Most kids take what their parents say for granted. It's only when you grow up that you realize, "Wait, that was TERRIBLE parenting!" These Redditors have grown up, and now it's time for them to compete to see whose parents were the worst role models.
1. Painful Endings
Anytime I felt hurt by a conflict with a friend, my parents had the most deranged advice: They told me to never talk to them again because they weren’t real friends anyway. And I listened!
I ghosted all of my best friends thinking it was the right thing to do.
Now, I know that real friends talk things out and it makes the friendships even stronger—a very painful realization. I never even considered that my parents could have been wrong.
2. Paranoid Loons
I was taught that the only reason people are nice is to get something from you. I’m 21 now and have never had a close friend. Every relationship I’ve ever had has been superficial.
My parents hated having other kids over for the worst reason: They told me that they weren't interested in giving “free childcare”. We weren’t allowed to hang out with other kids outside of school because they believed that those kids were trying to lure us in for god knows what nefarious reason.
I’m so lonely. I missed out on those important years and I feel like that ship has sailed. I’ve been getting better since I realized that but man, I’m so messed up. They still remind me that someone is “waiting behind every tree”. I didn’t realize how bad it was until my boyfriend, who was at my parent's house one day, pointed out how bizarre it was that they were in full panic mode whenever someone rang the doorbell.
3. This Feels Wrong
I had foster parents who encouraged us to take unattended money off of tables when exiting a restaurant. These same people gave me and my foster siblings a dollar to pretend to put in the bucket as it was passed around in church. Instead of actually putting the money in, we were expected to take money out. It felt weird at the time and didn't really piece it together until I was in my teens.
4. Human Doormat
My parents would just scream at me and my siblings for hours on end. We were never allowed to even try to defend ourselves as that was seen as "talking back" and "disrespecting the people who brought us into the world and put food on the table".
It’s not surprising that years later, all of my siblings and I were in unhealthy relationships. This was the result of being literal human doormats because we didn't know how to stand up for ourselves.
It's taken a lot of introspection and many, many years to learn how to set my boundaries and just stand up for myself. But even now, in the face of conflict in a personal setting, I find myself shutting down and tuning out because it was the only way I knew how to cope as a child.
5. Can’t Change The Past
I was taught that if I was ever mad or upset with anyone, to withhold love and affection and to give them the silent treatment.
I thought it was a completely acceptable way to teach someone a lesson or let them know that you're upset. I’m now 25 and only realized a year and a half ago that it isn’t acceptable. It wasn’t until I sat down and talked with my older sibling about our respective childhoods that I realized how emotionally immature our parents were.
I feel so bad for all of the people I've hurt. I still feel guilty that it took me that long to realize that it wasn't okay. In the end though, I can't change the past but only work to be better in the present and future.
6. Take A Deep Breath
My mom used to get really mad at me if she felt like I asked a dumb question. She would say that she could possibly be using her last breath to answer me. It made me feel guilty that she may need that last breath one day but she would’ve wasted it on me.
7. Look Who’s Calling
If I was acting up, my parents threatened to call "the scary man". They would say, "Oh look, he's calling to tell us he’s coming to get you", if the phone rang during a bad moment. I'd cry and hide every time. I was so scared that he'd come in and just grab me and take me somewhere bad. I was convinced they had a deal with a big scary man who would hurt me. Even when I grew up, it still haunted me.
Twenty-five years later, I still get an insane amount of anxiety whenever my phone rings, and I won't make phone calls unless my life—or someone else's depends on it.
Don't scare your kids like this, folks.
8. Such A Burden
My dad used to joke with people and say, "Hey, you want a kid? He’s only $20. I’ll give you $20 if you take him! HAHAHA"!
He would recycle that joke A LOT. It messed me up really badly. It didn’t help that my mother would threaten to put me up for adoption whenever she was frustrated with me as a young child. Now that I’m middle aged, I really shouldn't be surprised that I always feel like a burden, constantly trying to make my footprint as small as possible.
9. Found Out The Hard Way
My father told me that crying and expressing sorrow was a trait of idiots and underlings. I've spent the majority of my life soaking in and bottling up emotions. I’d have random outbursts in the form of fights and smashing things.
Then two years ago, while in a bromance with somebody, I found out the HARD way when my dog passed. I buried her myself and acted like it was nothing in front of my boyfriend. He saw right through me. I was a ticking time bomb ready to explode. I remember we both sat in the tall grass and he told me that the ball of stress in my chest and the tension in my face didn't make me less of a man.
He told me "crying makes you human". I remember after he said that I dang well melted into the grass.
Thank you Ryan, you were the most beautiful guy I ever met.
10. It’s Never Too Late
Every single time my dad got upset, he’d punch something—a house window, doors, and occasionally even people. He had a horrible temper and this was his outlet.
For as long as I can remember, my brother and I have both followed this way of handling our tempers. Now, as a dad myself, I swore that I’d be a better father in many ways. I’m quite proud of the dad I have been to my 5 and 7-year-old boys.
Nonetheless, I have demonstrated my violent temper four times in front of my two boys. I'll never forget their faces the last time it happened: I broke a picture that had a sweet poem about being a happy and loving family on it. My knuckles were bleeding and the picture was ruined. I used to read them that poem often whenever we walked by it.
I started therapy that same week and continue to this day. I haven't done this for over a year now. I'm going to stop the cycle in my family and just hope it isn't too late.
11. Manipulation 101
My mom actually taught me how to manipulate my dad into buying things for me. I thought it was normal, but in hindsight, it was messed up. They were divorced when I was super young and my mom had four other kids from various marriages. On my dad’s side, I was the only child. So he always had a lot more money than she did.
When I would ask her to buy me stuff, she’d say “Get your dad to buy you that”. She basically taught me how to suggest things that I wanted in a way that made it seem like it was his idea to buy them for me. He would therefore be more likely to buy this way as opposed to me asking outright.
Needless to say, this skill has followed me throughout my life. While it’s still useful in certain situations, I definitely don’t want to misuse it, and I try to make sure I don’t.
12. Measure Of Success
I was told that being tall was important and a major key to success. I realized around middle school or so that it didn’t really matter too much. I saw many short guys that were tougher than the tall dudes and they were successful in many ways.
Now, height and muscle mass CAN be a positive thing for a man to have, but it's not something that's totally necessary to be successful in life. I can defend myself because of my large and tall size, but my skill at hand-to-hand combat is way more important across the board.
13. Just Be Quiet
My mom taught me to always let things go whenever I came into conflict with my stepfather. He and I butted heads often when I was growing up. He's a paranoid, insecure, conservative, idiotic, overworked cop and I'm a gay dude with ADHD and a leg condition that causes a lot of pain. We're complete polar opposites personality-wise.
Even the smallest thing like sarcasm, a joke, or difference in opinion was a big deal for him. Being told to just let him win or let things go made me avoid conflicts in life and worsened my self-esteem.
14. What A Concept
My dad “taught” me that just paying the minimum payment every month was fine once I got my own credit card. It blew my mind as it made it seem like free money. Thank god I didn’t take that advice. I pay my credit card off every month and he’s drowning in credit card debt.
15. Flying Saucers
My parents would have actual fistfights and throw dishes all the time. It was terrifying, but the worst part was that I got used to it. Growing up, my sister and I thought that yelling, screaming, and hitting each other were the way to solve disputes. I still have anger issues but I've never hit anyone–except that one time, after my sister hit me in the face with a garden trowel. We literally laugh about it today.
16. Childhood Trauma
One time, when I was about 7 or 8 years old, my dad did something that scarred me for life: He actually made me and my brother pack our belongings into suitcases, loaded them into the car, and drove us nearly thirty minutes away. He told us that he was going to leave us at the orphanage because he couldn't deal with us anymore. I kept crying because I couldn't remember my mom's phone number, so I thought she would just never know what happened to us. I tell it sometimes like it's a funny story but that's trauma with a capital T.
17. Solution For Everything
Whenever my siblings or I were having a hard time growing up, my mom would have us pop one of her Xanax to put us into an agreeable daze. When I was a teenager, she got her doctor to prescribe me my own 90 tablets of Xanax, which resulted in me being hospitalized for prescription drug misuses and paranoid delusions caused by withdrawal.
I had been taught to manage all discomfort with Xanax. I was anxious and depressed 100% of the time, so I blew through those 90 tablets in a week.
18. Crippling Interaction
Every time I tried to explain something to my mom, I was always shut down. She’d say, “No talking back”. So, when I was around 13, I figured, fine, okay, I just won’t talk anymore then. Now, I have absolutely no idea how to speak to people anymore. The pandemic didn't help either. After three years of zero human interaction, it crippled my limited knowledge of social cues even more.
19. What Not To Do
When I was 8, I had some difficulty speaking clearly so my father (who was still married to my mother) wanted to take me to a specific therapist—but he had a twisted reason for it. It turns out that the female therapist he wanted me to see was someone he wanted to seduce for a long time. He just wanted to use me to get to her.
In the end, I didn't visit the therapist but I talked with her on the phone. I just remember it being really weird and awkward. Luckily, I had a lovely mother growing up and these kinds of things don't affect me. On the other hand, I am very lucky to have my father as reference, for what not to do to my children.
20. Lesson To Unlearn
I was taught to eat whenever I was sad or upset. It was easier for my parents to just tell me to go eat something as a distraction than to sit down and help me deal with the problem. It didn’t help that I was also living in an abusive environment and getting bullied in school.
This lesson definitely messed up my relationship with food. I became an emotional eater, overweight and obese. This led to further harassment which exacerbated my eating disorder and I developed other mental health issues.
I finally realized 15 years ago that these early lessons were the cause of all my problems. Even though I know this now, it’s still something I'm working on unlearning.
21. Pretty Awful
Ever since I can remember, my dad would always tell me that I wasn’t as good-looking as he was. He’d say that I got his intelligence but got my looks from my mom, who apparently didn’t have a very pretty face. He even offered to pay for plastic surgeries for me when I got older.
My dad believed that looks were the most important thing for people, especially women. Women who are not pretty will be less likely to be successful and have fewer chances to find good husbands. So it was best to look pretty.
I still remember that every time I started a new school, met new people, etc, I felt that they wouldn’t like me because I wasn’t pretty looking. It still haunts me a bit to this day and I am in my mid-30s. I still struggle with my self-image but have gotten a lot better in my adulthood. It did destroy my confidence as a kid.
22. It’s Still Broken
My dad’s ex-girlfriend told me when I was a kid that if you drop a plate and then apologize for it, the plate’s still broken.
Today, I think what her analogy meant was that an apology is worthless unless you can magically undo the action you’re apologizing for in the first place. But to my little autistic kid brain who hadn’t actually broken a plate, I probably thought this was in relation to something else I had done. I don’t actually recall what her broken plate rant was in response to. Nonetheless, I couldn’t replace a hypothetical broken plate due to having no money, and I would’ve been afraid to clean up the broken glass had I actually broken a plate.
To this day I struggle to apologize because of this.
23. Brush Wisely
My stepfather taught me that the pictures depicting toothpaste on toothbrushes were the manufacturers' way of tricking consumers into wasting toothpaste. While this may seem reasonable at first, after all, it is marketing so I can see why it can be a bit exaggerated, his demonstration of what the ‘correct’ amount is is ridiculous. It was a virtually invisible amount—you couldn’t even see if any toothpaste was even on the toothpaste. I was taught to squeeze up a millimeter of paste and to drag it over the brush like a marker.
I can still remember him showing me that—standing on the stool in front of the sink. It wasn't until I was in my twenties with fillings in just about every tooth, that it finally occurred to me that I had been following dental advice from a schmuck who had a full set of dentures in his thirties. It had been the seventies when I had learned this so I thought that all adults had false teeth, because well, they did actually, as near as I could make out.
24. On Trial
I was taught to watch what I say, do, and how I appear because they were all reflections of what kind of person my mother is. While this doesn’t sound all that bad, our most recent argument happened because I used a plain bobby pin to pin up my bangs instead of a decorative one. When she saw it, she absolutely flipped out.
She reasoned that the plain bobby pin would make everyone see me as an ugly idiot with zero sense of style, that I had trashy taste. She believed that I would be socially lynched like the Salem Witch Trials and everyone would spread rumors about my mom being a terrible parent for allowing me to go out in public looking like I do.
I can understand if this was high society, but this was just me going to an American university for classes. I have classmates who come to school in flip-flops, sweats, and hoodies.
I typically stick out like a sore thumb because I'm a nerd who likes sweater vests and blouses. She's already aware I have an issue with extremely low self-esteem, and her constant nitpicking does not help.
Sometimes, I just look at my mother and wonder what kind of life she had growing up to make her act like she's put on trial by strangers all day long.
25. Motherly Influence
When I was 16 and in high school, I told my mom I was sad that my friends had boyfriends and I didn’t. She got annoyed and said, “You shouldn’t need anyone to be happy”.
What I think she now meant was that “you can’t put all your happiness on one person as their responsibility” which is very true. But I interpreted it as “You’re wrong for feeling lonely and you should be fine with being alone”.
My parents also heavily discouraged me from dating in my teens and made their disapproval very clear to me. I was told that intimacy was for marriage, so go figure. But it backfired horribly. I’m now 26 and have never had a partner. My mom is absolutely flipping out and worried I’m going to “never get married or have kids”.
I’m busy in therapy unpacking all this garbage. It feels like some weird satisfying vengeance watching her anxiety spiral over this as if she wasn’t heavily influential.
26. Smarty Pants
My parents made me distrust my own intelligence. They talked down to me and treated me like an airhead, giving me a smirk every time I tried to be serious about anything. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned that I am intelligent and gained self-confidence despite the negative self-esteem they had instilled in me.
27. Play Time
My parents and other adult relatives would give me an awful time whenever I didn’t want to kiss or hug my male cousins and relatives. Or if I didn’t want them physically touching me to “wrestle” or to “play” with, they’d say that I was hurting their feelings. Basically, they taught me that what I felt about how my body was treated didn’t matter.
28. An Epiphany
I was told that I was partially to blame for ANYTHING bad that happened to me.
If I got beat up by an intimidating kid, bitten by a dog, stepped on a nail, fell, had an asthma attack, they were all partly my fault and I was to be blamed and punished for them.
A few years ago, my younger brother (we are in our 30s now) was out on the town at night and got mugged. I had to drive him to the hospital. I started blaming him for it and had to pause and ask myself what the heck was I thinking. That's when it finally hit me. Right then and there, I had an epiphany that the way we were raised was totally messed up.
My mom had problems with her weight and projected those feelings onto me about my own body. She restricted my food, forced me to go see a dietitian at the age of 12 and was obsessed with making me exercise. She would fixate on the fact that I was growing out of my clothes because of my weight.
One time, she wouldn't buy me new clothes until I lost weight. I felt very self-conscious about my personal style when I was in middle school and I desperately wanted to change it but she refused to buy me any new clothes unless I lost 10 lbs or more. I was a little curvy but definitely not overweight at that time. I am now because I struggled with overeating to compensate for my emotional problems. I was also starving and snuck a lot of food in the middle of the night when I was still living at home. I developed an eating disorder because of all of it, which I'm recovering from.
I still struggle with self-confidence to this day. Even through all of that, the one thing I currently fixate on the most was when my mom scolded me for gaining weight before my wedding. She was mad I had to get my wedding dress altered. I felt broken, incredibly flawed, and couldn't stop sobbing.
30. Mirror Image
My dad sees a lot of me in him. He’ll “reflect” on himself and project it onto me. I was expected to do well in school because he didn’t get the chance to–though that was a choice he had made. When I came home and told him I passed my exams, he told me it was due to him pushing me to do the work, taking all credit away from me.
When he was fighting with his girlfriend and they had broken up for a while, he would call me at all hours of the day and night. Once he called at 4 am to tell me that “we” (as in he and I) were terrible people. We would break and ruin things. He said that he couldn’t fathom anyone not ever liking my brother, but people didn’t like us (again, referring to me and him) because we were bad people. He used me as his emotional support yet kept dragging me down with him into a hole.
And want to hear the worst part? I believed what he had said about me for the longest time. Sometimes, I still default into thinking that I’m a bad person and don’t deserve good things to happen to me. Meanwhile, my dad got back together with his girlfriend and he absolutely loves himself.
31. Paradigm Shift
I was told that perfect attendance at school is extremely important and something that everyone highly values. My parents stressed that I would gain more opportunities in the work world if I showed my bosses that I would reliably show up no matter what.
So it didn't matter if I had a fever, was coughing and/or sneezing with my nose leaking everywhere, if I had a massive headache or felt sick in any way. If I didn't throw up before it was time to get on the bus, I went to school. There were plenty of times when I went to school suffering from a fever the whole day.
This ideology stuck with me through college, where I went to classes even with the stomach flu. I figured I could still attend class because I was only throwing up once an hour, and if the class was only an hour long, I could pull it off. As long as I was able to get up and walk, I could go to class.
Oh, and bad weather? If I can still see at least the road through the rain, if my car wheels can still drive over the snow, if I can walk carefully over ice patches across the campus—I went to work/school.
I carried this mindset with me into the work world, too. I’d show up to the office no matter how sick I was or how dangerous the drive was—every time. Sometimes, I'd be the only person who went into the office when it was snowing out.
Nowadays, I see more and more that people find it abhorrent and gross if you show up to work with even so much as a cold. So that's a definite paradigm shift I've had to try to get used to as an adult.
32. Extra Effort
I was taught that I couldn’t speak my mind or behave the way I wanted to because of what other people would think about our family. As our family was one of the pillars in a religious community, I thought that was normal.
I grew up thinking that appearances and other people’s opinions mattered more than how I felt and made an extra effort to comply with “what was expected”.
33. Don’t Barge
Something my mom “taught” me has negatively affected me all my life. She told me that I couldn’t just invite myself to hang out with people, that I MUST be invited. I should never impose myself onto people. I should be friendly but not force friendships onto people if they don’t ask. She said that it’s rude to barge your way into people’s lives. If they want to get to know you, they’ll come to you and talk.
Well, I’m now an adult and nearly friendless. I have no social skills and am mostly a recluse. My mom wonders why I don’t have any friends.
34. Robbed My Faith
My mom told me that it’s okay if my stuff goes missing because my dad probably took it. She said that I shouldn’t leave my things out in plain view, even in my own room since his medication makes him forget where he left the things he took.
Growing up my personal things would always disappear and I'd eventually find them usually among his garbage. I’m sure my older brother was guilty for some of the theft as he’s known to be a kleptomaniac himself. But I never got past my own dad doing it.
On the day of my 16th birthday, my wallet full of birthday money including a check from my grandma, and my (expensive) pocket blade went missing from my car. They were in my work clothes I had just changed out of. I eventually found my wallet, empty, and my blade in my dad’s office in a desk drawer. My mom helped me move out that day, against his wishes.
35. This Isn’t Healthy
I was taught to eat everything on my plate.
As a child, I was severely underweight for several years. I was forced to eat everything on my plate. Anything I couldn’t finish was served to me again at the next meal until everything was finished.
Looking back, I think my parents were afraid that if I didn't gain weight, I would be taken away because they were both addicts of different sorts. To their credit, I was never without food, or in real physical danger by either of them while they worked through their addictions.
This habit carried on through my whole life. Now as an autonomous adult, it causes overeating and obesity. I have only recently limited my cupboards to small plates that fit healthy portions. If a big plate is full in front of me, I'll finish the whole darn thing. Thanks, parents!
36. Blind Obedience
I was a good kid who was also a smart one, with my own mind, that's now served me well. But growing up, I was essentially taught to be a people pleaser. I was expected to just go along with things to "keep the peace" or to not get into trouble, even if those things didn't sit right with me or make any sense.
It's very dangerous to teach this to children, especially to gullible kids who are told that they should blindly listen to all adults “because all adults know better” or have their best interest at heart, when this simply isn't true.
As an adult, I know many adults who are not very intelligent and many who are also unethical. I also realized this as a kid but stuffed down any doubts about things that felt off or didn't make sense. I was taught that it was rude to not just blindly obey adults, and that asking genuine questions was rude. This was especially prevalent in religious spaces.
Now, as an adult, I continue to people please, not trust my own body or mind even when things don’t feel right. I still tend to go along with things, especially when dealing with anyone in authority.
I'm not a parent, but I have a lot of respect for the parents I see who actually act like their kids are people. Those who actually tell them to trust their intuition, who encourage critical thinking and who show them the difference between respect and blind deference. Those who tell them that it's okay to not just blindly listen to all adults, to have boundaries and bodily autonomy. For instance, just because a grown up wants to hug you, it’s not rude if you don’t want to.
37. Be Quiet
When I told my mom that I was hearing voices in my head and that they scared me, she said, "If you tell anyone that they'll put you in the loony bin".
That scared me to bits. I never did mention anything to anyone else. Amazingly, once we moved out of our horrible house, I stopped hearing things. My brother also heard voices. He would cry about how they told him to do terrible things. He never did any of those things and he doesn’t hear them anymore either–as far as I know.
I don't know what was going on with that house, whether the voices were due to mold, leaking gas, hauntings, or what. Whatever it was, most of our terrors stopped the day we moved.
But I still hold a grudge against my mom for basically telling me to shut up when I told her what was happening.
38. Bad Set Up
I was taught to endure everything regardless of whether I felt unsafe, uncomfortable or if I was tired, hungry, or just plain didn’t feel like doing something. I was supposed to endure bad things and to never walk away or ask for help because that made me weak, a quitter, an inconvenience, or all three.
I'm still trying to unlearn this. I’m constantly checking in with myself about whether or not I'm enduring something because I think it's the right thing to do or if I'm just falling back into old habits. Don't get me wrong, there is strength in enduring hard things, especially if it'll help you down the line.
I've always been admired by people outside of my family for my perseverance in hard circumstances. But my family did not set me up well to discriminate between things I should endure because they would help me down the line and things I should give up on because they’re simply not good for me.
39. Excuse Me
My mom told me to NEVER interrupt a conversation. If I needed something and she was speaking with someone, I needed to just stand there in silence about a foot away until she decided that she was done with the conversation and ask what I needed. It didn’t matter how urgent it was or how long she decided to talk.
To this day, I have NO IDEA how to interrupt a conversation. If I needed something at work or even at gatherings, I would just stand there hoping they would ask if I needed anything because I don’t want to interrupt their conversation. I mean, are you just supposed to walk up and speak over them? What if they’re your boss?
It’s especially a problem when I have something important or time-sensitive that I need to speak with them about like needing to tell my boss a client is on the phone or telling someone their car is blocking everyone.
40. Don’t Go There
My mom taught me to NEVER go into people's spaces without them there. I spent a lot of time with my mom at her office job. It gave me what I can only explain as boundary anxiety. Because of it, I am deeply uncomfortable going to people’s houses, or somewhere like new places of work. The second I am alone at work, such as when someone steps away to grab something, I get very intrusive thoughts or feelings. I feel like I’m not supposed to be somewhere and will get in trouble.
It also strikes when someone asks me to grab something from their car, bag, coat, etc. I also have a serious dislike for using something that belongs to someone else, like using a phone to make a call since it’s not mine and I shouldn’t be touching it.
The irony is that I was raised to be super polite and would have never done this anyway, but the constant insistence NOT to really dug deep.
41. You’re Wrong
I was told that the headache I received after crying was caused by my guilt.
It made me have a messed up view of crying for years and made me bury my emotions. I didn’t feel guilty before that because I didn’t do anything wrong at the time. But ever since then, I felt guilty like I was in the wrong every time I cried or was upset.
42. Don’t Worry
I wanted to be a dentist growing up. My parents told me that if I got a cavity, I could not become a dentist. I got one small, minute cavity on an upper molar. I cried the entire time. When the dentist filed the tooth, he explained that all dentists have problems with their teeth and to not worry.
43. Dumb Narrative
I remember watching TV programs that portrayed the little rich kids as being sad because even though they had money, their parents were always working. Their dining tables were always too big for them to have a conversation at and their expectations were so high that the kid couldn’t be a kid.
Meanwhile, my impoverished life included my mom working her third shift so I literally didn’t see her unless she was sleeping. Our dining table was covered in overdue bills so we had to eat our ramen noodle quesadillas at the coffee table while watching TV (with the volume at 8% since my mom was sleeping).
My expectations were just to make dinner and to take care of my two little sisters, do all my homework with no help, wake myself up and get myself to school and to also make sure that I got scholarships because that’s the only way I was going to college.
This weird narrative that no one really has it any better than anyone else, is so dumb and even kids can see through the façade.
44. Tails And Lies
My parents told me that a person who didn’t speak the truth would grow a tail. I was 11 at the time. They told me that they knew a boy who had grown a tail. My relatives agreed to this when I asked for confirmation. It absolutely terrified me.
One day when I was really stuck in a situation, I couldn't tell my parents. I decided that I’d rather grow a tail and lied. I waited for the supernatural to happen. I checked my derriere but nothing sprouted out.
45. Balled It Up
When I was a little kid, I had very bad hearing. My parents didn’t know this until they noticed that I was really good at lip reading. I told them that it felt like I had two balls in my ears. After several visits to the doctor, I was told that I needed drains—an operation to help me hear better.
After the surgery, I remember waking up from the narcosis. The doctor held two dark bouncing balls with weird patterns up “Look what I found in your ears”! he said and I was absolutely amazed. I told everyone in my kindergarten class about what they took out of my ears. This went on for a year until right before school started and my parents broke the truth to me.
It turns out they had bought two bouncing balls, talked the doctor, nurses and everyone working with my case at the hospital into making me believe that there were in fact two balls in my ears—just like I had complained about earlier. Nobody had said anything to me about this for a whole year. Meanwhile, I had bragged to basically everyone making a fool out of myself.
Eventually, my parents had to tell the truth before I started school so I wouldn't be that weird crazy kid claiming to have had bouncing balls in his ears. In the beginning I didn't believe them, but I learned to accept the fact that a year of my life had been a lie.
46. It’s Alive
When I was very little, I had a pet parrot. When it perished, my mom executed a scheme worthy of a Mission Impossible movie. She covered the bird cage with a dark cloth so that it supposedly would show our grief and respect for the deceased bird. While she was doing that, she somehow managed to put another bird in the cage—she must’ve gone out and bought it beforehand.
The bird looked identical to the one we had. So, when my mom shouted in surprise something like, "Oh my goodness, it's alive again! Just look at that". I had no reason to question the fact that my bird reincarnated. Anyways, as a result of this, I've been a big believer in reincarnation purely for this reason.
47. This Story’s Going Down
My dad has a gold, oval keychain that says "RMS Titanic" on it. When I was younger, he told my siblings and me that the keychain is a family heirloom passed down from our great-grandmother who was on the Titanic. He said she was actually the reason the ship went down. That she was sleeping with the captain of the ship and that he gave her that keychain as a gift. According to his story, she was sleeping with the captain at the time he should have been on duty and that's why the ship hit the iceberg.
We all believed this growing up and I even remember telling friends of mine this story. It wasn't until I was in college that my girlfriend (now my wife) upon hearing this story was examining the keychain, flipped it over, and saw "Made in China, 1990".
48. You’re Now A Man
My dad told me this grand story of when he was a kid knocking on the neighbor’s door and pulling the kid out of the house and beating him up on the front lawn in front of his mom—all because the kid picked on his brother.
One day, a neighborhood kid picked on my brother. I knew exactly what to do: I finished doing the dishes, strolled across the street, and knocked on the kid’s door. When the mom answered, I asked if the kid could come out and play. I opened the door, did a swim move past his mom, and grabbed the kid. I pulled him into his garage and beat him bloody while his mom was screaming bloody murder.
I calmly walked back home. Soon after, my doorbell rang. It was the kid’s dad. He wanted me to apologize. I went outside and saw that the boy was sobbing and still had blood on his nose. I apologized, then they went home.
I went inside and expected my dad to beat my bottom. Instead, he grabbed an ale out of the fridge, told me I did a darn good job, and started telling stories about his time in the Marines. That was the day, according to my dad, that I became a man.
Twenty-five years later and I wonder why I’ve been in loads of therapy.
49. Time To Decompress
I was taught to be emotionally self-sufficient. In other words, I was told not to show my emotions, don't feel my emotions, don't be swayed by others’ emotions, empathy is bad and for the weak.
These teachings were reinforced by making me do horrific and demoralizing tasks. Some of them were straight out of a horror movie. I had to carry animal entrails bare-handed without the use of buckets. There was lots of physical punishment, insults, and isolation from others. My stepmother insisted I should remain pure so when the rapture took place I would be a warrior saint.
When I moved out and found out people don't have to live like this, it took me a week just to decompress what I escaped from.
50. It’s Personal
My dad taught me to never share details about my personal life with anyone aside from him. For instance, he’d say, “Don’t tell your friends you’re depressed because if you do, you’ll just realize how much they really don’t care about you”.
As a result of his mental illness, he’d be irrational and manipulative in other situations. On numerous occasions, I was told, “Don’t tell anyone we’re homeless and that I can’t feed you because that would be the ultimate betrayal". But one thing he said messed me up more than any of the others: "If you don’t obey, you’ll just end up like your mom”. My mom is no longer with us. Yes, I had a weird childhood.
51. How Do I Look?
I remember my parents telling my sisters and I that if a woman dressed provocatively, anything that happened to her was her own fault. Men couldn’t help themselves, which is why my family had such a strict dress code.
When we bought new clothes, we always had to show my dad. He would make us walk around, sit, stand, and then decide if it was appropriate or not.
It really didn’t settle in just how gross that whole thing was until I got older.