Instagram | wangs_garage

Kids Of Criminal Parents Reveal The Shady Things They Were Taught In Childhood

For most of us, our upbringings consisted of playing Pokemon on a non-backlit Gameboy, having to rewind VHS tapes before you could watch them because you forgot to do it after the last time, and talking on MSN — I grew up in the '90s in case you couldn't tell.

However, for some people, their upbringings were far from pedestrian. One person decided to hear how far some people's upbringings strayed from "the norm" by asking Reddit, "Redditors who grew up with shady/criminal parents: What did your mom or dad teach you was OK to do that you later learned was illegal or seriously frowned upon?"

So, here are some of the most shocking answers that people responded with.

Growing Weed


"I mean, I knew it was illegal, but probably growing all the cannabis when I was a kid. Dad was gonna die of cancer so he wanted to leave us some money. It was like diet Breaking Bad." — irregularjoe150

Apparently the money lasted for a long time after he sadly died. What an insane way to go out.


Instagram | jaaohandmade

"One of my earliest memories is wanting this super cute pink hat. I believe I was around 8. He put it on my head and told me to walk to the car. I remember asking about paying and he said don't worry just walk. So, little me walks to the outside doors with her heart pounding and then the alarm goes off. I freeze and run back to my dad that was still shopping.

"First lesson I can remember I learned? 'You just need to keep walking when those alarms go off'" — ArrozConLechePlease

I get so panicky when I hear those alarms go off that I start running even though I haven't stolen anything.

Harvesting "Money Trees"

Instagram | kidshop_san

"I have fond memories of hanging out in the shed with my parents, me playing with my dolls and them harvesting their 'money trees', weed strewn all over the floor, hanging from the ceiling, the leaves made into a little bed for my Barbie to sleep in." — Lor_A-lei

I never saw this Barbie set in the shops, think they really missed a trick here.

Objects As Collateral

Instagram | godofgamingshop

"My blood father was a drug dealer and he often came home with some really nifty stuff [...] I think the thing I feel most guilty about was a Gameboy advance I was given that 'we'd either only have for a little while, or have forever' [...] It had a heap of games with it and I went through and started new games on all of them, erasing the existing save files.

"Well he took it back after about a month, so I guess whoever it was paid up, and I feel really sorry for their kid. Mummy or daddy was an addict and used their Gameboy advance as collateral" — cinnamonbrook

It is amazing the amount of stuff that happens when we are children that we just do not understand. Everyone has something that they think about from their childhood that makes them think, "How did I not see what was happening there?"

Forging Documents

Instagram | mineandmummysworld

"My Mom and Dad are trained artists and teachers and they would frequently counterfeit things like parking permits, coupons, doctors notes, etc. It was wild." — Yesillhavethesex

This one has very strong Catch Me If You Can vibes! According to another Redditor, their parents used to make fake parking tickets so that they could park anywhere and not get any real ones.

Lessons For Life

Instagram | universeincolor

"Not my parents, but a friend's dad gave us some solid advice that I always remembered. 'Remember boys, don't break the law when you're breaking the law.'

"It applies in so many ways. For example, don't run a stop sign when you've got weed in the car. Or don't speed if your inspection is out of date. Or don't get the police called for a noise complaint if you've had a beer while underage. He was a shady guy, but oddly wise in many ways." — Taln_Noro

I guess sometimes you've just got to take your life lessons wherever you can get them from!

Manipulating Doctors

Unsplash | Hush Naidoo

"My mother was pretty shady. She was an opioid and benzo addict who took me doctor shopping from place to place looking for prescriptions. She faked seizures and had a rolling list of medical complaints. I don't know if she believed all of her illnesses were real, but she sure acted like she did around us and medical staff. She taught me that it was okay to manipulate doctors, but somehow I grew up to be exactly the opposite in that I feel embarrassed and guilty seeking medical care even for a legitimate complaint." — SwimmingCry

This one was actually written by the person who posed the question, as they didn't think it was fair to ask other people without providing an example from their own childhood.

Getting In Places For Free

Instagram | smalliepillar

"My dad's no serious criminal, but petty in every way, including the crime he commits. I was basically taught to play dumb, act like you belong, and you can do whatever you want. We snuck into VIP lounges, other people's buffets and parties at restaurants and events.

"He once lied to a ticket taker at a movie theater and got mad when they couldn't find the tickets he ordered online. He had not ordered tickets but there was a huge line and he didn't want to wait. We got in for free and cut a huge line. Also, cut lines at Disney worlds and other sorts of places." — toomanytomatoes

In fairness, if I knew a way to skip queues easily, I'd be all over that. Nothing stresses me out more than waiting in line for stuff, life is too short!

Shady Mechanic

Instagram | wangs_garage

"My dad was a mechanic. The ones that stick out was when he would charge for a new replacement part and then go to the local junk yard and get the part from there. If the customer asked upfront he would be honest and offer the two options: junkyard part = cheap but likely reliable or new = expensive and only parts warranty.

"If they didn't ask most of the time it was a junkyard part. Rarely got in trouble or called out since his prices were a fraction of regular shops. Oh, I guess the other main shady part was that he wasn't a 'legit' certified mechanic and most business was cash/under the table." — runasaur

Smuggling Drugs Into Rehab

Flickr | Tift Regional Health System

"My stepmom worked in the Drug Treatment Field. How it works is if clients stayed in rehab for a certain amount of time, the person who got them in there would get paid. My stepmom had a good heart at first, she really did. However, 80% of her clients were back on the H before the week was over. So my stepmom would take her 'throwaway' clients, give them drugs while they're in rehab for however long- so by the time my stepmom got paid, they would be back on the streets doing the same shit as usual. She was paying them in dope to stay in rehab." — Misunderstood2001

The person went on to explain that they confronted their stepmother about this and she stopped. This must have been a horrific moment of realization for this person.

Bootlegging Movies

Instagram | pastauncut

"My parents used to copy VHS rental tapes constantly. We had thousands and would rent them out to the neighbors. Didn’t realize this was illegal until I was in high school and a friend come over and was shocked. I was very embarrassed." — igotlockedoutofacc

I think everyone who grew up in the '90s knew a kid whose parents were selling bootleg VHS tapes!

Dodging Bills


"My parents would often get me to answer the phone as a young kid, like 4-5 and older. Anyways. The people on the phone always asked if 'Jones Mollusc' was there. My parents would coach me 'No Jones Mollusc lives here, you don't know who that is'. Well as a kid I really didn't have a clue who 'Jones Mollusc was, because dad was always just dad or went by his nickname. Didn't find out for years what my dad's real name was.

"I guess I helped my parents evade a few debt collectors and God knows what else." — Mollusc6

Not knowing your own parent's real name is a bizarre situation to grow up in. Although, how often do you really call your parents by their first name?

Strange Morality Lessons

Unsplash | Kelly Sikkema

"I used to be told EVERYTHING was ok as long as you don’t get caught. They kind of said it like a throwaway phrase but I really took it to heart. It gave me a real lack of respect for any authority at all and made it seem more like a game than real-life consequences. I would do illegal shit just to get the rush of wondering whether or not I'd be caught." — Jackielegz8689

It's hard to imagine how that would affect your sense of morality as an adult. Your whole concept of what is right and wrong would be skewed.

The Fake Policeman

Instagram | ed_jones_co

"I used to think my dad was a policeman, a cigarette vendor, and a mechanic - I mean he did all this cool stuff! He had a badge, sometimes a cruiser in the driveway, always a large stock of cartons of cigarettes, and on the weekend's car dealers would come by the house and he'd work on their cars for them.

"Turns out he had a badge because the local sheriff and he had a thing going where they'd go to other states with lower taxes, load a cruiser up with cigarettes, and bring them to town to fill the cigarette machines at local restaurants and bars. The car dealers hung out at our house on the weekends while he rolled odometers back on their newest auction buys." — jududdar

Trading Gemstones

Instagram | dailystonesales

"A family friend was in the 'import/export' business for gemstones. I didn't realize it could be illegal to transport gems across borders. We would have gem parties where a dining table that can seat 12 would be completely covered in bowls of gems and jewelry to buy. Same as Tupperware parties, but for gems.

"Some stones my parents got appraised shocked their jeweler. Super rare colors of different stones that they had never seen before." — waterlogged

As shocking as this may be, I'm most confused by the idea of a Tupperware party. Apparently it's where people bring Tupperware to your house and you can buy it? Why not just go to the store?!

Don't Respect Cops

Instagram | centexphotographer

"It was normal for people in my family to be in and out of jail. It's was normal for most of my family to have some sort of criminal record. We were always taught to not respect cops. For example, when my dad found weed in my 16 yr old sister's car, instead of reprimanding her for having it, he reprimanded her for how easy it would be for cops to find. We were always watching mob movies and my dad would just gush about how classy and cool they were. It’s just little stuff like that mostly, nothing like outrageous." — Thissnotmeth

Over a longer period of someone's upbringing, things such as these can affect a person's general outlook much more than the parents may think.

They Couldn't Afford To Be Neighborly

Reddit | DingAlingLastKing

"That it was ok to point guns at people if they got too close to the house. As a kid my dad had a shotgun leaning right in the corner of the doorway, and little red and green shells all over the house, in case he needed to run and gun I guess." - Romefromda15zboi

The further people get into the criminal underworld, the more dangerous their lives often become. It's a messed up lesson, but that parent could likely think of some people who made it necessary to teach.

These Lessons Should Never Be Passed On

Reddit | I_ForgotMyOldAccount

"I was taught that it was ok to go on someone else's property to dig ditches to bury our garbage because going to the dump was too expensive.

Also, drugs like meth are totally ok to do while pregnant as it never hurts the baby and that when it comes to ANY type of drug, 'You gotta try it once!'" - EngagedOrphans

Not only are these "lessons" horrifying to hear about, but they also make it clear what daunting risks this person must've unwittingly taken just to live to tell us about them.

Not Many Know They Shoplifted As Infants

Reddit | questionthis

"So my mom would take me to a store and put items in my diaper. I do not remember what items. She would take me to a shoe store and let me put on both pairs of a new shoe and I would walk out with them." - Deadeye1985

One can only imagine that the employees came back to discover a pair of old shoes and not much else.

Guilt For Not Going Along With Crimes

Reddit | capj23

"If you don't steal from the government / system that steals from you, it's like you are stealing from your family" - notevenagoat

With these kinds of mind games and self-justifications going on so quickly, it's not surprising for these kids to legitimately not realize their parents are doing anything wrong.

The Opposite Of Driving School

Reddit | chattyyogalady

"My dad sped with me in the car most of my life, basically after turned like 8 or 9. every moment I remember being with him in the car he’d be doing something crazy with the car (ex. Speeding , taking off at lights , burnouts, donuts, etc), he wasn’t dangerous in a way that would get me killed , but reckless enough where other people would see it as not something to do with your kid if that makes any sense.

"Of course, being a kid, I believed this was normal. I even recorded the bulls**t we did with our cars like racing, doing massive burnouts, donuts , flybys, you name it, so I’ll take some of the blame for encouraging the behavior and not telling my mom lol

"So when I turned about 14 years old, and I was taught how to drive, I’d have a heavy foot, ALWAYS, i would drive recklessly, and do just about everything he did , it wasn’t until the day I nearly totaled his 97’ Camaro Z28, with no license, registration, or insurance, did I learn the stuff I was doing was extremely illegal and not normal at all. He gave me a talk on how to drive just a bit safer, and that was that"- Ronaldo1805

As this person went on to say, it's still the way they're used to driving.

How To Be A Lookout

Reddit | RubrBand

"My old man taught night school in the 70s. He told me he was a licensed locksmith so he could carry lock picks around. He would often have me act as lookout as he robbed district schools late at night. Mostly school supplies, sporting goods, etc.. I was like 8. He often told me, 'I dont care what you do, just don't get caught'" - Myxolidian4days

If that part about being a licensed locksmith was even true, having the child serve as a lookout was obviously meant to keep it that way no matter what he did. Still, that's a big "if."

That Anything Can Be A Front

Reddit | bubbasaurus

"My parents trafficked drugs under the auspices of a kiddie ride business (like those mechanical horses in front of the Kmart). 'It's for the kids,' they'd say." - HungryVegetarian

It may not be the most sophisticated way to launder money, but it seems that anything can work for a while if it's on a small enough scale.

Coaching Their Kids To Get Drugs For Themselves

Reddit | remlap

"My mom taught me to not mention to the psychiatrist that my parents suffered from drug addiction so that I could get more controlled substances that would potentially be addictive." - TheCasshole

It's hard not to suspect that this was done to avoid run-ins with suspicious doctors while prescription shopping like other parents on this list were doing. Maybe this was somebody's Plan B?

The Drinking And Driving Law, But Not the Reason For It

Reddit | xKillWillzx

"So my dad would drink and drive. He wasnt drunk (still no excuse) but if he already had a beer open and needed to go somewhere he would bring it with him. I knew you would get in trouble for drinking and driving but I never really knew why.

"I always had it in my head that you must not be allowed to drink (anything) while driving because you had to tilt your head back and therefore would not be able to see/watch the road." - arenae1993

There would normally something adorable and kind of impressive about this kid logic if it didn't arise from such unfortunate circumstances.

A Surprising Use For A Common Utensil

Reddit | TaylorTano

"Uncle was a fugitive, taught us kids how to break into people's houses with a butterknife." - Plummybo232

In case anybody's morbidly curious, no. This person didn't share their uncle's technique for butter knife burglary.

Raiding Cars

Instagram | wp_recovery

"My dad was a tow truck driver and he would always bring me little presents as a kid that he got out of people's tower cars. As far as I knew if someone knew their car was going to get towed they took everything they wanted out of it and the rest was fair game." — storyofmylife92

What presents for kids are there in cars? Is it just me that doesn't know what you'd give a kid out of a car? Maybe a stereo?


Instagram | rebakay08

"If we were at home and they yelled 'PIGS!' We were to hide behind the couch and be silent. If we were in the car and they yelled 'PIGS!' We had to crawl into the floorboard and not move a muscle.

"I was kidnapped in grade 3 by my dad's supplier. He held us for 2 days. We had no idea. My sister and I met him before, lots of times. When he showed up at school and said our parents were on vacation and to go with him, we did." — EmptyBobbin

Apparently this person didn't actually realize that they had been kidnapped until 20 years later!

Public Drinking

Instagram | beercraftbath

"I never knew we weren’t allowed to drink at the local fair (mom used to bring beer in a cooler when we went) until I was 21 and a cop stopped me when I was walking around with a beer." — poofer_cat

Fighting Is The Only Way

Instagram | kate_ojasfx

"My dad grew up always in a fight [...] He taught me that no matter what if you are in a fight that the person who hit you is trying to take your life. There is no boys will be boys or fighting for fun. They hit you. They are trying to kill you. In those instances, I was to go for their eyes and their throat immediately. 'If they can’t see and they can’t breathe they're f*cked. You get to go earn your blood party'

"I beat the f*ck out of two kids first week of kindergarten and got kicked out. We had therapists show up and the whole thing." — LovingComrade