47 People Share Things They Were Taught As Kids That They Later Realized Were Really Messed Up

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As children, we admire our parents and view them through rose-colored glasses. They’re the coolest, smartest and most amazing people on the planet! But as we get older, sometimes reality sets in, and we realize that Mom and Dad didn’t actually know everything. In fact, they may have even done some harm when raising us.

Redditors have been sharing things their parents taught them that they later realized weren’t healthy, so we’ve gathered some of their honest responses down below. Keep reading to also find a conversation with the user who sparked this discussion in the first place, and be sure to upvote the replies that make you want to be a better parent.


My Dad told me he could drink beer in the car if he drank it while the car was stopped. It’s only drinking and driving if the car is in motion. I was like makes sense. I was around 4.

Image credits: Diggler149


Apparently healthy conflict resolution doesn't involve complete avoidance in the form of locking yourself in the bedroom for days on end.

Image credits: TheBiggestWOMP

To find out how this conversation started in the first place, we reached out to Reddit user Timdood3, who posed the question, "What did your parents teach you as a kid that you didn't realize was actually [messed] up until you were older?" Lucky for us, Timdood3 was happy to have a chat with Bored Panda. "My inspiration [for asking this question], if you can call it that, was simply a desire to share my own experience and give others an opportunity to share their own," he explained. "After all, everyone has a 'my parents messed me up' story."


Anytime I felt hurt by a conflict with a friend, my parents would tell me to never talk to them again because they aren't real friends anyway.

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 my parents could have been wrong. :(

Image credits: PegasaurusTrex


My parents told me that I had a limited number of words and when I got to that limit I would die. I guess it was an easy way to make me shut up.

Image credits: aganalf

"The story that I shared tells of the time my dad taught me the concept of 'micro-murder'," Timdood3 went on to note. "It was the idea that if someone wastes your time, usually through stupidity or incompetence, that is time they've stolen from you, and you should be upset about it. Whether it's someone driving too slow in traffic or standing in front of the item you need at the grocery store, they're killing you one second at a time."

"And being around 10 years is at the time, it made enough sense not to think about it too hard," he added. "But as I grew older and wiser, I came to realize what a backwards perspective it was. For whatever reason, he just needed an excuse to be mad at strangers all the time."


After arguing with a girlfriend and not speaking with her for a few days, BOTH my parents told me separately to hold onto my beef with her like a grudge and use it against her later.

I've been married to the girlfriend now 25 years this year, never once took my parents' advice, and have NO IDEA how my parent's marriage survived LOL

Image credits: mcbrian67


"If you ignore bullies they will go away."

Image credits: 21stCenturyGW

We also asked Timdood3 what he thought of the responses to his post and why he believes parents instill these unhealthy lessons in their children. "Obviously there are far too many responses for me to have kept up with, but the most common ones by far are religious, racist, sexist or outright abusive," he noted, adding that he supposes there are two major factors behind why so many people have stories like these. "First, people are eager to have people agree with them to feel validated. And second, kids are vulnerable, impressionable, and trusting. They don't know any better, and that makes it so so easy to convince them to think the way we do, which feeds our desire for validation."

"While a great majority of responses have probably been brought up in therapy, there were lighthearted responses too, like reframing the fairy tales we all grew up with, like the tooth fairy and Santa Claus," the OP pointed out. "Those really got a laugh out of me!"


If you’re sad that means the devil is inside you and you need to pray for forgiveness.

I was 6 and my cat had just died

Image credits: AngstyRacc00n


Do not ever be a bother to anyone. Solve all your problems by yourself.

Image credits: Soobobaloula

"My partner and I agree that we're not ready for kids for a variety of reasons, but a lack of parenting wisdom isn't one of them," Timdood3 went on to share. "I think the most important lesson to impart on kids above all else it to treat everyone with respect and compassion, and not in the 'let people take advantage of you' way. Understand that every person you see is living their own life, just like you. No one is better than anyone else. Everyone deserves kindness. Be kind, especially to yourself."


My mom taught me that when you have bug bites, you should scratch them until they bleed, and then rub salt on them to make them stop itching.

It wasn't until I was 23 and passed that "home remedy" on to a friend and they immediately told me how masochistic it was that I realized something was weird about it.

Image credits: HorseGirl666


1. Mental illness is not real. You are just thinking of it, and you dont pray enough.
2. Being gay is wrong.

Image credits: michael0103


"Only TV families resolve their problems and apologize after a big fight. Real families just act like it never happened."

Image credits: 3thantrapb3rry


That every interaction with other people is transactional in some way. Nobody ever wants to be around you just because they like you.

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Upon hearing stories of my childhood my husband had to break it to me that it was not in fact normal for moms to share their anti-psychotic meds (or “chill pills”, as she would call them) with their young children.

Image credits: TysenTrainz


Let boys think they're smarter than you. Nobody wants to go out with a smart girl.

Image credits: MessyLina


Parents and other related adults would give me awful s**t any time I didn’t want to kiss/hug my male cousins and relatives or deal with them physically touching me to “wrestle” or “play,” saying that I was hurting their feelings. Basically just teaching me that my feelings didn’t matter about my own body.

Image credits: Snuffcarcass


To be in constant survival mode. Like as in always worrying about the end of the world. Why? Why am I constantly as a child looking over my back in fear of what I will offer to a group if “the apocalypse happens”. Weird stuff. I thought I was savvy in “bunker mode” but really it’s trauma inducing.


My dad basically conditioned everyone to hide in the room when he had guests over. Now as an adult I have to fight the urge to not hide in the room when we have guests over because it’s considered rude or whatever


Punishment means they love you.

No, it does not.


In an effort to teach me to be considerate, or not selfish, I guess, my dad said, “Love yourself last” more than a few times to me. That’s a mess I’ve been untangling for about 35 years.


That it’s totally ok to abuse everyone and everything around you. If you aren’t physical with them.


That if you're not bleeding, vomiting, or broken, you don't get to cry about it


I remember my Dad outright saying he did weaponized incompetence "If you do the job badly enough she'll do from then on"


That anytime something bad happened, it was just a dream and if I talked about it, then I was just seeking attention and no one would believe me. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s when my brother brought up some of the terrible things that happened to me that I realized I wasn’t going crazy.


That all adults should be blindly obeyed.


My mom told me that “you can fall in love with anyone.” The context was like go marry rich because you can fall in love with anyone. Terrible advice. I would tell my kids to find someone who is kind and makes them laugh.


"If a boy is mean to you, that means he likes you!"

Took me a while to learn what a healthy relationship was when I hit adulthood.


That “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”


That there was nothing that could be done about my superheavy periods, that it ran in the family and that was it. Found out when I was thirty that there are literal doctors for that and got on birth control and just like that, normal periods. I had missed so much school and work and suffered in pain and nausea since I was 12 for nothing. Thanks, Mom.


Self hatred. 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 to a dietitian at 12 years old, and was obsessed with making me exercise, and would fixate on the fact that I was growing out of my clothes because of my weight. There was one time when 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 new clothes unless I lost 10lbs or more. I was a little curvy but definitely not overweight at that time. I am now because I struggled with over eating 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 ED 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, and she was mad I had to get my wedding dress altered. I felt broken, incredibly flawed, and couldn't stop sobbing.


I asked my dad why he doesn't have friends over like I do. He told me "adults don't have friends, we have acquaintances." And it stuck with me for so long in my formative years that as an adult it's very hard for me to make friends. I'm personable, and I enjoy hanging out with people, but I don't really make friends.


Emotional self sufficiency. In other words don't show your emotions, don't feel your emotions, don't be swayed by others emotions, empathy is bad and for the weak

Basically also reenforce these teachings by making me having to do bloody and demoralizing task (carrying entrails bare handed without being allowed to use buckets or [taking out] animals), lots of physical punishment, verbal abuse, isolation from others.

Stepmother insisted I should remain pure so when the rapture took place I would be a warrior saint.

Yeah 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

Image credits: ZentheOgre


My dad was “teaching” me about credit cards and said you can just make the minimum payment every month. It blew my mind, 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.

Image credits: lilmrs-t


During a car ride my dad once explained to me the concept of "micro-murder." It was the idea that the seconds spent in traffic behind someone driving below the speed limit (and other instances of people inconveniencing you) were seconds of your life that you couldn't get back, and should be upset about.

I realize as an adult that he's got some issues and just needed an excuse to resent random people on the street.

Image credits: timdood3


How to lie or avoid situations where truthful responses would get me in trouble.

Anytime I spoke up about anything really id be ridiculed and put down by my mother so I stopped talking. If I told her something good happened at school she'd ask why I was still getting such bad grades.

So I just stopped talking.

Image credits: splintersmaster


That the police were going to come and take me away unless I hid. Nothing sinister - he just thought it was funny.

Image credits: Timely_Egg_6827


"If someone ever touches you hit them back and don't stop hitting until they stop moving"

-> my dad who is facing his third attempted [criminal] charge.

Image credits: ppppppppppython


Situation awareness, what seems odd or out of place. Felt like i was being trained by batman when I realized what he was doing… dads from a ruff part of mexico with a lot of Narco gang wars… so, he was just teaching me to read if a place or a situation was “out of the ordinary”.

Image credits: Plane_Tomato369


My dad instilled crippling perfectionism in me, which I realized was insane when I got older and people told me to just “do my best.”

When I was in grade school, I would come to my dad with A’s all super excited. But, if it was anything less than a 100%, he would ask for the missing percentage. So, when I had a 98%, he’d say “well where’s the 2%?” And now, if I do anything less than perfect, I beat myself up

Image credits: Gremlin-o-Chaos


Definitely not as bad as a lot of these other ones, and I know it wasn't done on purpose to be malicious, but to eat when I was sad or upset. It's easier and faster to tell a kid to go eat something as a distraction than it is to sit down and deal with it - especially if said kid is upset a lot due to living in abusive environments, getting bullied at school, etc. It definitely really f****d up my relationship with food, leading to emotional eating, overweight turning into obesity, even more bullying, disordered eating and other mental health issues. I realized probably 15 years ago that this was an issue/the cause of it but even though I know that, it's still something I'm working on unlearning.

Image credits: Punkrockit


That you are at least partially to blame for ANYTHING bad that happens to you.

Get beat up by a bully? It's at last partly your fault and you're to be blamed and punished for it.

Get bit by a dog? It's at last partly your fault and you're to be blamed and punished for it.

Accidently step on a nail, cut yourself, fall, have an asthma attack? It's at last partly your fault and you're to be blamed and punished for it.

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 WTF was I thinking and right then and there had an epiphany that the way we were raise was totally screwed up.


Men use their head and hands for the will of god. Women use their hearts and bodies for the will of man.

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That parents are completely infallible. know exactly whats best for you, should never be questioned and you should do everything they ask you to do. Including being effectively a slave

Image credits: Ciryl_Lynyard


I always had anxiety as a child and my mother said the only way to get over it is to deal with the situation head on. Sounds great until I told her my dear of escalators and she pushed me down and I fell and almost got my hair caught.

Another thing she loved to teach me is how self defense is necessary. Great! Where do I take lessons? There were no lessons.. she said being with my abusive ex was enough of a lesson. I should have learned then.

Image credits: throwrathebagelway


That having and expressing emotions was shameful. Thats some b******t.

Image credits: KungFuAllOvaU


“No kid should be on drugs” I was 11, diagnosed with ADHD by a psychologist back when that was pretty new…

Yeah… Every teacher stated some version of “if you weren’t so smart, I’d hold you back” and I barely graduated high school. Seriously thought I ‘couldn’t do math.’

Flash forward to 28. Get over the stigma… Take good meds - graduate cum laude with with degree in Finance at 32. Turns out I can do pretty heavy equations in my head when the hurricane isn’t spinning…

Image credits: Quartz_Starbursts


They 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.

Image credits: Kelbel2525


Keep secrets to protect family. No matter what they are.

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