People Share The Worst Cases of Parenting They Have Ever Seen

We’ve all witnessed horrible cases of parenting, like the classic but traumatizing “sink or swim”. Or even when we were left on our own at home, trying to figure out how everything works with no help from our parents. 

These stories shed light on the most shocking and eye-opening cases of bad parenting that we might never have considered. I believe we can all learn from these experiences to educate our children better than the parents in the following stories did.

1. This Isn’t A Good Idea

I had never gone camping before I was 11, I really wanted to go with my ten-year-old cousin. My parents took me to the woods and handed us the tent and a half-full bag of ranch chips, and like a pack of bratwursts, and my seven-year-old sister.

Then they pulled off, leaving us to camp for the first time alone in the woods with a seven-year-old. Not a fun weekend. I never went camping again, but it was apparently fine because that's how my dad and uncle learned. I'm just grateful for the lack of bad people, and black bears.


2. So Careless

My dad was notorious for the “rub dirt on it method” when I got hurt as a kid. When I was 9, I was in a nasty motorcycle accident out in the desert.

I broke and misplaced my fibula (the bone was protruding from my leg). My dad didn’t want to end his desert trip early so he told me not to look at it and to keep trying to walk.

I was in so much pain anytime I would move I would black out. My brother was so concerned he urged my dad that we should go home.

My dad finally gave in but was so drunk he let my 11-year-old brother at the time drive us out of the desert. He was so nervous he hit so many bumps, and with each bump, I would black out and then come to.

Once we got home he thought it would be best to sleep it off before going to the hospital. The next day I was admitted to the hospital and my dad was taken into custody by CPS.


3. What “We Have A Driving School At Home” Actually Means

My dad decided to give me driving lessons when I was a teenager, which turned out to be a driving lesson, singular.

He took me to the parking lot across the street from our house and had me tool around to get used to the steering and pedals for about 15 minutes.

Then, annoyed that I wasn't catching on fast enough for his taste, he decided we should go on the actual road and I'd learn faster in a more challenging environment.

Cue him barking orders to "Speed up, slow down, HIT THE BRAKES!" in an increasingly frustrated voice as I tooled along, terrified I was going to hit someone.

The culmination of our lesson came when he noticed we were low on gas, and told me to pull into the gas station. Keep in mind- my sum total driving experience at this point was about 25 minutes, which did not include parallel parking.

I pulled into the gas station and came to the pump at something like a 30-degree angle.

He grabbed the steering wheel to correct and actually yelled at me, "JESUS CHRIST!! DON'T YOU KNOW HOW TO DRIVE?!" To which I said, "NO!!! I DON'T!! YOU'RE TEACHING ME, REMEMBER!"

He drove back home silently. That was the end of Dad's driving lessons. I signed up with a driving school after that.


4. They Left Me Out

2 days after I graduated high school, I came home to an empty house, all my stuff in a U-haul because my mom and stepdad moved without me. I have been financially independent ever since, but a heads-up would've been nice.

My real dad was not involved in this situation, he was on the other side of the country. I am still close with him but he is very low income so he could not help me in this.

I had no contact with my mom for about a year but she weaseled her way back in. I think I see her in person once every 2 years and I do not acknowledge my stepfather exists. I have been considering having no contact with my mom again recently.


5. That’s Not Safe, But It Worked

  My stepdad would get hammered and make me drive him home. I was 14 and couldn't drive stick and he was like you'll figure it out. This happened maybe 3 times.  

Since everyone keeps asking: yes, I got home safe every time. Yes, I drive stick like a champ now. Everything from 3 on a tree to an unsprung 3 puck, I'll get you home.


6. Banned For Good

I was a lifeguard as a high schooler. Some parent did this to their 5-year-old. The parent thought the kid was fine because he wasn't splashing around, he was bobbing up and down with his arms going straight up, and straight out.

That actually means they're DROWNING. I had to jump in and grab the kid, who had swallowed significant amounts of water, and call an ambulance to check the kid out.

The parent didn't want us to call the ambulance, but we told him it was the ambulance, or the police because what he did could be considered child endangerment.

Dad was losing his crap, screaming at me, a 17-year-old girl. The pool owner saw this, and he (a former Navy dude) got up in the guy's face. The parent was banned from the pool for life. To this day, I'm convinced the guy was completely hammered.


7. Why Would They Want That?

When I was around 11 or 12, two kids from the neighborhood got into a street fight. Kid #1 clearly got the best of Kid #2, and Kid #2 was crying and went home.

It should have been the end of the story. Kid #2's parents met him at his front door and sent him back out there to continue to fight. I'm not sure if it was about honor or what, but it was painful to watch.


8. Just Walk It Off

'Just walk it off!': said my dad, when I developed a big nasty cyst on my toe when my mom was away on a stressful trip.

She was not pleased to come back and had to immediately drive me to the hospital. It got to the point where I took one step on it and almost passed out.

He apologized afterward. Got a sandwich from a really good sandwich place and I forgave him. Now I laugh about it.


9. A Happy Ending

When I was a kid, my sister and I were washing my dad’s pickup truck to surprise him. She thought it would be funny to shove me off the top of the cab.

I fell and immediately knew something was wrong with my arm. My dad gave me some ice and told me it was just a sprain. When my mom got home that evening, I was still crying on the couch about my arm. She took me to the ER, where an x-ray revealed it was actually broken.

The good thing was that my dad felt super bad about it and gave me pretty much whatever I wanted while I had the cast on.


10. It Wasn’t Intentional

  I think I was around four years old and Dad gave me a piggyback ride. I was being a little annoying and goofing off (choking him too tight I think) and he took my arm at the same time I twisted away to roll off his back. Result - hairline fracture.

He felt bad, obviously, and I wasn’t that upset after it stopped hurting so much, but the real kicker was when I was getting X-rays and told the doctor that my Dad had broken my arm. He told me later that he had to have a very uncomfortable conversation with CPS before we could go home.


11. No Time Wasted

I had a fractured wrist that my mom swore was sprained. After two weeks straight of crying about it, my grandma forced her to take me.

My mom was complaining about it the entire way there about how we were “wasting time over nothing”. I wish I had taken a picture of her face when they said it was actually fractured, and I needed a cast.


12. Careless Mom

I had a sinus infection. "Let's just see how it is tomorrow.". Tomorrow would come, and it was the same thing: "Let's just see how it is tomorrow.".

Kept getting worse. My eyes started to swell shut. Eventually, she did take me to the doctor, who prescribed antibiotics. Absolutely zero change. In fact, it swelled shut, and it hurt to even move my head, much less walk, get up, or even look around with just my eyes.

Her attitude was "Well, I tried.". I remember forcing myself out of bed to beg her to take me to the hospital. It just hurt so goddamn bad.

She did, and it was one of the only times I've ever seen my dad get genuinely angry. I've never heard him yell at her like that before. They were divorced, and this was the first he heard of it. Her excuse was "I took him to the doctor!" and "I can't afford this.".

He told her if it was an issue of money, she could've just called him, because now by that point I needed surgical intervention to drain the fluid buildup.


13. I’m Not Joking, Mom!

I was always a picky eater growing up. One time, my mom sat me down with a small bowl of almonds and told me I couldn’t get up out of my seat until I finished it.

I insisted that I hated them and they were making my mouth itch, she thought I was just being difficult. I just started to swallow the almonds like pills because my mouth was so itchy from chewing on them.

A couple of years later I saw an allergist and discovered I was allergic to tree nuts.


14. Not The Best Idea

  My younger cousin (4 at the time) was a climber and always needed help getting down. His dad told his mom to leave him. He’ll either learn how to get down himself or stop climbing.  

Cousin ended up climbing onto the roof, fell off, and got impaled on a fence pole. One very expensive trip to the ER and he now has a cool scar on his thigh.


15. I Wasn’t Kidding

One time my brother told me to back up my dad's 2006 TrailBlazer from the garage. I told him I didn't know how to drive. He told me to do it anyway.

So, I started the engine and put it in R. As soon as I felt the car backing up, I pushed the gas pedal, thinking the car would correct itself and move forward.

I sent it flying out of the garage but the gate was open so I didn't hit anything. I pulled the e-brake up as hard as I could to stop it. Eventually, my brother came and taught me what to do.


16. These Aren’t Survival Skills

  My stepmom walked us (me, sister, brother 10-12) deep into the woods and left us there to learn 'survival skills'. We thought we were all out on a hike then she distracted us, and ran away.  

We wandered into camp hours later; we knew how to get back but searched for hours worried that something had happened to her. She was drinking margaritas and smirking.


17. I Needed Your Help

  Every time I asked my parents to explain something as a kid I was told either "You're smart; you'll figure it out." or "You just don't want to do it!". Any attempt at maturity was met with either flat-out laughter or being told that I was too young to worry about that.  

Cue me turning 18, and suddenly I'm expected to be an adult, get a job, pay taxes, and all that jazz. I asked where in the hell do I start, and they got pissy because I apparently hadn't figured anything out. Huh, wonder why?


18. That’s… Not How It Works

My dad bought a new house after my parents divorced. Behind us were two kids close in age (9-10 I think) with me who used to mess with me every time I visited.

One day, they hopped on my dad's fence, pushed me down, and stole my basketball. When I told my dad, he decided to go talk to their parents to get my ball back.

Oh wait... that's what normal dads would do. My Dad (a former pro boxer) made me fistfight both of them one at a time and "earn" my basketball back.

Yes, I had training before that incident. Learning how to fight was non-negotiable to him. He had me learning how to fight before I even started school. I was threatened with punishment if I allowed myself to be bullied. I fought professionally for a while but retired in my 20s.

I fought them both one at a time. I definitely won against the first kid, but by the time I fought the second, I was exhausted and he was not. In the MMA/combat sports world, we called that "the shark tank." It's brutal.

I was tired in the 2nd fight so It didn't go as well. If it were a sanctioned fight, it would have definitely been a draw.

Sadly, growing up with a redneck dad means that I have a tiny redneck living in my brain that not only doesn't fear conflict but embraces it. If someone hurts my family, wife, or friends, I become the avatar of toxic masculinity.


19. He Has No Empathy

My dad wanted to teach me how to sail when I was 11. I was terrified of the ocean but I wanted to spend the day with him so it didn't matter much to me.

I was on the sailboat, waiting for him to join me when I suddenly felt the boat drifting away from shore. He had untied the boat and was pushing it into the ocean.

I was alone, not knowing how to sail, and completely panicked. It was getting dark by the time I returned home.

The worst part wasn't being stranded in the ocean. It was my disappointment. I really thought my father and I would have fun together but nope.


20. That’s An Emergency

  I hurt my arm playing football during the morning break at school and was sent home by the school nurse. My dad said it was fine. Bandaged it and sent me to school the next day only for them to send me home again within an hour.  

My mum made my dad take me to the hospital and my arm was broken (my wrist had split lengthways, it was in casts for 9 months). I was secretly buzzing to be honest because, well, that showed him the knob.


21. She Needed To Pay More Attention

My mom forced me to drink milk and she thought I just hate healthy stuff and only prefer junk food. The thing, is I always loved veggies but I also liked junk food basically I love food, except for milk.

I just couldn't consume milk, it'd make me vomit and then I'd have sudden acid reflux not being able to handle it. She thought I was acting to escape but I just hated it.

Turns out I'm lactose intolerant and my mom still thinks I'm making that up just because she can't let go of her ego.


22. Real Phobias

Not my story, but my mom's. She developed a phobia after she was thrown into a pool to learn how to swim. At the age of 70, she still doesn't know how to.

She's terrified of being on the water, even in a safety vest. And then, some fake clairvoyant told her she would drown. So we spent our summers in the mountains as far away from being on water.


23. Not The Right Way

When I was about 5 or 6, I was very sick with the flu. Fever, vomiting, sweating, congestion, it was awful. There was some mixup at the pharmacy, and they thought I was my father and gave him adult medication these giant horse pills.

Now, normal child medication for things like this are syrups and chewable stuff for obvious reasons. My dad comes home and tells me I have to take these meds.

I have a hard time getting them down, almost choking a few times. My dad got frustrated and literally started shoving these huge pills down my sore throat with his angrily shaking fingers.

I started crying, my nose was stuffed so I could only breathe through my mouth. I remember my dad’s wedding ring banging against my teeth, eyes watering, gasping for air while looking at my mom for help.

Eventually, I coughed it back up, crying and my throat on fire. I remember my mom demanding an apology from my dad, who just said “Well, he’s going to have to learn to take pills like that sometime anyway” and stormed off.


24. Not Tasty

Holy crap, I have a really similar experience to that. I started getting migraines back when I was around 11-12, and I got a really bad one while I was up at my parent's vacation house with a friend.

We were watching a movie, and it started to hurt pretty badly. I wanted to get some kind of chewable pain reliever, because of my fear of choking. My dad pulled out a bottle of these massive tablets of aspirin and says I can take these or suffer through the headache.

I tried to swallow them with water, but I literally couldn't and spat them out. Growing increasingly angry, my dad finally grabbed a marshmallow from our pantry and waved it in front of my face before he stuffed the two tablets in them.

He then grabbed me by the head like it was a baseball and forced my jaw open, stuffed the marshmallow/tablet lump down my throat, and forced me to swallow. It hurt so bad and I was terrified I'd choke to death. I started to cry and then he screamed at me to shut up.

My friend saw the whole thing and wouldn't look at my dad for the rest of the trip. Our parents are screwed up.


25. These Parents Need Help

I was volunteering at a parent-child zoo day and saw a few parents like this. The zoo had some free-roaming peacocks, and it was awful how many parents just didn't tell their too-young-to-know kids that they could be mean.

So the little toddler goes, "Wow, pretty bird" and tries to get a closer look, only to get chased and attacked by this thing while the parents watch. Most of them said something like "you should have known better"; like, HOW if you never teach them!

The child can barely walk, you expect them to remember that some animals have a strong territorial sense? And then your baby gets terrorized by this thing that's bigger than them and looks like an alien for all they know, and you don't even give them a hug?

See also: that one mom we had to kick out of the zoo because she was encouraging her kids to antagonize the llama in the hopes it would spit on them. Yikes, people, have some empathy for tiny humans who trust you implicitly with their wellbeing.


26. Not The Right Way To Learn This

My dad and I once witnessed someone who literally did this for a little three-year-old girl.

This little girl was just playing at the edge of the pool, happily minding her own business when her dad ran up behind her, picked her up, and tossed her screaming as far as he could into the deep end of the pool while yelling “Time to swim honey”.

At first, my dad and I didn’t react, cause my dad had done this to me as a game (I learned to swim first) but we started to notice that she was struggling to surface while her dad just watched.

My dad nervously asked, “Can she swim?” To which the guy just shrugs and says “She’ll figure it out”.

I have never seen my dad book it so fast to get it the water as I did that day. He quickly got the kid out of the water and started screaming at the guy about what kind of idiot he was while the girl was just bawling her eyes out.

I swear my dad was ready to deck the guy. This was back in the 1990s so we didn’t have a cell phone to call the police but we never saw them again after. It was the first time in my life I had seen insane parenting and to this day freaks me out that some people will still do this.


27. Hiding Emotions

"Stop crying or I'll give you a reason to cry": something my dad used to say to me. It would send me into a panic.

I was upset and didn't know how to stop crying and then hearing that would make it worse because now I'm crying cause my dad was mad at me and if I didn't stop crying he was gonna make me cry even more.


28. They Took That Literally

My narcissistic mom told me and my sister, 8 and 6 at the time, to "run away if [we] want[ed] to leave so badly" (We were told to do laundry but didn't exactly know how). So, us being young, took that opportunity and packed up to leave.

10 minutes later my sister was hit by a drunk driver. I still perfectly remember her crayola crayon suitcase messed up in the middle of the road. She was mostly fine from the crash, just scrapes and bruises.

The real pain came from realizing our "mother" would prefer to challenge us to run away rather than teach us how to do laundry. She's currently in NC and I moved across the ocean. It's better now.


29. Well, It Worked

Some bigger kid beat me up a little when I was a kid. After complaining to my dad, he said that I'd have to sort it out on my own. So got something like a 2x4 plank, found the kid, and whacked him on the head with it. Then his parents complained lol.

Actually, it kind of worked. The kids who don't fight back get bullied. The ones who are nuts are left alone.


30. At Least He Got What He Wanted

My parents told me they were kicking me out at 18 in a move to “motivate?” me. I was in college with no job and virtually no money. My grandfather had left me about 10k in savings bonds that I asked for but they wouldn’t give me.

So I made a plan, I went around to 5 different targets and shoplifted about 4-5 video games that I took to GameStop to sell (stupid and wrong I know) and at the end of the day, I had about 600$.

I was planning on buying some substances to sell to get some income going till I got on my feet. But when I got back to my house, a cop was waiting for me. My parents ended up cashing in my 10k to pay for the lawyer.


31. Is This Even A Happy Ending?

  My father-in-law decided when his first child was born that they (he and his wife) would NOT go to the baby when he started crying in the middle of the night, in order to teach him that crying doesn’t get you anything in this world.

Turns out, newborns need to be fed every two hours. So it’s a good thing my mother-in-law ignored him and went to their newborn son, otherwise he would not be here anymore.


32. Learning It The Hard Way

My Dad taught me how to drive a manual transmission car in the following way. (I was 16 and just learned how to drive an automatic transmission car).

He drove the manual transmission car out to a deserted road. He told me to drive the automatic transmission car out there to meet him. He showed me what the clutch was and what the gears were in the manual transmission car.

He wished me good luck and drove the automatic transmission car home. This was before cell phones. I learned pretty fast.


33. That’s Not How You Get Rid Of Phobias

I was scared of the deep end so my dad threw me in. My cousin parked an inflatable mattress in the corner I was in immediately. My parents supposedly yelled at him to move, but he didn't.

I don't know for how long I was under the mattress, but I was spitting up water/choking when I came back up. I think I was 6 at the time.


34. The Other Way Around

Well, this is the opposite: Back in the '70s, I got to interview Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, who invented SCUBA gear.

When Jean-Michel and his brother Philippe were little, their dad took them out into the ocean, strapped on their SCUBA gear, and threw them in.


35. That Doesn’t Work For Me

My boyfriend was raised like this, and now this is how he teaches. Did not go well when he tried to teach me snowboarding.

For the record, I always need to be eased into learning new things. I actually learn faster that way. But his idea of teaching me was to barely show me any basics, and then try to make me go Down a f**koff-sized (to me anyway) huge hill and then got upset with me when I broke down in fear and walked down the hill instead.

He finally learned that teaching style does not fly with me when he took me to reasonable learning hills instead and saw how much faster and easier I progressed.


36. It’s Not That Easy

My middle school told my parents they believed I had anger management issues, it was an entire year of them telling me to figure it out.

Then due to an incident with a bully, my principal told my parents either they signed me up for anger management classes or they'll suspend me for two weeks. The classes were absolute bull crap but I actually did manage to develop some coping mechanisms for myself.


37. What If That’s The Solution?

“You don’t need to be medicated, if you go on meds, you’ll never learn to deal with it yourself.”

My mother said this to me at 16, having already been in counseling for 10 years and on the verge of going crazy. Lo and behold, I am now a happily medicated 32-year-old. Guess I never learned how to ‘deal’ by myself.


38. This Is A Real Problem

Undiagnosed osteomyelitis in my knee. The crap doctor told us it was growing pains, so I was told to just keep exercising and walking.

The abscess burst out of my left shin bone and caused blood poisoning and basically crippled me.

But we’d booked a vacation in Paris, so I had to walk the whole city on various tours and my mum insisted I was being “lazy” by losing consciousness every time I sat down.

She finally consulted a specialist when I started to sleep for 3 days straight on the couch.


39. About To Save Her

I was at the beach one time and it was hot outside- I could not walk on the sand without sandals on.

I heard a cry and looked up to see a little girl standing barefoot on the sand, not more than two, screaming for her dad, 5 feet away, who just told her to “stop being such a little coward”.

Just about had a rage stroke and ran over to pick her up myself, but he eventually did.


40. Not Caring Enough

My stepdad was fairly open about hating me and my brother, and his non-kids, and went out of his way not to spend time with us. So, almost everything he ever had to teach me was 'sink or swim' because he was pissed he had to engage with me.

He was an incredibly athletic hyper-masculine conservative Christian, and I was a twig thin obviously queer bookworm of a kid. My mom tried to get him to do sports with me so I would get motivated to be more athletic.

It lasted maybe 10 minutes before the neighbors called the cops on him and someone came out to stop what he was doing, resulting in a fistfight.

Basically, he was pelting footballs at me as hard as he could because his philosophy was that I would either learn to catch them or keep getting hurt.


41. I Eventually Made It

  I had just gotten my license and wanted to go to my friend's house. My mom gave me the keys to my older sister's car and told me to drive there myself.

Her car was a stick. I'd never driven a stick before. I eventually made it but had a huge line of cars behind me and honking at every single intersection as I repeatedly stalled out.


42. He Definitely Didn’t Think Enough Before Doing That

I was four or five when my uncle sat me in his lap to park the car in the driveway. No warning, just let go of the wheel, while he was still pressing on the gas. I crashed us into an old junk-wood garbage bin they had back in the day.

I turned the wheel too sharply in my panic. I still get anxious when I drive any motorized vehicle, likely not from just that experience alone, but I definitely don’t trust myself.


43. This Is Not Fair

My sister got into a lot of trouble growing up and ended up facing many obstacles of her own making. So my family poured all the effort into making sure she turned out okay. She had all her living expenses and college paid for, while I was told to join the military.

Fast forward 20 years and she's happily married with two kids and a loving husband. What did I get for walking the straight and narrow?

I was permanently injured from military service, discharged to prevent them from having to pay for my surgery, and stuck in poverty because I spent my best years trying to scrape together enough money to afford myself the life that my sister got handed and did nothing to earn.

I don't blame my sister at all. I still love and support her. I just think it's super messed up that the family went so far for her and they couldn't have even helped me a bit with college.


44. Not True At All

"Ignore them (bullies) and don't show a reaction, when they're bored they'll stop". Completely false.

And you wonder why I hate going to school so much, Mother. It's not a wonder that when I went to secondary school, I made a motto of "Don't stand for anyone's crap". I went through too much of this crap for anyone else to do the same.

(Ironically enough, there are studies that state that the trauma of childhood bullying goes for the rest of one's life, so I'm pretty much set.)


45. Not The Right Way Of Raising A Child

I was raised by wolves (well, alcoholics). But funnily enough, the worst one actually was "throw her in the pool, she'll learn how to swim". I was six or so.

Spoiler - I did not learn how to swim, needed rescue by a pool attendant, and developed a life-long phobia of water that means I've never voluntarily gone to the pool, been in a boat, or stood near the edge of any large body of water for the past forty-mumble years.  

Baths used to be a trial, even. Showers are bearable, but never fun. School-mandated swimming lessons just deepened the trauma.