Toxic parents I.

One of the day when I was reading through my notes from college in a topic of aftermath of destructive childhood I found a book from Susan Forward. She wrote about toxic parents and damages what these parents cause to their children. This book gives a great picture how these pathological families are and work but also shows how traumatized adults do not even know that their current problems are connected to their destructive childhood and their toxic parents.

I made a short summary of this book, giving you a picture how our parents influence our lives, so often on a negative way.

Most of my previous or current clients suffer and seek for help because of destructive childhood’s aftermaths. They have asked help because of low self-esteem, relationship difficulties or not working conflict management skills. Here you can see how often behind our current problems there are our destructive childhood aftermaths as a core, making patterns work even if we do not know about it.

Destructive-toxic parents

Our parents plant mental and emotional seeds in us which grow together with us. In some families these cores are love, reciprocal acceptance and independence. In other families they are fear, shame, and consciousness of guilt, grief and pressure.

A lot of people have difficulties in their relationship with parents but they don’t mean all that those parents are emotionally destructive-toxic. Sometimes they are so confused about their parents treated them badly or they feel being just sensitive. Difficult to admit that how much pain or damage had been caused by parents if they did.

Who are destructive-toxic parents?

Due to the fact, we are all not perfect, our parents are not able to be as well. Nowadays there is a kind of definition for what a nursing baby or infant or a child needs to have or get for a healthy maturity. They are “enough good” motherly care and an “enough good” provided environment (here important is the role of a father). The criterion of an “enough good” parent is she/he is able to adjust actively to the needs of a child hereby can provide support for the child’s growth and exploration. Those parents make damages whom in majority of cases have negative expressions in and about the child and his/her life or way of thinking or acting. Those caused damages are similar to the poison (according to researches) because they pervade in a child and with growing up by time the pain of those injuries increases.

What do toxic parents do with their child/children?

The long term outcomes of toxic parents’ poison are generated thoughts in our mind like, I cannot trust anybody, I am unworthy for love or I am not able to make success. These kind of thoughts are fed by methods which are repeatedly used by toxic parents. These methods are, denial, projection, secretiveness, sabotage and the matrimonial triangle.

Toxic-rigid methods:


  1. Denial: “It doesn’t matter!” or “There was a problem but never happen again!” Making the destructive behaviour insignificant, rationalizing or re-labelling. (Like the child beater becoming strict disciplinarian).
  2. Projection: blaming the child for problems which are from the parent suffers or blaming the child for the parent’s own toxic behaviour which comes from own incompetency. The parent in both cases looks for a scapegoat and the plainest target is the vulnerable child.
  3. Secretiveness: the family works like a “private club” where an outsider cannot get in. This makes ties which hold the family together, especially when the equilibrium is in danger.
  4. Sabotage: family members take on a rescuer and/or an attentive characteristic with the person/parent who has problems (alcoholic, violent, ill etc.). It creates a comfortable equilibrium between the weak and strong or the dominant and subordinate. When the problematic person shows some improvement, the rest of the family members can prevent him/her from it subconsciously, just to let everyone turning back to the usual role. (Like the dominant/strong person can keep the semblance).
  5. Matrimonial triangle: one of the parents makes the child an ally or confidant against the other parent. In this way the child is part of a destructive triangle which forces him/her to choose between them. The child becomes an emotional penstock where the parents can empty their painful feelings. This causes a permanent dissention for the child.


Toxic parents’ children are in common to suffer from same symptoms: damaged self-esteem and sense of guilt (consciously or subconsciously blaming themselves for their parents’ hurt) as well as feeling incompetent. These feelings educe self-hatred and destructive behaviour.

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