HOUSTON - One of the reasons relationships fail is because one of the partners grew up with toxic parents. Toxic parents don’t always understand the effect their behaviors have on their children, but the children are left with emotional scars that interfere with their ability to create a loving relationship with a significant other.
Most adults don’t consider the influence their childhood has on who or how they date or how they truly feel about themselves. Your parents had an incredible influence your ability to trust, your attitudes toward others, and how you get along in an intimate relationship. If you grew up with parents who used the silent treatment, manipulated you, or criticized you harshly, you’ll repeat these same toxic behaviors in your adult life.
Toxic parents can be abusive physically, emotionally, or sexually; however, not all toxic parents fit the criteria for abuse. Those who grew up in a toxic home can identify common patterns they remember from their childhood. For example, the parent didn’t extend kindness, empathy, compassion, or encouragement towards their child. The parent put themselves first and the child was left with low self-value and insecurity. Most parents express their love with daily reminders so the child feels secure. Toxic parents will use their children to their own advantage or manipulate them into feeling guilt or shame about of their flaws.
If you were raised with toxic parents, I highly encourage you go to therapy. Counseling helps restore your self-worth and confidence. It helps clear your mind so you can think more clearly and see a larger picture of your childhood. You don’t have to live in this continued pattern of toxicity, nor do you have to repeat it by dating or marrying a toxic individual you mistook for someone who cared. Below are suggestions you can begin today that will help you reclaim your inner parent and give you permission to create strong boundaries between your parents and others who made you feel badly about yourself.
- Create a healthy group of friends that you can turn to and depend on. For the holidays or special events, you don’t have to continue to surround yourself with your original family. If they were toxic, you have permission to surround yourself with those who love and encourage you and accept you as you are.
- Learn how to stand up for yourself. You’re no longer that child who had to submit to toxic parents. You’re an adult. Practice saying, “No.” When your parents try to make you feel guilty, name the action and be direct with them that you will no longer succumb to toxic tactics.
- Strengthen your boundaries. You have a right to make rules for your adult life. Communicating clearly and directly signals that you respect your parent and expect to be respected in return. Being clear and upfront is not the same as being rude or vindictive.
- Practice self-care. Create new affirmations to replace the old critical voices that have become tapes in your mind. Journaling, meditating, massage, exercising, and exploring your spirituality can all help reclaim yourself. Sometimes when you’ve been raised in a toxic home, you may feel numb as a protective measure; reparenting yourself is learning to allow others to connect with you.
The effects of being raised by toxic parents show up in almost every relationship you’ll ever have, including the most important relationship – the one you have with yourself. You owe it to yourself, your significant other, and any children you may ever have to recover from what you went through so you can live freely. Feeling optimistic and excited about your future is possible, and it all begins with practicing self-awareness and learning how to re=parent yourself.