Toxic parenting

Parents want to keep their children safe and secure. However, there may be times when emotions and life circumstances may mess up with parenting. Parents’ toxicity may adversely impact their children unintentionally or unknowingly. If the toxicity continues for long, it could cause childhood trauma to children. This childhood trauma can result in physical, emotional and mental health, relationship or career issues for children during their growing-up years and even during adulthood.

Having said this, no parent is perfect. But, parents can be aware of toxic parenting signs so that they can be careful around their children.

Physically or Emotionally Unavailable

Toxic parents are so self-absorbed or self-centred that they put their needs first before their children’s. Of course, it is okay to feel frustrated and take some time out for yourself to maintain your sanity. However, if parents neglect their kids on most occasions due to self-victimisation, they are being selfish. Children need nurturing and who can do it better than parents?

Physically or Emotionally Abusive

Such parents do not hold back in hurling verbal insults or causing physical harm (slapping, kicking, hitting, choking, etc) to their children. They don’t mind doing it even in front of others. Some parents may also expose their children to age-inappropriate sexual content.

Role Reversal

When parent-children roles are reversed in family dynamics, it is also a sign of toxicity. The parents expect children to parent them or become primary caregivers from a young age. These parents, instead of taking responsibility or accountability for their actions, manipulate children for emotional, physical or even financial (if the child is earning an income) support. The parentified children become the problem-solvers and mature ones in the relationship. They may begin to face difficulty in trusting people or self-regulating their emotions.

Lack of Belief in Children’s Abilities

Some parents don’t have faith in their children’s abilities. As a result, they will not let the children make decisions regarding their education, career, friends or life’s other matters. Consequently, children lose self-confidence and become overly dependent on other relationships.

Criticism and Judgment

Toxic parents expect their children to be perfect. They are most often critical and judgmental about their children’s actions, choices and behaviour. Children hardly get a word of appreciation, a hug, a pat on the back or any kind of reward from the parents. Such children tend to become people-pleasers and try to seek perfectionism in everything they do for fear of shame or embarrassment.

All parents should keep these red flags of toxic parenting in their minds. Give your children a happy childhood so that they grow up to be happy, safe and confident adults.

About Rekha Menon

Rekha Menon is a primary teacher by profession, now engaged in various hobby & craft classes for kids, and occasionally writes about topics which interest her. With two teenage kids, she is usually grappling with issues that most parents deal with, and shares her views to stimulate discussion on these.


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