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40+ things adults wish their parents had done differently

40+ things adults wish their parents had done differently

AskReddit is often a good read for vox-pop type discussions. Someone asks a question and everyone opens up. I recently came across a thread about what people wish their parents had done differently. There is so much parenting gold in there. Here are the highlights.


My parents were mostly absent and put a lot on my plate as their “responsible kid” I was ridiculously hard on myself trying to parent me and my siblings and even now if something “bad” happens to me, whether I messed up or even if it’s completely out of my control, my gut reaction is to tell nobody and cover it up, because I feel shame for things not going correctly. – M1ch00l

I wish they’d taught me decision making instead of controlling every aspect of my life until I finally made enough money to move out at 21 – Kimber85

Related: We need to stop being so available to our kids


I wish mine did a better job of teaching me the value of a dollar.- TheRealReapz

Helped me learn that failure was not the end of the world. My parents are nearing 80 and I (almost 52) still feel the need to hide mistakes from them. – sirdigbykittencaesar

My parents were actually good with money, but they never talked about it. I did a lot of dumb things in my 20s as a result. – madogvelkor


I wish my parents had encouraged me to pick a hobby and get good at it.  – Anon

My mother and father are bilingual. They speak fluent English and Afrikaans, and they only taught me the former. I would have loved to flex some . – EndlessCookies

Not always praising my natural intelligence. I was a gifted kid and grew up constantly being told that I was smart and had so much potential and etc., and now that I’m older I have no idea how to do things that I’m not immediately good at. – Voixmortelle

I wish they’d encouraged me to pursue my actual talents and interests instead of making sweeping decisions for my siblings and me. – anon

I wish my mum hadn’t told me I was stupid so often. Because to this day, part of me still believes her. She wasn’t abusive or anything, she was very loving and we get on great, it’s just that shouting insults is her go-to way to deal with stress. – ThatScotchbloke


I wish they gave me more freedom as a kid. I was pretty sheltered for most of my childhood. I couldn’t go to the park alone till I was 12. Their overprotectiveness definitely made it harder for me to become more independent as I started to grow up. – milesperhour425

I wish they had let me follow my own path rather than trying to force me down the one they expected of me. – emmiebe18

What some parents don’t realise is that by shielding their kids from making mistakes before they step out into the world just delays those mistakes. The kids make those same mistakes anyway, except this time they’re on their own. – throwaway68573

More on this: Let’s stop trying to fix things before they even happen


Whenever I know I’m going to have a conversation with my parents (especially my mom), I automatically prepare defenses for all my decisions and opinions. Now that I’ve been living on my own for a year, they’re better, but my mom crosses the line pretty quickly sometimes. – CaughtInDireWood

Social skills

I wish they had not drilled it into my head that it was wrong to want friends and a social life. It was somewhat of a crime at home to admit that you need human interaction. Statements like “you need to focus on your studies, not on making friends” and “your parents are all you need” were thrown around a lot. – throwaway68573

I wish they encouraged me to socialise and have friends. They just isolated me from the rest of the world and now I wonder why I feel like an alien. – anon

They never had friends or socialized, so I never really developed the skills until much later into my adult life. It took me forever to figure out how to have casual friendships instead of intense one-on-one best friends. – edgeofadream

They encouraged me to make friends but at the same time wouldn’t let me do things with my friends. – MarchKick

 They nagged me and embarrassed me about having crushes on girls when I was little that now that I’m actually old enough to legitimately want to pursue relationships I’m embarrassed to tell them because I’m worried they’ll just patronize me. – Nobody_Likes_Shy_Guy


Didn’t make me hug and kiss every relative that visited. – washraghoe

I wish reading wasn’t used as a punishment. To this day I still hate reading for pleasure. – vahabs

Encourage away: 16 awesome book series for reluctant readers


Allowing me to fail and teaching me that failure is ok. My parents spent their entire lives driving me in a direction of accelerated success and instant validation until they weren’t able to any longer. I failed eventually much later in life and the emotional impact was devastating. – tinker_dinker

Not made my life a living hell when I came out as gay. – AnUndEadLlama

I am not trying to inflame but I wish I hadn’t been forced/guilted into attending church. It built up a lot of resentment in me, especially after telling them at 13 I didn’t believe in god. – maharbry

I wish my mom had not been so judgmental about my decisions – alysiakw

I wish my parents hadn’t laughed at me when I was upset. Happened all the time. – redfern33

Let me be myself, my dad for most part let me but my mum was so judgmental and cared more for what people thought about the family over how I felt. – Miloreh1988
I wish they’d instilled better dietary habits. I feel like if vegetables were treated as a reward rather than a chore I’d have a better relationship with them. – mikhailnikolaievitch


I was actively discouraged from trying sports (even dance!) because I was the “clumsy” one. My dad was a competitive athlete, so to him there was no point in doing sports unless you were really good at them. – 4_chickens

I wish my father didn’t call me fat from 13-17 that would have been great way to prevent the eating disorder to follow. – ISHLDPROBABLYBWRKING

What parents could have done differently - better hygiene

Taken us to see the dentist on a regular basis. – 138senomar

I envy the children I see riding on the bicycle paths with their parents. Mine sure didn’t do that–they were likely to be sipping a Martini or a beer (and munching peanuts) while saying, “go get some exercise, kid.” – mobyhead1


I wish they had involved me in more activities and offered to teach me things. – UPRC

I wish we ate dinner together. Even once a week would have been good. – honeyhotcocoa

Eat up: 25 family dinner recipes we make again and again


I wish they had actually given me the talk so I didn’t have to find out about sex and all of that sort of stuff through my 12 year old friends. So much fake news. – mysticalscorpion

Listened. I wish they could have listened to us instead of just hearing us talk. My life would be so different. – odnadevotchka

After their divorce, they pretty much stopped being parents. A little bit of help in growing up and some advice could have been nice. – YINJ

I wish they would’ve been willing to make compromises on how things work. We don’t have to do it my way. I just don’t want to do it the way you are telling me right now. – UntoldMysteries

I wish my parents had not withheld love as punishment. Being angry with a child who is apologizing, weeping, and suffering, and freezing them out until you decide they’ve suffered enough, is a fantastic way to set them up for a lifetime of bullying and emotional abuse at the hands of others. – eros_bittersweet


The thread is over 5,000 replies long, so this is just the tip of the iceberg. A word of warning – I’ve skipped over the really sad stories from people who wish their parents hadn’t abused them. There are some terrible stories here. It’s a sad, cruel world for many. Which makes getting the parenting thing right all the more important.

Is there anything you wish your parents had done differently?

Feature image by Angello Lopez; 2 by Alina Kovalchuk; 3 by Helena Lopes; 4 by Pietro Jeng.


Monday 22nd of April 2019

It can be so hard when we feel like we haven’t done enough to please our parents. I guess the only way to look at it is to be proud of yourself inst as. x


Monday 22nd of April 2019

I wish my mum or dad said they were proud of me.. I’m nearly 20 years old and I can’t even name a time they said they were proud I only ever get acknowledged for the wrongs I do. I’ve been living out of home since 17 got my own place at 18 and now at 19 I have my own house, I hate that I feel as though I need to try so hard to please them.. I just need to understand nothing is ever good enough for them.

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