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11 Behaviors Of A Toxic Parent That Cause Emotional And Mental Damage To Their Children


Parents are supposed to be their children’s greatest help and support. And while there isn’t a parent who doesn’t occasionally make a mistake, there are some who fail to be the best supporters and examples to their children. They fall into the toxic category.

The things we experience in our childhood shape us as adults. They determine the person we’ll grow up to be. And being raised by a toxic parent can leave a devastating impact on a child’s emotional and mental well – being. There’s never a second chance to repair the disrespect, despair, loneliness, and abuse that the person who has been brought up by a toxic parent must have felt.

If one or both of your parents displayed any of the following 11 behaviors when you were a child, it’s very likely you were raised by toxic parents. And if you’re currently a parent, make sure you avoid these behaviors as they can permanently damage your child.

Here they are:

1. They fail to make their child feel supported and secure.

Some parents believe that if they show their child tough love, this will make them understand the reality of the world. On one hand, this approach can make a child grow into an independent person and enable them to take care of themselves in the future.

On the other hand, not showing a child enough love and affection can make it difficult for them to build close relationships with other people and commit to them. It can also make them feel insecure about themselves and fear potential failures.

2. They’re dismissive of their child’s emotions.

A toxic parent doesn’t allow their child to express their emotions, especially the negative ones. They urge their child not to cry or show they’re worried or afraid because it’s inappropriate and embarrassing to show they’re weak. By making their child feel ashamed of their own emotions, they can cause them to feel lonely and  become depressed and unable to appropriately cope with negative future situations.

3. They make their child fear them.

Caring parents use discipline to teach their children how to be responsible and respect others. On the other hand, toxic parents use discipline as a form of punishment and to make their child fear them. They fail to create a positive and secure environment in which their child would feel free to talk to them about anything.

Unfortunately, this can make the child grow into a person who will be afraid to express their emotions and opinions in their relationships with others.

4. They’re overly judgmental.

All parents criticize their children when they do something bad, and this is okay as long as it’s a constructive criticism and helps a child learn from their mistakes. Yet, a toxic parent takes this to extremes by being overly critical about everything their child does. By constantly bringing their child down, they can severely damage their self – esteem.

Additionally, the child may lack the willingness and motivation to experience new things in their adulthood.

5. They make mean jokes.

There’s nothing wrong when parents occasionally make jokes about the silly things their child says or does. Yet, a toxic parent always picks on their child by pointing out their mistakes and making mean comments. They make them feel like everything they do is bad.

They often mock them about the way they look and tell them how incompetent and stupid they are. Pointing fingers and laughing at their child can be detrimental to their confidence.

6. They demand attention at all times.

Instead of bonding with their children in a healthy way and allowing them to have personal space and time, a toxic parent tends to believe that their child owes them something because they’ve spent a lot of energy and time in raising them. Instead of allowing their child to focus on learning other skills, discover who they are and who they want to become, grow, and just be a kid, they demand all their attention.

7. They hold their child accountable for their happiness.

A toxic parent often reminds their child of all the times they had to sacrifice their own personal life and happiness so as to enable them to have a comfortable life. Moreover, they expect their child to do the same for them. They want their children to give up their goals and dreams, or I should better say, to forget about their life, and devote all their attention and time solely to them.

8. They make their child feel responsible for their terrible behavior.

Most children raised by emotionally and physically abusive parents believe that they deserve the harsh treatment. A toxic parent can throw cruel insults at their child and even beat the crap out of them and then tell them that it was them who provoked their anger and brought all that on themselves.

Unfortunately, many children who have gone through emotional and physical abuse are likely to be in abusive relationships later on in their life.

9. They try to accomplish their dreams through their child.

A caring and devoted parent knows that their child is an individual with their own needs, interests, wishes, and opinions. But, this is not the way a toxic parent perceives their child. They are so selfish and inconsiderate that they push their child to live the lives that they wish they had.

They also force them to be interested in and practice the same hobbies and activities they liked themselves in their childhood and probably they still like them.

10. Instead of talking things out, they choose to stay silent.

Rather than solving problems and arguments by having a rational conversation with their child, toxic parents give them the silent treatment. They ignore their child and refuse to show any signs of dissatisfaction or anger. This selfish and immature behavior can make a child grow into someone who is unable to establish healthy communication and successfully handle arguments with others.

11. They control their child by using money and guilt.

Toxic parents tend to believe that they can earn their child’s love, respect, and loyalty by giving them money and gifts. So, they buy them expensive things and then expect something in return. And if the child doesn’t behave as he/she is expected, their parents will try to make them feel guilt over not following their rules and respecting all “the great things they’ve selflessly done for them.”

Riley Cooper

Riley Cooper is a professional writer who writes informative and creative articles on topics related to various fields of study. Written with love and enthusiasm, her articles inspire readers to broaden their knowledge of the world, think and get ready to act.
Riley Cooper