Anxiety in children caused by parental attitudes

Symptoms of anxiety is very frequent in childhood and adulthood as well. Often the reasons are connected to childhood and to understand them can help to increase anxiety but also not repeating the same mistakes as a parent.

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Source of anxiety can be when a child “learns” that she/he can get love from the parents just by accomplishment. If the child got compliments and kindness just when she/he has got good grades or could have filled up the parents expectations, can develop accomplishment compulsion and the sense of insecurity. This kind of parental behaviour makes the child believe, she/he must do things for being loved and just by being herself/himself is not able to be loved. The same happens also if the child experiences love deprivation as a reaction of the parent for doing mistakes or having defects.

Secrets in the family also cause anxiety in children and often can be instrumental in a development of personality disorders. When a family or one of the parent keeps a secret (can be the child involved-worse) even if the child doesn’t know about it gives a feeling, something is wrong. Children and their negatively changed behaviour or their changed accomplishment in school is the first and most accurate sign of something is going wrong in the family. They are able to sense it. I often ask my clients to see objectively, what kind of changes they can see on their children, because they act like a mirror, showing exactly what the problem is. Like keeping secrets, parents lose being authentic and trustful and that can influence their children’s feeling of security or they become arrogant, showing that parents have lost their position being honest and authentic, so they are weak. Keeping secrets also can make children feel shame as well. So unlogical how so many parents teach their children for the importance of being honest but they don’t act according to their own lessons.

Rigid hard and fast rules and belief system. Consistent parental behaviour provides security for the child but too rigid and strict rules can mean very strong restrictions which can hinder the development of internal control and scale of values of the child. Children can develop a mindset which is connected to external control, compulsion of conformity and a rigid way of thinking where there is an internal insecurity behind. These children can see things and people just in black or white, their mind is not opened for another “category”.

Interchange of roles happens mainly after a trauma or crises, like divorce, absence of one of the parents, serious sickness or death. But also can happen if one or both of the parents are emotionally immature. In this interchange the child takes more responsibility physically and emotionally, more than supposed to do. Learns to repress or overshadow own emotions and needs, develops a very strong and rigid self-control which also can be a source of anxiety.

Repressing emotions. If expressing emotions is prohibited for a child, he/she learns to hide them. That doesn’t mean they disappear but after a while just to experience that having or feel those negative emotions can cause sense of guilt, shame or discomfort in the child. There are families where to express anger or sadness is prohibited. Which doesn’t make any sense, because we are human and have negative emotions as well. But those parents instead of teaching their children how to handle those negative emotions, ordering them to repress it. Repressed anger works under the surface, doesn’t matter how deep it’s delved.

Over-protecting, over attentive attitude. None of the parents think they might be over-protective or having over-attentive attitude because they are the pledge of being a good parent, normal acting like that. Of course protecting our children is one of the main obligations as a parent till a certain level. If parents are over-protective they prevent their children to develop a well-functioning physical and mental immune system by experiences. If they don’t let the child to climb a tree or having adventures, skills won’t develop or if they protect him/her from every conflict, this child in adulthood will be without useful knowledge or experience in conflict situations. Over-protecting attitude also transmits another message, which is the world is a dangerous place.

Before you get angry for your own parents or starting panicking how you are a “bad” parent you need to know that serious damages caused by more causes in the same time or one or two for a long time period. What to do? The solution like almost all the time is getting a proper and detailed self-knowledge. When we understand ourselves, we understand our actions and understand others.

Delphi oracle: Know thyself!

Picture: http://www.gozen.com

Emotionally immature parents

In one of my previous post I wrote about emotionally immature people, how they think and act. Now I’m giving you more information how they act as parents. There are four types of emotionally immature parent which is based on a scope of sensitivity-insensitivity; acceptance-refusal; cooperation-intervention and availability-ignorance.

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First type is the too emotional parent. This is the most infantile type, small things can upset them and everyone in the family must make every effort to calm them down. When they are going to pieces, the child (who is around) feels the despair, anger or hate of the parent with full intensity which causes a kind of walking on eggshells feelings to the family members, because they never know when the next breakdown is going to happen. These people are very unstable emotionally, in serious cases there are personality disorders in the background, like psychosis, bipolar disorder, narcissism or borderline personality disorders. Their uncontrolled feelings often can cause attempted suicide or hurting others physically or abusing emotionally or verbally. In their environment everybody is very nervous or anxious, especially the family members. These people’s mood can change easily, good and bad mood alternation. They are controlled by their own emotions and they see the world just in black or white and recording experienced offences. They are emotionally very manipulative what they use as a control on others. Since they have extreme mood alternations, family members think and feel, these people are scary and unreliable. (The sign is often very simple and recognizable, the child or children in the family is/are afraid of this parent.) These parents have a big difference in behaviour between home and work. (Home is safe to release anger and tension) Their children often learn to subjugate others.

Second type is the determined parents. They focus on tasks, which must be done. Their self-centrism is not so visible but their children suffer from lack of initiative and self-control. They have rigid opinions about human values and know what is good for others. They direct their children (sometimes partners as well) aggressively instead of accepting their development of interest and decisions. Continuously intervene in their children’s life and bustle without stopping, goals are more important than others’ feelings. They are proud of their own successes but feel shame if their children can’t or not able to achieve the same. They are not able to give unconditional acceptance which hinders their children in developing confidence which is one of the requirements of success. Most of the times they make their children feel being tested or evaluated which hinders their children asking support or help in the future. They remove autonomy and not able to attune their children’s continuously changing (which is normal) emotional needs but pushing them into a direction which they believe is correct. Their children feel they should do something else or more (always) to be enough good, to be loved. “Be successful” – destruction of autonomy

Third type is the passive parents. They are available emotionally till a certain level but become passive by experiencing intensive emotions. They don’t provide guidance and don’t set up borders. Usually children feel close these parents but if their needs clash with their parents’ need, they lose. These parents’ self-centrism appears in the need of being in the centre of attention. They easily can “go down” to their children’s maturity level but with exchanging of roles, their children shows unconditional acceptance and attention which also has negative consequences, like lack of guidance, support from the parent. The key point here is, the child is providing what the parent needs but the parent doesn’t give what the child needs, like protection, guidance and boundaries.

Fourth type is the refusal parents. These type of parents don’t feel good with interacting emotionally with their children. These children grow up feeling that would be better not being alive. These parents’ irritated reactions teach their children not getting close. They refuse every efforts which requires emotional involvement. They are susceptible to use corporal punishments and parents in this category has least empathy. They avoid eye contacts, rule the whole family and just their own needs and wishes are important. Every family member feel anxious and pay attention not to incur the hatred of this parent. A typical dictator type, centre of the world. Children of these type of parents struggle to express own basic needs.

Of course, not all of the emotionally immature parents show exactly the same or all of the characteristics as described above but they have patterns in common which are, basic emotional immaturity, self-centrism, narcissism, emotional unreliability, insensitivity, lack of empathy, disability of developing emotional intimacy, having distorted reality picture, low level of frustration tolerance, problem with respecting-keeping emotional boundaries (enmeshment or keeping too much distance) and using emotional manipulation.

Emotionally immature parents’ already grown up adult children suffer mainly from emotional loneliness and a feeling of deep emptiness.

Picture: http://www.pandagossips.com

Hiding our real self from other people – schemas

Sometimes we act on the way with other people like after a while we don’t even recognize ourselves. We put other people onto our focus and in the meantime overshadowing our own emotions, desires and needs. Old schemas are behind of it mainly.

Automatic behaviour patterns influence our daily life what we carry from our young ages. They are schemas and when those patterns have a harmful effect on our life, they are maladaptive ones. Causes of maladaptive schemas are subconscious behaviour modes-styles which deprive us being successful in private or business life and prevents feeling satisfied and living in harmony with other and with ourselves. They make us suffer. Since they are mainly subconscious requires professional help and time to recognize and correct them. Most of the time the main roots of those maladaptive schemas are invisible. They might be connected unsatisfied basic needs, like the need of belonging, need of acceptance and care, need of competency, autonomy and free expression of emotions. Dysfunctional schemas are traps, made by us and we fall into them again and again.

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These schemas are self-destructive cognitive and emotional patterns, our certain behaviour motives repeat themselves by those patterns. Usually those schemas come into being by childhood or teenager experiences. They can come into being fast by a trauma for example but also progressively. Just like being an eye witness of a dysfunctional behaviour pattern for a long time. Also being overprotected can cause self-destructive behaviour patterns later, not always traumatic experiences are responsible for developing maladaptive schemas. To recognize and understand those schemas can help us to step out from negative thought and behaviour circles.

There are 18 maladaptive schemas officially and now I’m sharing those with you which are connected to pathological orientation towards other people.

We might have those schemas which distract our attention destructively from ourselves. We don’t keep in mind our own needs, emotions but continuously we pay attention to someone else. The reason and the mode of focusing on others pathologically can be different.

  1. “Be as you want or wish” – Subjugation

One of the typical pattern is called Subjugation. Who makes this work, exaggeratedly monitoring others’ and try to change his/her own behaviour according to other people’s demands and expectations. Does what others expect him/her to do because being afraid of others’ anger and be a disappointment to them, afraid of losing others’ love if she/he isn’t adaptable completely. Whatever happens tries to avoid conflicts (even small ones), quarrels, disagreements and punishments. Never contradicts anyone (especially in family) to avoid quarrels or resentments. Doesn’t express what she/he wants or would like because afraid of consequences. Knows what she/he wants but doesn’t express them.

These kind of people behave like slaves, take everything from everyone, humiliating themselves. Usually people who have this pattern on, most likely will choose a partner who keeps this pattern working. Partner who is narcissistic or have a very dominant character (mainly pathological dominancy). The ruler and the surrender.

This pattern also can turn to the opposite. In this case the person rebels against everything, refusing and going against everything. Forever teenager, living a life which is full with exhausting rebelling and competing.

  1. I sacrifice everything for you – Self-sacrifice

Someone who has the self-sacrifice schema also keeps in mind other people’s needs but from another point of view. This person overshadowing herself/himself because she/he feels “this is the right way to do”. Builds a well-structured ideology for exaggerated altruism and in the meantime forgets she/he is able to help or support other people if she/he doesn’t neglect his/her own needs completely. Wants to be everybody’s saviour. Feels offended when his/her environment reminds him/her for that. Behind the exaggerated altruism there is a big amount of anger as well usually because after a while can be frustrated just to give and support all the time but not getting anything back to return for these efforts.

It might be very useful to remind this person of that, if she/he feels or believes that other people needs his/her help all the time, this also means that she/he doesn’t believe those people are capable to solve their problems. This belief means includes a kind of underestimation of others as well.

  1. Please, listen to me! – Approval and recognition seeking

Feedbacks from others are important in our life, but there are people who feels good just if he/she gets all of the attentions. This person always wants to be on the spotlight, have got stuck in a schema of approval and recognition seeking. To get attention and recognition this person overshadows his/her own needs, emotions and even his/her own self. Thirsty for compliments and doesn’t matter how to get them, conforms to demands. For instance if other people appreciate she/he dresses modishly this person chases the latest fashion tendencies, if they appreciate his/her intelligence she/he will do everything to conform that demand.

 

The basic belief of these schemas (pathological orientation towards other people) is, do what the other people want us to do because this is the condition of own prosperity. Or to avoid problems, quarrels or to get expected positive feedbacks. After the recognition and acknowledgement of our schemas we can try to act like being authentic to ourselves and gaining experiences about being acceptable and valued even if we show our real-self.

To act and behave as we are, is a very liberating feeling, releasing a bit other people’s presumed or real demands and expectations. It gives us the feeling of harmony and peace.

Maladaptive schemas really can make our life miserable and we don’t even think that, something is working wrong in ourselves. They are hidden and seem completely logical to us, we can even prove them and their necessity. To successfully recognize and release self-destructive behaviour patterns requires professional help. The outcome of a professional schema releasing therapy is a life changing step on a way of having a prosperous life. If you have the same and repetitive problems in your relationships or in your carrier can be the case that you carry your own package, which are maladaptive schemas.

Source: Jeffrey E. Young, Janet S. Klosko, Marjorie E. Weishaar: Schema therapy

Picture source: http://www.psychologytoday.com

Toxic parents – Schema release

Susan Forward’s book (Toxic parents) also gives support to release maladaptive schemas after identifying them. It is a kind of abbreviated therapy which requires deep emotional work. Some people able to use it, as a kind of handbook, some of them ask for help to go through it. Sometimes I suggest my clients to read this part of the book as well, it helps to face with more emotions. However can happen that the reader starts to work on to release the schema but without help gets stucked in painful emotions. In this case seek for help because help is available.

Getting back our life after destructive childhood

1. Forgiveness

You can forgive to your parent(s) but you should do it after the whole procedure. How could you do it if you must acknowledge and feel your anger?! The relief can come after to proceed your emotions.

2. Avoid confrontation

Try to avoid confrontation until you get rid out of your emotional storm.

3. Examining your myths

Check this list below which are truth about you.

– My task is to make my parents feel happy.

– My task is to make my parents being proud of me.

– I am the life of my parents.

– My parents would be incapable of living without me.

– I would be incapable of living without my parents.

– If I confessed the truth to my parents (like got divorced, lost my job or house, or being homosexual) they would be disappointed and prostrated.

– If I confronted my parents I would lose them forever.

– I am not allowed to do or say anything what with I can hurt or offend them.

– My parents’ emotions are more important than mines.

– There is no reason to talk with my parents, it would not work anyway.

– I wish my parents could change! I would feel much better about myself.

– I must remedy to my parents that I am a bad person.

– It does not matter what they did, they are my parents and I must respect them.

– My parents cannot interfere with my life, I often argue with them.

Think how these myths appear in your relationship with your parents. They can appear differently but with similar meaning.

4. Examining your emotions

I have sense of guilt when….

– if I do not fill up my parents’ expectations.

– if I do not take my parents’ advices.

– if I am arguing with my parents.

– if I am getting upset with them.

– if I make my parents feel disappointed or hurt their feelings.

– if I do not do as much as I can for them.

– if I do not do everything whatever my parents ask.

– if I say no.

I am afraid….

– when they my parents are upset with me.

– if I am upset with them.

– if I must tell something to my parents what they do not want to hear.

– when/if my parents threatening me by depriving love.

– if I do not agree with them.

– when I try to confront them.

I am sad….

– if my parents are unhappy.

– if I know I let my parents down.

– if I cannot make their lives better.

– if my parents says I destroyed their lives.

– if I plan to do something which will hurt their feelings.

– if my parents don’t like the people around me (wife/husband, friends..etc.)

I am angry….

– if my parents criticizing me.

– if my parents try to control me.

– when my parents try to tell me how I should live my life.

– when my parents tell me how I should think, feel and behave.

– when my parents tell me what to do or not to do.

– when my parents live their lives through me.

– when they expect me to take care of them.

– if my parents refuse/reject me.

Complete this list with your own emotion which are not list above and after every each statement write „because” and co-ordinate a myth from your myths list. In this case you will understand what from your emotions feed and after you can learn to control them.

5. Examining forms of behaviour

Retreating behaviour forms:

Often…

– I defer to my parents, apart from my emotions.

– happens I do not speak about my thoughts or feeling to my parents.

– I pretend as everything well between me and my parents.

– I do things to my parents because the sense of guilt what I feel.

– I am playing a role of mediator if there is a conflict between my parents.

– I do things for them to be changed.

– I do effort to make my parents understand my point of view.

– I still keeping family secrets

Aggressive behaviour forms:

Constantly…

– I argue with my parents to show them I am right.

– I do things what I know make them upset just to show I control my own life.

– I yell, swear and bawl with my parents to show them they cannot control me.

– I must hold myself back not to hurt them physically.

6. Self-definition

When you feel that you have the right and freedom to feel, think and behave independently this is a definition of self. Even if your myths are similar or the same with your parents’, very important to decide alone. Solutions with compromises are not bad all the time as well but important to choose concession by free will.

7. Instead of „I am incapable” think „I have not done yet”

If you say „I have not done yet”, you open a door to a direction of new behaviour forms. You will be able to refrase the definite to changable and this gives hope.

8. Control of conflicts: instead of reflex-like use considered answers

If you stay calm you will be able to have control. If you do not defend you are not exposing yourself far too much to your parents.

Examples for answers:

– I understand. Of course you have the right to have your own opinion.

– Really? Interesting.

– I will think of it.

– What a pity! That your opinion is different.

– I am sorry for it makes you feel hurt/ distracted.

– Let’s talk about it when you calm down.

Practice these answers and reactions. Imaginary helps! Do not let your parents push you into a game where you do not have choice, just defending yourself. Imagine a space between you and your parents. It is called „emotional space”. We all have boundaries and everybody must respect them.

9. Get rid out of the bond of responsibility

Tell to the wounded child in yourself (can be done in front of a mirror) that „ You were not responsible for…” and make a list what you feel or felt responsible for, blaming yourself for something which were not your fault.

Examples:

„You were not responsible for….

– they abandoned you, did not care of you”

– you did not get enough love and care”

– they behaved with you inconsiderately”

– they called you embarrassing names”

– they (she/he) were/are alcoholic and what they did to you”

– they did not do anything to solve their own problems”

– their unhappiness”

– their problems”

– they beat you”

– they molested you”

And after repeat „ My parents were responsible for…..” using your own list. This technique helps you to see and understand the difference between facts and your own emotions.

10. Get rid out of the anger

Already gowned up children of toxic parents release their anger on a destructive way, repressing; becoming ill; suffering from becoming addicted to alcohol, eating; repressing into sex or drugs; becoming workaholic or any other behaviour.

Healthy adaptive anger management:

  1. Acknowledge your anger. Acknowledge it increases your achievement. There is anything more exhausting than repressed anger.
  2. Do not judge your anger. Having anger is not good or bad, normal human emotion, and means something has to be changed.
  3. Release your anger, talk about it. Find someone who you trust, talk about it, or imagine discussion with those whom you feel angry.
  4. Do physical activity. Sport, hobby, cleaning…etc. Physical activity stimulates your body to produce endorphin.

Do not use your anger to make your negative selfie stronger. Say that, „I have the right to feel angry, no problem to feel guilty about my anger if I need it for managing it. I am not doing anything wrong and I am not bad because I feel it.”

11. Mourning – loss

In this stage you can summarize all what you lost in your destructive childhood what you did not get.

Reasons to feel like mourning:

– Lost good feelings about yourself.

– Lost feeling of being safe.

– Loss of trust.

– Loss of joy and spontaneity.

– Loss of careful, respectful and loving parents.

– Loss of innocence.

– Loss of love.

12. Personal responsibility

You are not responsible for what your parents did with or did not do for you when you were a child, but your are responsible for yourself, for your emotions and behaviour, for your own happiness and for your relationships NOW. Because you are an adult already!

What are you responsible for as an adult in the relationship with your parents?

– break away from my parents;

– see my relationship with them honestly;

– facing with the truth about my childhood;

– having courage to see the relation between happenings of my childhood and adulthood;

– having courage to express my own honest emotions about my parents;

– making my parents to face with themselves or what they did or not did, reduce their control or power, even if they are still alive or dead;

– changing my behaviour if I am cruel, manipulative or critical;

– looking for help and support to heal up the wounded child in me;

– get back the confidence and control what an adult has.

12. Confrontation – peak of the way for having autonomy

The aim of confrontation is not taking a revenge for your lost and destructive childhood or get compensation for it. The real aim is being enough brave to stand in front of your parents and tell them the truth and defining the type of your relationship what you want to have with them. You can start with writing a letter, what you are able to correct before you send if you will do instead of confronting them face to face.

The personal and writing confrontation should start like „ I am telling you things what I have never talked about before…”

Topics:

  1. These/this what you have done with/to me.
  2. Emotions what I had/felt when these/this happened.
  3. These/this happenings influenced my life like….
  4. I am expecting you……

Does not matter what is going to happen while confronting them, the most important thing is you had courage to do it! They can deny, close you out from the family circle, but remember, that circle has not been or is not healthy and constructive for you.

Not easy to repair our lives after having a destructive childhood but possible. Also can be difficult to find the relation between our current life problems and our childhood because they are so hidden. Current problems can be like being so negative, critical, working too much, being narcissistic, having relationship issues, or just being unsuccessful. If you feel you have same kind of returning problems, do not hesitate to ask for help, because they return all the time until we solve them.

Toxic parents III.

Toxic parent/parents types

Divorced parents-physical distance and making triangle

A fact of divorce doesn’t make parents toxic, but creates trauma in every each member of the family. Important for the adults to recognize that, they get divorced from a partner but not from the family. Divorced parents’ child/children almost always think they are guilty and that causes in them self-hatred feeling. If a parent disappears from a child/children’s life partly or completely, that makes the child to believe she/he is unworthy of love. Common also that one of the parents makes the child as an ally against. Both of the parents are responsible for keeping contact with their child/children, not trouble the child with divorcing problems and provide support for the child/children to come over the trauma. Making triangle also can appear in a non-divorced or in a mosaic family as well which always forces the child to keep secrets and negative feelings towards the closed out parent or step-parent. This always causes feeling of shame or sense of guilt in the allied child.

Incompetent parents- emotional inaccessibility and exaggerated responsibility

Incompetent parents often expect their child/children behave and act like an adult in the family. Taking care for himself/herself, often for sister or brother and for the parents (physically or emotionally). In these abnormal families the exchanged of role child almost always must face with the feeling of failure and sense of guilt: because impossible for a child to behave or work as an adult but not able to understand why she/he can’t do more. They (child/children) form a judgement of being good is according to how much they do for their own family members. (“If my parents are happy that means I am good; if they are sad that means I am bad.”) When these children are an adult, they are not able to break out from a fiendish circle, sometimes become workaholic or prove their capabilities continously.

Requirements built on old schemas (“your mother feels bad…you know, how much it means if you would come…”) pushes these already grown up children on an area where they still stand or feel worthy. Like in working. (“I work approx. 80 hours a week, this is the only one thing what I do not screw up!” or “I want success but it’s never enough!”) Toxic parent’s children usually scared to get close to someone, so often they get in relationship with somebody who is not available emotionally because his/her own inner conflicts. If someone had to take care of the opponent sex parent and failed, most probably will look for a partner whom he/she can take care of. Often happens scarifies his/her life to rescue/change a violent, addicted or a compulsive person. This called codependency.

Parents like God – „Must be learnt to make a difference between good and bad!”

The omnipotence of the parental authority exists in every culture and religion. We all know sentences like “do not talk back to your mother” or “how dare are you argue with your father” type of orders. Common idea that parents have the right directing us because they gave life to us. Moreover in the first years of our lives parents mean everything and we expect them being perfect. Our faith in their perfectionism help us establish and maintain our sense of security. When we are 2-3 years old we start to enforce our independency what is a serious suffer for toxic parents. They feel and handle as a personal offence any kind of difference or resistance that’s why they under mining their own child/children healthy growth and damage the self-esteem. Toxic parents do it in the name of the interest of the child/children. Child/children is/are becoming more and more codependent as his/her self-esteem is damaged more and more.

Principles of the beliefs God like parents:
1. I am bad and my parents are good.
2. I am weak and my parents are strong.

Principles makes to avoid the painful truth which is our parents let us down when we were completely defenceless. Denial can make forgotten that what they did to us, however generates emotional tense. Often we use rationalization to make the unacceptable acceptable so in this case we can blame ourselves for our own unhappiness. (“My mother did not care of me because she was lonely…I should have cared of her more!”)

Commanding parents – „You are incompetent to do anything right!”
The fear of empty nest syndrome forces a lot of parents to establish an incompetent feeling in their child/children. The directing force becoming unhealthy if the parent holds back the child after 10 years later as well. People who were not encourage to take risk often feel insufficient and not able to leave behind the need of directing. Their parents still “own them”. The will of commanding parent is covered by the feeling of worry. ( “we just want the best for you”;”just because I love you”) but these sentences always mean the same: I do it because the fear of losing you makes me do everything even ready to make you unhappy. Manipulation pushes us to the wall; if we resist we offend someone who just wanted to be nice. After is what is wrong if a mother wants to help her son because she loves him????!!!

Typical tools of manipulation:
1. Love deprivation
(“You do not belong to the family anymore!”)
2. Prospective catastrophe
(“I will die because of this!”)
3. Highlighting incompetency
(“You are unable to do anything right!”)
4. Punishment or rewarding by money
(Support or deprivation of support)
5. Unfavorable comparison with brother or sister
(“Unlike your sister..”)

Commanding parent creates situations where the child needs him/her. The unasked help frustration generates sense of guilt and then anger and so often ends in depression, performance compulsory or eating disorders.

Power of cruel words
„I wish I could have been beaten, that’s visible. Words what I heard were not and nobody knew how I have been suffering, there were no signs of torturing.”
A lot of toxic parents abuse their child/children verbally with didactive intent and justify by rationalizing:
„ I just want you to be a better person!”
This called verbal abuse. Verbally abusive parents generally struggle with their own incompetency (career failure, marriage frustration etc.). They always find an excuse to criticize their child/children because that’s what with they hide their own problems or frustration. Frequent verbal abuse and criticizing about the child/children’s look, intelligence, abilities or human values makes hypersensitivity and mistrust in the child towards other people and the self-esteem gets demolished.

People who had verbally abusive childhood continously struggle with low self-esteem and confidence. Low self-esteem and confidence is able to be increased and those subconciouss “toxic parents’ voices” get silenced. With therapy these subconciouss voices are able to be identified, understood and released.

Competitive parents – “You can’t be more successful/more attractive/happier than me!”
Competitive parents think and feel they lose something when their child/children’s talent is growing. Often they feel anxious, and so often re-feel again competition with their own child what they went through with their parents, brother or sister. Most of competitive parents do not know consciously what is feeding this negative feelings, just know their child/children agitate it. These parents do everything to push down their own children which makes continous doubtful feeling in children. Most of the time there is a maladaptive schema in those parents, which can be connected to low self-esteem.

Examples:
– Women can see a competitive partner in their own daughters and feel compulsion to criticize her.
– Men often feel “there is only one place for a man home” and makes jokes about the son.
– Some man inconveniently live to see his daughter’s (or step daughter) prospering sexuality and react very offensively.
“You are bad and evil because you make me feel bad!”
Fighting down of vicious sexual desire can be, slander, reprimand and generating conflicts.

These messages get ingrained into the soul so deeply, even if a child of competitive parents can gain distinction, lives to see it with an terrible sense of guilt. This conduce to when this child/children sabotaging her/his own success, in a certain way accomplish the parents’ negative predictions.

Maximalist parents

The unreal expectation that the child being perfect is often exciting agent of verbal abuses. Not rare, if successful people release working stress/tense home; but also it is typical characteristic of alcoholic parents, when they make unreal demands on the child, and they prove with the child’s failure their alcoholic behaviour (projection). Children of maximalist parents generally mercilessly push themselves to win their parents’ appreciation. But never everything is enough good because they feel could had been done better. Small mistakes can make them panicking and live in failures because they are not able to deal with success. Their strong fear of failure forces them to keep delaying to do things.

Childhood with addicted parent/s

Denial, secretiveness and excuses make an emotional chaos in the child. To keep up appearances of being a normal family extremely destructive force; forces the child to deny existence of his/her own emotions and perceptions.
Every 4th grown up alcoholic parent’s child becoming an alcoholic as well even if some of them abstinent often get in relationship with an alcoholic person. These people have a kind of motive power, which forces them to repeat emotional patterns; reconstruct their earlier conflicts, to hope now the outcome is going to be different. The myth of remedying produce this repeating compulsion which is much stronger than any conscious vow. Classic symptoms are lack of self-confidence, emotional invisibility, undiscerning loyalty, and exaggerated responsibility, internal need to save the parent/s, doubtfulness, repressed anger and codependency.

Physically abusive parents

Physically abusive parents so often grew up in a physically abusive family as well, that was their pattern. A lot of parents still declare corporal punishment is the only one way of teaching moral and behavioral rules.
“ I was beaten as well, that’s how I became a good person!”
The deduction of physical abuse very often are stress of work, conflict with another family member or generally being unsatisfied with life. Physically abusive parents often reckon their children as their own substitute parents and expect their own emotional needs to be satisfied by children (as their parents never have done it). If the child is not able to fill up parental demands, the physically abusive person gets angry, although remembering old experienced injuries, all of them are “now and here” and get on the child. Physically abused children believe they are bad and deserve to get beaten or kicked and generally they expect the worse from others, making emotional shield which works more as an emotional prison than defense. The third character of the drama is the passive partner. That parents who lets the physical abuse happen is a passive abuser, does not matter if he/she lets it because of own fears, dependence or maintaining the family status quo. The passive partner lets the incompetency come upon her/him to deny his/her own abetment in crime easier. The child rationalizing the passivity and that helps to deny the fact that actually both parents let him/her down.

Sexual abusers – final betrayal
The most brutal human behaviour is the sexual abuse – incestus. Most of the family which has incestus looks normal to others outside. Parents sometimes have social or religious functions as well. Everything happen behind closed doors and 90% of the victims never tell to anyone what happened or happening with him/her.

“I understand that my father molested me. My mother did not go to bed with him and I became too provocative….”

Victims of incestus internalize accusation (became too provocative) and to self-hatred shame joins as well. Also they are afraid of if they bring into trouble one of the parent the family falls apart. The parents basically in a monopole situation regarding power and reliability. A child’s statement against the parent’s. In the case of incestus often the passive partner knows about the abuse do nothing against it. Incestus happens not just with girls, with boys as well.

Toxic parents II.

The triad of pathological families’ system:

Beliefs Rules and Blind Obedience.

In our childhood the family system forms the completed reality; on this basis of world concept made-shaped in this system we create a picture about ourselves, who we are and what kind of relations we make with others. Yet healthy system encourages and inspires competency and self-esteem to support building independence, personal responsibility and individuality, the unhealthy system suppresses individual expressions.

Characteristics of nosogenic (pathological) family: alignment with the parents’ thoughts and actions; rigidity; symbiosis-merging personal boundaries into one another; strangling each other’s personality. The merged into one another family keeps the illusion of stability till no one tries to step out and everybody keep the rules. In crises situations toxic parents respond with calling to account. The responsibility falls to the lot of the child.

Toxic believes

Our family beliefs define our moral values, relationships, sexuality, and choice of career, nurturing style and our relation with money as well. Well matured and attentive parents’ beliefs are like “children should feel that they are allowed to do mistakes”, or “improper to cause pain to a child”. On the other hand toxic parents are driven by beliefs like “child must respect parents in every time and in any case” and “there are two ways to get things done: badly or how I think should be or do”. Unfortunately children are not able to discern the true reality and the distorted reality made by toxic parents and when they get adult they carry their own distorted beliefs and passing them to their own children. The most difficult is parting with those beliefs which existence we do not know and not aware of them.

Rules

Toxic parental beliefs become rules which must be kept by everyone and might seem ridiculous most of children from toxic families obey them.

Blind obedience is the motive for the system

We obey the rules of family otherwise if we break them we become betrayers. Blind obedience develops our behaviour schemas in our early ages and prevents us from escaping from them. So often there is a great gulf between parents’ expectations and the child’s desires. Unfortunately the subconscious force to obey often overcome. Nobody starts his/her life establishing destructive relationships all the time, but toxic parent’s child do very often again and again, repeating schemas.

Here is a questionnaire, a “toxicological” test to check your relationship with your parents and its influence:

Childhood relationship with your parents

  1. Did they tell you that, you are bad, worthless? Did they call you names? Did they criticize you often?
  2. Did they cause you physical pain to discipline?
  3. Were they alcoholic or drug addicted?
  4. Were they seriously depressed or unapproachable?
  5. Did you need to take care of your parents, or your brother or sister because of your parents’ problems?
  6. Did they do something what you must have kept in secret?
  7. Were you often afraid of your parents?
  8. Were you afraid to express your anger towards your parents?

Here is the second questionnaire of the “toxicological” test, to check how your toxic parents or a destructive childhood influences you:

Adulthood life

  1. Do you often get into destructive or offensive relationships?
    2. Do you think if you get too close to somebody that person will hurt or leave you?
    3. Do you expect the worse from people and from life usually?
    4. Do you have difficulties to get to know your own feelings?
    5. Are you afraid of if someone get close and get know you that person will not love you?
    6. Are you anxious when you succeed?
    7. Do you often feel anger or sadness without any particular reason?
    8. Are you a maximalist or perfectionist?
    9. Do you have problem to relax and let it all hang out?
    10. Do you experience even if you try hard not to, you behave “like your parents”?

The last questionnaire

Adulthood relationship with your parents:
1. Do your parents treat you like you are still a child?
2. Do you need or feel the need their approval in your important decisions?
3. Do you experience intense emotional or physical reaction after meeting your parents?
4. Are you afraid of resist of your parents?
5. Do they manipulate you with threats or sense of guilt?
6. Do they manipulate you with money?
7. Do you feel responsibility related to their feelings? Is it your task to take care of them, feeling or being better?
8. Do you feel no matter how hard you try or do, nothing is enough or satisfactory?
9. Do you believe in they might be better?

If you answered yes for more than one third of the questions in all three questionnaires, follow me here to know more about toxic parents. If you know that you had a destructive childhood and you are suspicious your current problems are connected to that, do not hesitate to ask an appointment.
Our parents most likely cannot be changed but our perspective can and after breaking chains we have a chance to have a good quality of life!
Since you have recognized it happened with you, it is your responsibility to change it! Patterns caused by toxic parents are repeated, subconsciously you can do the same with your own children or partner as well.

Toxic parents plant seeds of sense of guilt, fear, shame and compulsion. It doesn’t matter if they did under the umbrella of “they did not mean hurting” or “they did what they could”, “We wanted the best for you”, toxic parents deprived their own child/children from the enough good parental care. In the last two decades role of parents has changed dramatically, but still they have the same parental obligations as before. Parental obligations:

  1. Obliged to satisfy the child’s physical needs.
    2. Obliged to protect the child from physical abuse.
    3. Obliged to protect the child from emotional harm.
    4. Obliged to satisfy the child love, attention and emotional needs.
    5. Obliged to give moral and ethical guidance.

Toxic parents are not able to meet these requirements, so often they cause hurt with not doing specific things. Most of the time those hurts are invisible and toxic parents also had similar destructive childhood and went through serious abuses as well, which can generate a regret in the child towards the parents.

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.