There are just some things you don't get until you grow up. These people grew up thinking that incidents, and sometimes entire childhoods, were totally normal until they had something else to compare it to. Now they've realized just how messed up their parents really are.
"One time, my dad and my stepmom were having me do yard work with them. They decided we needed flowers, so we drove to Wal-Mart and they parked by the lawn and garden section. At the time, I thought they were the coolest parents because they let me pick out all the flowers and plants that I wanted that were sitting out in the front as long as I picked them up and brought them to the car myself. Seemed legit at the time, but now I see they were making their 6-year-old steal for them."
"My dad used to take me everywhere when I was little. He started taking me to an apartment of a friend of his from work. Unfortunately for him this woman owned a cat and I had very bad allergies, so when we'd come home my mom would question where we went. My mother would never suspect what he was doing if I was with him, so he kept taking me with him. Getting smarter, he'd put me out on the balcony of her apartment and lock the door. It took me years to realize that he was cheating on my mom."
"I was my father's personal bartender. He treated me like a barmaid, too. Whenever I'd finish making his drink and bring it to him, he'd pinch/slap my butt, which made me upset as a kid, but I actually did have fun making his drinks.
it wasn't until I got older and related this fondest memory to other people that I realize it was messed up. Honestly, it was so jarring to have them ask me, 'What the heck?' Like I genuinely thought this was a normal thing everyone did."
"I never realized that the vast majority of the times we were in trouble, it was just because we were loud. My mom only had four kids during the duct tape phase. Sometimes she'd tape us (mouths and hands) and lock us in a closet. I didn't realize it was wrong until I walked into the room and saw my brother duct taped to a bed.
She would also force us to wear diapers when we said anything that 'sounded like a baby.' I remember crying and screaming when I was about four-ish because she was holding me down trying to force one on me just because I said 'feets' instead of feet.
She also used to make the talk about 'the birds and the bees' weird. Like, one second she'd shame everything around it, the next she was sleeping with some guy when I had friends over, and then the next I'm apparently a 'lesbian' because I wasn't sleeping with everyone at 16.
To this day she denies all of it.
I definitely don't talk to her anymore. I also had an issue with suppressing my emotions. I still do sometimes but I now mostly get OVER EMOTIONAL because I don't know how to properly express them."
"My mom harbored a weird guy who happened to be a fugitive in our basement for about six months. One day, a bounty hunter, or plain clothes cop or something, came into our house waving around his weapon. He made 8-year-old me and my 6-year-old sister stand in a corner while he dragged the fugitive out. Our mom took us to visit him in prison like four or five times over the following year. I honestly thought it was just a normal occurrence until about three years later when I told the story to my dad's divorce lawyer and he was shocked it had never come up before. I suppose it's not the type of thing you bring up in court if you don't have to. My dad, who was deployed in Kosovo at the time, had no idea it had ever even happened.
I later found out the fugitive was a friend of my mom's live-in boyfriend while my dad was deployed (another thing I just thought was normal). Her boyfriend had some condition where he would see things/hear voices and have seizures fairly regularly, this meant he was always agitated and sometimes violent so we avoided him a lot of the time. The basement dweller was always super weird and him and my mom were very affectionate when her dude wasn't around. After the cave troll was arrested and her boyfriend found out, he had a fit of schitzo rage and burglarized our house, stealing everything from our living room TV to my little sister's beanie babies. After he was gone for like 4 days my mom put two and two together and we drove to his mother's house where we found most of our household goods in her living room. After a long argument, we left with like 95% of it, luckily my sister's favorite stuffed animal, Michael, was unharmed. I was eight when all this went down and it took until I was 13 for the Ohio judicial system to put us in our father's custody, just one of those rare cases where a 'sympathetic to the mother' court system really messed up a few kid's younger years. Its funny to look back on now and me and her are cool despite how messed up she was and still is, I just do my best not to see her often or have my son around her unsupervised."
"This happened when I was 9. A man moved in on the other side of my neighborhood, we'll call him Jordan for the sake of privacy, and he's a dealer. He was letting both of my parents sample for free because he had a thing for my mom. My parents had a really horrible marriage, so it wasn't long before my mom started becoming interested too. When my dad realized my mom was having an affair, he went to file a divorce and try to take custody and my strung out mom's response was to just flee the state with me despite court orders not to (because of having to go to court for the divorce). I'm from Florida, I remember very briefly going through Maryland and Massachusetts at one point, but we weren't going on a linear pattern since they found us in Georgia. My grandma's lawyer had ordered a private detective. I remember not minding being on the road trip because I didn't have to go to school and they (mom and dealer boyfriend) bought me a 'Disney Hannah Montana Jakks Pacific Plug N Play TV Electronic Video Game.' I was alone in the hotel rooms playing that a lot, I was pretty sheltered in all of this. I woke up one morning to see my mom reading a letter from the court, crying and asking how they'd found her. She had two choices: to bring me home and give up custody or there'd be cops on the doorstep instead of a piece of mail. So she brought me home and I lived with my granny for about six months while my mom was in rehab."
"When I was about 11 or 12, my uncle (who was my guardian seeing as my parents are addicts) would drop off my brothers and I at the arcade at the mall. He would drop us off and give us like 5 bucks a piece and tell us he would be back in a little bit to get us. Well, it would be like 5 pm when he dropped us off and he would usually pick us well after the mall closed, after 9. He'd pick us up, acting and smelling a little funny, and we'd go home, thankfully with no incidents. I've asked about it now that I'm an adult and he told me he used to get hammered and come get us. He doesn't drink anymore, but it must have been hard being in your early 20's and raising the three of us. One time, the SWAT team raided the house cause he used to grow substances outside. I never knew, just thought it was weird I was being picked up by my aunt in the middle of the night."
"My parents used to fight - bad. My mom would haul off and throw a six-pound glass paperweight across the room and bust my dad in the face with it. Then he'd go ham on her till she was screaming, 'Call the cops,' at one of us kids. She'd always get the worst of it, and I feel like us kids took those beatings with her in a sense. It certainly left mental scars and formed at least a part of who I am today.
I've never once hit a woman or even had the urge to. I also made sure not to marry someone crazy enough to throw heavy objects at me. I'm not saying it was my mom's fault every time, it certainly wasn't just her starting the fights - it was the substances they were on and their inability to handle them it would seem.
I also never decided to try the stuff my parents were on, even though they were around in my circle of friends. I grew up learning lessons from them by considering the opposites. I sure didn't want to be an addict so I never did that stuff. I sure didn't want to be involved in a domestic violence level relationship, so I married a girl I was best friends with first for 8 years.
I think anyone can break the cycles, you just have to want something else for yourself. I still thought most families did stuff like mine till I moved out at 15. I ended up about 300 miles away from home in Chico California living with a friend. He introduced me to Bill and Kylene.
Bill's parents had this thing called 'family night' where they'd have their kids over, and their kids could bring their friends. Sometimes it was 'music night' where we'd all jam out on instruments they had or ones we brought. They had 'game night' where we'd play table RPG games, dominoes or cards. I always wondered when they made time for 'domestic violence night,' but they just seemed to skip that one entirely. They taught me how awesome families could be."
"When I was young, my dad liked to be touchy with all of us kids. Not the bad kind, but he liked to give us 'spankings,' even when we hadn't misbehaved, for no reason at all. I guess he kind of had an obsession with butts, I'll never know. But it wasn't until he did it in front of my boyfriend a few months ago (I'm 18) and it really ticked my boyfriend off. I never really realized there was anything wrong with that until I got older."
"My mom used to always tell me that I needed to go on a diet when I was as young as in middle school. I didn't realize that this isn't normal and that it's incredibly harmful until I was an adult.
Some background: I was a gymnast and cheerleader. I was never fat. I wasn't stick thin, I had a lot of muscle, but I was never fat. The fact that my mom thought it was appropriate to try to get a preteen-teenage girl who is already dealing with a lot of societal pressures to diet just baffles me. I would never do that to my child. I spent a lot of years thinking I was the fat cheerleader. Now I look back at old photos and realize how warped my perception was."
"My parents are clean-freaks, especially my dad. Their version of messy is leaving an article of clothing on the floor of my bedroom, not doing my laundry every week (I have enough clothing to last me two weeks), or leaving a water bottle on my dresser. And God help me if I waited until the next day to do dishes because I was tired from working all day. I'd get screamed and told I was lazy. The worst was when both of them would say that 'no man would ever want' me because I was 'so messy.' They said he'd see how nasty I kept my house and he'd be disgusted.
Now here's the flip-side: Everyone else I know claims that I'm a clean-freak because of how neat everything is (desk, car, etc). I'm constantly making sure my work areas are clean, I keep my car spotless, and I even go home from work on my lunches to clean the house.
My coworker came up to me a few weeks ago and told me how that weekend she laid around the house for a few days instead of cleaning (which she said really needed to be done). I immediately asked her what her husband said about it. I was ready to hear how he yelled at her, how they got into an argument about the mess, especially since he works at a harder job that requires long hours. Also, he's not a messy person and likes to keep things nice.
Instead, she said when he came home, she explained that she had been tired all weekend, and told him she didn't get anything done. He then just shrugged his shoulders, said it was okay, said that they could do it another day, and then he chilled out with her. I didn't say anything except, 'Oh.' She left my desk to work on a project, not aware of how she just gave me a huge paradigm shift.
I had to go to the bathroom so no one could see me cry. I never thought that there'd be any man out there, who was a nice and clean guy, that would accept that I had off days when it came to managing a household. I thought he'd yell at me and belittle me or worse, leave, if I wasn't on my game at all times. To know that one day I'm going to have a husband that gave me grace and love like that floored me. I'm turning 27 next month and I just found this out."
"When I was four, I remember staying at my father's house (my mom and dad had been divorced for a little less than a year at this point). I was happily playing Nintendo in my room when my mom came in, which was weird because my dad usually dropped me off at my mom's place; she never picked me up.
All I could think was, 'Cool, mom's here, I haven't seen her in, like, a week.' She picked me up and told me to be very quiet. We went into the prayer room, which has an outside window, and she locked the door behind us. I then heard my dad knocking on the door and yelling angrily.
My mom opened the first story window, knocked out the screen, and carried me out through it. I thought, 'Huh, we usually go out through the front door, weird.'
When we got out to the car, my dad was out there and they had a giant fight about custody and things that I was too young to really grasp (finances, corruption, mob ties, etc). Finally, my dad let us leave and I stayed with mom from then on.
So, basically, my mother kidnapped me when I was 4 from my father's house because he didn't want to give me back."
"My parents split when I was an infant. My mom pretty much emotionally abused me, by definition. I had never thought growing up that it was abnormal or anything to be screamed at, slapped, get threatened to be kicked out of the house, and told I was worthless and horrible on a daily basis. She also had cats and, this is embarrassing, but the entire house was infested with fleas. Sleeping there, I'd wake up covered in red spots to literally see fleas jumping around atop me, in my clothes and on everything. After a few years, she finally conceded to buy a bug bomb; the fleas were mostly dead, but the room was never aired out properly, so I slept in a poison-laden room for a few years until I moved out to live entirely at my dad's for high school (until then it was joint custody, switching houses every few days). I opened a box of some old stuff a few years later and it still stank of the bug bomb, so I just tossed it all.
At my dad's house, he has a drinking problem and has had a relationship with what can adequately be described as a floozy for fifteen years on-and-off. They hold the kind of screaming matches that last days and where one constantly threatens to call the cops on the other. She was also an absolute witch to me whenever my dad wasn't looking, and even if I told him, he never did anything. Of course, I thought this was NORMAL after a while, that she was just my 'evil stepmother.' She's still here, and she's still a witch. So, since childhood, I've overheard screaming matches over her using her coochie to secure housing (with my dad and other guys while they were apart) or snorting stuff with the money that should have gone for bills or groceries or child support (her kids lived with their dad - now we know why, eh?).
My mom took me to a public swimming lake once when I was around seven. She let me swim by myself while she slept or whatever. Well, from vague memories, I can recall playing with this older guy in the lake. It involved water aerobatics (jumps and such) that pretty much put me against the front of his swim trunks. That was it, fortunately. He didn't force me to do anything, just played in a manner where I happened to be brushing against his member through the swim trunks. And I remember this years later, and I'm thinking, where the heck was my mother, and why did no one in the lake see this and step in? That easily could have turned out a lot worse.
Everyone in my family has issues and no one can hold a healthy relationship. Thankfully I came out of that clean--no problems, not even a souvenir mental disorder. And now I'm realizing just how odd it is to have had substance-abusing parents and all that in general. Fat lot of nutters, they are. I found it positively mindblowing to hear about how other kids' parents behaved. So normal and ordinary."
"My mom couldn't cook and had some (in retrospect) extremely bizarre food preparation rituals. Like Top Ramen being the focal point of meals, uncooked, crumbled over stuff or Top Ramen seasoning packets sprinkled on other things.
It's called a 'spread' in jail, learning how to cook food off the commissary. She spent the majority of her life incarcerated, was born to a 15-year-old bipolar, addict mother. She had me at 19, was frequently incarcerated for stupid addict stuff like stealing, getting with dealers for smack, having two babies born addicted, etc. All of the other little kids that lived with us in the Orange County skid row motels back in the '80s and early '90s had parents doing the same hinky stuff that mine were, so it was completely normal to me.
In the second grade was when I really understood the gravity of the situation. I was staying the night at this one girl's house almost every weekend. It's obvious now I didn't really like my classmate but I was obsessed with her mom. That was the first woman I ever spent time around that had a driver's license, had never been to jail, had a credit card, knew how to cook food outside of a microwave, had a job, had a degree. It seemed completely out of the ordinary to me how ordinary and uncomplicated she was."
"My father's favoritism to my brother, his only son. The rest of us are girls and he would make us do the typical gender stereotype stuff. It was especially hurtful when I asked him to take me hunting from the age of 8 until about 15, but he never did, but the second my brother turned 8, he took him hunting every season. I know that sounds stupid, but it's something that still bothers me to this day.
Anyways, I didn't realize it was wrong until I would see how other girls were treated by their dad's in high school...like the dad's were really interested in their lives and proud to have them as their daughters. It's like my value lessened just because I was a girl, even though I've been extremely successful in life.
When I was younger, he would demand that I needed to get him and my brother's plate ready and drink. Whenever his cup was empty, he would rattle the ice at me and hold it out, not saying a word. It's like he wouldn't even ask, he would just demand stuff done for him. After my revelation in high school, I vowed to myself that I would never marry a man like that. My boyfriend is so awesome about with cleaning and cooking and does little things for me all the time."
"My dad used to talk about different projects that were just SO AMAZING and could FINALLY make us happy. He would joke about robbing a bank. He would walk around naked. He would stay up all night watching old movies, chain-smoking. He would sleep for days, it seemed, sometimes with a smoke still burning in his hand. He would get upset about something my sister and I said, but not just upset. He would yell and scream, sometimes lash out physically. This was all before I turned 6. I didn't realize that my dad wasn't like other dads until he was arrested for assaulting my oldest cousin because he laughed at something my dad had said to him.
When I was in high school, my dad had been in and out of our lives for the past 5-ish years. My mom and I were talking about him and that's when she told me he was schizoaffective, after previously being diagnosed bipolar."