People Are Sharing Normal Things Parents Do That Are Toxic In Eye-Opening Thread

Everyone's experience growing up is unique. But if we sit down and share our experiences, there are commonalities to be found.

A recent r/AskReddit question asked "What is a normal parenting tactic that shouldn't be considered normal?" and the responses were illuminating.

We've normalized a lot of things that shouldn't be normalized, and some of the answers might just cast parents' actions in a new light.

Comparing kids to their siblings.

Unsplash | Austin Pacheco

Of course, if you're a parent, it might be a bit hard not to compare your kids. But this line of thinking can turn toxic when the parents make it public.

"The good old 'why can't you be more like [brother/sister]. That does nothing for their self esteem and really can keep them from becoming their own person."

Saying they won't be mad, then getting mad.

This is a classic switcheroo: telling a kid they won't be mad if the kid fesses up, then getting mad when the kid does, in fact, fess up.

The top comment for this theme rhetorically says that parents pull this, then wonder why their kids never talk to them.

Refusing to own up to mistakes.

Unsplash | Georgina Vigliecca

Parents teach kids to admit when they're wrong, but all too often, parents fail to practice what they preach.

As a comment notes, it can mess kids up when parents are unable to apologize, and instead victimize themselves.

Oversharing personal problems.

Unsplash | Benjamin Manley

There's little doubt that parents face a whole galaxy of problems, but kids are not really equipped to deal with hearing about them.

"Your kids are not your therapist. Also, they can't do anything to solve your problem. Instead, address your issues with your spouse and a therapist."

Ignoring kids' emotions.

Unsplash | Xavi Cabrera

One comment says that when parents invalidate their kids' emotions through ignoring them or shutting them down, it can stifle a kid's ability to express themselves.


This is a common toxic argument technique, where one party makes the other think they're crazy for holding their position. Parents are hardly immune to gaslighting their kids.

"My mom has completely rewritten my childhood," wrote one user, and the comment seemed to strike a chord.

Joking about 'boyfriends' or 'girlfriends'.

Unsplash | Kevin Gent

This might seem normal and cute, but it's kind of weird when parents joke about this when their kid has a close friend who isn't the same gender.

"On top of reinforcing the idea that boys and girls can't ever be strictly platonic friends, it's so creepy to project adult ideas of romantic relationships onto kids who are practically still toddlers."

Not letting their kid win an argument.

Let's be real: sometimes the kid has better points than the parent. But the parent often has better argument techniques to salvage the win.

One user addresses the trap of punishing kids for 'disrespect' or 'talking back', just because they've raised a point that the parent can't counter.

Social media tomfoolery.

Unsplash | Austin Distel

Making up answers.

No one has all the answers, not even parents!

But if a parent doesn't know the answer, it's best to acknowledge that. This comment points out that if a parent makes up an answer, it can give their kids the wrong idea.

Forced affection.

Unsplash | Vitolda Klein

Affection is good, and everyone needs a hug from time to time.

"I also don’t believe in making children hug people," wrote one commenter. "If the child wants to hug them, they will. It shouldn’t be forced."

Just call things by their names.

Teaching kids about sexuality can be a tricky subject, but kids deserve to know the truth. Referring to naughty bits as "hoo-haa" or "dingaling" or whatever just makes the whole topic more difficult to understand.

Not recognizing mental illness.

Unsplash | Anthony Tran

"I’ll never forget being so afraid to tell my parents that i was suicidal, at age eleven, as a last resort and getting yelled at for it because of how selfish it was to say that when they provided everything I needed," wrote a commenter.

In short, parents need to recognize the difference between bad behavior and mental illness.

Parents aren't all-knowing.

Lots of kids see them that way, but as one commenter notes, parents should be able to own up to their mistakes and change their minds if their kid gives them a valid reason.

Bottling up emotions.

Unsplash | Laura Mitulla

Lots of kids get the "don't be so dramatic" line from their parents, but when this happens repeatedly, it just teaches kids to bottle up and hide their true emotions.

"You're so spoiled!"


News flash: it's normal for kids to have nice things like video games and cell phones, even if their parents didn't have the same stuff. This doesn't mean the kids are necessarily spoiled.

"Making your female children change clothes when male family members come over."

Unsplash | Ratiu Bia

As one user points out, a girl might be comfortable wearing a normal outfits of shorts and a tank top. But when a certain family member comes over, she's forced to change.

This behavior essentially protects predators and sends the message that these family members cannot control themselves.

Get advice from more than one source.

One commenter pointed out that going solely to one source for advice is a bad idea.

"My mom listened to my grandmother instead of taking me to a psychiatrist. It wasn’t “a phase” it was autism and OCD. Now I’m in my 20s with trauma from the way my mental health was disregarded and autism leaving me more vulnerable to abuse."

Which of these have you experienced?

Unsplash | Alexander Dummer

All of us have parents, and many of us are parents ourselves. Parents are generally doing their best and are generally not monsters. But it's important to recognize the toxic behaviors that can create problems later in life.

Make sure to check out the thread and let us know what you've learned as a child or as a parent.

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