People Are Naming Telltale Signs They Were Raised By Toxic Parents (56 Answers)

It’s not unusual to have a more or less complicated relationship with your parents. After all, they’re human just like you, navigating the same complex feelings and emotions. However, there’s a line between familial disagreement and toxic behavior. And Reddit user snoofle-science wanted to find it.

So they made a post on the platform, asking its users to share what signs have they noticed indicate that their moms and dads were lousy caregivers. From not being able to show affection to desperate attention cravings, here are some of the most popular problems that people attribute to their upbringing.

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You feel intimidated by everyone around you, you feel like you’re never good enough for anyone, no matter how much they tell you that you don’t need to try so hard, and you generally have low self-worth.

Edit: Wow. I don’t know whether to feel encouraged that so many people know where I’m coming from with this, or heartbroken about it. Either way, thank you, everyone.

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Never believing a compliment. Always being anxious that people are mad at you/ignoring you if they’re being quiet/not responding. Not being able to deal with confrontation/conflict in a constructive/healthy way.

Basically you get shitty people skills and emotional damage.

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Emotional numbness especially in the face of bad things. Once you’ve seen enough shit certain things just don’t faze you anymore

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Being surprised people will apologize and want to talk out and deal with an issue instead of screaming and pretending everything is fine and never mentioning why there was a fight or argument at all.

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You are in your 40s and still crave attention and validation from anyone at all because you were ignored all the time.

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Why is nobody mentioning the silent foot steps?

When you grow up with parents that will yell at you for existing you develop the ability to hide your presence as much as possible and always try to keep your noise and visibility to a minimum.

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You apologize for everything you do, good or bad.

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Paranoia when people are just being nice. Like why are you being friendly? What do I have that you want from me?

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A second chance to do it better when you have kids. Every time I got angry or upset with my own children, I would take a breath and think about what my mom would do—and then do the exact opposite. Lots of laughter and forgiveness in our house and zero violence. My mantra has always been “there is value in a bad example.”

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You can’t identify your own emotions immediately, or sometimes at all, but can identify others without them having to say a word. Don’t know how to react to things in the moment, and are extremely mature for your age. Mature kids often aren’t a result of great parenting.

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Doing everything yourself, not asking for help, because you knew no help was coming.

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Being afraid that you’ll continue the cycle and treat your kids terribly

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The panicked rush to jump and start “doing something” when you hear someone come in the house. Lest you be subjected to a barrage of insults and commands.

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Over-explain the tiniest issues because of a compulsive need to justify every thought, action or inaction


Okay lets do it –

self doubt, self esteem issues and overall not feeling good enough or feeling like you have an intense obligation or expectation to fulfil to keep your parents happy.

The inability to know what you want or not knowing how to say no when someone asks something of you in fear they will react poorly.

Inability to be assertive and telling people what you are/aren’t ok with.

Not having high values of yourself and putting everyone else before you.

Feeling guilt the minute you ‘let someone down.’

TRIGGER WORDS – example ‘I’m disappointed’

Having a habit of toxic and repetitive relationships with friends and partners. Also switching around friend groups often or having little to none.

Feeling emotionally inept or being extremely emotional and feeling like you cannot express it.

Difficulty with maintaining life skills, self care, hygiene, finances ect

feeling like a child stuck in an adults body


When i tell stories of my childhood that i think are funny but my friends stare in horror

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being really good at hiding things (physical or mental). being able to sneak something to my room, being able to look like i haven’t cried even though i was five minutes ago.

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When you really don’t remember any good times you spent with them.

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Unable to form or desire romantic attachments and not to forget the numerous mental illnesses you have no control over because your parent doesn’t believe in poor mental health so allowed you to go undiagnosed your whole life 🙂

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I can never open up to them. No matter how big or small my problems are, because they’ll just tell me I’m being dramatic.


Not reacting appropriately to ordinary situations. Usually an overreaction to a normal situation or underreacting to very messed up situations.

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My dad was yelling at me once and I couldn’t take it so I made a snappy comment back. Instinctively I threw my hands up to block the blow I knew was coming. But then they both tried to convince me that my dad has never hit me before and why would I act like that… physically abusive and mentally abusive with gas lighting

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Being a people-pleaser to the point of it being detrimental to yourself

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You remember being severely neglected yet you were told “you are spoiled.”

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You don’t talk to them anymore or want them in your life otherwise as an adult (e.g., not inviting them to your wedding, or want them around any potential children you may have).


My mother treats me like her personal therapist and I’m only 17. She asks me where she went wrong in raising my brother and I and I don’t want to tell her because I’m scared of her when she yells.


Can’t explain myself without crying


Not being able to recognize affection or how to show it healthily.


A fantastic sense of humor

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I had to sneak out of the house through my bedroom window to go to school and take my finals because my mom locked my room from the outside. This was punishment because I wouldn’t do the dishes because I was cramming for my exams. To top it off after she locked me in my room she went to the breaker and turned off the lights to my bedroom so I wouldn’t have any lighting to study and I had to spend the whole night studying with a flashlight.

I aced all my exams. And instead of my mother being proud of me she locked me up in my room for a week for sneaking out.

I ended up going to college and grad school in STEM and made something of myself. And now she brags to people that I am successful because of her. When she says that I tell her and everyone “absolutely not! I’m successful DESPITE her”.


When, as an adult, you witness an example of good parenting – and experience a sense of shock, and get dizzy.

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Someone raises their voice- doesn’t even have to be in anger; they could just have a deep voice but suddenly its *loud* – and your first reaction is to either shrink in on yourself or focus on anything but their face and wait for your throat to stop feeling so tight or for your eyes to stop watering.


Self-harm such as cutting


– Thinking you do everything wrong, even small daily tasks, and at a certain moment you hear other people compliment you about doing it well or asking why I am a perfectionist.

– Always apologizing for everything, multiple times

– When people say something, you suspect that they mean something else, something you did wrong, buy they won’t tell you until they get so mad they burst.

– Extremely nauseous feelings when someone gets irritated or angry


When you are telling a story which you think is a funny story from your childhood, only for someone to turn around and tell you “That’s not normal”.

If you’ve grown up in a very dysfunctional household, then not only is your norm set at a very messed up bar, but things that would be horrifying to others might be funny to you because of where your norm was set at. Examples of this can include “funny stories” that actually featured a lot of violent or neglect.

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Lot of anger problems


Not knowing a lot of things that are “common sense” and not realizing til you’re an adult yourself


If you’re the eldest, an extreme urge to help and “save” your younger siblings, even to the detriment of your own mental health.

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They told me the wrong date was my birthday. Didnt find out until my sixteenth birthday going for my drivers licence. Couldnt be bothered with getting it right, real nice of them.


Uncomfortably into Disney stuff well into old age. I’ve noticed that a lot of hardcore Disney fans AS ADULTS (I’m talking people who buy the plates, cups, figures, cookie jars, plush characters, etc) often have had bad parents or experiences as a kid. They probably are trying to hold on to some child like feeling that’s still in them. Idk.

There’s nothing wrong with being into Disney, but, at a certain point, I have to question what exactly went down in your household as a kid.

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You’re raised by people who can barely function, people who are basically at subsistence level. So you have no tools to be successful in the real world. There’s no support other than vague crappy advice to just keep plugging along. You know that everything you get in life can disappear in a moment, and no one will be there to provide for you. Worse, your parents are expecting that you’ll somehow magically provide for them in their old age. They send you out into the world with worse-than-s**t life skills, and they expect you to support them.


They don’t want you to have any better of a life than they did

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Apologizing constantly

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Parents that lean more on you in rough times when it should be 100% the other way around


Feeling weird when people tell you that they love you, recieving hugs, feeling weirded out when you have to give hugs, and my personal favorite, being at the end of the favorite’s list


Always screaming. Always angry. Never showed any physical affection. Completely out of tune with their children’s lives.


Even at 31 feeling like if I get close to anyone they’ll find a way to take advantage of me


I knew how to open a beer and pour it with minimal foam for my mom while she was driving.


When all the people you thought loved you at school disappear once they aren’t legally forced to be coincidentally in the same place as you every day.


You call them for advice and they give you literally the worst advice ever. So you have been doing the opposite haha


We fought alot about boarding school.
One day, she said that she’s tired and that she gives up. She then proceeded to tell me that she will put me up for adoption and welfare. Yep.

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I’m 27, and I still get anxious and a high heart rythm whenever I hear someone shakes his key chains.

It was my father’s habit when he used to come home late at night.

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You can’t stick to your boundaries


Depends on the person. Some people will take their shitty upbringing and take it out on others who had nothing to do with it. Other people will use their past as motivation to be better people than their parents.


You think the Confederacy is an valued part of your heritage.


You, as a parent, also use spanking as a form of punishment and then say “I tUrNeD oUt FiNe”.

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