One of the most vital parts of growing up is unlearning all the things you learned over the years. Whether it be from parents, teachers or even friends. No one ‘knows it all’ and anyone who claims they do, clearly knows nothing at all.
The following Ask Redditors shared their responses to the question, “What did your parents teach you that you had to unlearn?”
For more stories, you can find the original thread at the end of the article.
When I was growing up, my parents had a list of things they thought I should do to become a man. They warned me that I would never get a wife if I was a picky eater, couldn’t fix a car, or didn’t know how to do ‘manly’ things. I gave it my best effort to improve to their ideals, but in the end I found that it didn’t matter.
While having those qualities were helpful in life, I found that they really didn’t matter in a relationship. I was able to find a great girlfriend who accepted me for who I am. She even let’s me keep my rubber duckies in the bed with us at night.
My mother told me I had another middle name one day.
I hated it, of course, but eventually came to terms with the idea.
It was years later that she realized I had been writing an extra middle name on literally everything that required my full name and asked me why I was doing such an odd thing.
She had forgotten what she had done. When I told her she laughed at me for about an hour straight. Tears rolling down her face laughing so hard she peed herself.
She also taught me capsicum seeds were poisonous. They aren’t. (She really believes this one though).
My mother is convinced all clothes are too tight unless they are falling off you.
I looked like a bum for years until my rich sister-in-law pulled me aside and went “sweetie… I’m gonna take you shopping before you ever have to attend any job interviews looking like that.”
What food tastes like.
Chicken is not supposed to be tough, dry and chewy. Steak is not usually chewy, flat and gray. There are more seasonings available than salt and pepper.
Once I taught myself to cook the world just opened up with new flavors and foods. It was the best.
To be a bystander, for lack of a better term. My parents are very against me standing up for others and even myself in some cases, and I had to learn that standing up for other people is the right thing to do.
Also how to pronounce cucumbers.
For those of you wondering, they pronounced it “coo-coom-bers.”
Though my family was economically stable, privileged even, my parents grew up in poverty. So their way of living was to buy cheap. Which definitely should be taken into consideration but ultimately, if the quality is not there you end up spending more to continuously replace the item. We could afford to buy things of better quality that would last longer, but that’s just not how they grew up.
It still hurts me to spill $60 on a nice pair of shoes that will last more than a year, but I have since learned that I would much rather spend this $60 one time, rather than getting 3 pairs of $20 crappy no-brand shoes that hurt my feet and fall apart every few months.
That the garbage disposal will not trigger a nuclear reaction and blow up half the world within five seconds of being turned on without cold water running.
That was a tough one to unlearn.
It took me a moving out and talking with other people to understand that that is not normal and people break up all the time. Luckily I never married any of those guys.
That you should never do anything for others because nobody will do anything for you.
I understand because my mom came from a very rough household growing up, but it was frustrating whenever she found out I bought lunch for my friends or gave someone a ride it would always be the “nobody will look out for you, why look out for them?”
That anger doesn’t have to be the default reaction to anything you don’t like.
Someone has a different opinion? They’re telling you you’re wrong and stupid and you should be pissed. Someone make an off hand comment that struck you the wrong way? They’re jerks! You should be pissed.
Anything, anytime, anywhere whatever happens that you didn’t like for any reason? Be pissed!
No thanks, it makes for a terrible life.
My mom is obsessively clean. It took me a couple years into my marriage to stop cleaning to her standards. I am not a dirty person but I don’t have a fit about a little dust on the baseboards.
She should see my carpet right now. I’ve been sewing. There is scraps and threads all over. She’d twitch.
That just because someone is older than me doesn’t mean they know more than me. Yes, it’s true I don’t have as much experience or knowledge about things in the world but it is possible for me to know something that someone who is older than me doesn’t know.
My dad always used the “I’m older/wiser/more experienced” line if I said something a fact or piece of information that he didn’t agree with or think was true. It made me feel a little insecure about what I knew and if what I knew is right or not.
That I’m responsible for everyone else’s feelings. My parents are narcissists, and if they were ever in a bad mood, it was because of something I did. I’ve spent my whole life managing their emotions. Learning what sets them off, learning the subtle triggers, making sure I didn’t ever step out of line or say something that they might misinterpret or take too personally. And not just with them – I had to do that with EVERYONE so that I would be a “good kid” and not make other people angry. Because being a “bad kid” would reflect very poorly on them and we can’t have that.
I now know that other peoples’ emotions aren’t my problem, but I still feel responsible for my parents’. It’s tough.
I do not have to say sorry for everything and I used to say it for everything. Reached for the same cookie? Sorry! We had different opinions and you’re frustrated? Sorry! I didn’t grab the right bag of groceries out of the truck? Sorry! I said sorry for everything, even when cashiers didn’t have nickels to give me back at change, I apologized for me causing them that inconvenience. Unlearning that is still a struggle at times.
That loud noises and rough housing cause the cake to not rise when baking in the oven. Come to find out, 20 years later, it was just a lie to get us to be quiet.
Now that I think of it, they got quiet kids AND cake.
Scratch that, I’ll remember this instead and use it in the future.
That I’m not a special snowflake. Being “smart” and “talented” stopped mattering around age 17 and I felt like a fraudulent mess up until I learned how to work and apply myself.
I was in this gifted program back in elementary school, always got top scores, and when I started playing music my parents learned that I have a good ear- I could listen to a song and then play it by memory on the violin or the piano. So of course, like most parents, mine decided that I didn’t need any lessons, or mentors, or help, because I could play any song on any instrument in the world! And I shouldn’t have to try in school, because I was gifted and everything should come easy to me! I was raised to view normal learning as failure. If I couldn’t do something right away, then I failed at it. Done.
I remember one year my dad saved up money and bought me one of those cheap guitars from the JCPenny catalog, and then had me listen to recordings of “Classical Gas” and try to play it. I had never held a guitar before, my parents didn’t want to get me any books or lessons, and my father was disappointed that I couldn’t play that song after 20 minutes. I felt like crap.
It wasn’t so bad through high school, but when I got to college, it was a slap in the face. Even now, I graduated and am in medical school and years later, it’s still difficult for me to follow through on things that I’m not good at right away. There’s this pressure to know everything and be able to do everything better than everyone else with no effort. I never learned how to try. Sucks.
That all aspects of sexuality are disgusting and that you should feel guilty even thinking about anything sexual.
I had a book given to me at about 12-years-old with very ‘modest’ illustrations. Covers on a couple, lady is now pregnant, etc. That was the extent of my sex education. I knew nothing until my mid-20s!
Limited knowledge of sex and an implanted fear of it definitely made things weird as an adult.
I still have to unlearn many abusive lessons my parents gave me as in their approach to modesty resulting in never celebrating any achievements.
The world doesn’t end if you aren’t home at 2 am, women don’t have to marry or have children and it’s a regular thing to hug the people you care about. They acted like it was very inappropriate.
My parents never dealt with credit cards or student loans. The things they taught me were superficial and some of their strategies put me into deep debt.
It took years to get out of my debt. Now, my credit is great and I’m actively saving every month.
To always assume the worst might happen. My parents are conservative in every way, shape, and form.
Like no mom, just because I’m out having a good time with my friends and don’t answer my phone doesn’t mean that I’m dead.
Now that I’m 100% independent, I’m learning that sometimes risk equals reward, whereas my parents had taught my siblings and I that risk usually leads to demise.
Eating poorly. We never ate vegetables. Always starches and that kind of stuff. So much processed crap
I’m 28 and finally have managed to retrain my palate to eat vegetables regularly. I do my best to eat plenty of veggies every day of all different types, and I’m very concerned with my health and fitness. Passing this on to my son is super important to me.
That you don’t have to marry everyone one you date. My mom was married 7 times and taught us that you never left anyone! No matter if they were horrible to you, took all your money and treated your kids like crap.
And that you could “fix” them if you married them. It took me a moving out and talking with other people that that is not normal and people break up all the time. Luckily I never married any of those guys.
They taught me to never disagree with anything. In my household there was no such thing as “no” or “why”.
My dad was abusive and we all sort of just agreed with everything because disagreeing or questioning anything led to yelling, throwing things and tantrums that for lasted days.
I grew up learning that the safest way to live was entirely unnoticed. So it took forever even after I was an adult for me to learn to speak up or make my own choices or do things I actually wanted to do. I still struggle with it a lot.
My dad thought it was funny to teach my sister, brother and I the wrong names to things.
My sister confuses plates and bowls, my brother confuses forks and spoons and I get confused with beetroots and capsicum.
I get it right most of the time, now.
My mother is the anti-vaxxer, Kony 2012, chemtrails type person.
I believed every lie she told me and of course I told everyone at school this stuff. It gained me reputation as the weird kid and nobody believed me for a long time.
Old fashioned racism. When I was old enough to really think about it I knew it was wrong. Couldn’t say anything against it because I would have been ostracized and heaven forbid if I had dated a woman of a different race, I would have been disowned by my entire family.