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5 Signs You’re a Toxic Parent

Raising an extreme child may push you to the brink — but even teetering there, it’s essential that you model positive and appropriate behavior. Here are solutions for doing better.

Parenting is a hard gig, and it doesn’t come with an instruction manual. When you’re raising an extreme child, it becomes even more difficult to navigate.

But that’s no excuse for crossing the line into toxic parent territory. If you’re feeling pushed to your limit, watch this video and learn five ways to reset your parenting patterns.

Are You a Toxic Parent?

Raising an extreme child may push you to the brink — but even teetering there, it’s essential that you model positive and appropriate behavior.

Here are 5 signs that you are crossing into emotionally toxic territory — and solutions for doing better.

1. Your child fills the role of an adult.

For example: You ask your tween to babysit your kindergartener after school every day.

What to do: Probe your own childhood for the root of your patterns.

Then, choose to make a small but important change, like finding an affordable after-school program.

2. You make your kids feel guilty.

For example: You’re feeling lonely. So when your teen asks to go out, you say you’ll be sitting home all alone until he gets home.

What to do: Own it, and apologize. Your child is not your therapist or your best friend.

3. You mock them in public.

For example: When your son has a public tantrum, you mockingly reply, “I’m so mad! I’m so mad! Does that really help, Tommy?”

What to do: Enlist a family member to “tag in” during these breaking points so you can find a quiet place to recover.

4. You ask your child to keep secrets.

For example: After an expensive shopping spree, you ask your child to keep it from her dad.

What to do: Again, your child is not your friend and secrets are never OK. So apologize and tell her it wasn’t right for you to ask her to hide something.

5. You don’t maintain age-appropriate boundaries.

For example: You let your 12 year old stay up all night playing computer games.

What to do: Acknowledge your mistake. Then consult friends, your pediatrician, and online experts to learn how to put restrictions in place. It’s never too late to make a change.

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2 Comments & Reviews

  1. 38% of the population Experiences Emotional Abuse which precedes physical or sexual abuse.
    -with something like 40% of adhd homes having ODD kids in it, I kinda bet that part of the problem is our general level of emotional intelligence. Because we tend to marry and settle down with people at about our level, and then we tend to also just inherit many of our beliefs behaviors mannerisms etc, from our family passed through each generation and they evolve a bit. but the modeling that is passed on is very important. You still have a piece of them no matter what.

    If you think you dont cause it in your home, you need to check, because so did both the people who gas lighted me my entire life. Be better than them and have a discussion and train your kids how to respond when they are being invalidated. empathetically “i hear you, and that is not my experience

    May I also add
    Toxic if “when your kid walks up and say you dont love me'” you list of all the things you do for them. Then they respond “but i dont care about that stuff”

    Why is this Toxic – Because it means you dont validate your childs feelings when ever it has something to deal with you. If you can not be accountable for your actions as a parent and model admitting mistakes sharing deep emotions and reflections with your child, how do you expect them to do it then.

    this is example is from a house with 2 narsasistic parents 1 covert and 1 overt. (that happens at times) also 4/6 with adhd and also 2 SPD and 1 Dyslexic and I know depression was occuring in family too.

    plus while adhd and narsasistic are two different things in terms of personality (1 is caused by early life attatchment trauma often paired with a certain gene that might predispose them, but is not requiered to my knowledge.) The other is an executive function issue and can at times come off narsasistic, but if you ask them, they typically can be more flexible.

    ADHD can seem narsasistic because, lets be honest we are just trying to get through at times.

    what i will say,

    is after having multiple walls kicked in as a kid,
    kicking down a $2000 door

    That – i woke up one day – and realized I wasnt to blame technically for any of this. That what had happened the entire time was my attatchment style occilated from Fearful-avoidant (blunt emotions) to when threatened anxious-ambivalent(intensify emotions).

    So when i was really trying to just keep the attention of my caregiver through the main way i knew how, anger and fighting, I was constantly also behaving in a very predictable way that really showed me that i wasn’t really at fault. (trust me i was told i was the prob, because when the person can not accept responsibility for their actions, your always the problem)

    That one of the prime ways to deal with gas lighting as a kid (especially when your unaware of it) is to be defiant. for to have a parent question your reality as a kid without even being able to figure this out prior.

    That really, its not the kid, its wheather you validate your child right.

    Kids who do not get emotionally validated either sink away, or get “involved” as i did by playing the “if you cant beat them join them game”.

    Emotional invalidation – increases heart rate and threatens a person.
    Emotional Validation – calms the persons body and heart and helps them to feel their experience is understood and validated. it need not be agreed with, but that you are actaully trying to understand it without offering advice and judging. that you make validating statments about how that must feel to the person and then see what can be done about it going forward.

    Emotional Validation is a Skill that you dont learn by reading a couple blogs, its a committment to learning it. and one way to know if you do it, its how might react to your kid approaching you with feelings.

    This is hard, but problem with adhd in families is 84% of those with adhd have an insecure attatchment both from being an orchid kid who was naturally more sensative to the enviroment, and also then having an enviroment that wasnt very freindly or ideal for that sensativity. Really no ones truly to blame…evolution just has us play fun little games ive come to realize.
    and we try in ways we cant even appreciate to try and bend the rules of how we are kinda supposed to work based on cave days and tribal days before agriculture became a thing. (Here i thought it was a Fad…just like that interweb thing they keep talking about….LOL)

    The FUNCTIONS OF THE PREFRONTAL CORTEX ARE CREATED BY HAVING A SECURE ATTATCHMENT, or if the kid has one, help them get one by you as a parent also healing your attatchment style. There is such a thing as intergeneration transmission of attatchment styles. (its how trauma gets passed forward i think on top of maladaptive beliefs and behaviors that because we are just used to the abuse we dont see it as inherently wrong or as bad as it actually is.)

  2. one thing i found interesting that might be of use to people reading this, i bet at some point in time depression might pop up in the family. (it did mine)

    Just know the biggest cause of depression: is that of being ignored by another. (i add in or disqualifying one self internally as it has the same effect, but the first one created this one that then just shows up to the party late as an adult in a relationship with somebody)

    The biological basis of Family love is that of Attatchment: To be Soothed, Seen, Safe and Secure. There are behaviors behind each of those. love is a skill then. you can apply what ever other definition on top of the biological one. But it needs to accomadate that as well.

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