Toxicity can take whatever form it wants. It is often predictable, but in some cases, it comes from places we least expect. If you’re rooting for it to come only from your enemies, ill-thinkers, backbiters, you’re probably in for some harsh disappointments.
Family is the closest thing many of us have to home, companionship, warmth, and unconditional love. For many, their family is on the list of the first people that come to mind who’d sacrifice anything for them, who’d be at their beck and call, who’d always stick around no matter what.
It’s supposed to be all of these things. But sometimes it’s not. Sometimes the deepest of wounds are given by the closest of people. And the worst part of it can be your inability to express your grief or your anger because you’re afraid of what others would think of you, that it might bruise your relationship with your ‘loved ones’ or break their heart; the fear of permanent scarring forces you to seal your lips and keep going.
Social media, shows, and movies try to show us perfectly proportioned families. But in reality, no family is perfect. It is nothing but a myth. We all have whined about our families being the root of our miseries at some point in our lives. Be it the one time they shoved your opinion on you, the time you couldn’t open up to them because they didn’t care, or when they were repeatedly harsh, or even abusive. Or the time when your sibling stole the show, and your parents somehow ended up making you feel underachieved and irrelevant or whatnot.
Your parents can be the most caring people that exist, but in some cases, the role they play in our lives can be entirely different. Some parents can be one or more of the many things; self-centered, emotionally unavailable, drug addicts, narcissistic, discriminating, generally careless, etc. Parents being harsh on us sometimes is normal, but if it exceeds a healthy limit where it starts to impact our life and mental health in a bad way, it could mean that what we are going through is not normal and that we need to change things and take action for the sake of saving our own sanity.
Some common signs of narcissistic parents are their insecurity towards their child’s freedom, over possessiveness, sugar-coated mental abuse, creating peer pressure to choose any particular career field, giving rise to unrealistic beauty standards, etc. To summarize, narcissistic parent imposes themselves on their children in a harmful way.
Narcissistic parents create narcissistic children and, in some cases, can have devastating effects on their lives. Identifying and breaking the abuse is an essential requirement to free yourself from one such environment and live a good life. Acknowledging the signs of a narcissistic parent can help you detach yourself from a toxic situation and lead you to coping mechanisms that can help you undo or repair the psychological damage your parents might have caused.
Humans need love to survive; we’re built this way. A child seeks affection from his parents, and when they don’t give it to him, he slowly forgets the concept of loving, caring, being kind. Lack of attention can lead to self-hatred, inferiority complex, even a lifelong dispute among siblings. A person having issues at home, be it a teenager or adult, won’t perform normally. The declining behavior becomes obvious in one department of life, whether academic, personal, or extracurricular. Growing up in a toxic household, a person becomes used to such suffering and considers it taboo to share their feelings.
Scapegoating is another consequence of toxic parenthood. It makes a child feel left out from their siblings. It’s a sole practice of blame-gaming and pointing fingers at someone for something someone else has done. In some cases, a troubled parent with Narcissistic Personality Disorder takes out his frustration on one child, uniting and pitting his other children against that one. Resultantly, children become self-destructive, aggressive, depressed, or, worst-case scenario, suicidal.
After scapegoating, there comes gaslighting. Gaslighting is all about manipulating, controlling, and making a person doubt their reasoning. This gives rise to emotional abuse that can be more dangerous than physical abuse in the long run. This is when parents act like they know it all so much that the child loses his identification and individuality. Gaslighting can get very complicated because a person cannot diagnose the root cause of his confusion. Gaslighting births guilt-trips and leads to many psychological problems down the road.
Another common theme in a toxic family is Golden Children, Black Sheep, Scapegoats, Silent Children, etc. A Golden Child is usually the most obedient one abiding blindly by the parents’ orders and hence becomes their favorite. He subconsciously inherits all beliefs, values, and characteristics of his narcissist parents and, in this way, is a carbon copy of them, whereas the scapegoat denies them. He defines his course of life. And the Black Sheep is the most sensitive one; he is often treated differently by the family and is usually left alone. This is where toxic parents choose favoritism, granting more favors to one child than the other. This creates differences between the siblings, making them hold grudges against one another and can have devastating effects on the self-esteem of children treated differently than their siblings.
While it is true that children can be at fault sometimes but identifying narcissism in your household, taking action, or even changing your environment in some cases is crucial to stop abuse and help you live a better life. At the age of 18-23, we can’t take no from our parents. And when they try to stop us, they become toxic by default. Sometimes children are the ones at fault, but sometimes parents are the ones who are bent on making their children’s lives miserable. Every relationship is a two-way road, and in some cases, we might have to make some harsh choices. But leaving toxicity behind is something that makes our life much better in the long run.
According to some psychiatrists, making more social connections can ease down adverse effects of toxic parenthood. Talk to a friend, hire a therapist, or go to a counselor. Learn how to set boundaries and reinforce them. They say communication is the key, but sometimes comprehension comes first. You cannot discuss your problems with a wall and magically expect advice in return. Your tribe defines your vibe; choose wisely.