Believe it or not, parents are human and as a result they make mistakes just like everyone else (even though society tends to hold parents to an incredibly unattainable standard). A few of these mistakes may sometimes be the things they say to their children.
The following Ask Redditors parents shared their responses to the question, “What is the ONE thing you most regret saying to you child?”
Looking for more responses? Find the original thread at the end of the article.
When I was in the process of getting a divorce my wife was screaming at me like always while I was trying to sleep on the couch. My step-daughter said, “For your first marriage, you are doing a great job of messing it up Diego.”
I said, “With more practice I’ll be as good at it as your family.” Everyone in her family had been divorced multiple times.
She baited me and I took it and said something that I shouldn’t have.
When my daughter was around 8, I told her that a lot of the words that daddy used were grown up words and that she shouldn’t use them herself.
Then she worked out what they were, and she said that I shouldn’t use them either. I agreed, and in a fit of noble intention, agreed to the swear jar; a dollar a swear, to be all paid on her 18th birthday.
I owe my 16 year old daughter about $14500. She has kept meticulous records, including a signed agreement from the year 2009.
When my son was 3 and an absolute terror, I pointed down a road that we never went down, and said, “That’s the road the bad kids go.” When he would misbehave I would say, “Do we need to go down the bad kids road?” And he would instantly get in line. Until he didn’t. Then I had to follow through with my threat, drive him down the bad kids road, and there was NOTHING THERE.
He must have been five or six at the time but even then the symbolism was not lost on him. Go down the bad kids road and nothing really happens…
I told my son that the Doll Fairy came and took all his dolls away because he was too big for them now, and that the fairy would give them to new babies who need them.
He was terrified that the fairy would take ALL of his stuff and give it away. He also was really angry at babies.
My mother once, in a fit of anger, called me “Retardo mutant pig girl”. I think it was to avoid cursing at me? It’s been at least 25 years, and my sister and I have never let her forget it. Boy, does she regret that.
It was really funny at the time. My sister and I laughed at her, and she got over whatever it was that infuriated her. I think I was at that adolescent age where I probably did something unbelievably irritating.
My mom was never verbally abusive, I am not in the least scared by this, and I know at a visceral level that I am not retarded, mutant, or a pig. I own the girl label.
I am not a parent, but I can tell you one thing that my Mother told me… after I had grown into a fully functioning adult…
“If you weren’t my daughter, we wouldn’t be friends.”
Cuts deep, even to this day.
I don’t remember exactly what I said, but my son was playing basketball at his school and had just made a basket. But he accidentally scored on the wrong side of the court, and he was humiliated.
I said a quick smart remark trying to lighten the mood and it totally backfired. My son turned away and burst into tears. I felt so low. I apologized but the damage was done. I regret it.
Just the other day, my 4-year-old daughter was in her usual 100 questions per hour mode.
It was morning and I’m not one who likes a lot of words before 10am and said, “can you please stop asking questions, I don’t have the answers for everything.”
In a slightly sad and disappointed voice she said, “ok dad, I will stop asking questions.” I immediately felt like crap and still do several days later. Her and I had a talk with her to remind her to keep asking questions, and I think she quickly forgot what I had said anyway…I hope she did.
One day as I was walking in from work and my wife met me at the door on her way out. She needed a break from our argumentative 10-year-old daughter.
My wife muttered under her breath “I need to leave before I punch her in the face”. Our daughter heard and immediately burst into tears.
“Yeah, buddy you can watch tv before bed.”
Every frigging night now we watch cars.
I forgot how smart my daughter is. When she was 2 she asked me for the code for my phone cause it went to sleep when she was playing some app I downloaded, I told her 1-2-3-4 cause it’s the ultimate code.
Anyways she remembered it and was able to unlock my phone the next day and send numerous texts and make multiple phone calls without completely knowing what she was doing. No actual harm in any of that except that my phone wasn’t on wifi she found Netflix…
She watched a couple of hundred bucks worth of “Paw Patrol” that day.
Years ago when our first son was around two years old, we would occasionally hang out in the garage.
We had tons of toys that he could push around and enjoy playing with. But anytime he happened to get too close to the street, we would press the car lock button which would beep a couple times.
We told him the car was mad that he was too close to the street. He would then back up the driveway yelling, “Car Mad, Car Mad!!”
I expect to pay psychiatrist bills due to this. Yes, yes I do.
“I don’t care”
What I meant was “I don’t mind”. But my young brain failed to make the distinction until I’d spent years telling my kids that I didn’t care if they went to their friend’s or I didn’t care if they went on a date.
I did care…my actions showed it…but my words were wrong.
“What is it buddy? Stop talking like that. I can’t understand you. I said STOP TALKING LIKE THAT!”
He’d walked into the living room from his bedroom after having his first seizure. He was mumbling incoherently. I didn’t realize something was wrong until I noticed one side of his face was drooping and he was drooling. I’ll never forgive myself.
My kid was being bullied, and she was miserable. So I said, “don’t be sad, you aren’t at fault. Take the problem out at it’s source.”
My darling cut her arm and told the teacher that her bully hurt her. She got the girl suspended. To be honest, I’m more impressed than anything.
I have stage IV cancer. It’s terminal and not a question of whether it will get me, but when.
I was diagnosed almost four years ago. I have a 2-year-old daughter and and a 4-year-old son. We talked openly about it with the kids, but of course my daughter didn’t really understand. My son came to understand really young. But he’s like his father, an optimist.
When we talked about how I was dying, (and I got a number of months at one point), he took it like a champ. He grilled me until he found the crack in my certainty. Once he obtained the possibility that a cure could be invented, he assumed that it would happen and he had functioned as if that is the expected outcome.
His approach to it led me to be a bit more cavalier in discussing. My daughter continued to not understand.
Until one day she did. Last year, and I will never forget that moment.
My son and I were delving into why God is not just and kind (we get real deep in my family. I believe in treating my kids with intellectual honesty and maturity; since we are close with my extremely religious family, this includes a LOT of discussions about God and my apostasy).
I was brushing my daughter’s hair in the bathroom while my son plied me with questions. And the topic of my imminent, early death came up. The conversation moved on. My son left the room and I finished my daughter’s hair.
I turned my daughter around and there were tears in her eyes.
“Mommy, you are going to die?” She asked.
I knew the moment I looked into that pained little face that this was not a passing moment. These tears were not the tears she shed over a lost toy. This was a key memory, held in place by fear and pain.
I told her that I was doing well right now. I told her that she could grow up a while longer with me. None of it sunk as deep as that first message.
She proclaimed at dinner that she didn’t want to grow up, because when she grew up I’d be dead.
She made me sleep with her that night. She told me she was scared if I slept in my own bed I would die.
Then, for weeks, she pulled away from me. She went from wanting only me to sing songs, read stories, or help her, to being upset if I was in the same room.
It took us a while that to pull out of that one. It took me promising something I couldn’t keep, that I would only die with her permission.
I have spent so much time regretting that. My condition had become such normalized talk for her brother, we could just as easily be discussing the color of my hair. I assumed the same for her, and I misjudged. Perhaps the first lasting wound of her little life, and it was delivered by me.
Telling my daughter the truth about her father. I was a young parent, my daughter was born right before I finished out my freshman year of high school.
She is about to turn 7. Her sperm donor is the biggest jerk I’ve ever known in my entire life. He broke three of my ribs and my collarbone while I was nearing six months pregnant.
After she was born, he tried to kill himself because I wouldn’t be in a relationship with him. He’s currently locked up for murdering the girlfriend he had after me. I didn’t tell her the full story, just that his brain is sick and he will not be a part of our lives.
I had never seen hope leave someone’s face so quickly. I just hope that one day she understands.
I actually know my dad’s biggest regret because I heard him admitting it on the phone one day when he was staying at my place (I was about 22 here) and thought I was asleep.
It took me until I was 15-years-old to gather up the courage to tell my Dad that I couldn’t physically or mentally cope with the abuse my stepmother was subjecting me to. I walked out into the lounge room in the middle of the night and told him I couldn’t do it, he needed to do something to help his daughter before I gave up completely. My dad had never sworn at me before this, ever. He called me a little punk and told me to screw off and stop being selfish.
So I did. I packed my bags, waited until they were asleep, and left. It took three years to speak to him again, another two for us to be somewhat comfortable together, and we haven’t hugged since about a week before that. I didn’t think he remembered it. But he remembers, and he regrets it more than anything.
One day, I’ll manage to work up the courage to tell him I forgave him years ago, but it will probably take me another 15 years. I’m not very brave.