I had a request to make a post about what toxic parents do, what tactics they use or how to recognize them. I’ve found some ‘traits’ on the internet and had a closer look into them. I need to say that those are general traits that can be observed in a toxic relationship. Very important note; in my opinion all the tactics can be used in toxic relationships. It can be between child-parent, parent(s)-child, lovers, siblings and even in friendships. I believe the signs are universal with some adjustments here and there. The examples given are more specific to the parent-child relationship.
What I don’t mean to say in this post, is that when your parent says something that you may not like, that it directly means that there is toxicity around. Read through the signs mentioned and you’ll get a gist of what I’m talking about. It’s about an overall view.
Toxicity in a relationship can reveal itself in the following signs:
- Selfishness. Some parents put their own needs before everything, no matter how hard it hurts you. I once was invited to an after work dinner by my mom. The dinner was being held for charity and organized by her work. I was a young adult, recently found a job, got me a new outfit. We went together and a long story short, she didn’t speak to me. An elderly lesbian couple sitting at my other side engaged be a bit in the party because of pity. I cried in the car but was said goodbye at the door and I crashed. Suicide thoughts and anxiety plagued me long after that, it was one of the straws that broke the camels back.
- Lack of empathy. They don’t show any remorse over the pain they have caused you. You’re not viewed as being important enough to ask something. Like ‘How was your day?’ or your opinion about something.
- Disrespectful behavior towards you. People say and do stupid things all the time and they should be forgiven. But it’s not ok to be made fun of, being bullied or disrespected every day. It can be very very subtle in a way. I remember my mom don’t telling me that she thought that I was fat maybe she didn’t care at all but she brought me underwear from the store in a size that is still too big for me in my forties. I was a kid and a teenager. Do I need to tell more?
- Overstepping your boundaries. What is seen a lot is that people don’t respect other people’s boundaries and private space. That can be by entering your room unannounced and ‘owning’ the place, leaving you with no private place for yourself. It can be reading through your phone, your diary, going through your drawers.
- Being overly demanding. Nothing is quite enough. When you feel like you are doing your utterly best and nothing seems to work to find some approval. When you’re looking for a sign that it is enough, that you can take a break but you’re confronted with more demands.
- Belittling you. They do all the thinking for you. Your opinions are dismissed and don’t matter. You are not treated your age and it leaves you feeling small and insignificant. Decisions are made for you and you’re not able to have autonomy or the level of responsibility that your age should reflect.
- They control and/or dominate you. You feel like the smaller or the lesser. There is no wiggle room for you but to listen and to act how they want you too.
- Manipulative behavior . They can twist and turn and still make everything your fault. Or maybe even expose your secrets when that is beneficial to them. They can make false promises to get you to calm down or to get what they want. They thrive on comparison. ‘Why can’t you be more like your sister? She has had an A today and just a B for your science project.’
- They blame you for things you can’t be held accountable for. Everything that goes wrong in life, the bigger but the smaller things, is blamed on you. I was told not to operate the washing machine because I had ‘two left hands’ and I would definitely break it. Reality check: I take really good care of my stuff. Everything I own is cherished.
- They somehow find a way to suck the joy out of every little thing ‘happy’ for you. When you dread sharing positives with them or spending time with them, maybe it’s because of the toxicity.
- They are unstable. Parents can have a lack of boundaries of their own and can lack the capacity to stand their ground. When you’re allowed almost everything but they blow up at you while you’re doing like you’re used to, it’s toxic.
- Overly critical. I was scolded for typing too loud when I was reviewing my exams at the computer. I still think about that one sometimes when I’m typing away to compose my posts. The critique given is usually not constructive.
- Neglect. As a child you are totally dependent on the care of your parents. When they don’t take you to the doctors when needed, to the dentist nor take care of your physical needs, that’s abusive and therefore toxic. I have a pierced eardrum because of untreated ear infections. I learned about it in my thirties.
You deserve to be treated with decency.
You’re not responsible for their problems, you’re only responsible for the way you react.
You have the responsibility for your own life, happiness and self-care.
This post concludes my series about verbal abuse. I’ve written a lot about it the past time and as it is a heavy subject, I’m putting it to rest for a while. If you are interested to check my other posts out, they are linked below. Thank you for following this series with me.
Verbal abuse is a form of interpersonal violence. It is a specific type of psychological abuse. Verbal abuse is the use of derogatory or negative language as a means to humiliate, belittle, criticize and demean a person. Verbal abuse is always meant to manipulate, threaten, harass, embarrass, insult and exercise control on the victim. Anne … Continue reading Verbal abuse – What’s the deal with words?
In my last post I’ve talked about what verbal abuse is and how to recognize it. My conclusion was that it is based on the effect that you notice in yourself. You may be left dazed, confused, angry, sad, doubting yourself or in a total panic. That is the clue to notice that what you’ve … Continue reading Verbal abuse and its connection to anxiety.
Bad is stronger than good. Humans are hardwired to pay more attention to potentially dangerous or negative possibilities. The evolutionary reasons for this are pretty clear—we store such information in a part of the brain that makes it much more accessible. Registering potentially dangerous threats and keeping them alive and well in memory was key … Continue reading Verbal abuse. ‘Bad is stronger than good.’
Tom, who is 66, reports that it took him a while to realize that all households were not like his. He grew up with parents who, as he calls them, were “street saints”—well-behaved in the outside world and devils at home. That, by the way, is very common because verbal abuse is usually a family … Continue reading Verbal abuse, family dynamics and recovery.