Do you have a good relationship with your parents? Did you have a healthy childhood? Do you feel you have unresolved issues or feelings which go back to that time in your life? Do you have difficulties loving yourself or connecting with other people?
You may have been raised by toxic parents.
Here are 9 signs you were raised by toxic parents:
1. They used threats to maintain your obedience
Toxic parents don’t expect love from their children, they expect obedience. If this sentence is confusing to you, let me put it this way: to toxic parents obedience is love. They believe children who follow the rules established by their parents are good children. And so they are deserving of their parents’ love. The parents will use threats to control their children and keep them obedient.
If you disobey me, there’s the door, show yourself out!
If you marry her/him, you will hurt me deeply and you will never see us again!
If you leave me, I will disown you!
2. They drew unfavourable comparisons
Why can’t you be more like Jean? Look how beautifully she draws!
Your parents let you know early in your childhood that you were not skilled enough, that there were other children better than you.
You learned quickly that to receive your parents’ love and attention, you had to compete with other children and win. Spelling bees, dancing and singing, drawing, basketball, making cookies – you name it.
3. They physically punished you
It wasn’t uncommon for your parents to give you one quick slap on the wrist or yank at your ear when you did something wrong or made a mistake. Every time it happened, you became more afraid of your parents. Fear and love cannot coexist.
4. They didn’t express love – neither to you nor to each other
Your parents believed that showing love is a sign of weakness. So they never told you they loved you, caressed or embraced you.
They didn’t want to raise a weak boy or a spoiled girl. They believed it was a good way to toughen you up so that you were prepared to face a dangerous world.
5. They told you you were bad, worthless or couldn’t do anything right and criticized everything you did
It seemed that no matter what you did, it was never good enough for them. The concept of learning to improve one’s skills or talents was unknown to them. You were never going to become better at anything. No matter how hard you tried, you were just bad.
6. They used guilt and/or shame to control you
Ever since you moved out, it’s been hard for me. I feel so lonely and out of place. Are you going to visit me soon? You never call to see how I am, don’t you care? I sacrificed everything to give you a good education and this is the thanks I get?
7. They put their desires before yours
Did you follow a career path that your parents had chosen for you although you hated it? They never asked what you wanted to do with your life. Or when they did ask, they didn’t care because they knew better. Having a doctor for a son is so much better than a painter or an actor or a DJ. It reflected positively on them even if it didn’t make you happy.
8. They tell you you are nothing without their help and support
You are all grown up now and they are still treating you as a child. They reject you standing on your own two feet, being independent and responsible. They never miss an opportunity to undermine your self confidence and make you feel powerless.
9. They make you feel like you know nothing
Parents do know more than their children. But that changes when their children become adults. It seems your parents liked this feeling of superiority so much that they are still looking for ways to put you down so they can feel superior.
What makes toxic parents ….toxic?
There are various causes of toxic behaviour. Your parents may be repeating parenting patterns that they experienced when they were growing up.
They behave in the same way their parents behaved. Unfortunately they don’t have the required level of self-awareness, knowledge, skill development or desire to change those dysfunctional patterns.
They don’t realize their behaviour is hurtful and detrimental to the mental health of their children.
They would often say My parents did the same with me and I turned out just fine!
There’s life after a toxic childhood
Acknowledging your parents’ toxic behaviour is the first step towards healing.
The second step is to seek out professional help and begin the journey of self-recovery and self-love.
The circle of toxic parenting can end with you should you decide upon it. With help and support, you can become a better parent to your children.
Remember – you are not your parents.
Join the Conversation
We’d love to hear what you have to say.