Dealing with a toxic parent

Dealing with a toxic parent

by Rachel Foo 19 Jan 2020

We have all heard about toxic friends and toxic relationships, and how bad they can be for our lives. What about toxic parents? Sounds scary? Well, they do exist and if we happen to be dealing with one, handling such a delicate situation may be a tad more complicated than compared to say, a “friend” who doubles as an emotional vampire.


Let’s start by identifying a toxic parent.


Toxic parents sincerely believe that they are doing good for their child by helping or protecting them. However, what they do not know is that their actions veer more towards harm instead. Here are some examples:


  1. Toxic parents tend to overprotect their children, fighting their child’s battles and making sure that their child grows up in a problem-free environment.
  2. Taking their frustrations out on their children or living vicariously through them is another troublesome issue. Being competitive is good, but too competitive? This can be stressful for the child.
  3. Using emotional blackmail, psychological abuse and manipulation to guilt-trip their children into doing what they want.
  4. On the flipside, parents who let their children do whatever they want, not setting boundaries and constantly giving in to the child’s wants to keep them happy is considered toxic as well.

If you are, or if you know someone whose parent is toxic, here’s what you need to know:

1. You are not alone
There are others in situations like yours. Talk to them or your peers. Not only will voicing your concerns to someone provide an outlet to express yourself, it can also have a grounding effect and gives you a sense of validation.

2. Do not engage in name-calling or try to fix things by yourself
Instead of self-diagnosing your parents, seek professional counsel if you need. If you start with name-calling, you may end up make things worse.

3. Explore and reflect on your options
Strike a balance between yourself and the relationship with your parent. Can your mental well-being and health withstand this relationship? Once you’ve decided where you stand, be sure not to second-guess yourself. Most importantly however, refrain from making snap decisions in the heat of the moment.

4. Keep loving yourself

Even though others may not be accepting towards your choice, understand that you are doing this for yourself. Let go of your guilt and focus on other more positive areas in your life. Maintain and forge new meaningful relationships with the people you love instead of wasting your energy on individuals who only bury you emotionally.


Remember, you deserve as much respect as anyone else. Don’t let anyone tell or treat you otherwise, even if that someone is a respected elder in the family. While it is true that you can’t choose your parents at birth, you can decide how you want the basis of your relationship with them to look like. Breaking down a relationship with someone doesn’t necessarily have to mean excising them from your life; you can use it as an opportunity to build something more positive in place of that.