1/ A toxic parent needs you to take care of him or her.
A classic toxic model in parent/child relationships! When a parent asks his or her child to take the place of the parent, there is a problem. I’m not talking about sick parents who need care, help to eat, to walk… No, I’m talking about parents who constantly ask for their children’s support when it’s not to them that they should turn to but rather to a friend or a psychologist.
Whereas in a “normal” parent/child relationship, so to speak, the parent will do everything possible to take care of their children and not bother them with their own problems, in a toxic relationship it will be the opposite.
2/ Their feelings come before yours
In a non-toxic parent/child relationship, each person’s feelings are taken into account and are given special attention. In an equal way. Whereas in a toxic relationship, the emotions of the toxic parent will always prevail in any situation. Because he really considers that his emotions, his uneasiness is stronger than yours. Your own feelings are then suppressed since you have to support this parent and take care of him/her.
This relationship is very toxic because you, as a child (whether you are 20 or 40 years old), will no longer be able to talk about your problems because you will know that by talking about them, your parent (mother or father) will deviate on him or bring everything back to him. So you will never be able to benefit from listening to a parent as you should.
3/ A toxic parent tells his or her children things they shouldn’t know
While in a healthy relationship, parents try to keep their children away from personal problems, in a toxic relationship it’s just the opposite. The toxic parent(s) will tend to tell their children absolutely everything. They will call them constantly talking to them about adultery, their intimate relationships, or simply about their marital disputes.
Except that it is not up to a child to solve his parents’ marital problems! As a child, you also have your own problems – marital or otherwise – and you don’t need to have any extra weight lifted off your shoulders.
4/ The toxic parent pushes you to take his side
As I said before, the toxic parent will do everything to criticize your other parent as much as possible and thus turn you against him or her. Whenever he or she does something wrong, he or she will tell you so that you will realize “how unhappy and misunderstood HIM is.
There is NOTHING worse than a child having to make a choice. Asking a child to choose between his mother and father during a divorce is a bad idea because it puts the guilt back on his tiny shoulders. But an adult child is the same thing: his parents are his parents, he loves them both as much and has no desire to have to take sides with one or the other.
Discord between his parents is none of his business. What matters to him is how his parents behave towards him.
5/ A toxic parent controls you by using either guilt or money.
If a parent refuses to let you do something reasonable (move, take antidepressants, go to therapy) because they control your spending, it’s a toxic relationship!
If you are financially dependent on a toxic parent, they will use it to threaten you, telling you that they will cut you off if you don’t follow HIS rules. That’s why it’s extremely important to quickly become financially independent!
Guilt is another very powerful method of control! I invite you to read my article on Karpman’s triangle which will help you understand how the toxic parent poses as a victim to get what he wants from you.
6/ A toxic parent refuses to let you grow up
The toxic parent will use phrases such as: “You’re still my little girl”, “Come give Mommy a hug like you did when you were little” (…). These kinds of sentences can be cute from time to time. It becomes toxic when the parent clearly refuses your autonomy: reminds you if you have taken your ID card when you go on a trip when you are 30 years old! Infantilization is proof of a toxic relationship.
If he doesn’t like your life choices, he will let you know or even harass you until you change them. It can be your choice of partner, your choice of profession or anything else!