We all would love to think and believe that we have the perfect parents who do the best for us. But the reality can sometimes be far from that.
Unfortunately, neither our parents, nor their parents, and their grandparents so on and so forth have been perfect. We are humans and perfection is not in our genes. When we are raised, we are open to wounds from all angles and unfortunately sometimes these wounds come from people who are the closest to us: our parents. Sometimes these wounds are physical but most of the time, they are mental wounds. The kind that is hard to heal and the kind that leaves a permanent mark in our hearts and minds.
It is hard as a kid, no matter how old you are to deal with your parents flaws and negativity. It is hard as a child but it is just as much hard as an adult. But once we recognize them, and identify them, we can maybe find ways to work around them and maybe heal our wounds.
1. They are overly critical.
Constructive criticism is good and it helps us grow a thicker skin to fight in life and to be able to stand on our feet. However, criticism gets ugly when it is constantly negative and destructive. Is your parent doing this to you?
No matter how hard you try, all you ever hear is your flaws or how much harder you still have to work because you are not yet good enough? Do you ever feel like your parents are not able to see your progress and appreciate it? Do you feel like you are trying in vain? Then you are right to feel this way because you are being subjected to destructive criticism. Usually parents who did not achieve their goals tend to put a lot of pressure on their kids and want them to become people they once wanted to be but failed at it. Do not let this bring you down, just recognize that this is who they are and nothing you can ever do will change it. The truth is not that you are not good enough. They just do not have a heart to appreciate it.
2. They always put their feelings first.
In the middle of a conversation or an argument, you are trying to explain your feelings and your thoughts but the main topic suddenly shifts from your feelings to theirs and before you know it all you ever hear about is how your parent thinks and feels and you, as their kid, do not appreciate them and do not care about them. They might make you believe that you are selfish to think about yourself or to feel a certain way, because why not? You need to put your parents first, even before yourself. This is not true. Always remember that you are an individual, a human being with feelings and thoughts and no one else can be in your shoes. Even if it is your parent, you have to accept the fact that everyone’s thoughts and feelings matter. No one is more or less important than anyone else.
3. You are their parent.
There are households where the child has to take the role of a parent sometimes. It is an unfortunate thing, but it happens. Do you always run after your parent trying to stop them from doing something they should not be doing or do you need to take care of them because they do not want to take care of their own responsibilities? This can be as simple as cooking and cleaning or waking them up in the morning, or picking them up from places. But this can also mean taking charge mentally because your parent is not thinking as an adult or is not thinking rationally. A very undesirable situation but an existing one. No child should take the role of a parent growing up.
4. They constantly give you guilt and control you with material things.
Some parents, especially the ones who are overly critical, tend to give their kids guilt for the things they do or say. When a parent has issues with control, they tend to put guilt on others as a control mechanism. When they can not achieve this then they might try to control their kids by withholding money from them or taking away something that means a lot to the kid or something important that the kid is using on a daily basis. Unfortunately in cases like this, even if you fix one problem, the parent will find something else in order to give guilt and control the child.
5. They don’t respect your personal space.
How can you teach a child to respect others when as a parent you do not show them what respect looks and feels like? As a kid, they need to feel valuable and worthy enough to have their own personal space and their own privacy. When your parent constantly invades your personal space they will find every opportunity to let you know you can not have your freedom until you no longer live with them. But the truth is, they are invading your space no matter how old you are. Of course a parent should keep an eye on their kids but to do that in aggressive or sneaky ways will only open scars in a kid who is trying hopelessly to become an individual himself.
6. Their motives are selfish in nature
Alike to narcissists, a toxic parent will control every moment of your time with them. Motivated only by what serves them best. These types of parents or grandparents often engage in activities in which they prefer rather than listening to you and choosing to support the activities you prefer. Toxic parents tend to be more focused on presenting themselves to their friends and extended family as a “perfect family” yet lack acceptance patience, love and understanding of each others needs and wants.
7. They scare you
Toxic parents tend to scare even their adult children and are known to have ruled their homes by a fear based style and structure. You may find that these especially toxic ones scare even their adult children. As you grow older and become a parent yourself it is important to remember how you felt when you were a child in order not to repeat the same behaviour as the toxic parent in your life. If and when it is time for you to raise your own, always remember that fear does not equal respect!
The way you speak to your children becomes their inner voice. Speak with kindness. Always choose to have patience with your children and your family. After all the best gift you can give them is your time, your patience, your unconditional love and support. The world is rough enough, make home is a safe place. No matter their age, that they can always rely on when they need it most.
8. Zero Tolerance
A toxic parent lacks self-control and will have a tendency to lash out irrationally at any given moment. Toxic parents do not possess the patience and understanding needed to nurture their children to become emotionally intelligent most often because they too are misunderstood, with deep emotional wounds that have stunted their intellectual growth.
They rule with fear as mentioned above and have zero tolerance when working out the every day life’s problems. However, this fear that they are attempting to pour into you, is a sad attempt at getting you to listen to them all because they lack the tools needed to parent in a more loving and compassionate manner.
9. They have no boundaries
Toxic parents have difficulty understanding boundaries and thus, their children may also exhibit these same difficulties especially in their teenage years. Toxic parents as they grow older will also struggle with determining their role as grandparents, and will most predictably over-step their roles at every turn.
As we are known to be products of our own environments, setting healthy boundaries is essential throughout all of the stages of our lives.
10. A toxic parent is a child that never healed.
Please remember that your toxic parent is a child that never healed. They too would have been raised in the same manner in which they are now projecting on to you. Your toxic parent will have absorbed a similar parenting style and mannerisms as their parents before and quite simply, haven’t been shown a better way.
This does not excuse the behaviour which can be quite simply emotionally abusive, but merely sheds light on how good people are capable of parenting in a manner which does not serve the emotional and intellectual growth of their children.