Please Don’t Spoil Your Children
“My 18-year-old son is a textbook narcissist. The super inflated sense of self and entitlement is nauseating. It takes the slightest bit of criticism for him to lose it. He thinks he should just be famous and inspire others with his self-proclaimed smarts and wit.
I divorced his father when he was young and he stayed in the picture. In fact, he took him a lot. I was always the bad cop and his father and grandmother (my ex lives with mother) would just sing his praises for being alive. The would always say how above average he is and so special. It was always the teachers’ fault for his poor grades and classroom behavior. His friends were the bad influence not him, which I always begged to different. He was no different from his friends and I held him accountable for everything.
He now lives with his father. He is starting his senior year in high school a year late because the genius couldn’t be bothered with classwork his sophomore year and barely passed from then on. He doesn’t want an after-school job but has his clothes washed and ironed for him by grandma. He has his cell and car insurance paid plus an allowance for no reason. My son will not listen to me and refuses to even talk to me since I don’t put up with any of the bullcrap.
Please parents: don’t spoil and praise your children incessantly.”
Parenting In The Internet Age
“I don’t really like my kids. I hope that I will someday but right now? Not a chance.
My oldest (16) breaks things when he’s mad. He’s punched holes in my walls and torn doors down. He has just zero respect for property. He doesn’t take care of his belongings, breaks everything. But somehow he thinks we should spend thousands of dollars on sneakers that he doesn’t intend to wear. It’s this insane combination of materialism and destructiveness and it is anathema to me. He hasn’t been able to get a job, largely just because we’re a college town and there are so many college students that no one needs to bother with high school kids. But the internet has taught him to have elite tastes in trendy bullcrap.
My middle child (10) cannot seem to control his mouth. He is really obnoxious, not in a malicious way, but it’s still verbal diarrhea at the top of his lungs at all times. He is everything that is wrong with Fortnite. We supervise, limit his access, all the reasonable measures short of cutting him off. Sometimes I’ll tell him to go play outside with his friends but they’re all right there with him on Discord. The little savage doesn’t even use push to talk.
I still love them and I show it. I take issues with their actions not with them personally, use appropriate parenting techniques, counseling. I look forward to them becoming reasonable humans eventually, but right now in this stage of their development, they’re not particularly likable most of the time.
I don’t know what it used to be like, but parenting in the internet age is freaking hard. I’m trying. It would be easier if I could just cut off their access, but I can’t. Technology is the future, it’s in their classrooms. I couldn’t stop them if I wanted to. And they think the internet is just so much cooler than me.”
It’s Hard To Like Someone This Disrespectful
“I disliked my 19-year-old for a while. He lost his freaking mind. He lied to me and his mom (my ex-wife) repeatedly over everything, got married without telling us to some girl he was friends with on Facebook (at 19, mind you), cheated on his wife of a month, and got another girl pregnant not even a year later. He complained for the longest time that it was my ex-wife and I’s parenting that caused all this.
Now, I’m more than aware that we weren’t perfect parents, highlighted by our divorce a few years ago late into his teen years (16 years old), but that sure as heck doesn’t give him the right to be such a bad person and treat others this way. These were only the highlight examples I gave, not even all the minor lies and shenanigans he was into. I totally get being angry with us, but the amount of damage that he’s caused others really made me dislike him as a person.
At almost 21, he’s gotten his life a little more together this last year. He is finally getting a job and trying to take care of the girl he impregnated and take care of his divorce from his ‘wife.’
It’s just rough…in about 4 months, I’m going to be a grandparent and I don’t even know the girl he knocked up and he doesn’t think he’s going to stay with her (as a couple, not abandoning his child). It’s really sullied the experience of finding out you’re going to be a grandparent. I’m not even mad that he’s young and doesn’t have his stuff together, it’s all the lies and bullcrap that his relationship(s) are predicated on and that he has no real reservations about hurting others (through lies, not physically) if it means getting his own way. He just has a long way to go in being a person I can actually respect.
I love my son, I really do, but I find that respecting him is something I just can’t really do right now. I hope this changes soon if only for his child to grow up in a stable environment.”
“I Never Wanted To Have Kids”
“My wife and I walked into marriage wanting six kids. We had both been raised in a conservative church and all our lives, we were taught that children are to be seen as God’s blessing. To get married and then refuse to have children was sin.
An important note here: it’s not just that I had a duty to pump out kids that I couldn’t love properly, it’s that I had a duty and expectation to love having so many kids and to feel like my life was being greatly blessed. This is almost more a command to feel a certain way about having kids.
So young, naive, 21-year old me who had very little contact with people outside the church and assumed that when we started having kids, that the joy and blessing would start to shine and we’d be happy (we weren’t dumb enough to think there would be no trouble at all, but we did think that overall, we would be more than content with our lives and would feel blessed in it). I had simply never heard another perspective before.
I first started to notice that it wasn’t working out that way when we were pregnant with our third. My wife and I had grown quite distant from each other because of how much time was devoted to the kids and how everything had become about them.
Then our third was born with special needs.
What am I gonna do? Hate this child for having higher needs? It wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, but geez, that made life harder. My wife and I ended up going through a separation shortly after she was born for reasons that were intricate and multi-faceted, but we never included the kids as part of the problem. During the separation, I found out that before I had left the house, she was pregnant again with our fourth child.
Yes, it was mine. Yes, she was faithful. Yes, I’m sure.
I honestly would’ve been good with stopping at three, but with a fourth on the way, again, there was nothing we could do. We redoubled our efforts to resolve our differences and reconcile, again for the children, and we did so.
It was about then that I told my wife for the first time that I didn’t think I wanted anymore. Four was enough. There were others in our church who had four. Even though we’d certainly be a smaller family than normal in our church, and people would certainly have been surprised or judgemental, it would have been okay if we stopped there.
But their opinions didn’t matter. My wife’s, however, did. By this point, she had also figured out for herself that we didn’t really want six, but she wasn’t really satisfied stopping at four either.
Part of that was because the state of our marriage when our fourth was conceived was not a good one, and she wanted our last child to be conceived in a marriage full of love. I wavered for a few weeks, then I capitulated, and we had a fifth.
After the fifth was born, I had a vasectomy. Everything had gone fine, my count was nil, and we were in good shape.
Then, lucky me, I recanalized (the vasectomy healed itself, and I became fertile again), and we got pregnant with our sixth, and final, child.
That child is now just over one year old and the growing sense of discontent in my life over the last five to eight or so years has been a great struggle for me. I’ve been chocking it up to environmental stresses at work out at home, discord in the marriage, dumb people at church, etc. But I was getting in touch with the realization that I resented my kids for taking my wife away from me. But that realization came with guilt because it wasn’t their fault. Nonetheless, I feel how I feel.
But now, literally not even two weeks ago, a flash of insight hit me while in therapy:
I never wanted to have kids.
I wanted to get married, I wanted to fulfill my faith-based duties, I wanted to raise children because that would make God happy and merit his blessing, and I wanted to make my wife happy, and I wanted to satisfy the cultural/social expectations of my church.
But I never actually wanted kids because I wanted kids. They were always a means to the other ends. That’s why I resent them now. I resent them now because all those ends that they were supposed to be the means to didn’t pan out at all.
My marriage is still rocky. I’ve still not recovered from a bad falling out with the church that I had when my wife and I were going through our separation. I’ve been struck over and over with severe depression. I don’t feel any closer to God (in fact, I feel a lot more distant than ever before), we are financially stable (sometimes), but not anywhere near financially prosperous. From a lot of different perspectives, my life is absolute trash right now. However, I concede that, being on month number 8 of a severe depressive episode, that might be the mental illness blocking me from seeing any light that is actually there.
I try very, very, very, hard to not blame the kids, and I’m wrestling every day with resentment of them, telling myself over and over that it’s not their fault that they didn’t bring me this amazing feeling of euphoria. They need their Dad, so I’ve got to buck up and put this resentment somewhere where they can’t see it and be the Dad they need.
But geez, it’s hard, man. It’s so hard.”
“I Don’t Like Him And I Don’t Think That Will Change”
“The worst part for me is that my stepson can’t help himself. He is high functioning autistic, with paranoia, delusional thinking, and lots of other mental issues.
His dad was a real piece of work who hung himself last year. My stepson is manipulative, cruel, and completely lacks empathy. He has vandalized my vehicles, punched holes in my walls, hit me, hit his siblings, and has been generally a constant source of stress and strife in our home. He’s better now…but by better I mean he bounces between being incredibly obnoxious, or a vicious prick. You can’t reason with him, and he can rationalize anything he does.
He will be 18 this year and I honestly hope we can put him in a group home soon. The past 6 years has been one non-stop battle. But I know he can’t help it. I know this. Part of me knows that I should have a better relationship with him. But I don’t want to. It’s hard being treated like garbage one day and try to pretend it’s okay the next. Because that’s how he is. It’s like ‘Groundhog’s Day,’ but no Bill Murray. He can call you horrible names and destroy property and make your life a mess on a Monday, but Tuesday it’s supposed to be cool. It’s not cool.
His mother feels guilty for not being able to help him. I feel guilty for being so freaking angry with him. I’m angry that there isn’t enough help for him. I don’t like him and I don’t think it will change.”
Love Kids, Hate Parenting
“I don’t dislike my kids. Most of the time. But I dislike being a parent most of the time. I have three kids, ages 9, 7 and 2. I had my first at 21. My oldest is my only girl and she has something wrong with her. I don’t know what it is. I am waiting for a referral to a psychologist to figure out if she’s autistic, or bipolar, or has a sensory processing disorder. But something is not right. She has violent rages, lately every day. I don’t know how to handle them.
My middle son feels left out most of the time and my 2-year-old is in the tantrum stage. Sometimes I hate myself because I break down and cry at least once a day, thinking, ‘Why did I do this? I don’t want to do this anymore.’
I feel like a horrible parent because I don’t have the money to fix things or get them enough clothes for school or other stuff they want.
Our house is falling apart and we have a lot of mice. I just found out my husband is getting let go from his job and I don’t have a job. So the kids had to go back to school in the faded, too small clothes they had left from last year. My daughter’s therapist suggested getting a dog for her anxiety, so we did and that was another decision that’s not working out well.
We got the puppy from a girl outside of Wal-Mart who was giving them away. We got her home and found out she hasn’t been socialized and was probably abused so she needs more attention than I thought she would. She spends her days chewing on everything. I feel like I am suffocating.
I miss spending time with my husband. Today is his birthday and, of course, I won’t be able to spend time with him. I have a pretty severe infection in my tooth, and bronchitis and a sinus infection. But I can’t sit down and rest. My only choice is to ignore the pain and continue caring for my kids. I love them so much and I want the best for them. I am a recovering addict and lately, I am struggling against cravings because I feel like I have nothing else to give, yet I have to. Some days we barely have enough food to feed everyone, and I don’t see how anything is going to get better. There’s no freaking end in sight.”
No Longer On Speaking Terms
“She tried to kill her siblings, dislocated my shoulder and accused her stepdad of abuse. She later admitted she lied because she was mad at me for not letting her date a 23-year-old. She was only 13.
We no longer speak, my other kids have no desire to speak with her either. I tried to get her help, but when it became a situation where it was either her hurting herself and the rest of us or her leaving the home, I chose the latter. I still loved her at that point and tried to stay a part of her life even though everyone close to me said to let her go, but then she tried to accuse me of things that only happened in the fantasy world it seems she lives in.
I had to block her on Facebook because she will randomly slide into my messages and say something to get me to talk to her and then turn on a dime and accuse me of more stuff her mind has made up. Or she’ll say something nasty just to hurt me. I died twice giving birth to her and she was my sweet baby that I loved, but she became something evil and vindictive towards her siblings. She was scary. I wish her nothing but the best in her life, but I don’t want her in mine anymore ever.”
The Most Despicable Thing A Son Could Do
“This Saturday, my son will have been sober for 18 months. He got his GED this year, and he starts at Community College at the end of August. He finally has a job that I didn’t get for him, soon he will be moving into his own apartment, and he hasn’t missed a single appointment with his therapist. He has done everything you would expect of a precocious 17-year-old who hit a rough patch after meeting with a particularly bad influence.
He is now 29.
This is the point where I’m supposed to say that, nevertheless, I’m still proud of him for turning his life around, getting off substances and off the streets, staying out of trouble, and acting like a responsible adult, or at least an adult who knows the meaning of ‘responsible.’ Maybe I’ll throw in a reference to the Prodigal Son and kill a fatted calf for him. That’s certainly what’s expected of me. That’s certainly what my son expects of me. He demands praise and forgiveness and a party and me to hug him and tell him it’s all right. He demands me to tell him how proud I am that he’s made something of himself.
But I’m not, because he hasn’t. Not in the slightest.
His mother and I gave him every opportunity we could. I don’t expect any praise for that, because unlike my son, I don’t expect praise for doing what you’re supposed to. She and I worked hard to give him a loving, stable, comfortable, supportive home. We were involved in his school, we introduced him to music (to the extent that any two people can; his mother was a darn good cellist, though) and sports and culture, we fed him healthy meals, we played with him–thanks to him, we got in the best shape we’d ever been in since our 20s–and we let him stumble and fall and make mistakes and get back up again.
He started shoplifting at 15. The first time we caught him, we bodily dragged him back to the store, made him return the copy of Grand Theft Auto and apologize, and offered to pay for any damages. The second time we caught him (this time with a pair of shoes), we did the same thing. The third time, we started going to family therapy.
Therapy seemed to go well, and after a few sessions, the therapist asked for a few one-on-one meetings with him. After two of those, the police came knocking on our door, because the little heathen had concocted some story about how we were a religious cult who abused him for breakfast every Saturday… and the dumb therapist actually believed him. Rational heads prevailed, we fired that therapist, and he went through six more in as many months, until eventually we couldn’t find anyone who would take him as a patient.
By 16, he was drinking. Then we found pot in his bedroom, and in our bedroom. He started leaving needles, paraphernalia, and crack pipes where he knew we’d eventually find them, just to mess with us. I know this because he said so, in those exact words. He had his first intervention and first trip to rehab that year and his first relapse.
He had to repeat a year of high school at 17, which meant he was now the ringleader of a group of other young burnouts, who saw him as this totemic mentor-shaman who could hook them up with whatever they wanted. I’m also sure he started messing around with one of his gang members’ younger sister (13) around then, but I had nothing to go on but my own instincts. All I could do was tell her parents to keep an eye on her. No charges were ever pressed, and the family never spoke to me again after that, but they did pull both of their kids out of that school. My son was furious at me for daring to not let him continue seeing this underage girl.
While I was away, he spent an uncharacteristic night at home and on his best behavior. After his mother went to sleep, he followed her to her bedroom. He took a knife with him. He crept into the room, straddled her, put the blade to her throat, and slid his other hand inside her.
I don’t know exactly what happened next. I know he held her down and tried to undress her. I know she fought. I know he stabbed her. I know she got away and locked herself in the bathroom before he could catch her; I hope that means she kicked him good in the balls. I know she broke the window and screamed for help. I know he ran. I know she was lucky the ambulance got to her before she bled to death. I know he called his friends to brag and beg for a ride. I know the police caught him.
I know if I’d been home, or if I’d caught him, I’d have killed him with my bare hands.
The state tried my son as an adult. He pled out, but only after making his mother testify, with him smiling the whole time. She divorced me a month after his sentencing. I looked too much like him. She killed herself a year later.
I would be a liar if I said I didn’t blame him for her death because I absolutely do.
I should have killed him right there. It is to my eternal shame that I did not.
They let him out after serving three years. He spent the next six years on the streets, in and out of rehab, on and off other people’s couches, and would grace me every six months or so with a phone call demanding money. Eventually, I refused to talk to him unless it was to drive him back to rehab, and I stopped completely after he stole my wallet.
Two years ago, he came to my house with his aunt (his mother’s sister) in tow and crocodile tears in his eyes. He pretended to apologize. I slammed the door. His aunt barged in to try to shame me into forgiving him. He slashed my tires, threw a brick through a window, and drove off in her car. His aunt had no idea that he’d taken or keys, or that he’d been armed the whole time. She blamed me.
He guilted her into letting him stay with her, went to rehab and relapsed, then went again, and here we are.
In stark contrast to the ball of trash that is my son and his life, I have watched my friends’ and colleagues’ (those who will still talk to me, that is) children go on to become doctors, lawyers, skilled tradesmen, actors and musicians, academics, entrepreneurs, and career military. I’ve seen a few start their own families. And even the ones who’ve had a rough start, or who stumbled and fell, managed to pick themselves up again, or are bravely soldiering on. I have nothing but respect for them. I also note that they do not expect juice and a freaking cookie for having a job and not getting hopped up on substances or assaulting their mothers.
My son has pretended to reform before. He has even convinced himself once or twice. But he always backslides, always relapses, always finds new ways to disappoint, always hurts other people for his own short-sighted benefit. His aunt is already at the stage where she is pretending she ‘must have forgotten’ where she put some knickknack or piece of jewelry and has already told me to eff off after I’ve warned her of what my son can, will, and has done before, and what he will do again now that he thinks she is weak.
When he messes up again, when he hurts someone else with his ceaseless bullcrap, I will not be there to pick up after him. I am through with him. I am through with his aunt. I cannot talk to her without being overcome with rage and shame as I see the stupid, stupid hope I used to have that my son would ever amount to anything, and I do not need any more disappointment and failure in my life.
I am not proud of my son. I am sorry for inflicting him upon the world.”
Some Kids Grow Up To Be Selfish Brats
“My middle son (19) stole a 9mm from my 82-year-old father. When I confronted him about it, he said I didn’t understand. He said he needed the money and if I had given him more, he might not have done it.
Two months later, he got caught on video stealing a tip jar from a Mexican restaurant. Again, he said if I’d had given him money (because he was completely cut off at this point), he wouldn’t have done it.
The downward spiral continued. He takes no responsibility for anything. He’s a selfish brat who won’t take care of his kids much less himself.
I never thought I’d say this about my own child, but EFF THAT GUY.”
“I’m Just So Exhausted”
“I can’t pick a specific moment. Maybe when he told RTC staff his dad abused his sister in front of him and then admitted he made it up for no reason other than he hoped she would go to foster care, because he hates her.
Or any of the hundreds of times he’s threatened to kill her. Or when he rabbit punched me while I was asleep, because he was mad about not being able to pick dinner two weeks prior. Then he poured nail polish remover in his grandparents’ dog’s eyes.
He is currently in residential treatment facility #3.
I promised him no more after the second one because all they have ever done is give him pills and teach him worse behaviors than he had going in.
I keep hoping he will at least realize it’s easier to get what you want out of people when you’re not nasty and violent towards them. I’m just done. I’m so exhausted with him.”
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