Answer truthfully. Do you think your parents, your family, and home life are perfect? Chances are you probably said no right… but do you still think that your parents did a good job of raising you and giving you a good life?
As we grow older we start to appreciate our parents more because we become mature enough to realise that what they do definitely isn’t easy. But with that maturity also comes a certain clarity that some of the things they do are actually doing more harm than good. Here are seven telltale signs that although your parents might genuinely love you, their actions are still toxic
1. They Downplay your Achievements
Do you ever get excited to tell your parents about your good news be it a good grade, a promotion or an award you just got only for them to sour the experience by shrugging it off and downplaying your achievements? “Oh is that all, you can do better”. They may tell you it’s emotionally draining and invalidating to never have your parents tell you “you did a good job or that they’re proud of you”.
2. They set their expectations too high
Similar to the first point, parents will sometimes set their expectations too high because they think constantly pushing their child to be the very best they can be is what’s best for them. But that kind of pressure takes a toll on a person’s mental and emotional well-being and no matter how much you achieve or how successful you become, you still find yourself feeling like a failure for not living up to your parents unrealistically high expectations.
3. They’re overly controlling
Another way parents can love you in a toxic way is by smothering you with their overly controlling parenting. Some parents want to decide everything for their child and control every aspect of their life because they feel they will always know what’s best. Sometimes it’s because they’re just being protective and want to shelter you from the harsh realities of life. Other times parents act this way because they’re afraid their child might be going down the wrong path. Nevertheless, whatever their reasons may be it still doesn’t justify this toxic behaviour.
4. They treat you like a child
Have you ever felt like your parents still see you as a child and treat you like one no matter your age? Do they ever talk down to you or act like you can’t take care of yourself, that you don’t know what’s best or that you’re incapable of deciding things for yourself? Well, it’s only natural for parents to feel protective of their children and want to take care of them no matter how old they get. It’s also unhealthy to keep infantilizing them, disrespecting their boundaries and smothering them with too much attention.
5. They taught you self-blame
When something bad happens to you what do you usually attribute it to? If the answer is “myself” or “something I did” then you probably struggle with a lot of feelings of guilt and self-blame. This might be because of the way you’ve been raised which has taught you to feel that way. Parents may make their children believe that everything that happens to them is somehow their fault because they didn’t try hard enough or they did something wrong.
6. They close off communication
Have your parents ever told you to just stop crying and put on a happy face instead? As well intentional as their advice might have been, the truth is helping a child express and deal with their emotions in a healthy way is one of the most difficult but most crucial aspects of parenting and unfortunately some parents just aren’t emotionally well adjusted enough to do that. After all, how can you teach what you don’t know? So instead of practising honest and open communication at home you’ve learned to be emotionally closed off like your parents taught you and instead turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like denial and avoidance to deal with your difficult emotions.
7. They are emotionally unavailable
Last but certainly not the least, even if your parents were physically there for you and financially supported you they can still be toxic if they were emotionally unavailable to you and deprived you of the love, warmth validation, and acceptance you needed. It can be a difficult thing to accept because you feel like you should just be grateful for what you have after all so many more people have it worse right… but a parent’s duty doesn’t just end with showing up to pay the bills or go through all the motions of parenting. Parents should be our pillars of strength and support in times of emotional need.
So do you relate to any of the things we’ve mentioned here? Did reading this article make you realise that your parents might be toxic for you? Just because a person loves you doesn’t give them the right to hurt you whether or not it’s done intentionally. So if you’re emotionally or psychologically struggling right now please do not hesitate to reach out to talk to a mental health professional today.