Parents like to say that they know what’s best for their child. And who are we to argue? But in some cases, common parenting tactics, even if meant for the best interest of a child, can do more harm than good.

So recently, a thread on r/AskReddit got people weighing in on “normal” parenting tactics that shouldn't be considered normal. Even though discussing parenting with others always verges on the thin line of getting into an argument, some of the responses are truly thoughtful. Think of being protective and overprotective, or comparing a child to their siblings; how much of it is actually toxic?

#1

Refusing to apologize when you’re wrong.
Apologize to your children when you're wrong. Admit you don't know something when asked. Change your mind when your child gives you a valid reason. I grew up in an authoritarian household. ... It only teaches kids they have no voice.

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Hans
Community Member
3 months ago

Respect is not learned by being told to "behave" but by being given respect. From day one on.

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#2

Saying that a kid has a boyfriend/girlfriend any time they are close friends with a child 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.

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No_idea
Community Member
3 months ago

Yes! This!

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#3

Telling your kids your personal problems. Like, 'Your dad is horrible; he didn’t even do the dishes. I hate my marriage.' 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.

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Vermillion Ace #443
Community Member
3 months ago

This is my uncle in a nutshell.

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#4

'You can tell me, and I won't be mad' followed by punishing them for whatever they admit. Then they wonder why their kids never talk to them.

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Roxy Eastland
Community Member
3 months ago

I am sure I have as many parental failings as anyone else (possibly more) but I've never understood this one, even if a parent does stick to not being angry. I've always said to my kids that if they've wronged someone, by accident or on purpose, then that person has a right to be angry. Of course they also have a responsibility about how they behave, just because you let someone down or scratched their car or whatever doesn't mean they can now hit you or pour personal insults on you. But yes, they have a right to express how they feel and you have to accept that. It doesn't mean you're less of a person, it means you're taking it on the chin as you should. I then talk about how these things will come out somehow and that person will always end up angry at some point, and it's a million times better to be upfront and in control and deal with it as soon as possible, than for them to find out you've lied and hidden it from then. Boy, then they're really going to be furious.

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#5

Being overly protective. If you don't let your kids fail or protect them too much, they'll be less capable of doing so once they've left home. Failure is good; just provide a safety net.

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LeighAnne Brown-Pedersen
Community Member
3 months ago

Failure is a great teacher. Frankly so is pain. To a point, if you don’t let them fail, they will freak out when they do, and they will.

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#6

Getting mad for 'disrespect' or 'talking back' when their kids win an argument.

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JDH
Community Member
3 months ago

OH MY GOD THANK YOU

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#7

Using humiliation and embarrassment as a punishment.

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Kubu
Community Member
3 months ago

This is way to broad. See example of latest article on BP where mother of spoiled, rich kid denied him access to brand clothes to teach him a lesson. He's been humiliated and embarrassed, but in his own, broken perception.

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#8

Taking away their privacy. Unless your kid has a serious drug or self-harm problem, violating their privacy will almost certainly do more harm than good to their mental health, trust, and their relationship to you. It doesn't matter if it's installing spyware on their phones, tracking their movements, or taking away their bedroom door.

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Eslamala
Community Member
3 months ago (edited)

It will also lead to children learning very quick how to hide stuff and lie.

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#9

Telling little boys that they cant defend themselves against a girl who is hitting them just because theyre a girl. Thats bs, i was taught to fight back no matter who attacks you. Theres no gender in mutual combat.

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enby from hell
Community Member
3 months ago

EXACTLY. I remember being hit by a boy in kindergarten, and the teacher told him he couldn't hit me because I was a girl. I was FURIOUS. 'I've got a right to be hit! I WANT TO BE HIT!' Long story short, my parents got called in along with the parents of the boy and there was a whole thing about it.

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#10

Invalidating their kids' emotions, be it ignoring or shutting them down.

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Mateus Garbaliauskas
Community Member
3 months ago

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#11

Making a child eat everything on their plate if they say they aren't hungry anymore. Do you want you kid to have an eating disorder? No, then don't because that's how you can cause one.

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Potatogamers2
Community Member
3 months ago

And this starts really young. Research shows that pushing extra milk (or food when they're on solids) on a baby and young toddler, causes their body to not notice the feeling full sign. Their brain will develop into not giving the signal (as much) which is one of the causes of childhood obesity.

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#12

Forced affection.

This is controversial (especially here in America) but I feel like we say “I love you” way too much to the point it loses its meaning. My dad (who was extremely emotionally abusive) used to force me to say the words “I love you daddy” to him, in private and in front of other people. By nature I have never been an affectionate person, especially in front of others. I don’t like to hug and kiss a lot.

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

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Jo Johannsen
Community Member
3 months ago

I have an acquaintance whose son's answer to being told "no" is "I love you", like that should change the answer to yes.

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#13

Comparing them to their siblings. The good old, 'Why can't you be more like your brother/sister?' does nothing for their self-esteem and really can keep them from becoming their own person. That's all they should be anyway — themselves, not their siblings.

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Shantelle Stratford
Community Member
3 months ago

I refused to be like my brother in school simply for that reason. My parents always used that line on me and I HATED it. Not just because my brother was a huge d**k head and a bully.

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#14

The old “as long as I’m feeding you, clothing you, you’ll do what i say!” Or the “just be grateful i put a roof over your head”.

Specially If your parents constantly use that sentence to boss you around, disregard your opinions and wants, and belittle you. You didn’t asked to be born. And it’s their obligation to take care of you, not something they should loom over your head as leverage.

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Vasana Phong
Community Member
3 months ago

Isn’t it crazy how some parents have this mentality? It never even crossed my mind when I had my kids, did everything I was supposed to do, especially the essentials.

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#15

I’m not sure if this is “normal” or just something I see online.. but mums pulling the “just wait till dad gets home” card. Why would you want your kids to be afraid of their dad? And why should the dad have to play bad cop all the time? The last thing I want is my partner coming home from work and yelling at the kids for me.

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enby from hell
Community Member
3 months ago

Yes! My parents always yell at me together. It's a team job. But it does have the effect of alienating neither of them. And I get my own back when it's my turn to lay the table--I give them sporks instead of forks.

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#16

Overly accommodating and praising children.
My sister always excelled in academics and was also an accomplished pianist in high school. My parents didn’t make her do any of the chores I had to in order to 'preserve her hands for piano.' Her excellence at school, in clubs, and with piano also kind of led to her being constantly praised by people around her. Now, in her mid-twenties, she lacks basic life skills (cooking, cleaning, and even self-cleaning) and is unable to take any criticism, no matter how small.

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Susan Widomski
Community Member
3 months ago

I was chastised because I was teaching my younger brother how to wash clothes and prepare meals after our mom died. He was only twelve, but I was ten years older. I felt like he deserved a boost to be able to fend for himself and clean up after himself.

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#17

Not explaining their decisions. Like, 'You have to do this because I'm your mom/dad, and I say so. End of discussion!' Instead, you can bring your kids on board with sooo many of the decisions you make for them if you take the time to explain your reasoning to them. Kids understand more than a lot of parents think — just give them a chance.

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N G
Community Member
3 months ago

There is a small step before explaining EVERYTHING about your decisions - sometimes you have to make a decision because otherwise your electricity will be cut off, and telling the truth will unnecessarily cause your child to worry about the household finances when they are much too young to grasp every nuance or be able to do a damn thing about it and becomes one of those people who watches every single penny well into adulthood even though they have a good job and a comfortable life. Sometimes "because" is the right answer to protect a child.

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#18

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

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enby from hell
Community Member
3 months ago

wait what do people even do this??? I was only told to change if I was in PJ's!

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#19

Taking away things that the child has earned for themselves. If your kid is old enough to work and use that money to purchase something for themselves than it's thiers and you have no right to take it. I don't care if it's a car or a playstation 5.

Same thing with the money itself. Just because your kid is old enough to work and bring home a paycheck doesn't mean you're entitled to that money. I personally had to open up a brand new bank account the day I turned 18 because my mother helped herself to over $700 of my money. When I confronted her she basically told me "[screw] you I'm the adult on the account so it's my money too!"

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Agamemnon Padar
Community Member
3 months ago

Happened in another way to my brother and me too. We inherited from an aunt each 2000 €. Parents never gave even a cent and spent all on debts them had run up. My brother was 15, I was 18.

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#20

Forcing your children to give family members that make them uncomfortable, hugs and kisses. Additionally inviting family who actively distress your kid to your house to stay for an extended period and forcing the kid to be nice and interact.

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Potatogamers2
Community Member
3 months ago

Forcing your children to give anyone hugs and kisses. Doesn't matter if it's family or someone uncomfortable. Don't force. Teach consent from a young age.

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#21

Giving in when your child is being difficult. It teaches them all they have to do to get what they want is throw a fit. You're encouraging more difficult behavior.

The correct way to handle it is sit in whatever storm they whip up. Stay calm and hold the boundary.

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Potatogamers2
Community Member
3 months ago

I already struggle with this, he's 2, he doesn't talk so it's so difficult..But at least I'm aware and working on it :)

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#22

Invalidating their emotions just bc they're children, Cruel jokes ab their physical appareance or behaviour

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Vorknkx
Community Member
3 months ago

The worst thing of this type is probably mocking a kid for being forgetful. It's not like someone deliberately chooses to forget things, it's usually beyond our control. Mockery just makes it worse.

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#23

Saying anything along the lines of 'just be happy.' Like thanks, my depression is cured — especially since depression runs in my family on both sides.

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enby from hell
Community Member
3 months ago

THIS. Mental illnesses aren't just 'being sad' and 'being happy' isn't some kind of internal switch you can flick. See a therapist who knows what they're doing and take their advice. Also, eat chocolate. It encourages the production of endorphins. Also chocolate.

Zenozenobee
Community Member
3 months ago

Yep, who would tell someone with a broken leg: "come on, walk!"/" it's not that complicate, try harder"/"You're listening yourself too much" or "eat chocolate"?

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LeighAnne Brown-Pedersen
Community Member
3 months ago

Every family photo with aunts and uncles and always one person screaming at us “JUST LOOK HAPPY”. Every captured photo with is plastic fake smiles...

Gabunya Matata
Community Member
3 months ago

" you have no real problems, stop acting like the world is crooked for you" thanks that made my problems go away

Suzanne Haigh
Community Member
3 months ago

"Stop being miserable" was so often said to me as a child/teenager. I realise now if I had had help life could have been so much better for me.

Thai Ya Ya
Community Member
3 months ago

Just be happy = shut up I don't care your problem

Jazzy Mc. Jaz
Community Member
3 months ago

My bf does this and it makes me cry because of all things that make me sad can't change. and its like telling you all that things you should be sad about... and he wonders why. I love him soo much and hes great but that's the one thing that drives me nuts.

Gabunya Matata
Community Member
3 months ago

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Isobella GOURLAY
Community Member
2 months ago

"You are always alright!" Wow thanks, mum I had a breakdown and cried for 3o min at school, dreaded coming home and feel a bit depressed but now I feel fine because that stuff doesn't happen <3

sam puckett
Community Member
3 months ago (edited)

Or when a parent tells you to "stop crying" like they expect you to magically stop crying

Klas Klättermus
Community Member
3 months ago (edited)

If a child is sad or angry because they didn't win a gold medal but won the silver medal. Is the parent really in the wrong for telling their child to just be happy with the silver medal they won?

Isaac Harvey
Community Member
3 months ago

Right. Because my epilepsy prescription, which has been changed 4 times as of this writing, definitely hasn't been messing with my mind ever since my May 2020 diagnosis- which, in itself, is an indirect consequence of my tumor. My childhood brain cancer(August 2013 diagnosis) would be an entirely different story.

Amy Pattie
Community Member
3 months ago

I FEEL THIS IN MY BONES, dad would get so aggressive when I was sad. If I had to cry, I’d walk to the train station where is safe. The worst thing that could happen is an officer might ask what’s wrong.

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#24

Gaslighting their children into believing things that are simply not true in order to defend themselves.

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WilvanderHeijden
Community Member
3 months ago

You mean like telling them that people working in the fastfood industry do not deserve to earn a livable wage and they are some sort of lower species that doesn't deserve any respect at all.

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#25

Being overly involved in your childs life. I'm talking about relationships. Your child should have their own relationships without the parent acting like the third wheel, and seeking validation from the friends or partner too. Being involved is a good thing, but when you are so invested in their relationships too it can be damaging to your kid and their future relationships.

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Martha Meyer
Community Member
3 months ago

This should be higher.

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#26

Letting one sibling bully another and turning a blind eye, with the philosophy that they should work everything out for themselves. Punishing both siblings equally when one is 3 years older, much larger, much stronger, much more verbally sophisticated and adept at manipulation, and when the younger one complains, shutting them up by saying, "Well, did he put a gun to your head?"

That's how you teach a kid to be a victim.

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Jo Johannsen
Community Member
3 months ago

Another side to it: the older sibling by 7 years gets her first record player. 5 year old sister gets exact same record player because "you have to be fair".

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#27

Not necessarily personal experience, but I do think it's absurd how often parents will speak of their own child as "spoiled" for having all kinds of nice possessions like video game systems, cell phones, cars, as if that wasn't entirely the parent's choice. If you don't think your kid should have those things for free, then don't buy them for the kid. Don't shower gifts on your child and then act like the child is a bad person for owning them.

People have this obnoxious reactionary/conservative tendency to speak automatically about kids as if they're brats who don't appreciate the nice things they have. People look at a place full of 13-year-olds with expensive phones in their pockets and act like it's the downfall of society. It's just assumed, based on nothing, that all those 13-year-olds must be ungrateful and entitled and believe they automatically deserve an expensive phone.

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enby from hell
Community Member
3 months ago

I feel this. One of my friends has severe depression and at one point she and I were travelling on a bus together. She was crying over her phone because her teacher had given her back an assignment she spent ages on and she'd got a terrible grade. I was comforting her, and this old guy yelled at us 'I don't believe your generation! No one here cares if you broke up with your boyfriend! Quit inflicting your noise on the rest of us!' So I yelled back at him, which only made my friend cry harder. We got off the bus a stop early and walked the rest of the way home.

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#28

Listening solely to other parents for advice. 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. I’m left to navigate by myself.

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Vorknkx
Community Member
3 months ago

Downplaying issues and treating them as just a "phase" - oh, what could possibly go wrong?

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#29

Threatening to take away things and 50% of the time never actually doing it. Leads kids to live in a state of being unsure of what will happen. Take the thing away or don't.

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Aaleyah _ aesthetic
Community Member
3 months ago

ikr, like when i was a kid and my parents used to do this a lot, I just never thought of it as a punishment anymore because i knew it wouldnt happen.

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#30

Having kids before you've gone to therapy to address your own childhood trauma, as this just causes undue trauma on the kids

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Potatogamers2
Community Member
3 months ago

Some yes, some no. Not every childhood trauma will cause trauma on your own kids without therapy.

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