Growing up with a toxic parent can have adverse effects on the life of a child, even when they grow up to be adults. Sadly, many people do not even realize that they are being brought up by toxic parents.
While most parents genuinely try their best to love and provide for their children, their human nature may lead them to make some mistakes. Parenting is no easy job, especially because it entails the use of intuition and instincts.
Both children and parents do their fair share of mistakes, so neither of the two is perfect. However, some parents go beyond the occasional mistakes and start becoming toxic. Regardless of whether or not a parent is being decisively toxic, this behavior on their side leaves a considerable series of psychological and emotional disorders on the child.
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If you experienced any of the following situations as a child, or you are currently experiencing them, then chances are high that you have/had one or both toxic parents. Toxic parents have some or all of the following characteristics:
- They excessively demand your attention.
Odd as it may sound, this is one of the most common signs of a toxic parent. Toxic parents often turn their children into their own parental deputies and make them their dumping bags for their own frustrations by doing things that demand their attention at all times.
I know what your argument might be. You could try to defend the parents and say that they try to create a bonding time with their children. In actuality, this is a parasitic relationship, not a bonding time. It requires too much of the child’s time and energy when they should be focused on playing or doing other activities.
Although it sounds difficult, a realistic parent will allow their children enough space to grow without demanding constant interactions to suit their own needs.
- They make toxic “jokes” about you.
We all make occasional jokes to lighten our moods. But when those jokes are meant to insult or demean the other person, then that is not a good thing. Parents who give these kinds of jokes to their children put an almost permanent scar on their children’s self-esteem.
As a child, you do not have to accept these types of jokes just because it is your parents giving them. This is a tactic that most toxic parents use to make you feel small about yourself. If a parent has a genuine concern about anything involving their child, they should address it in a non-sarcastic and sensitive way.
- They make you justify wrong behavior.
Toxic parents have a way of turning situations up-side down to favor their behaviors. This leaves their children with the option of feeling powerless by accepting that the parents are always right, or they end up owning all the blame.
Do you know a child who believes that their parent(s) is physically or emotionally abusive to them because they deserve it? Well, this is an example of a child that has toxic parents who make him/her think that they deserve the wrongs that their parents are doing to them.
This mindset critically affects a child’s self-image, and ultimately their self-esteem. They have been made to assume that they deserve the worst treatment from people. They tend to always take the blame for even things that they have not done.
- They are overly critical.
Parents have a responsibility to appraise their children with feedback about their actions. Without this, most of us might never have known how to do things correctly.
If a child organizes their personal belongings in a nice way, the parent should congratulate them. This psyches the child to try new things. If they do something incorrectly, the parent should politely show the children how to do it the right way.
Unfortunately, a toxic parent is usually overly critical about everything that the child does. Even small mistakes are aggravated and even made punishable. These consequences can also be verbal, punitive facial expressions and even heedless body languages.
Most parents justify this action by arguing that they only do it to make sure that their children do not commit costly mistakes. While the thought is good, the execution process is entirely wrong. What this behavior by the parent does is that it causes the child to develop a disastrous inner conflict that can be borderline crippling during their adulthood.
- They do not allow you to express negative emotions
This one is also very common. Parents who do not give their children an open avenue to express their negative emotions fail to nurture their children’s emotional needs are setting up a future where the child will never be able to openly talk about how they feel or what they need.
Most parents prefer to tune their children’s minds to the positive aspect of situations. However, the negative sides should also be addressed if they seem to affect the child. Failure to address these negative emotions will cause the child to adapt a way of suppressing them, and when they have suppressed a good ton of the negative feelings, they may get them out in distorted ways. These are the kinds of children who are prone to suicidal thoughts.
This toxic trait brings up children who are downright unable to tolerate negativity in their lives.
- They scare even their grown-up children.
Respect is vital, but toxicity should never be a way of earning it. Fear cannot buy respect.
As a matter of fact, children who feel connected, loved and supported by their parents are more likely to be happy as adults.
Discipline is paramount but highly violent and dehumanizing actions and words should not be used to gain a child’s respect. Children should not be afraid of their parents. This is a very unhealthy environment to grow up in because they will almost never be able to confide in their parents.
- They decide your goals for you.
Parents should guide their children as they make important life decisions, but should have the child have the final say. As bitter as it sounds, parents brought us to this world (which we are thankful for) but our lives are ours and we only have us to be answerable for them.
Toxic parents forget this important fact and assume that they should be in control of everything in their children’s lives. Let the child make mistakes, he/she will learn. In the end, we all figure things out.