Parents should be there to support and love their children and encourage them when they feel down or need a little extra support. While parents won’t always see eye to eye with you, when you feel like your parents are constantly undermining you- it can damage your psyche.
Imagine this: everything is going wrong in your life, and you feel lost, as though everything you worked so hard for is falling apart. You need support and reach out to your parent. Instead of helping you, they say, “Can’t you get anything right?”
What are your first thoughts? And while this form of invalidation is obvious- there are other scenarios in which the emotional invalidation is far more subtle, but still serious nonetheless. Here are 7 examples of toxic invalidation from parents.
1. “You are being too dramatic.”
To you, the situation you are in seems pretty serious. You may have lost a job, a friend, or have fallen off track for an opportunity. When you reach out to your parent, they tell you it’s not as bad as you think, you need to change your perspective and stop being dramatic. While deep down, your parent may mean no harm, this comment can be a form of gaslighting.
2. “You made your bed, now lie in it.”
You come to your parents for support, not judgment. The last thing you need to hear when your world is crumbling is that everything that’s happened is your fault. You need to come up with a solution or vent out your frustrations. Even if what’s happened was caused by you, now is not the time for the blame game. When your parents say this, it sounds like, “I don’t care to help you.”
3. “What do you want me to do about it?”
You really shouldn’t have to explain to someone that raised you that you need love and support. If they don’t want to help, and they say something along these lines, it’s not only dismissive but it’s also completely unempathetic.
4. They shift the conversation away from your problems and onto theirs.
Toxic parents have no boundaries. No matter what the situation, they will find a way to invalidate your emotions. Even if that means they will shift the conversation to what is bad in their life and completely ignoring your problems.
5. “Why can’t you be more like ______?”
When you come to your parent, rather than acknowledging your problem, they divert and immediately compare you to a sibling, cousin, or friend. They may ask why you can’t handle your problems, or why are you even having a problem? Can’t you just be more like ____?
6. “You are fine. Stop acting like this.”
Invalidating parents may even try to act like nothing is wrong. No problem merits you feeling the way you do- so stop. Or at least that is their message. On the contrary, though, your emotions are valid. Your parents should be a safe place to air them.
7. They change the subject entirely.
In some cases, invalidating parents may completely avoid talking about how you feel altogether. Instead, they may change subjects or walk away.
8. “There are worse problems to have.”
Being told that there are worse problems to have is one of the most dismissive things you could ever be told, especially when you are upset. This teaches you that having feelings or problems in life is not okay. And when they happen- you dismiss them or are unable to handle them.
9. “Get over it.”
By far, this is one of the most painful things to hear when you need help. Being told to get over it has never helped anyone. Children need to hear support from their parents, even as we age into adulthood, it’s important to maintain support and compassion between us and them.
So, what does healthy and positive validation sound like? Here are a few examples.
“I understand- you are going through so much, and it’s normal to be upset. We will work through this.”
“You are strong. And I am here for you. I know how hard this is on you, what do you need from me?”
“I know this isn’t easy. Do you mind if I give some helpful advice?”
No parent is perfect, but having a parent that supports and validates you through a crisis can make all the difference in the world. If you have an invalidating parent, please find other routes of support. You deserve love and validation just like everyone else.
Here is a good video for dealing with toxic parents.