How to Deal with Toxic Parents?

Psychologists argue that problems in adult life originate in childhood. However, in some cases, the situation is aggravated by the fact that parents continue to actively participate in the life of their grown-up child, violating all sorts of boundaries and creating even more complexities. In this article, you’ll find out how to deal with toxic parents.

There are certain lines of behavior, and a person can analyze them and determine whether their relationship with their parents is toxic. The main signs of manipulative behavior include the following:

Violation of personal boundaries

This includes reading correspondence, digging into personal things, and rude attempts to find out the details of personal life. For example, it is not difficult for a toxic mother to enter the room of an adult son when he is not alone there to water the flowers.

Making decisions for your children regardless of their age

Parents do not give their children a chance to get life experience, to feel responsible, to make their own mistakes, believing that they themselves know the better way. This behavior often creates a lot of problems for the child, in particular, the inability to independently make choices and make decisions.


Sometimes it is possible or even necessary, to make a remark to a five-year-old child, however, when the children are twenty-five, they already have the right to behave in their own way. Especially if they live an independent life and earn money.

Constant criticism creates a feeling of insecurity in one’s abilities and a fear of failure.

Dissatisfaction with appearance

Criticism of a child regarding their weight, clothing size, hair color, and other things gives rise to the deepest complexes if the child encounters it in childhood. In adulthood, this continues to exacerbate the problem.

It should be understood that your appearance is solely your choice, and no one, including parents, has the right to dictate their terms.

Guilt manipulation

This is a technique that toxic parents often use to get their children to behave in certain ways. Being sure that the reproach will cause the feeling of guilt, the manipulator actively uses this technique to achieve his goals. However, such behavior forms a stable guilt complex, which is extremely difficult to overcome even with the help of a competent specialist.

The constant demand for attention

The reluctance of parents to let their child grow up and turn adult is another problem of toxic relationships. Of course, children can help their parents and take care of them, but this should not turn into manipulation.


This is one of the most terrible methods of manipulation for the consciousness of a small child. In his picture of the world, silence looks like a refusal to protect: a person who should protect becomes invisible.

If a parent uses a boycott as a method of education, then in the future he will use it when he needs to express dissatisfaction with some aspects of life or the behavior of his adult child.

Ignoring emotions

With toxic parents, you can’t be yourself and show emotions because this causes an ambiguous reaction, and the child’s feelings and his reactions to what is happening often cause bewilderment, casting doubt on the adequacy of these very emotions. This behavior can be called a form of gaslighting.

Conditionality of the feelings

Psychologists often say that love for your child should not be based on conventions. Your child needs to be accepted and loved, regardless of his success and achievements. For toxic parents, the opposite is true: their love is shown only when everything is fine, the child is successful, well-behaved, and his actions correspond to the expectations of the parents.

Unfortunately, growing up, such children face many problems in their lives: they subconsciously understand that love needs to be earned and that this feeling is not unconditional. The real reason for the complexes, self-doubt, problems in relations with the opposite sex lies in childhood when the child was faced with the fact that he had to seek the love and attention of his parents.

Shifting responsibility for your financial situation

This is another situation, in which toxic parents use manipulation to achieve their goals. Provoking guilt for the sake of obtaining material gain is a fairly common behavioral strategy. Helping your parents if you have the financial ability is good, but it’s worth remembering that you are an adult, you may even have already started your own family, which means you have the right to prioritize your life.

If you recognize yourself and your parents after reading the list, if you, as an adult with your own family and children, your own money, still do not want to upset the family and are afraid of their disapproval, then you are in a toxic relationship with your parents.

The first thing to do is admit that there is a problem. The second thing is to realize that you are not responsible for what was done to you as a child. However, being an adult and an adequate person, you are responsible for your life and the lives of your children or the loved ones. Therefore, your desires and your own needs should always be a priority.

As for the other aspects of the problem – manipulation, pressure and violation of personal boundaries – it is important to learn how to build relationships yourself and learn how to say a firm “no”. In such a situation, the sequence of actions is important, as well as spiritual impregnability and a clear understanding of how you see your future.

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