Managing toxic people in life can be very difficult as it is. Yet, it is the most difficult when that toxic person is none other than your parent. If you are in a toxic friendship or a relationship, you can take care of the situation by either limiting your interaction or by letting go of your friend or partner. Walking away from them means you have successfully walked away from the negative impact they have been having in your life.
Sadly, friends and partners are not the only people who can be toxic for you. Shocking as it might sound, your parents can be toxic for you too. Handling a toxic parent can be much more difficult than handling a toxic friend or a partner because the first step which is recognizing a person is toxic, is much harder in this case. People cannot realize that they are the child of a toxic parent because that is the only parenting they have experienced.
Unlike friendships, where you have the option of comparing your different friends to know which one is a true friend and which one is a toxic friend, you do not have different parents to compare and draw a conclusion. Hence, more often than not, people fail to apprehend that they have a toxic parent and grow up blaming themselves for it. They grow up believing that a bad relationship with their parent is their fault. They just assume that they are incompetent children as, no matter what they do, they can never make their parents happy.
But to live a happier and healthier life, it is important to know who is in the wrong here- you or your parent. The points given below will help you come to the right conclusion as they list down some traits of toxic parents-
1. They do not respect your boundaries
Toxic parents cannot respect the boundaries and personal space of their children. Even when their children become adults, toxic parents do not stop being overbearing towards them. They like to control every single aspect of their child’s life. They over-parent their children and end up intruding on their privacy because they think, as they are the parent, they are the only ones who know what is best for their child. Even the child may make none of his/her own decisions.
2. They are never empathetic
Toxic parents keep deprecating their children by poking their insecurities. We can relate these insecurities to anything, from bodyweight to looks and from financial status to relationship status. This also shows their lack of empathy towards their children.
3. They exaggerate your mistakes
Toxic parents can be highly negatively reactive. This means that they might use even the smallest of things to lose control over their emotions, saying hurtful, hostile, angry, or even abusive things to their children. They dramatize their children’s mistakes and trounce them.
4. They criticize you all the time
Their child could be all kinds of talented and exceptional, yet toxic parents will somehow end up criticizing them for one or the other thing. They cannot acknowledge their children’s achievements, appreciate their efforts, and encourage them to keep it up in the future. It bound them to diminish their kid’s every accomplishment, making them feel worthless.
5. They do not take responsibility for their negative actions
Toxic parents generally give rise to toxic households where family members keep getting engaged in arguments and fights. But, no matter what, toxic parents never acknowledge that this existing disharmony, hostility, disagreements, or family breakdowns might be because of their words or actions. They will right away put the blame on other family members, refusing to take responsibility for the consequences of their negative behavior.
6. They make you justify offensive behavior
Many children grow up believing that their parents are physically, mentally, emotionally, or verbally abusive towards them because they deserve it. When they grow up, they accept this kind of horrible behavior from others too as they keep believing that all of it is their fault and they deserve to get slammed. Because toxic parents can skillfully turn any situation or argument in their favor, their children cannot see that it’s their parents are in the wrong. Hence, they end up internalizing all the blame.
7. They lie and manipulate you using guilt
What toxic parents are most interested in is building dominance over their kids, their actions and decisions included. Hence, to get that dominance, they manipulate the kid into submitting to their own needs and wants. They might use guilt or even money as their primary weapon to do it. They keep telling their children how much they have done for them or how much they have given up for them. This allows them to guilt the kid into obeying their every instruction, making them think it is their duty towards their parents.
8. They frequently give you the silent treatment
Toxic parents often shut down their communication with their kids suddenly and start ignoring them to grab their attention. This move is not healthy, rather quite immature. If their kids ask for something, be it a piece of advice or be it a gift, they right away ignore the child, forcing him/her to think they have unintentionally made some mistake once again. This also might happen when their kid does not agree with them on some topic and, after an argument, the toxic parents ignore the child completely. This passive-aggressive behavior from their child will force the kid into fixing the situation, even if it is at the cost of his/her own happiness.
9. They take away their love from you
Toxic parents use their love and support for their child as leverage to make the child obey them. They use this as a bargaining tool because they know their child will never willingly opt to upset them. Making the kid do what they want by using your love against them instead of using it for them, is as unhealthy as it can get. Had it been a healthy parent-child relationship, the love would have been unconditional and unbound.
10. You fear them
Parents are there to provide a sense of immense love and security to their children, not to build up fear in them. But this is exactly what happens in a toxic parent-child relationship. Children of toxic parents are always afraid to express themselves freely in front of their parents. Often, they choose to just suppress their emotions and opinions because they fear judgment, criticism, disrespect, or, sometimes, even emotional or physical violence.
Toxic parents do any or all of the above-given points because they, themselves, are insecure within. First, their ego gets the best of them. They feel disrespected if their kid refuses to agree with any of their views and opinions. Thus, they need constant ego-massage from them. Apart from this, they constantly dread that if they do not exercise complete dominance over their children from the very start, they will ‘lose’ them once they have grown up. Hence, they try to make the children as dependent on them as possible, making sure that no matter how they treat the kid, he/she does not have any other choice but to turn back to them, eventually.