19 Lessons Parents Taught Their Kids That Crucially Backfired
Kids sure are cleaver, and they'll always find a loophole — just look at these lessons that backfired on parents.
There's nothing more pleasurable as a kid than getting your way without *technically* breaking any of your parents' rules.
I had a friend whose parents came home one day to find a homeless man sitting at their kitchen table because they had taught my friend to help the needy whenever possible — and she knew there was plenty of food in the family's fridge.
I can't imagine how many of these lessons parents teach their kids with the best of intentions that later come back to bite them with embarrassment. People on reddit banded together to share lessons they tried to teach their children that completely backfired in their faces.
Scroll down for 19 lessons parents tried to teach their kids and the results that will make you simultaneously laugh and shake your head.
1. Want to potty train your kid using logic?
"Not a parent, but my in-laws love telling this story about my fiancé.
He was resistant to potty training, and they eventually got him to start using the potty by telling him that he had to be out of pull-ups before a family trip to Disney World, because 'Mickey Mouse only sees big boys and girls.' And also who wants to log a diaper bag around Disney?
Anyway, it went great, they had a great trip... and the day after they got back, he took a [dump] in the living room. When asked, he said, 'I don't gotta use the potty cause I already saw Mickey Mouse.' They very firmly told him that if he was old enough to use logic, he was far too old for diapers, and that was the end of that."
2. Go ahead, teach them how to argue.
"Taught my daughter that whining and begging doesn't get her what she wants. She needs to make a logical argument. I'm now living with a 12-year-old lawyer who is really good at making me change my mind on house rules."
3. You thought the reward system was a good idea?
"One of my 5-year-old twins was still having occasional accidents because she would get so caught up in playing/doing something else that she just wouldn't go and would pee her pants. To combat this we would give her a special prize of some variety when she wouldn't have an accident. This, in turn, caused her twin sister to START having accidents so she could get prizes for not having accidents (even though she was fine on this front beforehand.) We had to rethink our methods."
4. You'll want to teach your kids not to gamble.
"My sister tried to teach her kids not to gamble. She bought a few lottery tickets to show them that they were all going to be losers. She won $500..."
5. Ah yes, good old parenting books.
"Read a book that suggested you ask your kid what an appropriate punishment for misbehaving would be and then carry it out. 6-year-old son pinched his brother or something, so we asked what an appropriate punishment would be. He said, 'Pluck out my eyeballs and throw me over a cliff?' We didn't follow through. And stopped reading parenting books."
6. Cleaning your room is part of the unsigned family contract.
"My kids were begging for a pet. I don't want to take care of a pet, and I told them that they don't clean up after themselves without me hassling them, so why would they clean up after a pet without me hassling them. Told them if they could keep there room clean for six months without me telling them, they could get a pet.
Youngest child proceeds to clean room, then move clothes and a sleeping bag into the hallway and lock his door so his room can't get dirty as he sleeps in the hallway."
For those curious to see how this turned out, the poster updated: "We told him if he was living in the hallway, then the hallway was his room. As his brother tended to leave a trail of clothes and dirty towels between the bathroom and the bedroom, this was no longer optimal, and he moved back."
7. I bet the parent didn't see this one coming.
"Taught my now-16-year-old to always compliment people who insulted you. We were in a Burlington Coat Factory in Michigan when my mother was shopping for a bathing suit to take to Florida. There were few to choose from, so she was complaining. My kid was 4.
A woman trying on pants and said something rude to my mom who was asking my opinion and my daughter caught on that my mother was agitated. She squeezed out behind me and told the woman, 'Your teeth are such a pretty yellow!'"
8. Novel approach to age-old rule.
"My dad tried to implement the whole you MUST eat ALL the food on your plate in our house during meals. My mom was never a fan of that lesson, but my dad was stubborn so she just let it go. Well, one day my sibling had 2-3 bites of food left on their plate and was very clear that they were absolutely full and couldn't eat another bite. Dad wasn't having it and insisted they could not leave the table until all the food on their plate was gone. My sibling realized they weren't going to convince our dad that they were too full and finished the last few bites and then proceeded to vomit on the table and our dad. He stopped enforcing the rule after that."
9. A brief lesson on friendship.
When my oldest kid was 3 or 4, a few months after I separated from his mom, I found a home with a couple of these DJs who needed a roommate to split the bills. Mike was terminally ill, Louie was a pothead. I was a young divorced dad. Pretty suave home am I right?
One day after cleaning the kitchen I stepped out to pick up my kid, came home and the kitchen's a wreck. Louie got high and decided to make himself a smoothie. He left milk, ice, bits of juice and just gross crud, everywhere.
I told Louie he needed to clean it up, he told me he'd get to it in a little bit, I told him I needed to make my kid dinner now and needed to work in the kitchen, he told me to clean it up yourself, one thing led to another and pretty soon we're in each other's faces, really close, almost bumping chests, fingers pointing at each other, yelling really loud, lots of cuss words, before we both storm off.
I go up to my room, and kiddos up there with a quivering lip and eyes welled up. He bravely tells me, 'Louie is our friend and you yelled at him very mean.'
I go back to the living room. 'Louie, could you come down here please?'
'WHAT??!' .. he stomps into the living room
'.. sigh .. I was very frustrated because I worked hard to clean the kitchen, then I saw it messy again, but I did not ask what you were doing or how your day was before getting mad about the kitchen. I should not have yelled at you or said bad words. You're my friend and I will try to use nicer words from now on.'
Louie looks at me and says, '.. the ^%&*%$@??!'
Then he turns and sees kiddo watching both of us. 'Oh fine ...'
And he cleaned the kitchen.
My kid asked us to hug each other afterward.
Louie and I are still friends. He's got his own baby now. [That's] karma [for you], Louie!!
10. When you have to explain to your parents that you're really this lame.
"Not a parent, but my I remember when I was 17, my parents thought I was lying about where I was when I was going out. Like I wanted to extend my curfew or something. Backstory, I am from a REALLY small town, with really not a whole lot for teenagers to do. So my friends and I liked to hang out at the Waffle House by this bar. Every Friday/Saturday night, it never failed, like three or four drunk people would get arrested and my friends and I liked to watch. It was 10/10 entertainment.
So one night, [something] was going DOWN at this particular Waffle House. So I called my parents and asked them if I could extend my curfew. I told them why and they didn't believe me, so they called the Waffle House where I was and asked for me. When the waitress (who knew me well, because I was there A LOT) handed me the phone, my mom was like, '...Oh, you really are at the Waffle House.'
I think that was the first time my mom realized that I was a loser. Needless to say, I got my curfew extension."
11. Certain lessons need to be taught side by side.
"When I was about 2 years old my family was at a game in Angel's stadium. My mother went to the restroom and left me and my siblings with my dad. While he was busy watching, I wandered off. When they eventually found me I was halfway around the stadium. A crowd had gathered to watch as a police officer held me out at arms length while I screamed, 'Call the police, this man is not my daddy' over and over again. My parents had taught me stranger danger, but forgot to teach me what police look like."
12. Ah yes, the specialized pedagogical approach.
"Not a parent, but I work in a school.
At my school we have a lot of kids with learning disabilities (more than in your average school, as we have a special program for it and get special funding), so one of the first lessons of the school year is 'everybody needs different things to learn, and if somebody is getting something different from you it's because that's what they need to learn at school.' You know, a kid-friendly way of explaining accommodations.
Now, the usual accommodations we offer are special chairs/wiggle seats, extra breaks during the day, and extended testing time and tests taken in a quiet room. One kid, however, has decided to take the 'everyone learns differently' lesson to heart and now talks in a fake British accent (I live in America btw) all day. Because 'it helps him learn.'
Then all of the other kids started talking in fake accents."
13. When does this conversation NOT backfire?
"Me: We need to talk about you and your girlfriend. Look, when you are ready to have s-
Me: Wait, listen to me.
Son: It’s too late.
14. Teach them the value of a hard-earned dollar.
"When my daughter was young I was trying to teach her the value of money and decided to start giving her an allowance. She had a few tasks to do around the house and afterwards on the weekends before we would go out, I'd give her $5. I explained that because she helped out and did her chores, she had earned money to spend on whatever she wanted. She happily accepted and stashed her money in her room, I thought nothing of it. Later that evening before I tucked her in to bed after reading to her, she goes to her money jar, pulls out $2 and hands it to me, and explains that it's for being a good daddy."
15. Ahem! Manners!
"My aunt and uncle were trying to teach my cousin manners, and wanted him to address people as Mr. and Mrs. They used each other as examples, and consequently were known as Mr. Iannuccilli for two months. One of the funniest moments of my life was hearing my uncle describe how in the middle of the night instead of 'dad’ he started hearing ‘Mr Iannuccilli!’ Cracks me up every time."
16. Life's not fair, kiddo.
"I've been teaching my kids that life isn't always fair. The tantrums when one is invited to a birthday party have been too much. It's been helping, some.
Then I was playing tic tac toe with my youngest. She covered up the column she wanted to use to win. When I told her that cheating isn't fair and I didn't want to play if she was going to cheat, she reminded me, 'Life isn't fair, momma.'
17. Tag your adult selves.
"Not a parent but when I was around 12, my father suspected that I stayed up late playing video games, even though I didn't. One night he went into my room and told me that I shouldn't play my Game Boy Advance past bedtime, because I needed to rest. That's when I realized I could play my Game Boy Advance past bedtime, and I've suffered from insomnia since then."
18. There's an age for everything.
"Taught them to read early. My son could read by age 4, and my daughter by age 3. This leads to some unwanted conversations as they will read things over your shoulder when you aren't expecting it. Or even just signs on the road. 'You're going too fast, Daddy. It says 55 mph and you're going 70.'"
"In order not to teach him how to 'lie better,' I never challenged his lying and we just told him what needed to be fixed. I never told him how I knew he was lying, I just avoided confronting him and got to the point of what needed fixed, despite attempts to deny it.
For example, if someone ate all the brownies, and his mouth and fingers were stained with chocolate, I never told him, 'I can tell you are lying because of the evidence,' I just said he now had to make a new batch or do chores because the old batch was gone. I was figuring, 'hey, he'll figure out that eating the brownies and lying about it still had consequences.'
Thus, he never really got very good at lying. But he keeps trying, which is the part I didn't expect. He's 28 now, and just so terrible at it because he doesn't understand how people can so easily figure it out. This has socially crippled him in ways I did not understand when he was young.
I think learning how to lie is essential to social development, and I thought I was being all high and moral. Oops."