Dealing with a toxic parent, in any form, is a very stressful and disheartening experience. Especially when you are growing up and have little control over their presence in your life; however, the good thing about being an adult, is that you CAN set boundaries with them.
At first, it may be hard to do. You love your parents, and we grow up being taught that we must respect our parents no matter what. The combination of that and the conditioning that took place as you were being raised by the toxic parent can make it quite hard to lay down the line. But, until you do, you are going to struggle.
A toxic parent or an emotionally neglectful parent can take a major toll on you and your well-being. They can be manipulative and belittling-which is outright emotionally abusive.
Here are a few signs of a toxic parent:
1. They were overly critical.
2. They manipulated you by guilt-tripping, the silent treatment, and gaslighting.
3. They lived out their dreams through you.
4. They are overly controlling.
5. They are emotionally invalidating.
Oftentimes, as a result of this, their children are left with many struggles. Here are a few effects of having a toxic parent:
1. You struggle to trust others.
2. You constantly doubt yourself.
3. You gravitate towards toxic relationships.
4. You struggle with anxiety & depression.
5. You have an anxious or avoidant attachment style.
So, after years of taking abuse, where do you begin to set boundaries? The good news is, that the worst part is getting started. It won’t be easy at first, but once you have done it- the benefits are tenfold.
1. Take control of the time you spend with them.
Begin by limiting contact with them. When they demand you to come to their beck and call, let them know very clearly that you can only meet with them on your terms. If you need to leave early, leave. Have them visit a place where you are comfortable. Do not be afraid of communicating these boundaries.
2. Identify those boundaries to them.
Let them know what your boundaries are, and the second they start to trample them, reaffirm them. If they run over your boundaries continuously, consider limiting contact even more.
3. Get okay with disappointing them.
A toxic parent will use your fear of disappointment to abuse you. So you need to get comfortable saying no and dealing with their disappointment.
4. Limit what you share with them.
Do not run and tell them every little thing, only for them to tear you down or talk badly about you. Only sharing what you believe cannot be used against you.
5. Do not feed the monster.
When they start to get aggressive, do not feed into it. Do not argue with them.