Parents are trying their best, but that isn't an excuse for the bizarre and appalling behavior of these people. Now some of them are very supportive, but most of these people are doing the worst they can possibly do. These kids could not leave the house fast enough! COntent has been edited for clarity.
"I thought never going to the doctor, or dentist, or ophthalmologist was normal. It is definitely not. Also, I have really bad asthma and was sick a lot and couldn't breathe. No doctor. No inhaler. My parents would give me some Robitussin and a humidifier they bought from the local Target. I would get sick and sleep sitting up for weeks at a time every year. I finally took charge of my own health at 17, when I suffered through two months of bronchitis and extreme shortness of breath. My parents still couldn't be bothered to take me to the doctor. It took two more months and three total visits, but I finally got my awful asthma sorted. Until I was 37, I'd just see whatever medical doctor or practitioner was next available. I had no established relationships with any sort of healthcare providers. My current primary care physician is the first doctor I've ever had who wasn't just some name attached to my medical record. We are buddies, and he's the best doctor I have ever had.
As an adult, I had to learn when to go to the doctor. My parents were always so worried about wasting the doctor's time that they imprinted that worry on me. I still wrestle with it, but my doctor is aware of my childhood and tries to reassure me about this stuff. It is not unusual for me to see him about something I have just been putting up with for years. When I was 39, I had some chronic hip pain and after about a month, my husband finally said, 'Why don't you go see your doctor?' And at that moment, at 39 years old, I learned that you can just go to the doctor if you have chronic pain. It was a revelation. I had suffered through numerous sports injuries as a kid because my parents didn't want to waste a doctor's time. I just had no idea you could go to the doctor if part of you just hurt. Anyway, I do hold some resentment towards my parents about it, especially now that my mom has COPD and actually really takes it seriously, but I wouldn't be who I am without that. I am resilient and self-reliant. Unfortunately, my mom passed away from a severe case of refusing to burden the family with medical bills. She had no health insurance, and she had to have been married for eight years before her husband's VA benefits could cover her. The week after their eighth anniversary, my mom went into the hospital and passed away within days. I probably watched her die of untreated cancer over the course of a few years. I still panic when I leave a doctor's office, thinking that they are going to stop or arrest me for not handing them money before I leave."
"My parents would scream at each other about the horrible things they hoped would happen to each other. There were holes punched in the wall, with each of them finding fault in the other for everything. I was not allowed to do much or have more than a couple of friends, because I was always expected to be with my family and do family things. It turns out that my parents are abusive! Who knew! Maybe I should have guessed when my mom regularly said to me, 'Go ahead and report me. You will be taken to a foster home and attacked every day! Then you will be begging to come back!'
And yet, she and my dad can't understand why they are not welcome in my life or my kids' lives. They are now stalking us and getting an order of protection against them is hard, even though I have proof that they drove two hours and tried to lure my children with the dog that they had never met. Apparently I can't prove they would have done anything. I believe my father will murder me. I just hope he is stupid enough to do it on the lawn in front of witnesses and my kids and husband have time to get away. There are a lot of people who think I shouldn't loose hope, but the law literally isn't protecting us. I live with the alarm on and cameras pointed out, not knowing when they will strike again and if it will be violent this time. I want to put that in as many places as possible, so when it happens everyone knows who did it. Yes, I have a lawyer (for all the help he can give). Yes, I have police reports, with them literally saying they don't care what we want and will come up when they want. My parents even manipulated the police into knocking on our door and asking us to let my parents give us gifts at the station, because we would feel safer there. My husband explained that these are not sad grandparents, but violent stalkers. The police just told us to lock the door and call if they turned up. We have an order of no trespassing. We have police reports logs and records. Nothing seems to be enough. The only good thing is there is no way they qualify for grandparent's rights. So they will never have access to our kids."
"So my dad was actually the one who taught me how to do laundry and housework, bought me books, and answered any questions I had about puberty. He tried to talk me through how to use a tampon my first time, and when that didn't work, he drove forty-five miles to the nearest Walmart and called me at the store to talk to me about all the other options. I have such a great relationship with my dad. I also do with my mom, but she was working on her degree in a really stressful field at the time, and she wasn't always home. When I left for college, I learned that this wasn't how many of my friends grew up with their own fathers. A few of them even told me their dad would walk out of the room if any of the girls in the family would talk about their bodies. I could not grasp how a grown man living with four women was still so bothered by the subject of periods.
My dad did a lot of the stuff that society would say that the mother should be doing (such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry). My mom did a lot of what the father stereotypically does (such as working long hours at a job and having a higher income than my dad). I really didn't have any idea of society's obsession with gender roles in the home until I was getting closer to leave for college. It really made me respect both of my parents a lot more than I already did. My dad would be embarrassed by receiving any sort of praise, because he always said that he was just doing his job as a dad.
The most important thing that my parents did was to do their absolute best. My dad made mistakes and wasn't always a perfect parent, but that was okay. My dad did own up to his mistakes and explained why it would happen. It taught me that it was okay to make mistakes, and it is important to own up to them. It also taught me to treat everyone with respect, and that I deserve to be respected. I feel like it is expected for kids to apologize to their parents when they make a mistake, but the other way around is seldom recognized."
"I was used to thinking that being hungry for long periods of time was normal. However, I was about 4 or 5 years old, so my memories from that time are pretty foggy. I recently learned that my father would just let me and my sister go hungry for hours when he was super invested in following a sports game on the television. This didn't happen just once. It happened frequently.
One day, my grandma stormed into the house when she couldn't reach my dad on the phone. She took my sister and I away to get us some dinner, where we could eat as much as we wanted to, while my mom came home and shouted at my dad for hours. Even after the two of them got divorced, I was still used to being hungry regularly. My mom was super poor, so we could only get a proper meal about once a week. I often visited my grandparents daily just to get a decent meal. When I visited my dad's place on the weekends, I was still hungry. He was trying to get off the ground in his one-bedroom apartment while paying alimony, so he didn't have a whole lot of money either. I realized that being hungry wasn't normal, but I just had to confront the fact that food could be precious. I wasn't eating like the other kids did. I still feel bad nowadays if I have to throw out some rotten food. I hate the thought of wasting it."
"We would have a celebratory 'corn night'. My dad was a poor dairy farmer, and in the local Kroger's across the road, they had sweet corn was that insanely cheap. Once every week or so, my mom would tell us, 'We are having the corn night tonight!' So my sibling and I would go across the road and get a bunch of ears of corn for dinner. There wouldn't be any sort of meat, starch, or other vegetables that night. It was corn night, so dinner included as many ears of corn that you could eat for that night. It was buttery, salty sweet corn. I was well into my thirties when I realized that not every family also has a corn night. I also realized then that we had corn nights because we were insanely poor and that was all we could afford. Corn night was pretty normal for us, but apparently there were other families who could afford a balanced meal for their dinners regularly."
"My parents worked so hard. They worked to the point where I never really saw them that much. My parents were immigrants, who arrived in the States without very much money or resources. Somehow, they were able to start their own business and become somewhat successful. This was achieved by working fifteen to eighteen-hour days, seven days a week, for three hundred and sixty-five days a year. As a result, I almost never saw them when I was young. We never went on any vacations, nor did we get to spend much time together. I thought that this was completely normal, until I moved to a predominantly white neighborhood when I was in middle school. I discovered that most, if not all, of my classmates' experience was completely different from mine. Most of their parents worked for companies or corporations, and they had the schedule of a typical work day. They would get weekends and holidays off, and these parents got to spend a lot of time with their kids as a result. I have zero resentment towards my parents for 'not being there' for me when I was young, though. They did what they had to in order to escape poverty, and they had no other choice. As a result, my sibling and I were able to attend college and escape the lifestyle that they had no choice but to accept. But yeah, to me, this was something I uncovered at not exactly being normal."
"The strangest thing that my family ever did was to put pickles on tacos. If we got dinner out at Taco Bell, we would add pickles to our tacos. I thought this was completely normal until some friends at my school pointed out to me how bizarre this was. But my parents totally grew up living with this belief in place. They didn't know any different, and it was ingrained into their minds. My mom would chop up the pickle slices and we would add them into a hard shell taco, along with ground beef, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and hot sauce. It was actually pretty good, looking back on it!"
"My mother taught me not to cry when I got injured. I suppose that isn't normal, even though the method she used still helps me today. My mother was a nurse, and she hated nothing more than crying people. These people can exhaust themselves enough not to tell her exactly what is wrong, whether this took place in her job or her private life. She never would have to severely discipline us, but whenever we would get injured, she would calmly approach me and my siblings and tell us to calm down, tell her what happened, and where it hurts, so we could both sort it out. This excluded any sort of life-threatening injuries, of course. Sometimes. I think that it messed up my tolerance for pain and stuff like that, but on the other hand, I think it helped me to develop a sense of calm in any sort of situation, except for life-threatening ones.
I first learned that this response wasn't very normal when I treated this kid I was babysitting during their summer break. They sliced their leg open on a branch, but I could see that the cut was not very deep at all. I firmly told them to calm down and tell me what happened, while I applied a bandage and took them to the doctor's office. The next day, I had to explain to their shocked parents what I did. They couldn't believe my response when their kid told them all about it. My mom never ignored anything. Whenever we told her that something hurt, she took it quite seriously and worked it out with us. She only told us not to cry or scream whenever something happened. We just had to calm down enough to talk to her. Whenever we could not stop crying, she immediately knew that something serious had gone on, so I don't think this was too bad."
"I was not allowed to eat anything outside strictly set meal times, unless I asked for permission, which would then be a substitute for the next set meal time. Anything eaten after dinner was strictly frowned upon. If I tried sneaking some bit of food afterwards, I would get guilt tripped and told off by my parents. Many years later, I went on vacation with a friend to her parent's house in Spain. Her mother had filled the fridge and cupboards up with basic foods like bread and milk but also snacks like Cheetos, popcorn, and Coca-Cola and told us both that this is all for us, so we could eat whatever you want whenever we wanted. I was absolutely bewildered and asked what she meant by that. Was this really a free rein when it came to food? She was very confused, and a little upset when I asked her for permission to make a snack. It really hit me on the head when another friend told me that the were going to make some snacks at three in the afternoon, to which I said that it was too late for lunch and too early for dinner. They all looked at me with confusion and said that they eat when they're hungry, not at a set time. I'm 26 now, and I still get very awkward when visiting friends and they offer me food or tell me to help yourself to whatever I want to eat."
"My mother threatened to walk out on my family multiple times since I was nine years old, attacking both me and my father. She was really emotionally and mentally manipulative. She was so toxic and abusive. I never learned that it was not okay for your parents to scream at you when they found out about your disordered eating and depression. My mom would tell me that I was just making all of that up for attention. She told me specifically that, 'If you think you are so much better than us, then just get out! You are tearing this family apart!'
She would repeatedly tell me this sort of stuff. I thought that it was totally normal to not feel comfortable in your body, and that was just a part of being a girl. I thought it was normal to be called swear words by your parents (keep in mind that I was still under the age of thirteen at the time). I thought it was normal to face pressure constantly to look and act differently from my parents. I only realized that this sort of thing wasn't normal when I made my first group of actual friends. These friends are such amazing people, and one of their mothers has taken me in as if I was her own. These people have been like a family to me, and they have offered me many times to stay with them if things with my own parents became too much at once. I have distanced myself from my parents and am still recovering from such a traumatic childhood, but I have absolute faith that the sun will always come out in the end."
"When I was little, my mom used to take me to work with her because she couldn’t afford childcare. She worked at a nursing home, and I hated it there. I stayed hidden in her office as often as I could, but she shared it with another lady, so I couldn’t stay in there all the time.
I was already a shy kid, but it was so much worse because the old people creeped me out so bad. Most of them had dementia and acted really strange. A lot of them were like vegetables, just sitting there with their mouth hanging open, staring into nothing. Some were mean and some absolutely loved children, I’m sure me being there made their day, but I was terrified. Some carried around baby dolls from Toys R Us. I would watch my mom feed them, and it was like she was feeding a baby. I would wait outside the room as she changed their diapers. It was kind of mortifying to see all of these grown-ups acting like babies. And every now and then, my mom would seem sad and one of the old people wouldn’t be there anymore.
You would think that being exposed to so many old people at a young age would make me more comfortable around them, but it’s actually the opposite. I don’t have a phobia, but I get so insanely uncomfortable around old people. I won't have a panic attack or anything, but my anxiety goes through the roof when I have to be near one of them. I feel so bad, it really is not their fault."
"My parents would regularly fight in front of me. Since I could remember, my parents have always had such loud arguments with each other, with little regard over whether I could hear them or not. I rarely ever saw them show physical affection towards each other, so I always cringed and found it odd when my friend's parents (or even occasionally mine) kissed or hugged. I realized that this was not a 'healthy' behavior when my best friend and I had one of our many sleepovers. He finally asked me if I thought my parents would be getting a divorce. At first, I didn't see why he assumed that, and we just left the conversation there. But as the weeks passed, I couldn't escape from that question dominating my mind, until I ended up realizing that my parents really should not be together. Now, I see that a divorce would have been the best option for the both of them, because they truly are not as happy as they used to be. But they refuse to consider this option, even after I have repeatedly suggested it. Nowadays, I can also understand the effects their terrible behavior has had on me. I have a very hard time connecting emotionally with others, and I get extremely uncomfortable when people show me any form of affection. It makes it really hard for me to get into any sort of new relationship. If there are any parents who are reading this and in a tense relationship with a partner, listen up. If you refuse to separate because you think it is better for both of the parents to stay together for your child, then you really need to get your act together and do what is best for the healthy development of your kid!"
"Oh boy, where do I even start with my parents? I'll pick out some of the lighter ones. My parents had this habit of giving out things and waiting to get something in return. Nothing was ever free, and if my parents bought something for my sister and I, that meant that we owed them something in exchange. It was also disheartening when I started to realize that other kids were treated as a priority when I never felt like I had been. I would wear clothing and underwear from The Gap that was way too small for me, as I grew pretty quickly. I never owned any proper school supplies. They wouldn't even get me anything when we passed by the back-to-school display in the local K-Mart. Every time that I made a drawing or paper craft, it would be thrown away into the trash bin. My parents also had this weird thing about respect. They would always use that word in such a grand way, yet only applied it to themselves. It was so hard realizing that other parents could give and reciprocate respect, while my own parents couldn't.
I remember one time when I was a young kid. My father was telling an elaborate story during dinner. I recognized some parts of the story, and I corrected him on some of the facts. I was only 8 years old. After the rest of the family, left, he told me that I should never, under any circumstances, do that to him again. I should not correct him in front of other people. So I realized that day that if my parents lied to their friends, then they might lie to us too. No matter what, we had to just go with it. My mother also would lie frequently about everything in order to receive pity from people. She lied about me too when my parents eventually divorced, so she could get more pity from friends and family. Now, as an adult, I have cut off all contact with them. People do pity me. But most of the things in this story are pretty vanilla compared to the situations in my extended family. But these two in particular really scared me and continue to have an impact on my mental and emotional health."