In the following Psychology-Online article we will talk about the characteristics of toxic parents, how their behaviors seriously harm their children and in different ways to cope with these situations of abuse. If you are interested in the subject, keep reading to know what toxic parents are like and how to treat them.
Toxic parents are people who have suffered great emotional deficiencies in their childhood so they have not been able to develop in a healthy way. It is precisely these affective deficiencies that have led them, in order to survive, to develop certain negative behaviors that they direct towards their children, the most vulnerable people.
These are people with high degrees of emotional instability and passivity / aggressiveness who, with their negative behaviors, annul their children and turn them into codependent people. Sons and daughters internalize that they are not valid and they disconnect from themselves (dissociation). By not being able to attend to their own needs, they attend to those of others but they become addicted to them since it is the only means of personal satisfaction.
There are several types of toxic parents: physical, verbal, emotional, sexual abuser, substance addict, immature, rigid, with personality disorders, overprotective, etc. Many of them can combine several of these behavioral patterns since some, on many occasions, reinforce the others. For example, a substance-addicted parent may end up assaulting in different ways; Parents with personality disorders, rigid and immature can also include abuse of all kinds in their behaviors.
The characteristics that all these behavior patterns share arise from their own affective deficiencies that lead them to act in these ways, trying to fill the internal emptiness they feel. In this way, they are usually people:
- Egocentric: they are governed by their own needs, unable to empathize with the needs of your children. In most cases, they seek to cover them in an unconscious way since they cannot even recognize them.
- Emotional instability, which leads them to alternate states of anger and dullness.
- Authoritarian, critical and manipulative: they only feel safe when everything works as they need. Otherwise, your aggressive emotional responses are activated.
- Dependents of their children: the imbalance in their adult social relationships and in their own emotional management makes them use their children unconsciously at will to meet their needs, thus becoming dependent on them (and making them codependent: their caregivers).
- Little affective: they have not received any emotional-affective basis for which they are unable to offer it to their sons and daughters. So it is common for children feel that that father or mother does not love them.
In our family environment we learn our knowledge about ourselves, about others and about the world. Innately, a child expects care and protection from her parents, so what we learn in our family we internalize as the way in which everything should work. Thus, in a family with toxic parents, children assume that they are not valid and believe that loving relationships are based on the control and power they have received.
Children who are victims of toxic parents find it difficult to accept the truth of the drama they have experienced. When, however, they become aware of this fact, it is important that they seek help to strengthen their self-esteem and, with it, to modify their behavior with their parents. To stop this toxic relationship, children must:
- Put limits their parents
- Respect themselves: dealing with toxic parents from a position of self-respect
- Get away from them, in cases where their behavior change has no effect on their parents' behavior
1. How to set limits on toxic parents
Putting limits on toxic parents is essential to stop the abusive relationship. If you don't feel strong enough to do it yourself, it is recommended that you ask for help in friends, family or even professionals:
- Do not allow any abuse physical, verbal or emotional.
- Present and validate their own needs and ideas, differentiating them from those of their parents.
- Being affectionate and sensitive to the needs of their parents while respecting our limits (not easy considering that the treatment received sometimes generates a lot of contained anger).
- Express oneself from calm and respect, being a living example of another way of family coexistence. Here you can see How to improve my relationship with my parents.
2. How to deal with toxic parents
In cases where the attitudinal change of the sons or daughters has no effect on the behavior of the toxic parents but it is not possible to get away from them (in the case of minors, for example), it is appropriate:
- Avoid contact as much as possible direct with them.
- Do not succumb to its authoritarianism but do not activate it, as a strategy to appease it.
- Maintain a personal physical, psychological and emotional care that keeps us strong in the face of difficulties.
- Ask for help and shelter from those people and professionals they can trust.
3. How to stay away from toxic parents
In the severe cases of abuse, it is recommended get away as soon as possible of toxic parents so as not to continue damaging our self-esteem. In the juvenile cases, it is important that a family member or close friend can intervene and remove the child from this environment through Social services and other public or private institutions.
In the case of having reached the age of majority, the young person himself can leave home. To get ahead, he may also be advised and helped by Social Services and any institution of social assistance to minors.
If you are a child who lives a situation of abuse at homeIf you know someone who is experiencing this situation, ask for help. It is important to stop this abuse as soon as possible to stop the psychological sequelae that these experiences generate. ¡You can get out of there. Relax, everything will be fine!
This article is merely informative, in Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.