Parenting Things That Might Sound Good, But Are Actually Toxic Parenting (65 Answers)

Moms and dads always want what’s best for their little ones, but navigating life as a parent is challenging. There are a million different books, podcasts, and mommy bloggers telling you the right and wrong ways of feeding your children, talking to them, and raising them in general, so making decisions for your kiddos can be stressful.

There’s no perfect way to parent, but recently, Reddit users have been sharing their two cents when it comes to what can be harmful for impressionable little minds. Below, you’ll find some common behaviors moms and dads do with the best of intentions that might actually backfire, so we hope this list provides some new perspectives for all of you parents and future parents. And be sure to upvote all of the answers that hit home for you.

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Not taking the time to explain themselves on certain topics. The whole ‘do as I say because I said so’ or ‘because I had you’ is not effective.

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Not apologize when they’re wrong

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They fail at letting their kids fail and figure out how to recover. It prevents the kids from becoming resilient.

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Not discussing money with them.

I’m not saying parents should dump their financial stress on their kids, but things like budgeting, taxes, and personal finance discussions would’ve helped me tremendously.

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Shouting at them instead of having a conversation

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Never telling them ‘no’

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Over sheltering them. You can’t protect your kids 24/7 for their whole lives. It leads to naive adults that get taken advantage of.

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Might sound a little contradictory but either not disciplining them or disciplining them way too much

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Comparing them with other kids?

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Passing on food issues by commenting on their children’s weight or what they eat etc. Or commenting on their own weight and food habits– always dieting and putting themselves down.

I am so lucky my parents and family have a healthy relationship with food, and thus I do as well. I have adult friends who have all kinds of messed up food issues precisely bc their parents messed them up.

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Try to fill every minute with organized activities such as traveling sports leagues. Don’t get me wrong, some extra curricular activities are good, but when your kids never have an unaccounted for minute I think it has a negative impact.

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Not encouraging them to learn basic skills like cooking for fear it’ll *MaKe a MeSs*

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Putting excessive pressure on their children to meet their own unfulfilled aspirations.

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Telling them “That’s nothing to be sad over, some kids don’t even have ______”

Now I repress my feelings and cry whenever I have to let them out, never believing they’re valid 🙂

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Not teach them to think for themselves

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Thinking them as property. We all understand parents are responsible for the offspringss actions but they aint property.

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Treating sons and daughters differently.


I’ll add my two cents here, not seeking therapy for kids who are showing signs of depression or other mental issues because they think they are just “a little sad” or “he’ll get over it”

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Forgetting what it was like to be that age, and expecting their kids to react differently to things than them when they were that age.

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Shouting, makes kids scared of it , not a good thing to be scared of as a adult

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Forgetting that a kids brain isn’t fully developed like their own.

Also, shaming in any way of something your kid is into. Trying to learn about it is actually quite helpful and a good way to connect. And, parents can learn things that they like too. I didn’t know I liked Pierce the Veil until my 12 year old liked them and I wanted to check them out

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Yelling at them for dropping/breaking/spilling stuff.

Not their fault!

And way to teach them they can’t come to you when they accidentally f**k up in the future.

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Not letting them learn how to mourn.

On a grander scale, there’s this idea of not letting your children suffer. We all know it’s important to let them struggle a little to learn how to cope.

But one no one ever talks about is allowing your child to mourn a loss. If a beloved toy breaks, go buy a replacement ASAP! If a pet fish dies, go buy a replacement ASAP! You’re teaching the kid to just replace things they’ve lost instead of processing the loss. So what happens when they lose something that can’t be replaced? They don’t know what to do or how to handle it. Like, let your kid cry over their dead fish for a few days and bury it in the garden with some flowers before asking if they’d like another.

People think it’s small, oh it’s just a toy, but losing a beloved toy is likely the closest thing a kid has to losing a person or a pet they’ve had for years like a dog. Let them learn to mourn their lost teddy bear so they’ll build those processes and when older, can mourn the family dog, etc.

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Forcing them to interact with their adult friends, then ridiculing them for not wanting to socialize with rando adults, and then humiliating them by bringing up an embarrassing moment as a “hilarious” anecdote.

*”Come on down and say hi!”*


*”Oh, this is the funniest thing! Did you know she still wet her bed until she was six! Six! AHAHAAHAHAH!”*

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Preparing the path for their kid, instead of the kid for their path


Guilt tripping them


Doing everything for them and when they’re on their own they don’t know how to do anything


I was raised with the motto “If you lose, you can’t come home.”

My great-grandfather said it to my grandmother when she was being bullied by a boy.

My grandmother said it to my mother when she ran in the house from a girl who was beating her up; kicked her out and locked the door. “If you lose, you can’t come home.”

For me, there was no one incident. It was just a mantra. And now I am absolutely afraid of failure of any sort, I come to work hours early to prepare and stay late to make sure I’ve got it right. Same with my hobbies, and every part of my life. I cannot be bad at anything. Free time only exists as practice/study/training time. The amount of pressure I put on myself is not healthy.

I’m 38 years old, and I haven’t spoken to my mother in 10+ years.

But I almost always win, and I’m f*****g amazing at the things that I do. Small consolation. Parents f**k us up, man.

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Not respecting their privacy because it’s “their home” . Barging into their room , asking them to leave the door open etc…

It give kids anxiety. And it last .
I moved to my own place and sometimes I still look at the door expecting it to open etc…


Giving them stupid names or with stupid spellings.

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Not allowing questions about beliefs/self discovery. I was raised in a very, very religious and conservative home that did not allow questioning about any of the beliefs. Doubt the existence of god? They’d sit me down and grill me for hours about the evil of the devil, his temptations, how I’d go to hell, etc. etc. Don’t think conservatives are the best? Get called a f*****g commie. That’s my parents for you.

edit: Holy s**t, my first reddit award. Thank you, kind internet stranger!!!!


Forcing them to hug people (friends/family members) when they say they don’t want to. All you’re teaching them is to put other people’s feelings above their own discomfort. Bonus points for guilt trips “well if I don’t get a hug then I won’t give you this toy I bought for you” please don’t teach my child to give physical affection in exchange for gifts.

I was raised this way and was such a people pleaser, I would make my life as difficult as possible to make sure I don’t inconvenience a soul, it’s a lot of work to unlearn it

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Refusing to be wrong or take accountability. Being wrong is ok and it can be a learning moment for both of you. Randomly punishing your kid for being right or potentially right cause they argued may make it so they never ask you anything again.

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Saving for their kids college before their own retirement. This is a great way to turn your kids into your retirement plan. Put on your own oxygen mask before you help others.


Forcing them to eat. My mom always made me finish my plate, eating disorder and lifelong obesity ensued. I’ve successfully quit smoking way easier than going on an effective diet.


Thinking kids owe their parents s**t for providing food, shelter, etc. Wanting kids to be thankful is one thing sure, but a lot of parents think the basic necessities are something they have to be thankful for all their life no matter what. It’s hurtful for both parties. Kids didn’t ask to be born. It’s a lifelong commitment for the parents. Talk to your kids. Provide and don’t think you’re a Messias for doing things you’re supposed to do as a parent.

My mom told me way too often “I gave up so much for you!” I really feel like a problem 80% of the time and if I don’t people please I feel physically sick. Setting boundaries is so hard for me even at 30 with 5 years of constant therapy. Don’t do that to your kids. No contact guaranteed.


Having a toxic relationship and staying together for the “sake of the kids”


Teaching them that being hit is okay when it’s from someone who loves you and as a punishment given by them “because they love you”


Talking bad/hateful about LGBT people. Kills so many teens.


Not letting them struggle.

I don’t mean parents should never help, but running in to fix every difficulty teaches kids to think they can’t solve problems. Help them by asking questions, by encouraging them to explore solutions – not by clearing every obstacle in their path.

And then – help them to reflect on the process. Praise them for their effort and their persistence. Let them learn to view mistakes and failures as part of the process. Let them own their successes and be proud that they worked hard.


Forcing their kid to do something they *really* hate doing because “it’ll be good for them”.

That’s not how it works. You should encourage your kid to do things, but you should also be able to tell when they really don’t want to. It’ll just have the opposite effect otherwise.

Edit: Specifically when they really don’t want to *continue* doing that activity. Give it a couple tries.


Telling your kids they are so smart constantly when they are excelling in primary school but then expecting the exact same grades and chastising them for being lazy once they hit middle school and the work actually becomes difficult.

You’re not ‘pushing them to do better’, all you’ve done is instill this idea that they’ve peaked early and that they are a failure and a disappointment for not being a genius, because everything used to be so easy and suddenly its hard and everyone is mad at them. Ask me how I know.

Parents: reward honesty, hard work and a good attitude. Don’t attach your kids worth to their grades and test scores. Also the difficulty jump for things like math is absurd between primary and secondary school, so expect some struggle. Not to mention puberty is happening at that time and absolutely f*****g with the kids emotions.


Posting them on social media.


When they get disciplined & it gets recorded & posted online.

Not respecting their privacy.

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Elite sports. A small number will come out of it with scholarships and even fewer will be able to make some money. But, most will hate the activity they once loved and be resentful for their lost childhood.


Over protective and always having to be right. Also being too strict.


“Im telling you so you dont hear it from others.”
Ends up being the only person to ever say it.


thinking your child can’t think for themselves until they are 18


Bullying their own kids and then telling them they need to ‘toughen up’ and grow a ‘thicker skin’ when the kid get upset. Like whatever happened to just treating your kids with respect and kindness so they in turn would treat others with respect and kindness?

Also, completely disrespecting their kids’ boundaries when they say no. If you don’t listen when your kid is telling you no, why would your kid think that anyone else is going to listen to them when they say no?

I think your own parents being your biggest bully growing up is a topic that seriously needs more research. And I don’t mean just the obviously abusive kind. I mean the subtle bullying, constantly telling your kids they can do better so why aren’t they getting better grades, the constant bringing up embarrassing s**t that happened when they’re kids, the pranks that makes your kid embarrassed and uncomfortable and then telling them they can’t take a joke, forcing your kids in situations where they’re clearly uncomfortable and doing nothing to make them feel better or secure.


Having arbitrary rules which they drop for the younger kids or apply differentlyto different kids. We have very few rules but we discuss why we have them with our kids and if we think they’re not working we talk about that with them.


Not worrying about the “easy” and “uncomplicated” kids, who are always well-behaved or “already so grown up” – because they had to.

They usually are like that for a reason and will probably grow into people pleasers who struggle to set boundaries and stand up for themselves.

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Try to keep their kids from making mistakes. Mistakes are good teaching moments, and when you are a kid, the consequences are the least serious. This would lead to more honesty and openness, since kids wouldn’t feel okay with discussing a mistake with you, because they know you want to help them grow from it! Instead, parents are making their kids keep secrets out of fear they will be punished, instead of taught how to better handle the situation.


Sticking young ones on screens.
Refusing to seek medical care when the child is showing signs of ADHD.
Thinking they will outgrow concerning behaviors.


Making their “purpose” in life their children. Your parents purpose and self worth will be dependent upon your actions. Letting your parents down etc.


unloading their stress and issues on kids. that’s what therapy is for. kids need to feel safe, protected, loved, etc.


MIND GAMES! I don’t know about other parents but mom knows how to mess with my head. She doesn’t do it intentionally, or as well as her mom does, but it has messed me up for years and now I don’t have enough confidence to stop being a people pleaser or really speak my mind.


Saying “you’re too young, you don’t know what is good for you/what you want”


comparing then to other kids

I vividly remember all the times I was like six and my dad sat me down to watch kids my age with amazing talents and ask “when are you gonna play guitar like this?”

he thinks I don’t remember but I so do


Emotionally stunting them by actively doing things to suppress their ability to express themselves and explore. Including dating, music, identity.


Not realizing that they have the same emotions and experiences as adults, without the years of figuring it out. The are literally little people. Anything you wouldn’t do to an adult you certainly shouldn’t do to a child. You don’t hit an adult when they are wrong, you don’t scream at them, you treat them with the same dignity and respect as anybody.


To want to be their best friend, not their parent.

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Leave them alone with digital devices for hours on end. Having raised a daughter in this device flooded age I can tell you without a doubt its made her life worse. I know that there are going to be 20 something redditors that will say.. “well it didn’t mess MEEEE up”, well good for you, you’re stronger than most.


Saying ‘you should smile more’ when the kid has a good reason to be miserable about…


not teach kids how to manage money


Public humiliation is the worst.


Making them feel like a burden, either financially or logistically, has to be up there as a silent trauma that takes root over time.

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