Toxic relationships remained one of the highest searched and discussed topics for the year 2018. In recent years, 'toxic parenting' has snatched the throne for one of the most discussed toxic forms of relationships.
What is Toxic Parenting?
The term 'toxic parents' was popularized by the works of a therapist and psychologist Dr. Susan Forward. The term 'toxic parent' is usually referred to as those parents who cannot cater to the emotional needs of their ward. The common characteristics of toxic parents are controlling, self-centeredness, and insecure.
However, the term 'toxic parent' is defined separately in different cultures and countries. In Asian countries, the connotation of a toxic parent is often missing. Asian parents are usually referred to as 'tiger parents'. The use of physical punishment is considered normal to discipline the child. The competitive nature of peers in Asian society often forces the parents to pressure their ward to compete with their peers. The rigorous academic curriculum amounts to countless days of sleepless nights due to constant push to be better than someone else. In the long run, mental health remains a known but neglected terminology and parents have forgotten the thin line of difference between, 'what is controlling' and 'what is caring'.
Some western countries have laws that prohibit the punishment of children by their parents. The term toxic parenting is more openly discussed in this part of the world as compared to Asian countries. Any form of abuse, be it physical or mental, which is deemed as detrimental to the child's development may be punishable by law.
Signs that your parents are toxic
Certain common traits are usually exhibited by toxic parents. The following are some of the common signs of toxic parenting :
1) They are emotionally unavailable:
They may always emphasize 'I'. All their decisions may end up with "how can it be beneficial for me?" directly or indirectly. Parents in this scenario may misunderstand the difference between their 'want for the betterment of their ward's future' and 'what is best for their children'.
Toxic parents often forget to ask their ward, 'what do you want in your life' and instead ask them 'how do you want to walk in the already decided path made by us'. Children who grow up in this kind of household may often become rebellious or closeted as a result.
2) They are overly judgemental
Children who grow in the toxic household are often greeted by harsh words and critical words by their parents. A child believes whatever their parents say to them. If a child is told 'you're ugly', 'you're a disgrace to the family', they may grow up to believe the same and hence become self-conscious. They may become less appreciative of their lives in the long run.
3) They can only see your failures
Toxic parents pinpoint their ward's failures more often. Your failures may outweigh your success in their eyes. They may use words such as 'You could have done better', 'You always repeat the same mistakes. Did you even learn something', 'I'm sure that you're gonna fail this time too' The child may feel that all their hard work goes in vain as they cannot even get the least of the appreciation from their parents.
4) They follow compare culture
The toxic parents usually compare you with almost everyone. In a household, where the parents compare the siblings, the siblings may grow up to despise one another. The other forms of comparison may include a comparison with their peers.
5) They may resort to physical abuse
In almost every household, physical punishment of some form is carried out to keep their wards in control or to discipline them. But, what is the limit to this violence? What can be considered too much? Many countries state that if a punishment is such that it hinders the normal physical and emotional development of the child then it can be considered as physical abuse which is punishable by law in some of the counties of the world.
6) They are unable to respect boundaries
Toxic parents treat their children as their property and hence they are unable to distinguish the boundaries between parenthood and the individual growth of the children. The children are constantly under the control of their parents, who tend to get involved in all the decision-making processes of their children's life. Be it a marital issue, education, or job. The toxic parents fail to understand the individuality of their ward. These parents might exert emotional pressure or carry out physical abuse to make their children concede to their demands.
How can you save yourself from toxic parents?
1) Emancipation laws:
Countries like the USA have certain emancipation laws. Emancipation is usually defined as freeing oneself from parental care and responsibility. if you've attained a certain qualification or you can support yourself financially then you can either apply for emancipation in the court or you can simply reach an agreement with your parents in the personal space and acquire your required space. A minor who's 16 or above can take the help of this law to be declared an adult by the law under certain circumstances.
In Asian countries like India, there is no law of emancipation. Hence, you cannot separate from your parents legally. It is mainly because of the emphasis on the joint family system in Indian culture.
2) Negotiation with parents:
Many parents may be unaware that they're toxic. Hence, if you can have an open conversation with your parents and agree then it can turn into the most peaceful and successful conversations. In this process, you might be able to get closer to your parents.
3) Just do your thing :
Once you've attained adulthood, you ought to be capable to make your own decisions. If you feel like you're in no position to have a negotiation with your parents then just set yourself free from all the ties. You always have the option to cut toxic people from your life by moving away from them.
Parenting comes with no rulebook. Although many books have been written on parenting, no one book can define 'what is perfect parenting?'. Many parents and children state that their generation gap is one of the main reasons for their unavailability to converse with one another.
The inability of parents to convey their message to their children and vice versa can often lead to miscommunication, which in the long run can increase the toxicity of relationships. Hence, open conversation should be promoted at all stages.