No family is perfect. Because of that, no childhood is likely to be perfect either. It’s just not in human nature to do every single thing right, every time. But, if you have grown up to be an adult with difficulties that you don’t understand, and seemingly no skills to deal with them, you may have been raised by a toxic parent.
Here are 18 ways to tell if you were raised by — or continue to interact with — a toxic parent:
1 . Your parent will not respect your personal boundaries — mental or physical. Even if you stand up for yourself, they still won’t respect it.
2. “Do as I say, not as I do”. Your parents may have held you to higher standards than they were willing to keep themselves.
3. Your parent may have made light of your insecurities. Joking about your weight, teeth, or shyness are common traits of toxic parents.
4. You were made to serve your parents’ feelings, becoming slave to their emotional outbursts.
5. Your parents spared praise for you, instead providing much more criticism.
6. “I’ll give you something to cry about.” Your parents wouldn’t allow you to show weakness, or have negative emotions.
7. You blame yourself for your parents’ actions. If you were better, smarter, etc. then these things wouldn’t have happened.
8. A parent may have used guilt as a weapon. They would bring it up to win arguments, or force you to do something their way.
9. They never congratulated you for your achievements. Instead, they pointed out where you had failed, or where you could have “obviously done better”.
10. You were responsible for praising your parents. They demanded your attention for their accomplishments.
11. Your parents relied on fear, and intimidation, to set examples. They could have used love, but did not know how.
12. You struggle today with authority figures. Without having had a positive example in childhood, you don’t know how to interact with bosses, managers, or law enforcement officers.
13. You “owe” your parents for everything they did in your childhood. They will often use guilt over money to manipulate you.
14. Your parents “gave up everything” to take care of you. This is also used to manipulate you, making you feel guilty for having been born.
15. If your parent reacts badly, it’s your fault for having made them do so. They will not take responsibility for their own emotional states.
16. Your parents made your mistakes such painful lessons. Now, you won’t share mistakes with anyone.
17. “Tough love” was the rule of the day. If you were hurt, it was your own fault; no consolation was given.
18. Because of all the ways your parents didn’t support your development, you’re scared to try new things. This aversion to risk-taking makes it hard to accomplish anything as an adult.
Oftentimes, emotional abuse is an entirely private affair. What looks like a loving, caring home from the outside can be hell to the child living with emotional abuse. Even if you’ve been the child of a toxic parent, you still have an opportunity to regain your love of life. With a significant amount of work, and often help from a therapist, you can do everything necessary to overcome the legacy of toxic parenting that you were born into.
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