There are certain parenting behaviors that are unhealthy and, honestly, toxic. But, I would barter that the vast majority of toxic parents, much like toxic people, don’t realize they are toxic.

In fact, many toxic behaviors are so ingrained in us, either through our own experiences with our parents or by our culture, that we unconsciously live in a way that is detrimental to the well-being of our children. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a difference between a person who has toxic traits and wants to do better and makes the conscious decision to repave that toxic path and a toxic person who refuses to see the fault in their actions. If the following sounds like you, then I implore you to think about which category you fall under.

1. You are overly critical of your children.

A lot of times, when we grow up with overly critical parents, it’s easy to mistake criticism for parenting. However, children are like sponges, who internalize criticism and absorb it. It might seem to you like you are trying to make your child better when in reality, constant criticism tears apart their self-esteem.

2. You replace healthily and involved parenting with devices.

Some people are going to hear this, and it’s going to hit home. Others will hear what I say and come for me in the comments. But, I am just going to say it: devices like iPads and televisions are NOT a replacement for quality time with your child. Children need to be read to. They need exercise. They need communication. If they are always on a device because you can’t handle them, you are destroying their development.

3. You feed your children nothing but junk food.

Another seemingly ‘harmless’ habit of toxic parents is to feed their children nothing but junk because they believe that is all they will eat. Yes, children can be picky, but it’s your job to do the work and figure out ways to implement healthy foods and nutritious food into their diets. Yes, they might get upset with you- but they will get over it, and they will thank you when their health isn’t in ruin by the time they are young adults.

4. You provide an unstable environment for your child.

A lot of times, unstable people keep their children in unstable environments, thinking that it isn’t that big of a deal. “I grew up that way, and I turned out fine.” But did you really? Instability is a recipe for disaster, and a sure way to set your child up for failure and unhappiness in life. Children need routines. They need to feel secure.

5. You live out your unrequited dreams through your child.

Many parents don’t get the opportunities they wanted so badly as children and when they have kids they vow to make sure their kids have better ones. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all. However, what becomes toxic is when you are forcing your kids to do things you wished to do (become a pro football player or a model or even a doctor) even when that doesn’t necessarily align with what they want for themselves.

6. You treat your child like an extension of yourself.

Children are individuals with their own will, their own emotions, their own dreams, and their own boundaries. They are not an extension of yourself. Trying to control their every move is not going to do them any good, but instead, is only going to make them resent you and make them end up with serious problems down the line.

7. You are more worried about social media appearances than actually parenting your child.

We’ve all witnessed this: the social media ‘fake’ parent. What I mean by this, is have you ever met someone in real life that was a terrible parent, however, when you see their Facebook or Instagram feed, they never miss an opportunity to brag about how important their kids are to them or how great of a parent they are. Let me be clear: actions speak louder than words, and for this purpose, social media posts. You can try to control the narrative all you want by acting like parent of the year on social media. However, when it comes down to it, you have to walk the walk.

8. You make toxic jokes at your child’s expense.

Everyone teases their family members from time to time, and that’s totally fine. However, it becomes something else entirely when you continue to pick your child apart in front of others, under the guise of a joke.

 

 

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