Most parents genuinely want to provide their children with a happy and healthy upbringing, but even they can make mistakes that result in future therapy appointments.
Unfortunately, some parents go beyond the occasional blunder and cross the line into toxic parenting. Whether or not a parent is intentionally toxic, there are several behaviors that can cause so much emotional and mental damage to a child that it has a long-term impact on them even after they have grown up.
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If you were exposed to any of the following situations as a child, the chances are that one or both of your parents were toxic in some way.
1. They fail to give you assurance and security
Some people believe that showing their children tough love is an important way to ensure that they will be able to care for themselves in the future. If you were subjected to this approach on a regular basis, you might believe that it had a positive effect on your life. If, on the other hand, you practically fall apart now because of any perceived failure or rejection, this is most likely the result of a toxic refusal to provide you with the appropriate amount of security and affirmation when you were young. Tough love can be effective at times, but it should not be the only approach a parent takes if they want their child to grow into a well-rounded adult.
2. They are excessively critical
Everyone's parents criticize their children from time to time. Without this component, we may never learn how to do a variety of tasks properly, such as washing laundry. A toxic parent takes this to its logical conclusion by being overly critical of everything their child does. Parents may believe that they are doing this to protect their children from making costly mistakes. Unfortunately, this behavior actually causes the child to develop a harsh inner critic, which can be crippling in adulthood.
3. They Demand Your Focus
Toxic parents frequently turn their children into their own parental substitutes by demanding their constant attention. This may appear to be parent-child bonding, but it is actually a parasitic relationship that consumes too much of the child's time and energy when they should be focused on learning other skills. Although it may be challenging at times, a well-rounded parent will give their children enough space to grow and be kids without requiring constant interaction to meet their own needs.
4. They Make Harmful “Jokes” About You
Every parent picks on their children from time to time, but when the so-called jokes become commonplace, it can become a major issue. You do not have to accept this type of behavior simply because your parents have always made fun of your height or weight. Finally, this is a defamatory tactic that can make you feel very low about yourself. If a parent has a legitimate concern about their child, they should be honest and non-critical rather than making hurtful jokes.
5. They make you justify bad behavior
Did you grow up believing that your parent abused you physically or emotionally because you deserved it? If this is the case, you may still be justifying the bad behavior of others at your own expense. Toxic parents can manipulate any situation to their advantage, leaving children with two options: accept that their parent is wrong or internalize all of the blame. Most children, even those who are now adults, choose the latter option.
6. They Forbid You From Expressing Negative Emotions
Parents who refuse to nurture their child's emotional needs and make fun of their negative emotions are preparing their child for a future in which they will feel unable to express what they require. There is nothing wrong with assisting children in seeing the bright side of any situation. However, dismissing a child's negative feelings and emotional needs can lead to depression and make it more difficult for them to deal with negativity as adults.
7. They frighten even their grown children
Fear and respect do not have to go hand in hand. Indeed, children who feel loved, supported, and connected as children are much more likely to be happy as adults. Although some form of discipline is unavoidable from time to time, non-toxic parents do not use highly fearful actions and words that are permanently damaging to the human psyche. Children should not be afraid to be respectful, and adults should not feel anxious every time their parent calls or emails.
8. They always prioritize their emotions
Parents may believe that their feelings should come first when it comes to family matters, but this is an antiquated way of thinking that will not foster positive relationships. Even though parents must make the final decision on everything from dinner to vacation plans, it is critical to consider the feelings of all family members, including children. Toxic people constantly force their children to suppress their own emotions in order to please their parents.
9. They Share Your Objectives
Did one of your parents become so engrossed in everything you did that they took over or even duplicated you? This may appear to be the actions of someone who is interested in their child's life, but it frequently makes it more difficult for the child to achieve their goals. For example, if you have to sell 50 boxes of cookies at the same time your mother decides to bake cookies and distribute them to the neighbors, you will find it much more difficult to meet your sales target. If you let your parent get away with it, this behavior will haunt you for the rest of your life.
10. They use guilt and money to exert control over you
Every child has been subjected to a guilt trip from their parents, but toxic people use this tactic on a regular basis. Even as an adult, your parent may still exert control over you by lavishing you with expensive gifts in exchange for something in return. If you don't do what they want, they'll try to make you feel bad about it because of “everything they've done for you.” Healthy parents understand that their children do not owe them anything in exchange for money or gifts, especially when these items were not requested in the first place.
11. You Get The Silent Treatment
When you're angry, it can be difficult to talk to someone, but shutting out a child with the silent treatment is extremely damaging and immature. Dispensing this passive-aggressive treatment damages any type of relationship and puts the recipient under pressure to fix the situation, even if they did nothing wrong. If a parent is too upset to have a rational conversation, they should excuse themselves for a few minutes rather than openly ignoring their child.
12. They Disregard Healthy Boundaries
Parents can justify keeping a close eye on their children, and in some cases, snooping around may be necessary to keep them safe. However, everyone, especially teenagers, needs to be able to set boundaries for themselves. Toxic parents disregard these boundaries at every turn, resulting in a slew of issues. A toxic parent, for example, will open their child's door without first knocking. This establishes a pattern that makes it difficult for their children to recognize and understand boundaries later in life.
13. They hold you accountable for their happiness
If one of your parents spent a lot of time telling you how much they sacrificed for you as a result of their unhappiness, they were placing unrealistic expectations on your role in their lives. No child should be held responsible for the happiness of their parents. In addition, parents should never force their children to give up things that make them happy in order to even the score. Adult children will struggle to understand that we are all responsible for our own happiness as a result of being forced into this situation.
It may appear impossible to remove toxic people from your life, especially if one of them is a parent. However, unless you take action, it will be much more difficult to repair the emotional and psychological damage done to you during your childhood. On the plus side, any toxic parent who recognizes themselves in any of the 13 points in this article can seek help from a trained counselor to break their negative behavioral patterns.
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