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Raising a kid (or two… or twelve) must be one of the hardest, if not the hardest, things out there. And even if you give it your best, things might still not turn out the way you had hoped.

Well, parents and offspring of Reddit are sharing their bits and pieces of wisdom in response to the question what aspects of your parenting journey do you wish you could’ve changed? after having given their all, yet the kids turned out less than desirable in terms of compassion and being a good person.

Scroll down to see what folks shared from their experience as well as our interview with Sarah Ockwell-Smith, parenting expert and author of The Gentle Parenting Book.

#1

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes Apologize when you make a mistake, learn to listen not just hear

P4S5B60 , August de Richelieu Report

#2

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes 100% apologize to your children through adulthood. It’s a great example but it also forces your kids to see you as a human being which in turn creates empathy.

IamMBRN , Liza Summer Report

#3

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes I'm the kid of pretty good, but flawed, parents. I'd just like to say, consistency is key. I never knew what response my behavior would get. I'd even test my dad by telling him the same thing on different days and would get totally different reactions. Plus, he'd obviously forgotten what I said earlier so that didn't feel great either. Punishments also never lasted, one day I was grounded but the next they didn't care what I did. So, I'd do what I want until they got mad again.

Don't make your kids walk on eggshells. Be consistent in your responses, be consistent in your punishments

Objective-Safety3601 , Jordan Whitt Report

It goes without saying that parenting is hard. If you’re not a parent and need an analogy for what it’s like, picture this:

As a parent, you’re expected to juggle swords that are on fire while riding a unicycle on a tightrope above a pit of snakes. The swords are your kids’ demands, the unicycle is your sanity and the tightrope—your patience. Oh, and the pit of snakes? That’s the rest of life’s challenges.

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#4

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes I wouldn’t have spoiled him so much. It’s okay for him to not have everything. Just because “oH iM gOnNa gIVe theM eVrEytHiNg I NeveR hAD!!” Dumbass idea. There’s middle ground and I flew right past it

glitterpumps , Anna Shvets Report

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MushroomHead22
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

"oH iM gOnNa gIVe theM eVrEytHiNg I NeveR hAD" this doesn't mean possessions; its compassion, understanding, love, a hug when it's needed.

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#5

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes Less social media, more reading and interacting without phones in their hands.

CTnaturist , Christopher Ryan Report

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Oh..Canada
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2 weeks ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

YES. Yesterday I had to listen to some toddler in a baby carriage on a bus for 30 full minutes watching a screaming singing full volume video on an iPad. Teach your children to sit quietly with a small toy or a book. What do you think parents have been doing since travel became possible. And do not give me this c**p about keeping the kid quiet. Parents have been keeping kids quiet during travel for hundreds of years without screens and FULL VOLUME videos.

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#6

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes Chores. I did everything and robbed my child of a job well done. Consistent chores to help the family unit by teaching responsibility and patience

Sufficient-Survey877 , Gustavo Fring Report

All jokes aside, though, parenting is no easy feat as it requires very delicate work with very impressionable human beings who need guidance in this crazy world.

“Most of us have been deeply conditioned by our own upbringings. We think we are choosing how to parent our own children and setting our own family rules, but actually most of us are simply repeating patterns of how we ourselves were raised as children,” elaborated Sarah Ockwell-Smith.

#7

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes Being more present for them. I was so obsessed with doing things right that I spent more time researching and acquiring things than actually being in the same room as them, hanging out and actually interacting with them.

crazyditzydiva , Daiga Ellaby Report

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DadManBlues
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I told them a lot of times that "maybe later" and "I have no time" and when I realised that they don't ask me to do things together anymore it was a long and very hard time to get their trust back. So this post gets +100 upvotes from me.

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#8

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes I would focus more on teaching empathy and positive conflict resolution, promoting a deeper understanding of the feelings and perspectives of others.

damplyClaw900 , Tatiana Syrikova Report

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#9

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes Pull her out of Private school ( very high achievement oriented) and enroll in public school that could meet her learning disabilities and emotional health.

Justalurker11111 , Rubén Rodriguez Report

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lunitavet
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I wish my parents would have at least considered this. Got a high school diploma from a private school with very good reputation. At a great cost. 20 years after graduation ,I don't want to see any of my former classmates , I want them very far away. They have done great things, but cant celebrate them. Wounds are still there. Even a consideration for my begs of changing school would have done wonders for me.

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Ockwell-Smith continued: “This conditioning is incredibly strong and tends to override most attempts we make to try to be different from our parents. We all have triggers and baggage that make it hard for us to be the calm, compassionate parents we’d like to be. It is possible to overcome this, but first you have to be aware of your baggage.”

#10

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes Coming from the messed up child not the parent: don’t ever say or imply you regret having your kids to them. Irreparable damage. So much therapy and people trying to love me and me trying to love myself to teach myself I can still have value. If you say that to your kid, in my eyes you’re more monster than parent.

No_Juggernau7 , cottonbro studio Report

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Angela C
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Agree wholeheartedly. If you really feel that way talk to a therapist, make an anonymous account on the Internet and vent, but NEVER say that to your kid. Their existence is not their fault so don't take it out on them

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#11

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes I would have pushed harder for my oldest to be in therapy and work with a tutor more when he was younger. I really think most of his struggles stem from the fact that nobody recognized he was dyslexic until he was 17 and about to graduate high school. There were so many years of him being hard on himself and me thinking he just wasn’t trying hard enough. I regret that more than anything.

Visual-Fig-4763 , cottonbro studio Report

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Fester Sixonesixonethree
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Ah... you have to pay attention. My mother never realized that I was deeply depressed all through my teens. Never had a freakin' clue.

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#12

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes I was a young adult when my parents started adopting my brothers through foster care. One thing I will say having watched them grow up is that a lot of damage can be done even before the age of two that will last their whole lives.

Taking care of yourself when you're pregnant, interacting with your baby/toddler (talk, read, sing, play), trying your best to feed them nutritious food, and keeping them safe (traumatic events change a kid's brain) are all so so important.

Some of my adopted brothers are straight up scary and violent, some are drug addicts and drop outs. And I have no idea what my parents could have done differently.

ambereatsbugs , BBC Creative Report

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Fester Sixonesixonethree
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Even the best parents are tossing the dice. Jeffrey Dahmer's parents didn't raise him to be a serial killer / cannibal.

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And deep conditioning isn’t the only factor that gets in the way of parents’ efforts to raise compassionate kids. Ockwell-Smith also points out that the constant stress, exhaustion, and being pulled in different directions by work, bills, and childcare takes a huge toll on us as individuals.

“Something has to give and it’s usually our ability to control our own emotions. When parents are dysregulated, the chances of raising calm and respectful children is massively limited,” added Ockwell-Smith.

#13

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes I’ll never forget the look on my daughter’s face when I said you’re right, I’m wrong.😂

rackfocus , Ketut Subiyanto Report

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Shaunn Munn
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My parents never apologized to me or my sister. I think it was considered a sign of weak parenting. But OMG did WE have to fork out apologies and other forms of groveling, even if time proved us correct.

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#14

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes I should have been much more strict and less “fun” with my son.

NiteGard , Monstera Production Report

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MushroomHead22
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

you can have fun and be strict. there is a middle. you need to teach them the difference between fun, and danger.

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#15

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes Compassion without proper boundaries can morph into codependency and feeling like you need to fix people. I think I messed that up.

GoreMay , Dominika Roseclay Report

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It also doesn’t help that virtually none of us is really prepared to be a parent when the time comes. So, we take a learn it on the fly approach to parenting, keeping ourselves vulnerable to mistakes, vices, and misconceptions.

And Ockwell-Smith notes that one of the biggest misconceptions out there is the expectation of quick results.

#16

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes My children are still young (8 and 6) but I find myself getting hurt when they say things like “you yell a lot” because I don’t really yell that often but I need to remember it’s not personal - it’s about how they feel. I need to accept that I yelled and yell more than I should and that isn’t okay. 

Tl;Dr: When your child tells you they are hurt don’t get offended listen and do better. 

redditaccount1_2 , Monstera Production Report

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JLo
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Save yelling for when they are in danger. Otherwise they will learn to just tune it out.

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#17

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes This is probably small scale compared to most but I'd try hide my fears/anxiety better. I think my kiddo is only afraid of spiders and bugs because I am. As in they've learnt this fear from me.

On the flip side I do think it's good to show we're all human and scared of different things and being afraid is OK but yeah there's a line there somewhere.

Gennova666 , Sofia Alejandra Report

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SirWriteALot
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Don't share existential worries with them. You're their rock, their home, they need to be able to depend on you. Telling them you don't know how you'll pay rent this month will cause anxiety and they won't be able to do anything about it.

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#18

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes Just from general observation of kids, family, classrooms, and society at large....IMHO the goal is to raise good people who can stand on their own without you. Nurturing a solid ethical foundation is springboard for all other virtues like kindness, compassion, etc. Emulate the values you want your kids to learn, don't just preach them.

Gethsemanee , Stefan Lehner Report

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Nikki Sevven
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

That's not just an opinion, though; it's literally the job description of 'parent'.

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“Most expect results far too quickly and when they don’t see them, they give up and say ‘gentle parenting doesn’t work for me and my kids’,” elaborates Ockwell-Smith. “Actually, in terms of results, we’re talking long term. We’re aiming to grow children who become kind, calm, respectful adults—not compliant obedient children.”

#19

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes My son’s dad used to say awful things about me all the time when he was with him. When he’d come home he’d repeat them and I would not defend myself against it. I made a point of not saying anything bad about his dad, including him lying about me. I thought that was the right thing to do.

Now he is 14 and his dad has moved to another country and doesn’t talk to my son. My son opened up and told me it used to make him really sad and it made him hate me, but he sees it wasn’t true now. I can tell it’s messed him up a bit.

If I could go back, I would have told him it isn’t nice for his dad to say bad things and that they the things he said were not true. I was so concerned about not making my son thinking his dad was a bad guy I basically endorsed everything he said. I see now he needed me to tell him that those things were not true so he didn’t have to feel ashamed of his mum.

kandikand , MART PRODUCTION Report

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Cathy
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Oh this is so sad 😔 I discovered when my dad died he didn't talk shoops about my mum to us, but to everyone else. Not a fun discovery also.

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#20

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes My mother told me that she wishes she gave attention to all her kids and my father told me he wishes he spent more time at home instead of business trips,

MillyZeusy , Hunters Race Report

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ki
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

How old are your parents? 90s or more? Because these sounds like the lessons y we’re learning forty or fifty years ago. How’s they miss the memo?

#21

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes I never overly praised my daughter, but I did praise her accomplishments and would tell her how smart she is, creative, talented..I was genuinely impressed by her. She’s 18 now and thinks she is better than everyone else. Hoping it passes as life should start to humble her soon. 

SignificanceSalty525 , Brett Sayles Report

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Duuuuuuude
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

When I was little my parents would say they were proud of my accomplishments (whatever those are for little kids) which built a good foundation for self confidence. As I got older it was less "I'm proud of you" and more "that's great, I'm so happy for you." Use of "I'm proud of you" came to be used (even as an adult) when I had done something nice for a fellow human being, maybe gone a little above and beyond what others might have expected to try and help somebody in need. It taught me to prioritize character over accomplishment, and did so, not with lecturing but with reinforcement, which kept it balanced and from turning into an almost codependent need to be a fixer or helper.

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She continues: “It takes years to reap the rewards of your hard work, mostly because children are going to act like children (throw tantrums, make silly choices, find it hard to control their emotions, etc.), because they don’t have the same brain development maturity as adults. No parenting style ‘works’ to produce perfect Stepford children overnight; or even in a few months.”

#22

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes Being a parent has been one of the most interesting things I have had the blessing to be apart of. (I'm a science person. Biology major.) I truly feel blessed with my kids. They are incredible people. Before kids I thought parenting had everything to do with how people "turned out", but upon having kids, I feel very strongly that people are who they are from birth. Both of my kids came out with their own personalities. (My kids have very different personalities.) Not much has changed since they were babies. I do think that substantial abuse can drastically change an individual, but a parent who genuinely tries to do their best really isn't going to do too much damage, so to speak. Now if the parents are proper c***s, yeah the kids have a good chance of being a c**t, but I really feel like personalities and mental disorders are already shaped when the person is born.

lizerpetty , Vidal Balielo Jr. Report

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Jeff White
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Kids are BORN with personalities. Never thought that before I had kids. It was stupidly clear after having kids

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#23

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes I work on the trauma floor of a hospital and a lot of grown men have what my boss calls “mijo syndrome.” Their parents and specifically their moms have always made things happen for them, and because of this they have little to no emotional regulation. They fly off the handle at any little inconvenience and boy are they made when we tell them NPO means no food whatsoever, not even treats

liberty285code6 , Tom Fisk Report

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Becca not Becky
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2 weeks ago

I've seen this a lot. It's easier to teach a child how to deal with discomfort than an adult.

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#24

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes My mom is the most caring, wonderful and just the most super human mother ever. She was so patient with us and just all around amazing.

The one thing I wish she did do though was show us more of her emotions and show her standing up for herself. My dad is kind of a total d**k so it would’ve been nice to see her stand up for herself.y siblings and I are people pleaser to a fault and now that I’m old I feel like I’ve only ever seen one side of my mom. Almost like I don’t even know who she is really. She’s an amazing mother and this is just being a bit nit picky but yeah

Ginger_Snapples , Daria Obymaha Report

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"Disembodied voice"
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I feel something similar towards my mom, truly all she did wrong was staying with my father as long as she did

So, yes, parenting is extremely hard, and even harder if you’re actually trying your best. However, there is a silver lining—it is never too late to make a change.

When asked about it, Ockwell-Smith confirmed that it is never too late to be kinder and more respectful to your kids, no matter how old they are. In fact, it’s never too late to be kinder to other adults as well.

#25

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes I was horrible. Angry screaming mess. I got really sick when my kids were little. It affected my mental health, caused a lot of physical pain, and put us into deep poverty.
The one thing I did do was apologize a lot. I let my kids go to their friends whenever they wanted and had us all in therapy the entire time.
Thankfully I got diagnosed and treated for a genetic disorder and instantly became a much nicer person and with a lot of therapy I’ve become a pretty solid and supportive mom. It explains my father big time. He was horrible and died of dementia.
All that being said. My kids are great. Thoughtful. Considerate. They talk to adults which I guess isn’t common. Not sure what I did aside from apologize a ton and always do my best to take the high road. Their dad was very abusive but we are on good terms. My kids having a solid stable life is more important than their father and my c**p.
We all have adhd and other issues and we’re not perfect but we are really nice to each other and say we love you often.

Admirable_Key4745 , Simran Sood Report

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#26

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes Can I answer on behalf of my aunt & uncle?


Listen to our nephew, who started warning us our son was becoming a racist a*****e before he was even 10, but we did nothing to change course.

SomeVelveteenMorning , Izzy Park Report

#27

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes When I was younger, my parents did their best, but I still behaved in less desirable ways.

Selfish, underachieving, entitled, overspending, with a sprinkle of criminality.

They just toughed it out, I think. Not ignoring this behaviour, but not treating me as if that's *everything* I was. They gave me love, and an opportunity to grow the f**k up, whilst calling me out for the most egregious stuff.

That seems to have worked out OK.

Federal-Ad-5190 , Caleb Ekeroth Report

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Another positive way of looking at parenting is that it can be learned.

If you support your child by boosting their self-esteem, praising them for the things they do right and well, making time for them and paying attention to their needs and achievements, all the while setting reasonable and flexible boundaries, modeling the right behavior and loving them unconditionally, you’ll be an amazing parent—no doubt about it.

#28

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes Nothing. You can do the BEST you can. They're still individuals with their own minds and thoughts,sometimes they disappoint, i'm sure you did too.

touchmydingus , Szilvia Basso Report

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Nikki Sevven
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My parents were disappointed whenever I didn't live exactly the life they wanted me to live, even when my choices made me happy and improved my life. You don't get to demand your children be exactly like you and live according to your desires, then be TAH when they refuse to live up to your outrageous expectations.

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#29

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes I would have never bought a Nintendo Switch during the Pandemic.

glitterpumps , SCREEN POST Report

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Shine Chisholm (they/ them)
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Same. I needed something at the time, because I was single parenting and had COVID, but it totally changed the way we interact

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#30

30 Parents Who Tried To Raise Good Human Beings Share Their Main Mistakes Realizing sometimes genetics win and there's nothing you can do about it. I spent an insane amount of time and energy making sure they ate healthy. Never had a real career because I was home early to make sure they had freshly cooked meals and didn't snack. Now both my kids are overweight adults and my friend who always let them eat whatever they wanted, has superslim kids.

Better_Protection382 , Ella Olsson Report

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Agamemnon O'Neill
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Teaching kids to eat healthy is not a waste. It's good parenting. You can be thin and unhealthy.

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Note: this post originally had 37 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.

So, what are your thoughts on any of this? Do you have some parenting pearls of wisdom to share with other readers? If so, the comment section awaits!

If not, then why not check out some parenting hacks to supplement what you’ve learned here today and check out the rest of the list on the original AskReddit thread.

And be sure to visit Sarah Ockwell-Smith’s website for articles, books (including The Gentle Parenting Book), videos, and more on all things parenting, and be sure to follow her on her socials (Facebook, X, Instagram, and YouTube).