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23 Hurtful Things Parents Say That Kids Still Remember As Adults

Most parents love their children and would not intentionally hurt them. Unfortunately, there are parents who would say hurtful things to their kids intentionally.

And even though we’re adults now, those hurtful sayings can still stick with us.

Here are some of the most common damaging phrases parents use that their grown children still remember when they grow up.

  1. I wish you were never born.
  2. You were my worst mistake in life.
  3. You look fat.
  4. My marriage failed because of you.
  5. I don’t want to see you ever again.
  6. I can give you life and I can take that away.
  7. It’s all your fault.
  8. It’s not my job to be nice to you.
  9. You’re dead to me. 
  10. As far as I’m concerned, you don’t exist.
  11. You’re a loser.
  12. You let me down time and time again.
  13. I should have never trusted you with anything.
  14. You ruined everything. My marriage, my family, and my life.
  15. You are not cut out for this world.
  16. Why are you so lazy?
  17. You can’t do anything right.
  18. Why are you nothing like me?
  19. I’ve always liked your brother more.
  20. It seems so easy. How come you couldn’t do it?
  21. If you choose to live like this, you will not be my child.
  22. That is a stupid decision.
  23. It was a stupid thing to do.
mother points finger at sad girl

What To Do When Parents Say Hurtful Things

Having toxic parents who say the worst things to hurt you can be devastating. It seems like nothing you do is ever good enough and you’re constantly being put down.

When things don’t change after so many years, it can be frustrating.

Take deep breaths

When your parents say toxic things again. Take a few good deep breaths to calm yourself​1​.

Your priority is your mental health, not winning fruitless arguments. Winning an argument isn’t worth sacrificing your peace of mind.

Validate yourself

Self-validation helps boost self-esteem​2​. Affirm that you are a lovable person.

Validate your own feelings even if others don’t.

Being upset when your parents say hurtful things to you is normal. It would be abnormal if you didn’t.

Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. You have a right to your healthy emotion, and nobody can take that away from you.

Write it down

When parents are cruel, what they say may seem to linger in your mind like a tape that you keep playing.

While it is good to process your feelings and validate yourself, it is not healthy to ruminate.

Try to figure out why it hurts you so much that it won’t go away.

By writing down your thoughts and emotions, you may be able to sort them out and gain a deeper understanding of your feelings​3​.

Distance yourself physically

Distance yourself from your hurtful parents physically if you can and if they keep doing this. Protect your mental health.

You’re an adult now, and you deserve to be treated as such. If they cannot respect you, tell them your reason for leaving and separate yourself from them.

Move your body

Exercise can reduce anger, confusion, and tension​4​.

It’s not necessary to perform vigorous exercises to reap the benefits. Walking can not only improve your mood but also boost your self-esteem​5​.

So if you’re feeling hurt, take a walk. It may not seem like much, but it can really help to clear your head and improve your mood. 

Plus, the fresh air and exercise are good for your overall health.

Vent selectively

Talking to your friends about your pain and hurt will likely bring advice such as “Talk to them, tell them how much it hurts, see things from their perspective, and find a common ground.”

You can’t explain the hurt and anguish you feel to people who have never experienced it.

Unfortunately, and fortunately for them, some people won’t understand.

It doesn’t mean you cannot be friends with them. It just means venting selectively to the right people. 

Despite your best efforts, there will always be people who don’t empathize with you.

Of course, when you have great friends who are willing to listen, you can get emotional support from them, especially at a difficult time.

Mediate and mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness practices can strengthen your mental and physical health.

Incorporating meditation and other relaxation techniques into your daily routine can be beneficial. Not only can they improve your mood, but they can also help reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and increase focus and concentration​6​.

Listen to music

Put on your favorite soothing music (but avoid the sad ones).

Relaxing music can help you relax and enhance your mood​7​.

Don’t try to change your parents

Have constructive conversations with your parents if you can. But know that your parents aren’t going to change overnight.

In fact, they may not change at all​8​.

Don’t try to change your toxic mother or father unless you’ve never tried before. But chances are, you’ve done everything and said everything you could.

Accept that this is who they are and move on to take care of yourself.

You can lead a happy life without changing them.

References

  1. 1.
    Paul G, Elam B, Verhulst SJ. A Longitudinal Study of Students’ Perceptions of Using Deep Breathing Meditation to Reduce Testing Stresses. Teaching and Learning in Medicine. Published online June 19, 2007:287-292. doi:10.1080/10401330701366754
  2. 2.
    Briñol P, Petty RE. Overt head movements and persuasion: A self-validation analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Published online June 2003:1123-1139. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.84.6.1123
  3. 3.
    Lepore SJ, Greenberg MA, Bruno M, Smyth JM. Expressive writing and health: Self-regulation of emotion-related experience, physiology, and behavior. The writing cure: How expressive writing promotes health and emotional well-being.:99-117. doi:10.1037/10451-005
  4. 4.
    Lane A, Lovejoy D. The effects of exercise on mood changes: the moderating effect of depressed mood. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2001;41(4):539-545. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11687775
  5. 5.
    Barton J, Hine R, Pretty J. The health benefits of walking in greenspaces of high natural and heritage value. Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences. Published online December 2009:261-278. doi:10.1080/19438150903378425
  6. 6.
    Basso JC, McHale A, Ende V, Oberlin DJ, Suzuki WA. Brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators. Behavioural Brain Research. Published online January 2019:208-220. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2018.08.023
  7. 7.
    Västfjäll D. Emotion induction through music: A review of the musical mood induction procedure. Musicae Scientiae. Published online September 2001:173-211. doi:10.1177/10298649020050s107
  8. 8.
    Prochaska JO. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration. Published online 1999:83-102. doi:10.1023/a:1023210911909

About Pamela Li

Pamela Li is a bestselling author. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Parenting For Brain. Her educational background is in Electrical Engineering (MS, Stanford University) and Business Management (MBA, Harvard University).

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