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In a 2022 survey, the Pew Research Center found about two-thirds of American parents with kids younger than 18 (66%) say it's extremely important to them that their little ones grow up to be honest and ethical adults. About half (48%) say the same about their children being hardworking, while about four in ten want their children to become the kind of people who are accepting of those who are different from them (42%) and who help others in need (40%).

However, sometimes life gets in the way of even the best intentions and leaves us there to pick up the pieces. A few days ago, Reddit user u/hurricanehershel made a post on the platform, asking: "Parents who tried their best to raise their kids to be good humans but they turned out to be jerks, what do you wish you did differently?" The replies quickly started pouring in, so we thought it would be interesting to explore parental regret a little deeper and collected the most popular ones.

#1

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened I (male) was sexually assaulted by an older boy when I was a child, my parents knew, but didn’t want to admit that happened.

My life was a chaotic mess until I addressed it myself, and my sexual life was reckless, harmful, and dangerous to myself, and my partners, because I didn’t know what a healthy relationship was (I was hyper sexual for decades).

My mom admitted she knew they should have gotten me therapy (as well as get the kid arrested).

I absolutely *hated* authority figures for a long, long, long time, because I was betrayed on that level, and it started a burning resentment and anger, and I subconsciously f****d my life up to get back at them, without realizing that’s what I was doing.

Parents, if something traumatic happens to your child, get them help.

I don’t want to hear the money excuse.

You f*****g go without, you eat ramen, you get a second job, whatever you have to do.




But please, don’t teach your kid that they can’t trust anyone in positions of authority.

You’re dooming them to a life of anger, pain, depression, resentment, emotional shutdown, and in my case, alcoholism and violence.

Save them from themselves.

Don’t let them follow my path, I barely made it out alive and sane.

AnishnnabeMakwa , Inzmam Khan Report

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#2

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened Keep them the f**k away from social media. My oldest had access way too early, and it turned them into an absolute absurdity of a teenager. They are about to be 18 and I did not make that mistake with my other children. Zero access to social media. Turns out that without that influence, they model their behavior after their parents and real life people instead of b******t influencers on insta/tiktok/etc...

Social Media is poison for children and teens. Keep them away from it at all costs.

upper_d3cker , Pixabay Report

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Brenda
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9 months ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Should be limited and monitored, but completely banned? I promise other kids tease them, talk about them, etc. Don't make them targets Teach them to use them wisely

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#3

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened Be very careful WHO you have kids with. If I could do it all over again, I would have chosen better. They ended up with 1 responsible parent who was completely overwhelmed trying to do the job of 2 people.

heatherLovesbrandon , Thirdman Report

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Brocken Blue
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Before I was born my parents had four kids between them from their respective first marriages. Watching my parents struggle to relate to my older siblings in *exactly * the same ways they struggled to interact with their ex spouses made me a very healthy believer in the idea that “only have kids if you are 100% certain you want to live with the personality traits of your partner even after you divorce them”

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#4

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened You don't have to win every power struggle.

I don't have jerk kids. But I do think I've learned a lot from having 4 very different kids, and I think too many parents 1. Think the same strategies work for all kids (ie, rule-consequence-behavior falls in line, rinse and repeat) and 2. Focus on the behavior rather than the cause.

If you have a kid who doesn't respond to your parenting style/philosophy, you should rethink your approach. It's not all the kid's fault.

Some kids will burn their lives to the ground to make a point. I have one like that. For too long, it was a vicious cycle of

* kid acts out
* I punish
* kid is angry, acts out more
* I punish harder
* kid is angrier, acts out even more
* I punish even harder

and on and on and on and on. Something needs to break the cycle.

For instance, if your kid is challenging your authority, it's usually a bid for more independence. They're trying to be more mature, and they want your adult respect. You don't have to excuse the bad behavior; consequences are OK. But you ALSO have to look for ways to help your kid get that need met.

You don't have to tie it to the actual incident, so it doesn't look like a reward. Give them more responsibility for themselves.

* Let him walk to school alone if he doesn't get to do that.
* Quit bugging him so much about what he does with his free time, even if you think he should be "getting more fresh air."
* Look for any opportunity to let him choose something. "We're going to do something as a family on Sunday. You can choose what we do." or where we eat or whatever.
* Don't tell him WHEN he has to do his chores. Let him set his Saturday schedule: "I need you to mow the lawn and do the dishes today. You can do it any time between now and 6 p.m."

If you address the cause of the behavior, it's going to do way more to correct a bad behavior, and you'll also get more respect from your kid.

If you insist on winning every power struggle, your kid is going to see everything as a fight.

EDIT: I need to give my wife credit for helping me understand this over the years. She's not only a great mom and wife, she's also a really good therapist. She's gained a lot of perspective working with other kids and parents and working on those relationships.

1block , Monstera Report

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Nay Wilson
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I really like these suggestions on how to give a child more independence while at the same time making sure they’re behaving appropriately. This is parenting done right

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#5

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened *Don’t try to make introverted kids into extroverted kids.”

I’m an extrovert and so are my parents. But all 3 of my children were introverts, which I didn’t realize until they were all adults.

I can whiz into any social setting late or disheveled and then humor my way out of feeling shame or embarrassment, but what I realize now is that such behavior was sorta traumatizing my little introverts, who preferred to blend in with walls.

I think they are somewhat bitter about me not fully understanding them. I thought everyone desired to be a part of big exciting experiences and to ambitiously network for connection and opportunity.

I’ve learned that often parents put pressure on their kids to act as an extrovert. For example, a younger friend of mine has 3 girls, and one of them is extremely shy. At a birthday party, all of the children played “ring around the rosies” and other group games.

The shy one refused to join and fortunately her mother didn’t force her. But I’ve witnessed many parents getting angry, embarrassed or even threatening when a child is not comfortable jumping right in to such activities.

The reason she didn’t force her was because, as a mother of 3 adult introverts, I had told her that if I had it to do over again, I would want to be more aware of my children’s personality types, and I would try to avoid assuming that they would want what I wanted more of as a child.

I hope this makes sense.

StormOk692 , Eren Li Report

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Amy S
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Oof, as an introvert raised by an extrovert I feel this. Stop teaching kids it's wrong to be quiet and stop confusing quiet for shy.

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#6

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened Pay attention to mental health issues from a very young age.

Kriskao , cottonbro studio Report

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Malfar
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Oof. Some of my closest relatives are mental health issues deniers. Very hard to reason with. To them, there's only one mental health issue - schizophrenia. Everything else is a nonsense.

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#7

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened I wish I knew that some grandparents shouldn’t be allowed to have a relationship with a vulnerable, easily manipulated child. I wish I knew it was okay to cut people out of your life.

comeupforairyouwhre , Pavel Danilyuk Report

#8

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened In my experience most jerk kids come from jerk parents.

That being said, kids can easily become jerks when they have no consequences for their actions. Not just as a toddler but throughout childhood.

OkPenis-ist28 , EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA Report

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Sonja
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Or when the consequences don't fit the issue on hand. If they're too unrelated, the kid won't understand why their behaviour is not ok. For example taking the kids door away because they didn't do the dishes would be harmful and cruel, they deserve their privacy. But if your teenager is trying out boundaries and intentionally slams their door to wake up the whole house and gleefully bully their family, a curtain it will be until they learnt their lesson and promise to not slam the door.

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#9

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened I deeply regret not reading to them more. I have cried as an adult thinking about this dumb, stupid mistake when I think about how neither of them read books and the ways reading might have sparked character growth.

Chairboy , Andy Kuzma Report

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Katie Lutesinger
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

When I was a kid my dad read to me at bedtime, and my mum gave me copies of her favourite childhood books. It was absolutely what first got me into reading and eventually writing. Prepare for possible sniffles: one series my dad used to read me were the "Mog" books by Judith Kerr. Decades later I found out there was a new and apparently final book in the series called "Goodbye Mog", in which the grumpy old cat finally passes away. I bought a copy, invited Dad to come and sit with me in the garden, and said "Read it to me."

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#10

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened Don't praise kids for being smart, even if they are. If you do this, the first time they find something academically challenging, they might think they are not smart anymore, or that you lied and they were never smart in the first place.

Praise them for their willingness to try, to problem solve, and to persevere.

My kid isn't a jerk, but he is an underachiever who lacks confidence. I put too much emphasis on his intelligence and not enough on hard work.

Lisasdaughter , Kindel Media Report

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#11

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened Not me, but my parents have discussed what they wished they had done differently for my brother in order to prevent him from becoming a violent, homeless, drug addicted snot ball of a person.

They wish they had sent him to therapy before problems ever started, and that they had reacted quicker and sent him sooner when they did. They wish they hadn’t yelled so much at all of us. That they had been more patient and forgiving of our mistakes. They wish a lot.

WoodpeckerSignal9947 , rebcenter moscow Report

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Brenda
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Parents are human, they all make mistakes. I know I did. But when I did, I admitted it and APOLOGIZED! Kids need to know we aren't perfect. We all have regrets, even when we tried our best

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#12

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened I worked with youth for a while in a poorer rural part of America and in my anecdotal experience there are two types of kids that can turn into bad humans.

One, they've just had tough lives and no good role models. If you get to know them you realize they are just normal kids that have never been given the tools, opportunity, or encouragement to act any different. If noone figures out how to intervene it becomes a pattern of life for them that spirals out of control.

Two, kids that never suffer the consequences of their actions. They tend to have really "nice" caregivers who have a knack for getting thier kids out of trouble. When I say they don't suffer consequences I mean literally. Their parents do their homework, their parents lie for them, thier parents don't ever tell them "no". Their caregivers also don't supervise them but whenever anything happens they are easily manipulated by thier child and take whatever their child says as gospel truth without question. And although the parents don't supervise their children they seem all too willing to give them everything thier child asks for (within the confines of their economic class). The caregivers are somehow both emotionally neglectful but also always there to help their child out of a jam. In a way that feels like they want to be manipulated by their child.

Kids in the first category will do something bad and you go, "how could they be so stupid?" When kids in the second category do something bad your reaction is, "it's only a matter of time before they kill someone."

I knew a lot of young adults that got in trouble with the law, but it was only people from category two that got tried for murder and manslaughter.

JamesVogner , Victoria Rain Report

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Mahayana
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I work in federal prisons and I totally agree with that. Most of the inmates are category 1 but the ones that are category 2 are the ones hardest to rehabilitate. They don’t have resilience.

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#13

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened Never ever get a child as a child.

LambeckDeluxe , gregroose Report

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Malfar
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

And to prevent that, there MUST be quality sx education. Not just "don't do this" and "don't do that", but detailed. But many prudes compare it to pdofilia.

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#14

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened Generally speaking
If you try to teach your kid something and NOT BE THE example, you might as well not have wasted your time.

forex_1911 , Gustavo Fring Report

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Malfar
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Yeah, "Do as I say, not as I do" doesn't work. One of my cousins lives with his wife and son in the same apartment with his parents. And now his son constantly calls his grandfather a hippo, and not in a friendly/playful way. Because he heard his dad say so a few times.

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#15

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened They say everyone makes the best decision at the time.

The path to forgiveness.

If I look back at raising my M23 F21 kids, I think I would have been less harsh on mistakes & rule-breaking.

All it did was encourage subversion & distrust.

Good luck.

BassplayerDad , Monstera Report

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Malfar
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

A child won't grow up a good and kind person if he's taught to do good deeds and not misbehave only for fear of punishment. He may grow up a law-abiding citizen, but there's a difference, you don't rob a man in the street because that's morally wrong or you don't rob a man in the street because it is illegal.

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#16

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened I have one child, the youngest, who I'm starting to worry about. He's tall, athletic, attractive and very charismatic. I feel like it's a constant battle between teaching him respect and humility and the worship he gets at school. At his age he's not prepared to deal with all these piers who want his attention, tell him how great he is, and the girls lining up to talk to him.

Yeah, don't we all wish we had this problem as teens. Anyway, it's a struggle. He's gotten cocky and thinks life will just keep on treating him like a king. And maybe it will - he's got the type of personality that makes people want him around. But he needs to treat others with the same respect he expects for himself. Confidence is good but it needs to be combined with kindness. Our other children are very level headed and what we feel are good people. I hope we get to properly tech this to our youngest and that he takes it to heart and chooses to be a good person.

KelvinGauss , Monstera Report

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Brenda
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Perhaps have him volunteer to work with those less fortunate. Food bank, soup kitchen,,etc. Show him the other side of what can happen to anyone.

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#17

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened A lot.

I wish I’d insisted on eating dinner as a family every day.

I wish I’d found more things to do with them that we each enjoyed.

I wish I’d taken them backpacking more often at an earlier age to expose them to nature, unplug them from the world, and teach them how good it feels to tackle a big challenge with no external help.

I wish I’d been more patient and playful.

ThatsMrDickfaceToYou , Timur Weber Report

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Weasel Wise
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

And doing things together as a family means making sure it's an activity that isn't just geared towards adults. And if you choose that, don't get mad when your adhd child can't hold still or "behave" while looking at a big slab of marble or going to a shítty museum they've already been forced to go to several times before.

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#18

I have raised three kids, none of them jerks. All good, kind productive people. However, one of my kids was a difficult, extremely strong-willed child. I kept getting caught in power struggles with this child, which was leading nowhere and resulting in us fighting all the time. I felt critical and negative, which I hated. I decided to start "catching the child being good." Every time I saw the child behaving or being helpful or successful at something, I commented on it, thanked them, praised them, etc. It was an immediate turn around. I learned that children simply want your attention. Often times it is the misbehaving child that gets that attention. Start focusing your attention on when they are good and you will see good. It was a game changer for us. This child is now a young adult that graduated from college with good grades and got a great job at a prestigious company. They are doing extremely well in life/career/friendships/romantic relationship. We have a close relationship and I couldn't be prouder of the way they turned out.

tambourinebeach Report

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Weasel Wise
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I did this when I was a teacher. And I do this now with my not-so-fabulous adult coworkers. It works for everyone, young and old.

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#19

Honestly, when the mental problems started she was a legal adult and I wish I would have pushed more for her to seek mental health assistance instead of bringing it up but letting her decide because she was an "adult".


I would give anything to go back and try again. To be more aware of her struggle. To not put it off as she was "finding herself". To not make excuses to justify her struggle. And absolutely not allow her to give in. I never wanted to be overbearing.


I would rather have her stable and her resent me for being overbearing than what has happened to her now.


I regret that every day.

Sawigirl Report

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Christine
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Hi there, it sounds like such a sad situation. Please take this with a grain of salt… But it's possible that even if you did something different, you might've had the same outcome. Please don't beat yourself up. It's painful enough without you having to blame yourself.

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#20

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened Ugh. We talked to our son about everything under the sun. We had an open forum. We talked extensively about money management, sexuality, dating, how to treat other people, drug use, alcoholism and its consequences. He and I also watched a ton of documentaries together on all of the above topics. I have a thing for shows like Underground Inc, Drugs Inc, Broken, and mini series like Dopesick

Once he turned 18 he began to do literally everything we advised against. It's been a hard few years. After losing his gf, loosing his job and spending some time in jail I think he's starting to listen. He's been doing a very good job lately. We love him and we support him despite how hard its been. I feel bad even typing this....

Its really tough to look back and legitimately say what could have been done differently. What I can say to coming parents is:

Don't give up on your kid

Do the best you can

You can't control everything

YamahaRyoko , cottonbro studio Report

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Sonja
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Addictions are not completely explained right now. But there's a strong hind that it might be a disposition. Some people go through the toughest stuff without so much as a blink, the next one has the happiest life and burns it for drugs. Some are vulnerable, some are not. It's not so easy to find out who's who. But so far we know, knowledge offers some protection, but it's not the final fix it all. But it's still better to educate kids about everything honestly and openly than doing nothing. Whatever their vulnerability is, it gets worse if they don't know what to look out for

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#21

The mom of one of the columbine shooters gave a Ted Talk about this.
She wrote a book called A Mother’s Reckoning about all the signs she missed. I think every parent needs to read this book before their kids hit their teenage years.

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#22

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened I should have made them work harder for what they wanted. I just gave it to them and it left them with a sense of entitlement and no will to work hard to get something you want.

astarte0124 , Karolina Grabowska Report

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Lex <3 (they/them)
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

For me it’s the opposite lol. I have to work for basically everything, including being allowed to speak to friends-

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#23

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened I wish I had applied more limits. Growing up with a helicopter mom, I tried to be different and ended up giving my daughter too much freedom. It hurt her a lot.

Mythikun , Victoria Rain Report

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Brenda
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I hope nothing bad happened to her. I wish my parents would have been just a little more hands on with me. I'd walk out of the house without a 'where are you going?' My mom never cared. Granite we lived in a small town and everyone knew who I was, so I was safe. But there were a lot of things with a lot of bad kids I could've been doing and they would've had no idea. They never talked to me about anything in regards to sx, drugs, alcohol, periods, pedophiles. Nothing.

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#24

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened In my opinion, the one defining characteristic of bad parents is being resentful of their own children. Resentful that they took some of their freedom, resentful of their youth, resentful of their opportunities, resentful of their intelligence, resentful of their beauty, resentful of their possessions, resentful of their education, resentful of their accomplishments, resentful of their happiness, etc. I think this is FAR more common than most people realize. These parents may consciously “provide” for their kids while they unconsciously sabotage them. The kids pick up on this and end up aspiring to their parents’ unspoken expectations.

Good parents want their kids to exceed their own achievements and, most importantly, to be happy. Good parents are empathetic to their children. They’re happy when their kids are happy. They’re sad when their kids are sad. Resentful parents don’t really want their kids to be happy unless they credit the parents for their happiness. No achievement belongs to the kids, but every failure does.

scsuhockey , Monstera Report

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Brocken Blue
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

And *this * is but one reason out of many that abortion should be legal, safe, and accessible to all who need it. The world does not need any more unwanted children and resentful parents

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#25

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened My mom once told me that she wishes she treated my brother the way she treated me. I was the oldest and her first so she pushed me and gave me high benchmarks, but she realized too late that because she was the youngest and her *baby* she forgave him too easily and let him do anything he wanted.

That by the time she realized that he was an entitled jerk it was too late (his mid-20’s). “It’s my fault he’s a narcissist. I gave him everything he wanted and made him believe he deserved it because he was my precious little boy.”

SeattleTrashPanda , cottonbro studio Report

#26

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened The only thing you can really do is teach them. They will become who they will become eventually.

Also, when I say “teach them” I don’t just mean to preach things. Lead by *example.* You want to teach them to be kind and generous? Then do those things YOURSELVES. If they watch you serve others in need and get joy from that or love those around you, they may grow up wanting that joy themselves.

You want them to be responsible with alcohol? SHOW them how to be responsible.

You want them to learn from their mistakes? Then when you make a mistake, own up to it and apologize. Show them no one should be too prideful to admit they were wrong and do better the next time.

If you preach kindness and such, but your actions show otherwise, it will come off as hypocritical. Kids know when you are sincere.

-You-know-it- , Brett Sayles Report

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Brocken Blue
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Monkey see, monkey do. Humans like all big primates are very good at learning by example

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#27

Don’t be overly strict. Love. Love. Love. And love some more. Love doesn’t mean no consequences or discipline but actually the opposite. Let them learn from relatively safe natural consequences.

And then, LOVE them unconditionally and be there for them when the natural consequences happen.

Then let go and realize they are ultimately on their own journey.

Nauglemania Report

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Malfar
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

That reminds me of a beautiful song, "This Dark and Twisty Road" by Abney Park.

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#28

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened We wanted our kids to be happy so I think we coddled and spoiled them. They aren’t ready to function independently in the adult world.

In retrospect, I think learning some hard lessons growing up helps prepare them and is less damaging than learning those lessons as adults.

*Edit: to clarify, they aren’t jerks, just not ready to be adults.

albyagolfer , Karolina Grabowska Report

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Brocken Blue
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Without more details, this one sounds like the parents are projecting their own emotions on their kids — first by spoiling them and then by deciding “they are not ready” for them to grow up. Who’s not ready? You or the kids?

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#29

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened Not a parent but I’ll answer for my mom, who often mentions mistakes she made with my brother, who SA me repeatedly and later took his own life.

Mistake #1: insisting the oldest kids’ dad have visits with the kids after the divorce, even though he didn’t want to

Mistake #2: allowing the oldest kids’ dad to talk her into stopping visitation with the younger kids’ dad after divorce #2 because “he’s not their real dad so why should he get visitation?” even though dad #2 had bonded with the oldest kids and loved them as his own

Mistake #3: Parentifying the oldest. Parentification is when you use the older children as parental figures for the younger ones. This was very normal when my mom was raising her kids, and still common today, but it leads to A LOT of resentment among the kids, and kids don’t know how to deal with resentment in a healthy way. Most adults don’t even deal with resentment well. In many families, that resentment results in the kids hating and/or abusing each other.

I do not blame my mom one bit; my brother made his own choices and had several opportunities to reconcile things. However, these are things I know she wishes she could have done differently.

Radiance17 , Саша Лазарев Report

#30

30 Parents Whose Kids Turned Out To Be Complete Jerks Share What Happened I wish we hadn’t settled during the custody case and instead fought for full custody of my stepson with limited/supervised visitation with his mom. We thought we were doing the right thing and she ruined him.

Immajustbrowse19 , Anna Shvets Report

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