I love my mother to death, I do. I never went hungry, we always had shelter, we had a basement full of toys, books, and every Disney movie ever. She has always helped out family, friends, neighbors, etc even when she didnt have anything to give. She has always let me speak my mind, even if I was challenging her I could say how I felt. I am the person I am today because she always allowed me to be my weird introverted no style having self. But she also fell short as a parent in a lot of areas (my dad as well). I believe, that she believes, she did the best she could as a mother and Im at peace with that (now at least). Sometimes people dont live up to your expectations and thats ok. My issue is that she has this weird manipulative personality and has somehow convinced herself that her kids owe her something because she decided to be a parent.
The Early Years
As a child, we had to come at her beck and call. Come find the remote, come make her a sandwich, find her keys that she lost. She even went as far to say she had us to be her slaves (she was joking I think). My siblings and I are all adults at this point and even though my mother is still pretty young (48) with a lot of life left to live. I’m convinced her retirement plan is for one of us to take care of her. As a child, fear is what kept us all in line. Now as an adult, that takes care of myself, with no help from either of my parents since Ive been 18. Its really hard to wrap my mind around her thought process. It would be different if I was older, more established, making more money, but that’s not the case. So Its really frustrating to have my mother think that she can disrupt my life because of how she chooses to live hers.
Recently, she was staying with me and I gave her some rules like not to smoke in the house (I hate that lingering cigarette smell) and not to drink while she is at my house (when she drinks me and her do not get along at all). Literally, everything I asked her not to do, she did the exact opposite. So I eventually had to ask her to leave. She often uses the threat of suicide to get us to comply. It usually works, we all know that she is suffering from mental health issues, so we give in. But Its one thing to go visit, deal with her craziness and then leave when she starts to cross the line. Its a totally different ballpark when the person that causes you the most stress is now sleeping in the next room! I have been battling with my guilt over putting my mother out for a while now. But I have to keep reminding myself that if she wanted to stay with me she would have followed the rules. I cant be stressed out in my own home just because “shes my mother”.
Me while my mother was at my house:
Oftentimes we deal with so much from our parents, because they’re our parents! Some of us have this sense of obligation to them because they raised us. But a parents job is to help develop you into a healthy functioning adult. Anything outside of that is well, wrong. Its not a problem to help your parents out, I hope that Im not coming across as saying screw your parents. Everyone falls on hard times here and there. Its typically expected to have to help take care of a disabled, or elderly parent. But I dont know where ( in other cultures I guess) in the life manual it says you have to take care of an able-bodied grown ass person just because they’re your mom or dad. The sad reality is some of us have parents that do more harm than good.
Here are some of the tell-tale signs of a toxic parent.
- Your parent refuses to respect your boundaries, even when you are clear and assertive about them.
- When you have upset them they may employ passive-aggressive behavior. Like ignoring you.
- Are overly reliant on other people. Depends on their kids, spouse, etc to meet all of their needs, run all of their errands, etc.
- You receive criticism more than support.
- They call you out of your name
- They may try to make you feel guilty when they do not get their way.
- Your parents taught you to respect them through the use of fear and intimidation.
- Your parents use money and guilt to manipulate you. They often remind you of how much you “owe” them for the things you were given – even those that you did not ask for like shelter, food, etc
- Failing to create a secure and supportive environment.
- Only thinking about themselves- self-absorbed.
- Trying to live their dreams out through their kids.
- They are addicts (drugs, alcohol, etc)
- They enable their kids bad behaviors.
- They flatter people they want to impress by giving them an inordinate amount of compliments, flattery, attention, money, gifts or time — while leaving their preferred abuse target feeling left out, estranged, alienated, disrespected, unloved, unwanted, and comprehensively feeling unappreciated; the game is used to manufacture sibling rivalries and triangulations that keep the abusive parent holding all the emotional validation cards. Source
- According to them, they have no faults or flaws.
- They may only contact you when they need something.
- They refuse to deal with issues in the relationship that you bring up.
- Blame you for their errant of callous actions when you’re inevitably upset because of something they did to you or failed to do that directly impacted you, your family, your romantic partner, or the kids. Source
- Masters at blame shifting.
- Their spouse, kids, job, etc are always the reason for their problems and not themselves.
- Expects you to always come to them, do for them, bring for them — rather than offering any reciprocity.
- Jealous of you and your life.
- Talk about you behind your back to other family members, etc.
- Refuse to acknowledge their mistakes.
- Puts their interests over whats best for you.
- Purposely impedes on their child being able to be successful (like refusing to help their child with their FAFSA for them to get into college).
- Need an inordinate amount of attention or high regard from those around them so they often lie about their kid’s accomplishments and won’t discuss their shortcomings.
Ways to Deal with Toxic Parents
- Set boundaries and don’t falter. -It REALLY hurt me to have to put my mom out but I couldnt possibly let her think her behavior was ok. If I did it wouldn’t have stopped.
- Take therapy. -I am currently in therapy working through all of my parental and life issues in general. Having a neutral third party to talk to always helps to get things out and offers a different perspective.
- Love them from a distance. If they won’t be nice, you don’t have to call or visit. You don’t even have to interact with them at all. Parent or not you deserve to be treated with respect and until they can do that put some space between you.
- Remind yourself that you’re not the problem.- No matter how much they may try to convince you, you are.
- Watch your reactions. -How does that famous saying go ” you cant control other people but you can control how you react to them” or something like that. I have to do this with my mom. I cant have certain conversations with her because she will immediately start to deflect and not own up to what she has done which pisses me off and almost always ends in us having a screaming match with each other.
Our parents will always be our parents but we can choose what we allow to happen in our lives. I refuse to allow the people who should be my number one supporters to bring me down. I have completely stopped talking to my father and all I can do for my mother is pray for her. I will continue to love them from a distance and utilize therapy to help work through some of my issues. Im not sure if we’ll ever be the happy functional family that I always envisioned in my mind, and that’s ok. Im just going to keep living my best life and maybe they’ll want to be a part of it in a positive way one day.
Discussion: Do you have toxic or narcissistic parents? What are some ways that you deal with toxic behavior from family members?
Id love to hear from you!
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