daughter's throat. I'm most certainly not going to insist that she start wearing makeup because 'it's part of being a woman.' I'm most certainly not going to insist that she wear high heels and get a spray tan for a formal event, not ever."


24."Guilt-tripping to get what I want. My mom is notorious for it. She does the whole 'Fine. Go to your friend's house. I'll just sit at home by myself.' Now as an adult, I’m just like, 'Alright, see you later,' but I let her get away with it way too much as a kid."


25."I would like to be there for my kids more. It’s not her fault; It’s extremely difficult to be a single parent, in pretty much every area of life, but I have more memories of being alone with my brother or with babysitters than of being with my mom growing up."


26."Not interpreting my kids not being allowed to defend themselves, have personal boundaries/privacy, or openly disagree with me as having 'respect,' because then you’re not seeking respect. You’re seeking blind obedience and submission."


27."Assuming that the career advice that worked for me will work for my kids."

Students throw graduation caps in the air
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28."Not comparing my kids to other people’s kids. I don’t care what your best friend’s niece is doing. We are two different people."


29."I’m not going to use my personal traits as an excuse to say horrible things in the midst of anger. I understand that my mom and I process things differently, and that’s perfectly fine, but there are certain boundaries you don’t cross. I was in the middle of one of the worst times of my life, struggling to fill out college applications, and she was yelling at me from the bottom of the stairs for 20-40 minutes. All of the worst thoughts that I had about myself were being said by my own mother. Things like, 'You’re a failure,' etc. Fortunately, that was the day I stopped giving a damn about anything that she said. The unfortunate dynamic in the household is that if she says something to me, I have to just forgive and forget, but if I say something — I have to apologize."


30."Being able to apologize when I am wrong. My parents are unfortunately too prideful, so I want to be able to make sure my kids know how to be accountable."


31."It’s not my mom's fault because we’re first-gen immigrants, and that automatically means that my parents had to work four times as hard as everyone else, but I never saw my parents do anything 'fun.' Park days were rare, and they didn’t really have any hobbies because they just didn’t have time for it. Hobbies are so important for your mental health; it’s an opportunity for you to practice something that you genuinely enjoy. It’s not for money; it’s just for pure joy. If I ever have kids, I would want to introduce my kids to different types of activities for their enjoyment."

A woman knitting
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32."Retail therapy. I loved outings to craft shows and shopping with my mom, but I remember she would go around to a lot of booths, buy stuff, and then halfway through the show, she'd say, 'I haven't really bought anything. I need to buy more stuff.' She spent a lot, and she passed this down to me and my sisters with varying degrees. My youngest sister has the worst problem and is up to her eyeballs in credit card debt. I've curtailed my habits by limiting how much I go shopping and have stopped window shopping online for the most part. But the urge to buy is still there. I don't ever want to pass this on. I don't plan on having kids, but I just wanted to say this as I struggle with this a lot."


33."My biggest thing is being a mother to adult children, too. My mom doesn’t do that. She did the raising until I was 18 but has been largely absent from my adult life. She rarely calls unless I call her, and never texts. She has no relationship with her grandkids. People need their mom throughout life. Parenting doesn’t just end. Be there."


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