What do you do if the person causing you emotional torture, manipulates you, brings you negativity in your life, and makes you unhappy is your parent? I come from Africa where parents are treated like gods.
An apology is not something you will expect if they do something wrong to you. African parents do not do any wrong hence the common saying that ‘’a parent is never wrong’’.
You have to convince yourself to believe that they are right even when it is obvious that they are wrong. The traumas come in when the behavior is continued without a stop. They are your parents. They gave birth to you and raised you.
You would cut them off if they were someone else like a friend. But you can’t, they are your parents. I wouldn’t even tell you to do so unless they are violent. I understand websites tell you that you have the freedom to cut them off. Yes, you do. But please don’t. You are here because of them.
Parents may not be playing their roles right but it doesn’t mean that you neglect them. Family is where we start from and where we end from. In this article, I have a way out for you that works. It has worked for many people and it will work for you too.
A toxic parent is one who takes away peace and happiness in you and then replaces it with negativity and disappointment. They behave in ways that bring you feelings of fear, guilt, worthlessness, or inadequacy.
Here are signs of toxic parents
A toxic parent is one with irreparably problematic characters or behavior. We have to be careful when diagnosing people as toxic because we are all flawed. What determines whether someone is toxic or not is the person’s willingness to change their behavior and the level of ill behavior they have.
Toxic parents are never willing to admit their ill behavior or even try to change.
Toxic parents disregard their children’s needs, dreams, feelings, emotions, opinions, etc. Everything revolves around them. They are more interested in what they want, think, or feel. It’s them first then you next.
Toxic parents struggle to control and regulate their emotions. This makes them prone to emotional outbursts, quarreling, fighting, and overreacting over small issues.
Disrespectful of boundaries.
Being a child to a toxic parent makes you unaware of the importance of personal boundaries. Because they cross your boundaries as they wish without even being apologetic about it.
The top game they play is swaying with your emotions to make you do, act or feel what they want. They use both positive and negative manipulation. Common in their manipulative tactics is guilt-tripping you into feeling guilty all the time so you feel like you owe them something.
Disclose unnecessarily too much.
Sometimes toxic parents make you their shoulder by telling you things that you shouldn’t be hearing. Common with one parent telling you about their partner. It may be something intimate or abusive that you needn’t hear.
Toxic parents are never wrong. Something or someone else is always to blame. They are never accountable for their actions or behavior. If they admit to doing something wrong they justify it with something else.
Everything you have to do or every decision you have to make has to be approved by a toxic parent. He or she wants you to do as they wish. In other words, it is disrespectful to them when you do something they didn’t approve of.
Verbally and emotionally abusive.
To be under the parenthood of a toxic parent exposes you to words that feel like spears in your heart. He or she will get into an outburst and say things that are perhaps heartbreaking, dehumanizing, derogatory, etc.
We all can lose control and say some things we wouldn’t say when emotionally stable. However, the difference between us and toxic parents is how frequently we say them and our ability to apologize when we do wrong.
Why are toxic parents toxic?
If you have a toxic parent you have at some point wanted to know why he or she is toxic. Perhaps you have tried to change her but just can’t figure out why. This we shall discuss later.
At this moment, I want you to know that your parent did not plan to become toxic. As much as people say it is a choice, no it isn’t. Would you choose to be toxic instead of nutric if you were given the choice?
No, a sane mind would not. It is circumstances and conditions that make one toxic. Though some are self-caused, no one consciously plans to do something so they can become toxic. A toxic personality is just a consequence unexpected. Here are the highlightable causes of a toxic parent.
One common place you will find toxic parents is a society of black people in America. Brought from Africa to a foreign land to be slaves, undergoing inhumane treatment, abuse, hard labor, discrimination, and dehumanization which made them traumatized and bitter.
In the end, they carried emotional pain that unconsciously made them resort to maladaptive strategies to numb and get a break from their inner pain. The maladaptive strategies like abuse of their children physically and emotionally created a generational chain of traumatized and emotionally sick black people. A few that figured it out have gone through therapy to stop the pattern.
Some parents became toxic due to the traumas their parents got them through. Parents who abuse drugs for instance over drinking, smoking cocaine, etc expose their kids to unconventional behavior and experiences that traumatize them as kids.
Paul’s dad always returned home drunk and beat his mom. When Paul grew up, he couldn’t forget the sight of his mom crying with bruises on her face. The pain instilled negativity which he tried to deal with by being overly strict and protective of his teenage sons in fear of them becoming drunkards.
This made them feel untrusted and denied their freedom of association with their peers who were not even drinking.
Our environment, that is the situations and people around us, can make us toxic. Your parent may have been raised in a society full of negative minds and situations. For example, parents raised in war zones are most likely to become toxic due to the traumas of seeing death always a minute away.
They end up developing apathy as a way to deal with pain which later makes them disregard the feelings of their kids. That is why you will hear them often cite the things they went through to make your cries less significant.
Sometimes a parent may have been raised by emotionally unavailable parents so he or she tries to compensate or fill the gap of not receiving enough love by being so demanding of his/her children and emotionally manipulating them for love.
Other environmental causes include family conflicts, terrorism, death of parents, personality disorders like narcissism, borderline personality disorder, etc from the toxic parent’s parents.
Perhaps your parent went through past experiences like sexual abuse, heartbreak, or sickness that got them affected psychologically. This oftentimes makes people resort to toxic maladaptive strategies to cope with the inner emotional turmoil.
Dawson Church’s book ”Mind to Matter” breaks down how external and internal influences affect our body cells and genes. If a person is surrounded by a low frequency of negative energy, it does not only affect their minds but also their genes.
If the negative energy surrounds you for long enough, the information will be genetically induced in you which can spread to your children. It is one of the reasons violence has stayed in black societies for this long.
Genetics also creates insecurities in people about their bodies. It is common for fathers short in height to be so controlling to compensate for their feelings of inadequacy in height.
A bad diet makes the body unstable and unfed with sufficient nutrients to nourish it. This results in feeling sluggish, jittery, lazy, and weak which makes you depend on others to do things for you. The lack of self reliance results in toxic behavior of manipulating people to do things for you.
Also, your mind feels as good as your body feels. An unhealthy body will make your mind unstable which makes you prone to adopting maladaptive behavior to cope with the situation of your body. Exercise is a great remedy for emotional and mental stability.
Effects of having toxic parents.
Being raised by toxic parents is an experience one would never wish to have. It can affect you all through cutting across all aspects of life like work, relationships, family, health, etc.
People raised by toxic parents struggle to set personal boundaries and stick to them.
Some do not know what it is like to have personal boundaries. Those who do, do not give them much regard because they got used to having them crossed by disrespectful toxic parents. They also struggle to say no when they deep down want to.
Children of toxic parents have a high susceptibility to anxiety disorders.
This is due to the fear, shame, traumas, and guilty they were continuously subjected to.
Hunger for approval and attention.
Toxic parents rarely give their children the attention they deserve. To fill the void, those children adopt attention-seeking characters to get that attention. This is even carried to adulthood.
Lack self confidence
They have no confidence in their decisions and actions so someone else has to approve them. This comes from the control freak behavior of the toxic parent not allowing kids to do or decide for themselves.
One effect people face from having a toxic parent is self rejection Often these toxic parents tell their children too hurtful statements that make them feel less worthy and deserving. For this reason, you find their children trying to be someone else in hope that they will be accepted. They struggle to be themselves.
Tolerance to abuse.
It gets as sick as feeling empty and lifeless without abuse in their lives. Children of toxic parents develop a tolerance for being abused. Some accept it as a way of living life in that they end up seeking abusive partners over nutric ones.
Self-sabotage is one common behavior offsprings of toxic parents have.
They usually feel incapable of doing something even when they can do it. The traumatic voices and mean discouraging words from the toxic parents haunt them even in adulthood. When they try to do something great, they talk themselves out of it and find reasons to justify giving up.
One behavior toxic parents have is making their kids feel less by comparing them to others. The kids then grow up with insecurities about their abilities, looks, and intelligence.
Paranoia is one common character in the offspring of toxic parents.
Because the toxic parent always subjected them to guilt and fear, the child becomes always expectant of the same treatment from other people.
Toxic parents have a negative view of the world for this reason they always see negativity in everything. Unfortunately, their children adopt a similar mindset.
Unless children of toxic parents heal their emotional wounds and get rid of the negative beliefs, they always end up attracting people who are a reflection of their parents. This creates a chain of unstable relationships.
The one main way to deal with a toxic parent.
If you were raised by a toxic parent and you are seeking ways to deal with him or her, chances are you contagiously got toxic yourself or traumatized or emotionally wounded. Don’t get mad at me. Stay with me, I am going to break it down for you.
Things toxic people do are only as undesirable as our emotions that resonate with them. Because you were raised by an emotionally absent parent who didn’t pay attention to your feelings, you were unable to grow emotionally.
So, you remained emotionally weak. Our emotional intelligence needs as much nurturing as our physical bodies do. When we ignore it, we become emotionally stagnated.
Unable to cope with our emotions, we either try to numb them by becoming emotionally withdrawn, taking on intoxicating habits like drug abuse, or developing personality disorders like a narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder.
If not we take on some less consequential habits to perhaps get that which our parents denied us. More like some kind of mental gymnastics.
Jordan developed a people-pleasing behavior because his mother was only nice to him and showed him acceptance when he did something good for her. When he had nothing good to offer, his mother withdrew her love and care for him.
He always had to find something good to do for her so she can show that she loved him. Jordan subconsciously perceived that for people to accept him, he had to do things for them that they like.
At the cost of his needs, he would do things for people to accept him. He could hardly say no to any requests. This made him develop a people-pleasing habit that always left him unhappy.
Ruth didn’t get attention from her parents who were always fighting. Even when she got an A in class, they could hardly look at her school report card. They never complimented her or even appreciated her. She then developed an attention-seeking behavior. She could seek attention at any cost and without it, she would feel empty and emotionally beaten.
When you are triggered by a toxic parent, understand that it is a sign that you have underlying emotional wounds that need to be healed. There is a dark side of you occupied by negative emotions, pain, trauma, self-rejection, etc.
An unhealed person will be often triggered by anything their toxic parent does. Even by merely looking at them they can be triggered into anger or wishes like ‘’if only she/he could love me as other parents love their own’’.
To deal with a toxic parent permanently whether they are absent or present, you have to dig deep within yourself, find the unhealed part of you that resonates with the triggers from your toxic parent. The emotional wounds, instilled guilt, shame, hate, resentment, anger, bitterness, etc.
Decide to heal that side of you and get rid of all the negative vibes and energy that has accumulated in you for a long time. If you often feel unappreciated by your parents despite the efforts you put in to make them happy, learn to appreciate yourself. Learn to give without expecting anything in return.
If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do you no harm. If you have self-love or self-acceptance within you, rejection from a toxic parent can not harm you. If you have self-confidence and feel good about yourself (self-esteem), no insults, smear campaigns, lies, or triangulation can break you.
Forgive your toxic parent for not being the kind of parent you wish them to be and accept them for who they are. Heal every part of you that gives weight to the toxicity from your toxic parent.
When you heal yourself and clean your heart and mind of all the negative emotions and thoughts you become an infertile ground for any toxic treatment from your parent. Nothing he or she can do that will affect your well-being or mood. And if it does, you will easily get over it.
If you do not heal your emotional wounds, even in absence of your toxic parent, you will still face the effects of poor emotional and mental health. You will carry your emotional burdens to your relationships. You may even become toxic to your children as well which may create a pattern of a toxic family.
Healing yourself breaks the pattern and creates a new world of love, tranquility, satisfaction, and positivity for you and the people around you. You have no control over what your toxic parent or other toxic people do but you can control how you react to or how it affects you.
Other ways to deal with a toxic parent.
After you have healed or when you are healing yourself do the following to help you deal with a toxic parent and also accelerate your healing process.
Set your boundaries and respect them.
Victims of toxic parents rarely have boundaries and if they do, they hardly respect them. If you can’t respect your boundaries people detect it and break them. It may hurt some people around you or disconnect you from some, but it will be worth the risk if you start to respect your boundaries.
Those who will be hurt will start to respect them and those that will cut you off were not even worth being in your circles in the first place. Respecting your boundaries means standing up for yourself against anyone or anything that crosses your beliefs or values.
Cease trying to please your toxic parent.
For a long time, you have done everything you can to please them but nothing yielded. In your heart, you know that you can’t please them. Don’t do things that contradict your desires, goals, beliefs, etc just to please them. It is your life and none of them will walk it for you. So, you might just as well be yourself and do what pleases you.
Be willing to leave the table.
If you visit your parent or stay with them and at some point, they will do or say things that take away your peace, be willing to move on with your life. Do not sit at a table where peace and love aren’t served.
I am not saying you ditch your parent. No. You shouldn’t do that. However, you can love them from a distance, support them where you can, and visit them once in a while.
Do not try to change them.
The only person you can change in a toxic relationship is you. Your parent is toxic for reasons you have no hand in. You may have even tried your best to show them how their behavior affects you and they still can’t see it.
A decision and intention to change comes from within.
Until their own mind sees the need to change and accept it, no attempt to change them will help. You are not certain when their mind will finally see the need. So you might as well just let them be and concentrate on working on yourself and giving yourself the things you need from them like love and attention.
Do not defend yourself.
Many of the things you do to respond to their behavior are out of the need to defend yourself from the insults, guilt, shame, or punishment cast upon you. When you know with your conscious that you are not what they say or do to you, hold your peace and let them be.
Do not defend yourself or fight them. When you defend yourself, you give them the attention and energy they are seeking. When you don’t, you retain your power and when they sense your indifference to their behavior they will stop hurting you.
Take care of yourself.
Everything you seek from the world is within you. Develop self-reliance through loving yourself, giving yourself attention, motivating yourself, opting to give yourself everything you want other people to give you. Choose your mental health over anything else and guard it to the bone. Prioritize looking and feeling good.
Set your intentions straight.
Do what you want to do and show intention to do it. Let it not be influenced by your toxic parent. If they want you to do something that contradicts your values, boundaries, and peace of mind, it is very okay to say no.
You can inform them of your plans without asking for permission to do them. It’s enough respect to let them know that you are going to do Job A instead of asking them for permission to do it.
Do what you have to do and leave the rest to God.
It is had to be a child to a toxic parent. A toxic parent has inflated demands, needs, and an unfathomable attitude. Many even come off ungrateful. In a child and parent relationship, each party has a role to play.
Your parent has his or her role to play. You too have your role to play. Play your role without expecting anything in return and leave the rest to God. If you are grown and financially stable, provide any financial help your toxic parent need. If they are going through a hard time, be available and provide emotional support to them.
Give them anything they need that you can provide. At the end of the day, the only person who will have regrets for not playing their role will not be you. Do what you can and leave the rest to God. One day when you least expect it, your toxic parent will figure out that you are more than they deserved.
Conclusion: It is hard to leave with a toxic parent. It makes it even more traumatizing knowing that the one person who should be the go-to for healing is the one causing you pain. If it is a toxic girlfriend or boyfriend, you can break up with them, heal and move on. But how do you reconcile with the fact that you can’t switch from one parent to another? You can not. However, you can switch from the person who is affected by a toxic behavior to one that is indifferent to it. As long as you focus on improving yourself and healing your emotional wounds you will finally be able to deal with a toxic parent. I wish you quick healing. Share with me your experience in the comments.