Oftentimes, when we speak in terms of toxic relationships, we tend to think of romantic connections. However, toxic relationships aren’t just those we have with our partners, we can have toxic relationships with our parents.
Being raised by a toxic parent is heartbreaking. Even more heartbreaking is the fact that we are born into the world, fully dependent on our parents. So, even if they are toxic, we learn to accept the love they give us, even if it’s on dysfunctional terms. What I mean by that, is that even when we can sense that something isn’t necessarily healthy about our parents and the role they play in our life – we grow to accept that love, because it is the hand we are dealt.
As we grow and get older and then eventually break away from our toxic parents, we begin to see what normal and healthy relationships are like. And we begin to feel a gnawing feeling in our gut that something isn’t quite right with our parents. If you have a feeling that you were raised by a toxic parent, you are not alone. Here are 10 signs of a toxic parent.
1. They want to control you.
Toxic parents tend to be controlling. From the time their children are young, they begin to micromanage every aspect of their children, forcing their beliefs and opinions onto them. Whenever the child tries to have a will of their own, they are punished or corrected by their parent. In some cases, toxic parents will use money, or other forms of bribery, to keep their children completely dependent on them.
2. It’s their way or the highway.
To the toxic parent, you are not allowed to have an opinion of your own. Whatever the toxic parent says is what goes. There are no exceptions to this.
3. Nothing you ever do is good enough.
The child of a toxic parent will spend their life trying to feel worthy of their parent’s love. They may clean the house, only to be told it was the wrong way. Or, go into the real world and get a great job – only to be told they should have taken another path. The standards a toxic parent has are unreachable.
4. Their love is conditional.
Toxic parents have terms and conditions for their love. For example, if they want you to do something and you don’t, they will likely withhold love or even cut you out of their life until you do as they say.
5. They use and manipulate you.
Toxic parents do not mind manipulating their children. They will go to great lengths to accomplish this, including guilt-tripping and gaslighting their kids. In some cases, they may even turn their children against others.
6. They play the victim.
The toxic parent is always the victim. They play the victim in all of their relationships and if their child does anything that displeases them, they will play the victim with their child too.
7. They distort the truth.
Toxic parents distort the truth to fit their own needs. For example, a toxic parent may lie to their child about their other parent to turn them against them. Or, they may distort the truth in other ways.
8. They smear your name.
If the child makes their toxic parent mad, they must prepare for everyone close to the toxic parent to turn against them. Toxic parents will tell other family members and friends to lie about their child to get everyone on board with their smear campaign.
9. They are abusive.
Toxic parents are often abusive, not just emotionally, but sometimes in other ways as well. This can be especially difficult to get away from, because there again if this is all you know, it may be normal to you. However, abuse is NEVER okay.
10. They invalidate.
While other kids can go to their parents for emotional support, those raised in a toxic environment cannot. Instead, when they go to their parent for the support they are met with invalidation. “Stop whining so much! You are fine.”