9 Signs of a Toxic Upbringing

9 Signs of a Toxic Upbringing

Last update: 06 March, 2017

Most parents do their best to give their children a happy and healthy upbringing. Others do what they can and are carried away by the way their own parents raised them. But having good intentions doesn’t save you from making mistakes as a parent.

Not having a clear criterion in order to raise your children also doesn’t save you from the ultimate responsibility you have with them. By u nwittingly or knowingly ignoring the damage, parents can be providing a toxic upbringing to their children.

But how do you know if the upbringing you’re offering to your children is toxic? Observe and analyze the following situations. If these are happening in a home, chances are that one or both parents, are toxic to their children.

Are you able to provide them affirmation and security?

Some people believe that strictness and demand are two magic ingredients that will make your children able to care for themselves in the future. But parents who apply “tough love” are not really aware of the impact it can have on the lives of their children.

This form of “loving” children is not seen by them in this way. Children need LOVE in capital letters, tender love. Parents who do not offer this love to their kids are not giving them the security and affirmation they need. The hard hand is not an approach that serves to raise balanced and mentally healthy children.

Are you too critical of your child?

All parents criticize occasionally. Without some criticism there are many things that cannot be learned correctly. However, a toxic mother or father can bring this to harmful extremes by being critical of everything their children do.

These parents can make the mistake of believing that they do it to make sure their children do not make serious mistakes. Unfortunately, making continuous criticisms is making the child develop a harsh internal criticism which can be an insecurity or a stressful limit as an adult.

“Your children need to be loved for who they are the majority of the time, not spend the entire time trying to correct them.”

-Bill Ayers-

boy crying being pointed at by his father

Do you constantly demand attention from your child?

Toxic parents often turn their children into substitutes for their own parents, demanding their attention at all times. They may do this with the idea of strengthening the bond between them. However, the constant demand for attention results in a parasitic relationship that requires too much of the child’s time and takes away their energy which should be focused on other things, like learning other skills or their relationships with peers.

Although it may be difficult, parents should leave their children space to grow, learn, play, and interact with others, without requiring constant interaction to meet their own needs.

“I think the best we can do for our children is to let them do things for themselves, to be able to be strong, to experience life on their own terms, to be able to take the subway… let them be better people, let them believe more in themselves.”

-C. JoyBell C-

Do you justify the toxic behavior of your own parents?

Most toxic parents grew up in an environment of a toxic upbringing fed by their parents. Some are aware of it and the damage this toxic upbringing caused them, so they try not to replay the model inherited from their parents.

However, many justify the toxic behavior of their parents. Moreover, they believe that if their parents demonstrated physically or emotionally abusive behavior toward them it was because they deserved it.

This is because toxic parents have the ability to turn any situation to suit their needs and this leaves their children with two options: accepting that their parent is wrong or internalizing all the blame. The sad thing is that children, even adults, in most cases, choose the last option.

Do you not let them express their negative emotions?

Not letting a child expresses negative feelings and emotional needs can lead to depression. You can also make it harder for him or her to properly handle the negativity in their adult life.

Parents who refuse to nurture the emotional needs of their children and deny or criticize their negative emotions are raising a child who feels unable to express what they need.

Raising a child is also teaching them to grow on those days when nothing seems happen and frustration threatens to loom from one moment to another. It is not protecting them from adversity, it is giving them the tools so they know how to face it and so that it doesn’t scare them.

Do you put your interests and needs ahead of your children’s?

Toxic parents often believe that their feelings should be first in family matters. But this antiquated way of thinking does not help foster positive relationships. Although parents have to make the final decision about everything, they need to take into account the feelings of each family member.

boy covering his ear listening to his parents

In this sense, toxic parents constantly force their children to suppress their own feelings and needs to appease their parents. Somehow, in this sense they aim to have a relationship of equals. If anything this relationship between parents and children, especially at first, is characterized by the lack of symmetry.

Do you use guilt and rewards in the form of gifts or money to control your children?

Most children have experienced guilt by their parents, but toxic individuals resort to this tactic regularly. Guilt is a very effective tool of emotional control to achieve their goals, but it is very harmful to children.

This attitude of toxic parents is often accompanied by bribes in the form of money or gifts in exchange for getting what they want or as a way to assuage their own guilt.

Would you deny your child the right to speak when you’re mad at him or her?

It can be difficult to talk to someone when you are angry with them, but denying a child the right to speak and applying the silent treatment as a lesson is a detrimental and immature behavior.

This passive-aggressive treatment hurts in any relationship and makes the other person feel pressured to provide a solution to a situation that they cannot be liable for. Even when they have done nothing wrong or don’t know exactly what he or she has done. Silence does not count, it does not teach children that they need to learn.

Do you make your child responsible for your own happiness?

If you think your child plays a key role in your own happiness you’re putting unrealistic expectations in their role in life. No child should be held responsible for the happiness of their parents or anyone else.

mother looking angrily at her daughter why she cries

The truth is that each of us are responsible for our own happinessOur choices are what bring us closer or push us away from the right people.

“Take responsibility for your own happiness, do not expect people or things bring you happiness or you may be disappointed.”

-Rodolfo Costa-


When Upbringing Hurts: Toxic Mothers

Toxic mothers attack our self-esteem and personal growth through ingrained fears and an apparent love that fosters unhappiness. See more

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.