Our parents should offer us direction, build our confidence and be our most dedicated fans. But the reality is not always so simple.
At the extreme end of the spectrum, parents are self-absorbed and narcissistic. They try to thwart their children’s successes, pile their lives with unreasonable expectations and are inflexible. Others are self-absorbed and superficial.
As their children grow up, they realise that their parents never behaved quite like their friends'. And the Reddit page Raised by Narcissists acts as an anonymous support group for those raised by parents with toxic and abusive personality traits. Many speculate that their parents have cluster B personality traits, which are linked with antisocial, borderline, narcissistic, and histrionic personality disorders.
"My mum did the absolute bare minimum to keep us alive," said Oodlesofpoodles92. "We had headlice constantly from the ages of 8-14, were never bathed or had our clothes cleaned and we were completely ignored unless it was to scream and shout at something we did 'wrong'."
"Whenever I confront her she says 'you were fed and bathed and we never hit you'," wrote the user, adding it is "ridiculous" to expect praise for minimal parenting.
Others detailed experiences of emotional abuse. "My mother completely ignored us except to criticise, ridicule us and rage," wrote Atomicdaisy777. “She saw every action as an attempt to gain attention and it sent her into a rage. Good grades meant you were showing off, bad grades you were stupid.
“No Christmas trees, no birthday parties just absolutely nothing from her although to others she presented herself as a meek and loving mom."
"I remember my dad finally giving in to teaching me how to tie my shoe when I was 12," wrote AnxiousMeatball. "He showed my twice and when I couldn't do it right he screamed at me and told me to go to my room. That's the only time either of my parents ever attempted to teach me anything."
"They tell me I can't move out because it'll be too hard for me and I don't understand how bills work, so I'd be kicked out in the first few months. They always get mad at me for not knowing things I can only learn from experience, all while preventing me from having those experiences."
As well as a space to offload emotions, users also offer each other practical advice, from numbers for the emergency services to pointers on how to fill the void their parents left.
In a thread entitled “if not your parents, where do you go for sources of confidence? How do you believe in yourself?”, user Peybot wrote: “Motivational speeches on YouTube, working out and eating a nice meal when I wake up, thinking about all the things I'll accomplish without them."
User coffee_goddess simply replied: "Myself. My partner. Kanye West & Beyonce. The coffee pot."
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