One third of Americans regret their life choices and wish they could do things differently. But big things start small. Many of us do regret the words we uttered, things we said to people, especially to those who are closest to us.

It’s no secret that words have power to heal, but they can also hurt deeply. Especially when you’re at your most vulnerable, still being a kid with the vast world waiting to be explored. Things our parents say shape us in profound ways, some good, some inherently harmful.

So people on r/AskReddit are now sharing the things that should never, ever be said to children. From divorced parents screwing up their kid’s mind with manipulation to telling them they’re “useless,” the answers on the thread are cruel enough while being read, let alone being said to a small kid.

#1

My drunken father once told me, "You'll never be the man that I am." I remember thinking, "You're damn right I won't be."

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Hans
Community Member
1 month ago

For good!

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#2

"you don't have the right to privacy", "you are a child, you have no rights", "at least I'm putting a roof over your head", "I wish I never had you".

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Miocha
Community Member
1 month ago

My dad always said that I don't have the right to privacy because I'm his child. He even had the audacity to ask my email and social media password because it's right thing to do according to him.

Jessica Aubé
Community Member
1 month ago

Depending on age and circumstances email and social media passwords can absolutly be the right thing to do

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What ninjas can't
Community Member
1 month ago

"at least I'm putting a roof over your head" I hate this so much. You created a life and then think that the kid should be grateful for you doing exactly what you should be doing. I once read a thing on here that really stuck with me, it goes something like this "its like demanding someone to be thankful for saving them from a fire that you started".

Vicky Z
Community Member
1 month ago

You are absolutely right!it's not like the kid had a choice to be born or not!! You chose to be a parent so be a proper parent and cut the bullshit!

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Casey McAlister
Community Member
1 month ago

Some people think that having a child is like buying a new armchair and then act all surprised because, apparently, a child is growing into their own individual with their own opinions, views, and - gasp - personality. Who could have thought?

Vihra Stancheva
Community Member
1 month ago

My mom always says the story how she didn't want kid (me) but my dad tricked her. They were married for two years already when she got pregnant with me. Also she keeps saying that she got pregnant with my sister so I am not alone. Also she had terrible pregnancy and she was in pain for two days when giving birth to me. I almost died, was born blue/black. Amazing way to be living knowing your mom didn't want you. Thanks god there are good psychologists.

Linda Cowley
Community Member
1 month ago

I'm sorry for that my dear

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Aileen Grist
Community Member
1 month ago

My dad said that while I lived under his roof I loved by his rules - fair enough - but then when I grew up and got my own home he expected his rules there too. He also said that until I was earning I had no right to make a decision or have an opinion. That meant going from child to adult in one day.

Linda Cowley
Community Member
1 month ago

Sex, Robert. That's what he meant. I'm sure he meant well. Just unfortunate that well is indistinguishable from right sometimes

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Raine Soo
Community Member
1 month ago

Yep, I've heard most of these from my mother. She was the disciplinarian of the family.

Hans
Community Member
1 month ago

Another classic is "It's my house" as a justification for wrongdoing towards the child.

Sum Guy
Community Member
1 month ago

African households be like....

Hidden Gen-Z
Community Member
1 month ago

Common when you come from a brown muslim family

Chloe Patt
Community Member
1 month ago

Common doesn't make it alright. I come from strict asian family and heard the same s**t which I thought was ok cause all my asian friends went thru the same. No, it's not ok. Asian or Muslim or Black or blue or pink whatever - doing that to a child is NOT ok.

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the redqueen
Community Member
1 month ago

Lol-I grew up in the most religiously strict household you could possibly imagine. When I was old enough to start questioning the rigid patriarchal system I was told I would follow and believe, or else, and refused; my mother used to scream at me, " Get behind me Satan!" , because she swore the devil was using me to try and destroy the family. Her favorite was to tell me that I was such an awful child, that I had " killed the natural love and affection that she, as a parent, was supposed to have for their child", meaning yours truly, me. At 14, I was smart enough to know there was something not right about my mother, and it wasn't really me that was so unlovable; and I am eternally grateful to God for giving me the awareness at that age. Still, those words sting-even 20 years later.

Linda Cowley
Community Member
1 month ago

Smart, you are lucky. Hope you find lovingness

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Floofy Husky Puppy
Community Member
1 month ago

Human rights but I guess that doesn't apply because children aren't humans

V Martinez
Community Member
1 month ago

I was raised that food, clothing, education and shelter were human rights. Everything else is a privilege. Privacy was not always a right. It depended on the age, if under 18, and the situation. Times have changed, so the opinions on privacy may have changed for some. To each their own.

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Big,Ern MCCracken
Community Member
1 month ago

"at least I'm putting a roof over your head", "I wish I never had you". don't like it, leave and don't let the door hit you on the way out and i'll take you off the insurance i pay for in the morning

Mira Kappagoda
Community Member
1 month ago

WHAT THE F-

Gregg Bender
Community Member
1 month ago

My sister told my niece that she wished she had her aborted. Neither of us talk to my sister anymore. Bonus points: My sister is a pro-life fundie.

Linda Cowley
Community Member
1 month ago

Pendulums aren't necessarily right. Love to both of you

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Joy
Community Member
1 month ago

This is so much BS. My son has absolute right to privacy. That being said, things related to internet, I must always know what he sees, messages and the like (however, I refuse to ask him for passwords for his accounts and I have the right to reserve to check his devices at random, so he can't have a chance to delete messages).

Linda Cowley
Community Member
1 month ago

There are some nasty people out there, so much closer on the internet. Look after your children.

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⭐Onyx (they/them)⭐
Community Member
1 month ago

I'm so sorry

tofushoes
Community Member
1 month ago

17 years old and my mom still has the same apps that document what I do and send her the contents of what I say to others and what I search up to her that I had in elementary school. I have no desire to do anything inappropriate, and have never been in a situation that would put me in danger that has stemmed from the internet. My privacy is not a luxury I have. No matter what she says I know this stems from her need for control.

okpkpkp
Community Member
1 month ago

I wish you were dead was one I got from mom when I was 6, 7, & 8. Much more than that,

Chloe Patt
Community Member
1 month ago

Yup - my house my rules, you're useless, you're an embarrassment, I wish I never had you, I should've killed you when you were a baby, slaps here and there, beaten up, so much so you become scared of loud noises even as an adult... And then when you grow up, they'll look at other families and once again complain about how you're an ungrateful brat compared to their friends' kids. Again it's your fault as a terrible human being, not them as a parent.

real._.izuku
Community Member
1 month ago

i've been told the first three

Just a Marine Veteran
Community Member
1 month ago

I am sorry they said those things to you; there is no excuse for that, and you didn't deserve it. That being said, I also think that children should be given privacy in many ways, like changing clothes, bathing, conversations with their friends, and other similar things, but parents absolutely should have access to their children's internet and phone activity and messages. I volunteer with a human trafficking organization, and so many parents are unaware that their child is being groomed under their nose because they want to give them privacy that they are not mature enough to handle yet.

DetongLhamo
Community Member
1 month ago

Yep- had that from my mother.

Eithne Griffiths
Community Member
1 month ago

My mother told me I should have been a boy. She said "I let your father choose your name as I didn't want you.I had 4 brothers and 3 sisters,when I was 4 years old she adopted her boy.

Satirical Duchess
Community Member
1 month ago

3/4 things my parents have said to me

Silre
Community Member
1 month ago

I work with this mom

deanna woods
Community Member
1 month ago

No parent should ever tell their child that they wish they never had them.

Keyy
Community Member
1 month ago

i mean they dont have the right to privacy until they reach a certain age .. in my household its 10 years old

My O My
Community Member
1 month ago

There always is the right for privacy!

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sylvanticx
Community Member
1 month ago

idk i think the roof over your head an no right to privacy are kinda standard.

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#3

'It's all in your head/you are just imagining it.' As it turned out, I wasn't imagining it and now I struggle to differentiate between what's real and what's not because I was led to believe I was imagining things constantly.

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Natalie Bohrteller
Community Member
1 month ago

Sounds like gaslighting.

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To find out more about how the things parents tell their kids can affect them and what damage it may cause on a profound level, Bored Panda reached out to Susan Petang from “The Quiet Zone Coaching,” who’s a certified life coach, teaching adults and teens. Susan said that a lot of our emotional dysfunction can originate with childhood experiences and messages.

“One of the most prevalent that I see is low self-esteem, which can result in anxiety, the inability to interact effectively in society, and being used and abused by the psychic vampires and bullies of the world,” she said and added: “Believe it or not, bullying, aggressive, and entitled behavior can also be caused by low self esteem!”

#4

We had you so your brother would have someone to play with.

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Pepper Sergent
Community Member
1 month ago

I had a colleague who told me, wile pregnant, that she was having her second child so the first one wouldn't feel lonely. I never saw her in the same way again.

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#5

Trash talking about the other parent, then comparing you to them. 'You’re just like your father!'

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Susan Green
Community Member
1 month ago

In my case, my dad always said to me “you’re just like your mother” as I got older, I was happy that I was more like my wonderful mom!

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#6

"I am not asking you do to it, it is an order!" "Why did I give birth to you?" "I wish you were never born." "You are ruining my life." or "You ruined my life." "How dare you disobey me." "You are a disappointment." Or any insult tbh. Or comparing you to other kids, or to your siblings.

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Susan Green
Community Member
1 month ago

What kind of parent would say this to their children? You would have to be a very abusive person to talk to your kids like this!

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When asked about the things one should never say to another person, Susan said that it’s things like “'I hate you!' 'Don't be stupid!' 'Don't you ever learn?' or, 'Why can't you be more like your brother?'”

“Are you dismissive of your child's opinion, no matter how ridiculous it may seem to you? Sometimes it's not words, it's behaviors that create bad feelings. Do you ignore your child? Do you comfort them when they're crying, or do you let them 'cry it out'? Do you and your partner fight in front of the kids (especially when it concerns them)?”

#7

'So you're saying that I'm a bad parent' in response to any form of help-seeking or constructive criticism was the worst for me.

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Hans
Community Member
1 month ago

"If you try to guilt-trip me, you are!"

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#8

Constantly comparing you with your older siblings and giving you extremely different treatment. It makes you feel inferior to them and like no matter how much you try or do, it will never be enough.

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Susan Green
Community Member
1 month ago

A decent parent, will always treat all of their children equally.

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#9

'You’re being dramatic' or 'Quit being emotional', 'why are you being difficult', 'you make things so hard on me', 'someone else has it worse so stop crying'.

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Susan Green
Community Member
1 month ago

Oh yes, I remember hearing that.

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The good news is that the right words and behaviors have the power to not only heal, but also build self-esteem, teach compassion, and provide examples of what healthy relationships look like. Susan explained how a parent should do that: “Listen to your children. Use reflective listening to engage them. 'It seems like you're upset. Want to tell me what's happening?' 'I'm hearing that you're really frustrated. Let's see what we can do to solve the problem.' 'I feel like you're very angry that I won't let you go out with your friends. Do you understand why?'"

#10

Making fun of your kid for making a change in their life for the better. I was always anti-social and the complete opposite of athletic. When I began to try and work out to gain some muscle, I got teased by my parents. All that did was discourage me and make me want to quit.

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Raine Soo
Community Member
1 month ago

Yeah, my mom was complete kill-joy. When I wanted to try something new as a kid, like skateboarding, she said "Why would you want to do something stupid like that? That's for boys. You should do something useful like dust the furniture."

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#11

I gave up everything I liked for you

95? Why not 100?

why can't you be like so and so's child, they do 'one impressive thing'

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Artoonist Corine
Community Member
1 month ago

I remember being in 7th grade - I won a local art contest. I showed my grandmother who was visiting (we never got to see her because she lived so far away) the blue ribbon and the painting. She took one tiny look and instantly said, "Oh you should see the art your cousin "Margaret" does!" and went on and on about "Margaret". That ruined any relationship I could have with that Grandmother

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#12

I have a list.

I wish I [terminated my pregnancy]

I wish I put you up for adoption.

List all the bad things about dad and then immediately tell me I look/act just like him.

What did I do to deserve such a disrespectful child why couldn't I have a good one? (I was not a bad kid at all, always home, cleaning the house, cooking for her, good grades, people pleaser, etc.)

She wonders why I never talked to her about big things happening in my life, why I put 5,000 miles in-between us, and why I haven't returned home for almost 10 years.

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Toni Lilly
Community Member
1 month ago

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Meanwhile, the tone of your voice is also crucial as Susan said it's the setpoint for the conversation. “Do you want to have a discussion, or a fight? Stay calm. If you or your child is getting upset, take a break. 'I feel like I'm getting angry about this. Can we take a 10 minute break and finish the conversation when we're both calmer?'”

Sometimes, it’s a disciplinary issue that needs addressing, and in those cases, Susan suggests using the XYZ Limit Setting Statement. For example, “'When you do X, I feel Y, and I'd like Z.' For example: 'When you go out with your friends without permission, I get angry and anxious. I'd like you to tell me where you're going from now on.'”

#13

I think probably the most toxic thing a parent can say to a child is any form of, 'Nobody will ever love you as much as I do' or 'I'm the only one who really loves you.' It's the psychological equivalent of a bear trap. Its purpose isn't just to hurt the kid, but to keep them from ever leaving.

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Thomas Stead
Community Member
1 month ago

my mum does this all the time

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#14

Any time your mom talks about how much she weighed when she was your age. 'When I was your age, I weighed 98 pounds.'

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Susan Green
Community Member
1 month ago

Yeah! And so...

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#15

In my experience, any time divorced parents say stuff like: 'Don't talk about that to your [other parent],' 'Tell your [other parent] this,' or 'Your [other parent] is trying to manipulate you.' It really screws with the kid's head.

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Ozacoter
Community Member
1 month ago

My mums best friend was abused by her husband. At the end she managed to report him and they divorced but he manipulated the sons into believing that their mother was crazy abd they went to live with him. It broke her heart. It took them years to realise how terrible their father was and to go back to their mother.

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At the same time, every parent should make sure to have consequences for bad behavior that fit the crime. Susan said that “you wouldn't ground your child for 2 weeks for not putting his plate in the dishwasher, and you wouldn't take his phone away for a day if he got caught shoplifting.”

#16

When I was 11 I overheard my mother telling someone that at least my looks meant she didn’t have to worry about me being [touched]. That [screwed] me up for years.

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JennyLaRue
Community Member
1 month ago

That's horrendous

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#17

My mother told me when I was 8, that nobody likes a fat girl. I wasn't even really overweight. That and many other things she said and did made me develop an eating disorder...at the age of 8. More than 30 years later, and a lot more mental abuse, I still struggle with the whole eating thing.

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Scagsy
Community Member
1 month ago

It's hard enough dealing with the social media pressures without your mum chipping in and making things worse. I fear for young girls growing up right now with all the unrealistic standards set by 'influencers' and such. It must be so hard.

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#18

after i got accepted to my dream college my mom told me i’m too stupid to actually go and succeed. i graduated high school with honors. but i thought she was right. i dropped out before i even went. still regret it

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Susan Green
Community Member
1 month ago

It’s never too late you know. You can still do it now.

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“Another great strategy for communicating with your children is to ask yourself, 'What effect will these words have in the long run? What will I teach my child by saying this?' Is what you're saying going to teach them that it's OK to shout at others? That they're 'bad'? Put yourself in their position. What are they experiencing?”

According to the certified life coach, “children’s reality is much different from what we experienced when we were that age,” and if you're not sure, just ask!

#19

I wish you were the one who [passed away] not your father.

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Raine Soo
Community Member
1 month ago

God, that's incredibly hurtful.

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#20

As your mother, I have to love you, but sometimes I really don’t like you.

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Susan Green
Community Member
1 month ago

Fortunately, I never had to go through this, but I feel bad for anyone who had to.

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#21

"I understand but I don't respect you" - My mother after I came out twice. Some people think that's not a big deal. It is huge and it f***ing hurts so much.

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Thomas Stead
Community Member
1 month ago

yeah

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We also talked to Kimberly Koljat, a licensed marriage and family therapist who said that “it is true adults often underestimate children’s capability of understanding the world around them, which can even have a negative impact on children and their sense of self.”

Not only can parents deeply hurt them by choosing the wrong words to communicate themselves, but the way they look at their child can cause a sense that children’s beliefs and thoughts are not to be trusted or that they’re invalid. “It later creates difficulty in setting boundaries, making decisions, or maintaining a positive sense of self,” said Kimberly.

#22

"I'm glad that you're adopted it reminds me that you don't have my dna" "you're not a part of this family" and even in early years like 6 and 7 years old "you're not special. You are nothing and never will be something!"

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Nadine Debard
Community Member
1 month ago

OMG It's just so sad... Fortunately you don't have this DNA, cause it sucks.

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See Also on Bored Panda
#23

I wish you were never born

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Susan Green
Community Member
1 month ago

What kind of parent would ever say that??

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#24

My dad once told me he missed when I was a little kid, because back then I was dependent on him and couldn't say no.

I told that to a psychiatrist and her eyes damn near fell out of her face.

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Jessica Aubé
Community Member
1 month ago

You ever parented a pre teen or teenager ??? Cause a lot of parents have those moments of wanting their babies back .. maybe not the best idea to share those thoughts but parents make mistakes and I am highly suspect of a psychiatrist who would be shocked by these emotions ..

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However, the family therapist explained that children are immensely observant “and pick up on cues from caregivers and significant support individuals in their lives. Young children’s main need in life is attunement, which is why we, as adults in their lives, have a very important role of co-regulating children and being emotionally congruent models for them.”

#25

"You're a useless disappointment" "Do you think you'll ever amount to anything?" "You're pathetic." "You're like a tiny little ant-- I could destroy you so easily." "I don't deserve you. I'm too good of a parent for you." "You're an abuser."

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Nadine Debard
Community Member
1 month ago

Abusive parent. How hurtful.

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#26

“We had you so you could donate organs/plasma etc to your sibling” like that film my sisters keeper.

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Raine Soo
Community Member
1 month ago

Yeah, because nothing says 'I love you' better than telling someone that they are nothing but spare parts.

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#27

I never wanted to have kids with your dad. He forced me to have you.

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Steve Barnett
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

Retort: "I never wanted to be born, but you went ahead and created me. Touché"

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In fact, “Children often know when their parents are divorcing long before parents believe them to know, not because they 'overheard' them talking about it, but because of emotional cues leading up to the event of separation,” Kimberly explained.

#28

my mum told me i deserved nothing in life because i forgot to do the dishes before she came home lol

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Proud gold rose
Community Member
1 month ago

Over dramatic parenttt

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#29

"Look 'x' kid is doing it better than you"

"Look that kid is 'x' year old and they can do it"

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Raine Soo
Community Member
1 month ago

Yes, I got these too. I always hated it.

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#30

"You're the reason why your dad and I almost divorced."

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Morna Bibbw
Community Member
1 month ago

My dad told me I was the reason they got divorced. He was still telling me this last year before he died. I'm 52.

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Note: this post originally had 42 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.

According to her, one of the biggest skill sets we can offer children in their development is helping them expand their emotional literacy. “As adults, we assume that means we teach them words to express how they feel, but that is only one way of knowing. Children are communicating and learning through their other ways of knowing—verbally, kinesthetically, visually. Helping them learn the four basic feelings of mad, sad, glad, and afraid are just the start, we have to help them understand more complex emotions and the important skills of empathy.”