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24 Things Parents Do That Traumatize Their Children for Life

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Whether we admit it or not, the way our parents raised us has profoundly influenced the individuals we’ve become. Our most commendable qualities mirror the valuable lessons they instilled in us. Unfortunately, many of our shortcomings can also be traced back to their mistakes in raising us.

In an online discussion, people talked about what their parents did that messed them up kids.

1. Setting A Bad Example Of A Relationship

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One individual shared that this was their experience, as they witnessed a highly dysfunctional relationship despite having received a generally good upbringing.

He says, “… they provided an awful example of what a healthy relationship looks like. Mom was a street-angel / house-devil that would verbally and emotionally abuse my father constantly. He just talked less and less and less as the years went by. I will never understand why he stayed.”

2. Broken Marriages

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Their parents’ marriage is often the first one children observe, and unfortunately, some parents have managed to tarnish that image for many kids.

Whether they stay in a lousy marriage and resent each other, or have a messy divorce- these are both traumatizing for kids that get stuck in the middle.

3. They Made Lying A Lifestyle

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The expectation is that parents will teach their children the best manners and virtues there are to learn. One online user, however, learned the art of lying perfectly from their parents. Now, they have to unpack it all from a therapist’s office.

He says they “Made lying far too natural to the point where I accidentally lie as what I initially say, even though a lie is what my brain goes to first as I subconsciously think that’s what will get me in the least amount of “trouble” even though its a situation where I literally cannot be in trouble and have to correct myself as I actually try to be honest.”

4. All the Deception

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In addition to lying, other forms of deception affect a child’s go-to behaviors. Stealing, gaslighting, and psychological games are all things some kids grow up fully exposed to.

5. Being Forced To Grow Up Too Soon

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Kids deserve to be kids for as long as possible, but many adults today don’t have the privilege of being children for long. One user says he was expected to be an adult before a teenager.

Another user says, “Immigrant child here. They left me alone at 5 with my infant sister, trying to change her diaper. I’m 44 now. I still f****g hate them.”

6. Too Much Responsbility

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There are age-appropriate house chores that can help a child learn responsibility. Expecting too much from them can result in stress and loss of valuable play time- most important for kids.

7. Parents Who Were Too Protective

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Protecting your kids comes naturally to most parents, and it’s a good thing. Some parents overdo the protection and end up ruining their kid’s lives instead. The kids struggle to embrace personal responsibility and lack the motivation to address essential aspects of life.

One user who experienced this says, “I’ve grown to be very stoic & have been described as lethargic. I often expect that things will just magically fall into place giving me the outcome I desire without me doing anything. I had very unrealistic expectations of life & was smacked hard by reality.”

8. Helicopter Parents Make Kids Anxious

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Parents who constantly hover over their kids also cause a lot of anxiety. It often affects a child’s self-esteem and confidence in being able to do anything for themselves- then carrying on to their adult life.

9. Neglectful Parents

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A child deserves to be cared for and protected, and a neglected child is a vulnerable child. One online user says they were neglected by their parents, and life went downhill for them.

“I was constantly neglected by my mother, and when my father gained custody, I was angry and astonished that I couldn’t tell time, read, understand that I had a middle and last name or manage to tie my shoes.” They share.

She ended up pregnant at 16.

10. Downplaing a Child’s Needs

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When a child has needs that aren’t taken seriously, even just hugs and playtime, they feel unimportant and irrelevant in life. Many adults then have trust issues.

11. Attaching Value to School Grades Only

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Doing well in school is essential for a good career and possibly a good life, but it is not all there is to life. A child needs to know they are loved regardless of their school performance or anything else.

This was the opposite for one contributor. They say, “My value was only measured [by] how well I did in school. It didn’t matter if I was miserable and people bullied me.”

12. Conditional Love

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Only expressing love when grades are good or kids are perfect angels is a recipe for disaster. Kids make mistakes and need to know its okay.

13. Abandonment

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It’s heartbreaking to grow up and find out that your birth parents abandoned you at birth and you ended up being sold on the black market.

One online contributor says, “[They] abandoned me, basically just left me at the hospital. I found out when I was 18 that I was a black market baby (basically sold) and illegally adopted. The woman that I call mother wanted me because she [saw] a child that needed love and had no one. She treated me with nothing but love. I miss you Mom.”

14. Questions About Birth Parents

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Even if a child has terrific adoptive parents, there’s often a nagging that makes them wonder why their birth parents didn’t want them. This can manifest in different ways in their lives and contribute to mental health conerns if not addressed.

15. No Showing Emotions

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Expecting a child to bottle their emotions may give the parents less tantrums to deal with, but it will ruin a child’s emotional and psychological development.

A conversation contributor went through this and said their parents messed them up, “By raising me in a super toxic environment. [I] never learned to ask for help, feel shame when I do, try to keep all my emotions to myself, and just be stoic. It’s exhausting.”

16. Keep It To Yourself

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When kids are taught to keep their emotions inside, they don’t have a healthy way to express and release pent-up feelings. This can lead to unexplained crying, lashing out, etc.

17. Gaslighting The Kids

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Gaslighting a child is a harmful and manipulative behavior that can have lasting negative effects on the child’s emotional and psychological well-being. Gaslighting can be emotionally damaging to a child, leading to self-doubt, low self-esteem, anxiety, and other psychological issues.

“They gaslight me into questioning every action I ever took, made me into the bad guy in any situation, and they still try to guilt trip me even after starting my own family.” He says.

18. Constantly Being Told They’re Bad

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If a child is continually told that they’re naughty, bad, or other negative things- they’ll start to believe it at home, even if it isn’t true. It’ll give them a complex in adulthood about their identity.

19. Not Being the Child Of Their Choice

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A child doesn’t choose to be born, let alone the family to be born into. One child had to contend with being reminded constantly that they weren’t the parent’s choice, even though they were planned for.

They share, “My parents very, very much had me on purpose, but for as long as I can remember, my mom has told me she wouldn’t have had kids if she knew she’d end up with me, so that’s nice.”

20. Wishing for a Different Child

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Along the same lines, kids with parents who constantly wish they would be more like another sibling or child are devastating for development.

21. Not Intervening When Kids Are Abused

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To live under an abusive parent is bad enough, but to have another parent know about the abuse and do nothing about it is even worse.

One user who lived with an abusive mother says their dad did nothing to save the situation, and that is what messed him up. He says, “My dad f***d me up by not giving a f*** and ignoring my cries for help that mom was being too mean.”

22. Expecting A Perfect Clone

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Some parents are unhappy when the apple doesn’t fall right at the foot of the tree, and they do all they can to make their kids be like them. This doesn’t end well, as one user narrates.

They say, “My mom f***d me up by trying to create a clone of her. First, setting such high standards that I had an impossible time reaching them, which led me to being beaten [en]. Secondly, she expected me to be a total health nut like her, which resulted in me falling off a treadmill and then me trying to kill myself in the hospital. Finally, she tried to control me even after I moved out, which resulted in a restraining order.”

23. Parents Addicted To Drugs

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Growing up under parents addicted to drugs is traumatic, and, unfortunately, some have had to suffer through that.

One conversation contributor says, “Mom smoked m*th my entire life. Tried to murder my sister multiple times. We thought it was just a mental illness, boy was it a huge reality hit when she finally got arrested and caught with all the meth did we realize that’s why she was always abusing us, passed out, bringing us to sketchy random houses and much much more that’s too much to list.”

24. No Affection Displayed

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When children see their parents displaying affection, they learn love and warmth and the proper way a relationship should be.

A commenter says, “I never really witnessed affection between my parents. I’m sure they love each other, but they’ve never held hands or even cuddled on the couch.”

They didn’t learn what a healthy relationship looked like or how to have difficult conversations. How did they end up?

“I am one hot mess of an adult, but I finally have insight into my issues.”


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