Stronger for the Breaks – How to Heal from a Toxic Parent

Stronger for the Breaks - How to Heal from a Toxic Parent

It’s one thing to be dipped in venom by those you don’t really care about, but when it’s by the person who is meant to love you, hold you, and take the sharp edges off the world, while teaching you with love, wisdom and warmth how to do it for yourself, it changes you. There is a different kind of hurt that can only come from a toxic parent – someone who is meant to love you. Kind of like being broken from the inside out.

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The scarring and hurt that comes from a toxic parent probably isn’t something we talk about enough. None of us are perfect, including our parents, but there is a point at which imperfect becomes destructive, taking away from children the love, warmth and nurturing they deserve and replacing it with something awful.

When children are raised on a diet of criticism, judgement, abuse and loathing, it’s only a matter of time before they take over from those parents, delivering with full force to themselves the toxic lashings that have been delivered to them. 

Toxic parents come in many shapes. Some are so obvious that they can be spotted from space through the eye of a needle. Some are a bit more subtle. All are destructive.

A toxic parent has a long list of weapons, but all come under the banner of neglect or emotional, verbal or physical abuse. Toxic parents lie, manipulate, ignore, judge, abuse, shame, humiliate and criticise. Nothing is ever good enough. You get an A, they’ll want an A+. You get an A+, they’ll wonder why you aren’t school captain. You make school captain, your sister would have been a better one. And you’ll never be pretty like her. They’ll push you down just to criticise you for the way you fall. That, or they’ll shove you off a cliff to show the world how well they catch you. They oversee childhoods with no warmth, security or connection. 

Any negative behaviour that causes emotional damage or contaminates the way a person sees himself or herself, is toxic. A toxic parent treat his or her children in such a way as to make those children doubt their importance, their worth, and that they are deserving of love, approval and validation. If you’re reading this and thinking, ‘Well yeah, my parent/s did that, but only because it was true – I’m pretty useless at life,’ then chances are that parent was a toxic one. The truth is that you, like every other small person on the planet, deserved love, warmth, and to know how important you were. You’re not useless at life – you’ve bought in to the messages that were delivered by a parent too broken to realise what they were doing. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. 

It is possible to heal from by toxic parenting. It begins with the decision that the legacy of shame and hurt left behind by a toxic parent won’t be the way your story will end.

How to heal from a toxic parent.

Here are some ways to move forward.

  1. It’s okay to let go of a toxic parent.

    This is such a difficult decision, but it could be one of the most important. We humans are wired to connect, even with people who don’t deserve to be connected to us. Sometimes though, the only way to stop the disease spreading is to amputate. It doesn’t matter how much you love some people, they are broken to the point that they will only keep damaging you from the inside out. You’re not responsible for them or for the state of your relationships with them, and you are under no obligation to keep lining yourself up be abused, belittled, shamed or humiliated. Healing starts with expecting more for yourself, and you’re the only person who can make that decision. 

  2. And it’s okay not to.

    Don’t be harsh on yourself if you stay in the relationship. The act of returning to an abusive relationship can set trigger self-loathing. ‘Why aren’t I strong enough?’ Know that loyalty is such an admirable trait, even if it gets in the way of your capacity to protect yourself. Own where you are and give yourself full permission to be there. Accept that for now, this is where you’re at, and fully experience what that’s like for you. You’ll never love yourself enough to change your expectations if you’re flogging yourself for not being strong enough. It takes tremendous strength to keep walking into a relationship that you know is going to hurt you. When you’re ready, you’ll make the move to do something differently. For now though, wherever you are is okay.

  3. Be honest about the possibilities.

    If you’re going to stay, know that it’s okay to put a boundary between yourself and your parent. You can act from love and kindness if you want to – but don’t stay in the relationship unless you can accept that the love you deserve will never come back to you. Ever. If it was going to, it would have reached you by now. See their behaviour for what it is – evidence of their breaks, not evidence of yours. Put a forcefield around yourself and let their abuse bounce off. Love yourself and respect yourself enough to fill the well that they bleed dry. They might not be capable of giving you the love and respect you deserve, but you are.

    [irp posts=”793″ name=”Toxic People: 12 Things They Do and How to Deal with Them”]


  4. Be careful of repeating the patterns with other people

    You might find yourself drawn to people who have similarities to your toxic parent. There’s a really good reason for this. All of us are driven to find an ending to things that remain unresolved. Because love, warmth and nurturing are such an important part of child development, yet so elusive for the child of a toxic parent, it’s very normal for those children to be driven to find a resolution to never feeling loved, secure or good enough. They will look to receive what they didn’t get from their parents in others and will often be drawn to people who have similarities to their toxic parent. With similar people, the patterns will be easier to replicate, and the hope of an ending closer to the desired one – parent love – will be easier to fulfil. That’s the theory. The pattern often does repeat, but because of the similarities to the parent, so does the unhappy ending.

    The decisions aren’t conscious ones, so to move towards healing, the automatic thoughts and feelings driving the choices need to be brought more into awareness. If this is something that’s familiar for you, it’s possible that you are being drawn to the wrong people because they remind you of your toxic parent, and somewhere inside you where your wanted things stay hidden, is the wish that you’ll get from them what you weren’t able to get from your parent. Look at the people in your life and explore the similarities they have with your own parents. What do they do that’s similar? What do you do that’s similar to the way you are in your relationship with your parents? Which needs are being met? What keeps you there? The more awareness you have, the more you can make deliberate decisions that aren’t driven by historical wants.

  5. Own your right to love and respect.

    One of the greatest acts of self-love is owning your right to love and respect from the people you allow close to you. You’re completely entitled to set the conditions for your relationships, as other people are to set the conditions for theirs. We all have to treat those we love with kindness, generosity and respect if we want the same back. If those conditions aren’t met, you’re allowed to close the door. You’re allowed to slam it closed behind them if you want to.

  6. Be careful of your own toxic behaviour.

    You’ve been there, so you know the behaviours and you know what they do. We’re all human. We’re all going to get it wrong sometimes. Toxic behaviour though, is habitual and it will damage the members of your own little tribe as surely as it damaged you. You don’t have to be a product of the inept, cruel parenting that was shown to you, and this starts with the brave decision that the cycle stops at you. People who do this, who refuse to continue a toxic legacy, are courageous, heroic and they change the world. We’re here to build amazing humans, not to tear them down. How many lives could have been different if your parent was the one who decided that enough was enough.

  7. You’re allowed to make mistakes and you’re allowed to do it on your own.

    You may have been lead to believe that you’re not enough – not smart enough, beautiful enough, funny enough, strong enough capable enough. The truth is that you are so enough. It’s crazy how enough you are. Open yourself up to the possibility of this and see what happens. You don’t need to depend on anyone and making mistakes doesn’t make you a loser. It never has. That’s something you’ve been lead to believe by a parent who never supported you or never gave you permission to make mistakes sometimes. Make them now. Make plenty. Heaps. Give yourself full permission to try and miss. There will be hits and there will be misses. You don’t even know what you’re capable of because you’ve never been encouraged to find out. You’re stronger than you think you are, braver, better and smarter than you think you are, and now is your time to prove it to yourself.

    [irp posts=”1042″ name=”Letting Go: How to Master the Art”]


  8. Write a list. (And get yourself a rubber band.)

    Write down the beliefs that hold you back. The ones that get in your way and stop you from doing what you want to do, saying what you want to say or being who you want to be. Were you brought up to believe your opinion doesn’t count? That parents are always right? That you’re unloveable? Unimportant? Stupid? Annoying? Incapable? Worthless?

    Now beside each belief, write what that belief is costing you. Has it cost you relationships? Happiness? Freedom to be? To experiment? To explore? Then, rewrite the script. Thoughts drive feelings, behaviour, what you expect for yourself and what you expect from relationships and world. How are you going to change those beliefs? Just choose one or two to start with and every time you catch yourself thinking the old thoughts, actively replace it with a new, more self-nurturing thought – then act as though that new thought is true. You don’t have to believe it – just pretend it is. Your head will catch up when it’s ready.

    If it’s difficult to break out of the old thought, try this: wear a rubber band (or a hair band) around your wrist. Every time you catch yourself thinking the old thought, give the band a little flick. This will start to train your mind to let go of the old thoughts that have no place in your life anymore. You just need a little flick – you don’t need to hurt yourself – your old thoughts have been doing that for long enough already. There is no right or wrong on this. All the answers, strength and courage you need to do what’s right for you is in you. You just need to give yourself the opportunity and the reason to hear it.

  9. Find your ‘shoulds’ that shouldn’t be.

    ‘Shoulds’ are the messages we take in whole (introject) from childhood, school, relationships, society. They guide behaviour automatically and this can be a good thing (‘I should be around people who respect me’) or a not so good thing (‘I should always be ‘nice”). Take a close look at your ‘shoulds’ and see if they’ve been swallowed with a spoonful of poison. Our ‘should’s’ come from many years of cultivating and careful pruning, so that when that should is fully formed, it direct you so automatically that you don’t even need to think.

    It’s likely that the should that’s keeping you stuck has come from the person who wanted to keep you that way. Were you brought up feeling indebted to your parents? Like you owe them? Like you’ll never cope if you separate properly from them? Were the messages delivered to keep you small? Quiet? Hidden? Believing the messages may have worked when you were younger, steering you way from their foul mood or toxic consequences, but it doesn’t have to be that way now. Don’t pick up from where they left off. You’re older now, with different circumstances, and in a different environment. Bring your ‘shoulds’ out in the open so your actions can be more deliberate. If your ‘shoulds’ are working for you, love them up and keep them, otherwise let them go. 

  10. Nobody is all good or all bad. But don’t be guilted by that.

    One of the things that makes ending any relationship so difficult is that there will be traces of exactly what you want. Even toxic parents can sometimes be loving, warm or nurturing, though it’s mostly, if not always, done to further their own agenda. In the same way that being ‘a little bit bad’ probably isn’t enough to sever an important relationship, being ‘a little bit good’ isn’t enough reason to keep one. Zoom out and look at the big picture. If you feel miserable in the relationship more than you feel good, question your reasons for staying. If it’s because your toxic parent is old, frail, sad or lonely, that might be all the reason you need to stay, and that’s okay. If it is, own the decision in strength and put limits on contact or how much you will give to the relationship. You’re entitled to take or give as much to the relationship as you decide. Just whatever you do, do it deliberately, in strength and clarity, not because you’re being manipulated or disempowered. The shift in mindset seems small, but it’s so important. 

  11. Build yourself up.

    Toxic environments are toxic to the brain – we know that with absolute certainty. The human brain is incredibly adaptive, and in response to a toxic environment it will shut down so as to protect itself as much as it can from the toxicity. When this happens, as it does during prolonged periods of emotional stress, the rate at which the brain produces new neurons (neurogenesis) slows right down, ultimately making people vulnerable to anxiety, depression, cognitive impairment, memory loss, reduced immunity, loss of vitality, reduced resilience to stress, and illness (research has shown that migraine and other pain conditions are more prevalent in people who were brought up in abusive environments, though the exact reason for the relationship is unclear).

    We also know, with absolute certainty, that the damage can be turned around. Diet (omega 3, green tea extract, blueberry extract, reduced intake processed sugar and unhealthy carbohydrates), exercise (anything that increases heart rate), and meditation (such as a regular mindfulness practice) will all help to rebuild the brain and heal the damage done by a toxic environment. Increasing neurogenesis will help to build resilience, cognitive function, vitality and protect against stress, anxiety and depression.

Healing from a toxic parent starts with deciding that the lifetime of messages that have left you hollow or scarred are wrong. Because they are. It means opening a heart that’s probably been closed for way too long, and receiving the love, approval and validation that has always been yours to own. Sometimes, it means realising that parents break too, sometimes irreparably, sometimes to the point of never being able to show love to the people in their life who deserve it the most. Sometimes it means making the brave decision, in strength and with the greatest self-love and self-respect, to let go of the relationship that’s been hurting you. 

Breaking free of a toxic parent is hard, but hard has never meant impossible. With the deliberate decision to move forward, there are endless turns your story can take. Brave, extraordinary, unexpected turns that will lead you to a happier, fuller life. It’s what you’ve always deserved. Be open to the possibilities of you. There are plenty.


Happy Again

Thank you for the article and for the comments xx

I was googling to find information about cutting ties with your family and found this article.

At 4 yrs old I tried to commit suicide, because nobody loved me and I didn’t see the point in being in this world.

At 5 yrs old I swore that if I ever get a child, then I will do exactly the opposite than my mother.

Which was a good thing, my son is the kindest man on earth and he has only good things to say about me. He is 26 yrs old.

Last years I fell into depression, stopped laughing and isolated myself. I have refused to throw any parties and haven’t really understood why.

Until a few days ago… few years ago one sister had a birthday party. My stepdad called me crazy, shouted to everbody “hey, she is crazy” and other demeaning things. For no reason.

All relatives got embarrassed and pretended they didn’t see or hear. Not one of them stood up for me.

The next family gathering the same thing happened. He shouted from the other side of the table and came with false definitions – that’s his thing, define me in every possible way and always in a very negative way. Nobody stood up for me.

It became a pattern, so mom would call me before every party and tell me to keep my opinions to myself, otherwise I ruin the party.

It hasn’t helped, I try to be as invisible as possible, but it doesn’t stop him. And mom is always bossing him around, except when he is verbally attacking me.

It dawned upon me a few days ago, after yet another family gathering, and me crying alone at home afterwards again, that they are the reason for my depression. My profession is to give positive feedback to people, but due to the depression I haven’t worked.

After making the decision to cut all ties to the family, not attend any family gatherings ever again, I have started to take deep breaths and feel the inner power growing and growing. And also actively thinking that I am loved by God for who I am, which has made wonders.

Mom doesn’t say any mean things any longer, not in ten years. She called me then to inform how my sister’s money problems is MY fault, because I don’t pray enough for her. I got furious and turned ice-cold, after that she has crawled and tried to be super nice.

But it’s apparent that she supports her husbands verbal abuse, so there’s not any other choice than to cut the ties – and finally get out from the depression.

It was a double-betrayal, because nobody intervened. Fortunately there’s a heap of really good friends, friends who do anything for me and stand up if they saw someone abuse me.

Nobody in the family cared about my feelings, so why should I care about their feelings, right?

Thank you all, we are a huge bunch and we sit in the same boat. I wish each and everyone of you all the best life has to offer – and much more xx


Its actually very relieving to read about other similar experience. To most people the idea of a toxic parent seems so alien. Parents are always assumed to inherently love their children and the idea of them being toxic is not easily accepted by those who have not experienced it.


Thanks for this article. I can totally relate to this. I am a 28 year old female from Pakistan and happily married for a year now. I have suffered all of my life at the hands of my toxic father. When I was 7, he cheated on my mother with another woman and married her. Since then, we have lived in a polygamous home since its still legal in Pakistan. He had 3 other childen with that woman and the youngest one when I was 20.
It was only last month that I decided to completely cut him off from my life since I could not take more humiliation. Most of my life he was emotionally and at times physically abusive to my mother. Since I am very attached to my mother I always felt her unimaginable pain. But more than that he has been emotionally abusive to me since I was around 13.
He was the one who ruined our family for his selfishness but we were always the ones compromising to accommodate his other family. Yet he would always find an excuse to be angry at me. He would often tell me that he should have left us when he remarried but he kept us as a favour and that we should be thankful to him. He was and still is very rich but would often withhold money and basic necessities when he was angry about something (which was quite often). He would be angered at any minor thing that displeases his other wife and would say and do horrible things. Sometimes he would also tell me that I am the most important person in his life and that he loves me the most. He would sometimes do wonderful things for me but then when he goes on and acts horribly it leaves me very confused.
I was always scared of marriage because of my traumatic childhood but I got engaged in 2012. Instead of encouraging me and giving me good hopes for my future life, he told me he would leave my mother after I am married. I still remember I spent the whole night crying scared for my mother. I spent a year studying in London for which my father paid. But after that he never recovered from the guilt of spending so much on my education. When I returned I was soon to be married. He paid for the wedding as well but would humiliate me every single day for every penny he paid. (Its common culture in Pakistan for parents to pay for weddings).
On every little thing he would threaten to divorce my mother. That was his way of making me bow to his will and take his humiliation silently. After I got married I moved to the other side of the country. I am happily married now with a successful career but he continues to treat me the same. Everytime I visit home or he visits me, its all about making his other wife and children feel special. If anything should displease them he would end up very abusive towards me.
I finally called it quits last month when I was visiting home for a few days after 3 months and the same happened. He physically pushed me out the door. For me that was the end of my tolerance. So after a good 20 years I gave up on my father never to look back. Even he never tried contacting me so its done.


My toxic father dominates and belittles me in every way possible because I couldn’t become what he wanted me to be.I have given myself enough punishment for that and now it’s time to let go of him.Since moving out is not an option for me…..what can I do?

Karen Young

Mariana you never have to be anything anyone else wants you to be, and there is absolutely no need to apologise or punish yourself for that. You are here to be the best that you can be, and that’s all. If moving out really isn’t an option for you, it is important to protect yourself from any behaviour that might continue to hurt you. Here is an article that will hopefully help you to do that


My whole life has been filled with toxic people that’s all I know my heart is so big for them I love them though I have so much pain I just want to show them the love I feel is real not fake I want to save them I feel that’s why I hurt so much


At the age of 60, I’ve slowly accepted the fact that the death of my “being” occurred so, so long ago that I often feel like what remains is just a smokescreen of a myself. Like so many in here, my childhood was riddled with dysfunction that wore the masks of drug abuse, of narcissism, of sexual molestation, of neglect, of violence, and of jealously to name a few. A family of too many children, too little love, too much genetic malfunction.

And today, I walk around an empty shell, sadly acknowledging what passed me by as a little girl and accepting that it never makes a return visit.

And I speak of love–an unconditional love– that soaks into your skin and bathes your soul with a warmth so pure, no evil can steal it. But sadly, the parents of this gaggle of children had no ability to show or give love. And like cannibals, we devoured and ridiculed any signs of love for that showed weakness. And the blade of mockery was brandished quickly if any weakness was sensed.

Emotional neglect was our calling card.

But when the matriarch of this “clan of the lost” was recently laid to rest, I found I felt nothing but a strange sense of relief mixed with a rumbling sadness that rolls through me like a wave. And leaves me with the eternal question:

What Was My Purpose?

And the answer for me has been to undo what was done to me.
I married very young and pregnant after drifting through life aimlessly. We have raised four children and remain happily married today. And there is love in my new family. Deep love. But I sometimes fear that love is like a dandelion in seed and a swift wind will wretch it from my hand forever. For you see, a childhood void of unconditional love is like a twisted gnarled hand: it may function but it will never know the true joy of wholeness. And yes. It is a wholeness that I lack. And not a wholeness based on external features like beauty and status. But a wholeness that makes me believe I’m likable and worthy.
I’ve been told I’m odd. I’m standoffish. I’m intense. I love being alone too much. I’m driven to perfection. I’m hyper-vigilant. I ruminate.

But what people don’t understand is this: Those traits were my childhood saviors! How else would I have scared away the monsters that stole my childhood?

I can only hope that the family I built only continues it’s upward flight towards true, unconditional love and that one day, I can look back on my family of origin not with ill-will and distain and fear but with pity that our struggle was such that we were left damaged. And that my remaining guilt of “surviving” my upbringing becomes, instead, my cloak of honor.
I wish you all peace as you work along your journey…


In follow-up to my last comment, I have read that God had a plan before we were born of what our life was going to be like, that whatever happened to us was supposed to happen, that there are lessons we need to learn in this life. If that’s the case, and I believe it may very well be, he hasn’t made it easy for us. This one is incredibly tough but I believe if I am successful, so will be the rewards.


In your response to my comment – thank you for your response. Hard to believe there is someone else who has a family as sick as mine. You’ve given good advise – work on being happy with what I have. Yes, I think I’m there but one thing is, I would like to find someone to trust and love and who will love me. The people worth having, it seems, run, once they find out about my family, thinking I may be as sick as them. It’s pretty scary to think I may live the rest of my life with no support system – no family, no friends, no nothing. Just what my father wanted for me.

Julie L D

Oh, my goodness! Thank you so much. This will help me.

I have been dealing with this for all 64 years (today is my birthday)! I have basically freed myself from a toxic grasp and do a better and better job of keeping my commitment to myself every day. Yes, I still give a chance to prove themselves otherwise, but this toxic bunch proves themselves as toxic as ever! The last attempt proved a game changer and I look forward to a full life without them.

To the commenters. You are not crazy and are not alone. And, I am so happy to know I am not alone. Wow. Wow. Wow.


In response to Julie L D

Hi! Read your post, and, yes, you know, as toxic as my family is, I still give them chance after chance to prove to me otherwise, and time after time they prove me to be right. I think I’ve protected myself through it all, but each time I hope they will prove me wrong and that they are good, honest, caring people. I suppose the last straw is when they totally rip away all money left in the trust to me. Hopefully, by then I will have worked, earned and found spiritual fulfilment for all eternity and will be the richest the soul beyond belief.


What im left with is that I hate who I am when I am around her. I hate the anger that is inside of me. I worry that I am like her and my kids will end up hating me too. I have tried to resolve things with my mother (im in my late 40s and she is in her 70s) but we argue so easy because I cant let go of some of the horrible things she has done when I was in my late 30s early 40s. I just cant forgive her and she thinks what she has done is justified and has no remorse and still feels im in the wrong, yet I know in my heart I was trying my best, single parent with very young children, who was still having to be a certain person that my parents thought I should be, but wasnt. MY dad is dead now but my mother has turned more controlling than she has ever been and has pushed not just me but a good few members of our family away. It is frustrating and im left with trying to heal these wounds 🙁


This was an incredible article, and so many comments from brave people trying just to get on, and deal with the fallout caused by toxic parents. I am one of three siblings, all damaged in some way, by toxic parents who were not able to turn their own unhappiness inwards, and try and use some insight to turn it around. I am determined to break the cycle. Good luck to everyone.


After reading this, I was disowned because well…my mother hated my boyfriend. I’m still recovering from a blow up. She blasted all the most hateful things about my fiance, then when I came back with all the crap she did wrong to me, i was called a liar and she blocked me on Facebook because I dared to challenge her way of thinking. I know my fiance can lie, but has never once cheated on me. She mentions that he’s been sick and that he has an STD, which we tested for, doesn’t have, she claimed he had MRSA due to an staph infection from 2015, my sister said unless my mother had suddenly a degree in medicine, that she found hard to believe. I was told to ignore my mother, the truth is, she claims I need counseling for even thinking about challenging her. I get mad enough, I might, but when she’s blasting this all over FB for the whole world to see over minor things, it starts to being an issue for me.

I don’t want that kind of issue in my life, I cried enough over it, and I still cry over the fact I can’t see my father, because my mother claims that she won’t let him without her there.


My mother is pushing my boundaries too far and it is so stressful. I can’t bring myself to cut her off completely. I have in the past, but now I have a child and I worry about the example I set for him if I can’t tolerate her. She keeps sending gifts for him in the mail, and bringing many gifts when we see her. I generally have a rule of providing no information about our life but my son had a procedure recently and I wanted to share with my friends on social media, so I send a short text to her. She takes this as a sign that contact can be extended and that she is in the ‘inner circle’ and it begins a flurry of texts and calls. I let down my boundary. This morning a package arrived on our doorstep which was sent yesterday. I have had enough but I am struggling to tell her to back off. Of course, she won’t get it, doesn’t get it, so often ignoring works best. But it’s so hard to reprogram my wanting to thank her for the gift even though I don’t want it.


Society seems to confer martydom and sainthood on mothers. My mother died never acknowledging or accepting responsibility for anything pain she inflicted . No my emotions were not important and simply dismissed . My dad died when I was 6 , she remarried in less than a year. Not a day went by without my being told what sacrifices she made for me ,how horrible my dads family was. I had to live a lie pretending her husband was my father , not a single photo or item of my dads allowed. Her priorities in life were to be a good second wife and step mother. Congratulations in your grave ,you succeeded ! You forgot that I was a 6 year old child that needed the security of knowing my mother was there for me. You chose another man, his child and then your child together !


After reading these posts I now know I am not alone in this. For such a long time I have lived a toxic life mainly due to my mother’s toxic ways and treatment towards me and others. I have always felt guilty of progressing and doing well in my life mainly because she’s looks down upon anything that’s good in life. Living this way with her has been so depressing and outright difficult due to how she treats me and others. I pray that I find a solution to this madness yet I feel guilty due to her being my parent, but surely need the madness to stop!! (Troy led mama)


Hi Laura, it sounds like my mother, depressed and nagative, so she takes it out on everyone around her. It’s unfortunate that she has everyone in my family, including my 3 sisters and father, under her spell and control. Well, I’ve broken away and will most likely not speak to anyone in my family again because of her.


I have read a lot of these comments and I feel like myself and the other commenters have so much in common. I feel like out of everyone here my mother is the worst and most toxic parent. I feel the same way as another commenter. When I was younger I thought and my family thought I was the problem. But it wasn’t that I was a problem, it was that she had a problem with me. I didn’t have to do anything wrong and she would treat me horrible. People would tell me that I had to do something wrong and that she wouldn’t treat me bad for no reason. But i wouldn’t do anything wrong for her to treat me bad. Her favorite thing to do to me was to scream at me in public for no reason. My other family members all listen to her and are on her side. She treated me so badly that she gave me 3 mental illnesses. It would have been nearly impossible to stay away from her because every time she would treat me bad I would stop talking to her but she would just treat me worst or always come around me to annoy me. One time she treated me bad so I stopped talking to her , so one morning she wakes me and my brother up at 6 in the morning saying she felt sick and she needed to go to the hospital. So we took her and when she got home I asked her what the doctors said and she ignored me and then came back and said she always gets what she wants one way or another. The crazy thing is even she treated me so badly and was suppose to put my self esteem way down, I am actually very confident. I feel like I am 1000 people in 1. I feel like a one man army. I feel like I don’t need my family. I definitely don’t need her. I just wish I had know what she was doing to me so I could have left, completely severed all ties with her and anyone she was in contact with and tried to undo everything she did to me. I am telling you compared to the rest of you my mother makes your toxic parents look like angels.


I’m not sure that you meant to be so dismissive but I’m sorry for what you’ve been through. I don’t think there is any point in comparing our toxic parents, as the important part is how we feel about it, not what they did to us.


Hello all, thanks for sharing, here is part of my story:
My parents were married and divorced before I was born. Allegedly, he abused her psychologically and physically. He held a knife to her throat, threatened to kill her, threatened to rape her sister, threatened to cut me out of her womb and show me to her before he killed her. He stalked her at work and tried to run her off the road. He was (and is) an alcoholic. I was told these stories over and over again as I grew up. Sometimes the guilt would keep me up at night, even in elementary school. He had a few other ex-wives that said the same thing about him, although he has never admitted it or been charged with anything and also never laid a hand on me physically (I have experienced some of the psychological abuse though). Although that was the seventies in small town Oklahoma, so maybe things were swept under the rug a little more back then.
She escaped to her parents one night. After I was born, we lived with my maternal grandparents until my mother remarried. I loved them so much, they were everything to me, but are both gone now. I believe they protected me as much as they were able.
My biological father, was in and out of my life sporadically. He had every other weekend visitation and certain holidays. He never took most of them, which honestly felt like a relief, because I was equal parts terrified of him and equal parts afraid of my “real” family thinking I had any sort of fun with him or affection for him. I wanted to please them. I wanted them to love me. I wanted them to forgive me for being his daughter. I tried to earn it, but never felt I could. He eventually remarried when I was 16, to a very nice lady. He attempted to be in my life more at that point, but he sugarcoated the past as though we had a relationship we didn’t have. We never spoke of his abuse of my mother until I was 27 years old. I wrote him a letter detailing my feelings about him, me, what he did to my mother, etc… He didn’t respond. When I confronted him a year later after he left me out of my grandmother’s (his mother’s) funeral, he denied everything and said I was crazy. We didn’t speak again for 5 years. I eventually reached out to him and we smoothed things over, at least on a polite, speaking terms level.
My mother, was cold and distant towards me most of my life. She would always comment how I was so much prettier, smarter than her and was always handed everything in life. As I became older, I thought I recognized a jealous tone in these statements, but it made no sense to me as I felt like the bad, ugly duckling most of the time, with few friends and generally just felt awkward and weird all the time. Different from and separate from everyone else. When I was bad, I was told that I was “just like him”. A few close, trusted friends and relatives are probably what saved me from going off the deep end, along with the love of my grandparents. I was academically and athletically gifted, but it seems like a ceiling was put over my head so that I never went very far or high. I was restricted to the house for months at a time for the smallest of transgressions. (i.e. grounded for 3 months for a single instance of “talking back”; each instance would add months of time; I was literally grounded from 7th grade through my senior year of high school). I began to struggle in school and socially, but no one ever made time to help me. Once my struggle became apparent, I was punished for the failures but no help was provided. I made the cut to be on the high school volleyball and softball teams and in the drama club, but wasn’t allowed to leave my house to go to practices or events after school. I was also not allowed to accept a ride from anyone else at school. I would find workarounds to let me participate and be normal, but the answer was always no. Eventually, I gave up asking to do anything. I loved my mother and wanted her to be proud of me. She never gave any indication of this. The rare times she was kind to me, was when I was suffering from illness. Sometimes I pretended to be ill so that she would be nice. At those times, I felt like she loved me.
My stepfather, married my mother just after my first birthday. He raised me as his own, sort of. I loved him as a father and I believe he did try, but has his own mental demons. He would sometimes defend me against my mother and that made them fight. He was unpredictable though, one minute he was my hero and the next he was an angry villain. I never knew which one he would be. They fought every weekend, when I was growing up. Every weekend was a knockdown, drag-out fight. Glasses thrown at each other’s heads, extremely mean words, threats to leave, etc… I am not exaggerating when I say this was every weekend of my life at home. If they weren’t at each other, they were at me. They would lecture me until 2 or 3 in the morning, with me sobbing and crying the whole time. I felt like a hostage that wasn’t allowed to go to bed until they had their say and “got through to me.” My grandmother would say they were being too hard on me and then they would exaggerate everything I was doing so that she would not take my side. After her death, I read an entry in her diary that said she hopes that I “get my life together”. Reading this gutted me to my core.
When I try to talk of any of this, I am told that it didn’t happen, that I am exaggerating, they had it so much worse than me, they were protecting me, he didn’t have to raise me but did anyway so I should be grateful. So much more to add, but this is the gist of it. Sometimes I feel crazy. What if they are right?
It has affected me so much. I am not the wife, student, employee, friend that I know I can be and should be. I feel like this holds me back. It causes me stress almost every second of every day. I want to get better and get past this, but any healing I do seems only temporary.


B3, no they are not right! I don’t know you, but from the way you write, I can tell you are very intelligent and perceptive person. Unfortunately, you have been shaped by so much negativity, that it has taken away your self worth and respect. You are so much better than that! Don’t let your toxic past shape your future because you are the only one who can take control. I’m speaking from experience. I have decided that in order for me to grow and be better, I need to cut toes with my parents. It’s probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve made. Alyhough my emotions are still very raw, I feel freer in a way. This article and thread has made me feel so much more confident in my decision and has validated my feelings. I truly hope you heal because you sounds like such a wonderful person, worth every breath.


I think you are worth of true love respect and compassion. The fact is that one should first provide it to oneself before others learn that you don’t have to acept abusive of selfish behaviour ever. The weight of these spiritual scars are latent everyday, but whoever produced them in us don’t deserve to continue eating our healthy energy and true healing needs to be allowed by ourselves. Professional counselors may educate your self talk anf give you tools to clean up that unfair baggage. Best wishes to you, and remember to always learn to choose carefully who enters your life and what do they truly want from you.


Hi B3,

Although my experience hasn’t been as bad as yours but very similar I would say. One incident out of many violent ones that I clearly remember is my mom slitting her wrists and my father rushing her to the hospital with me and telling the doctor “my wife is mentally unstable”. He must have thought that I was too young to remember, but it’s something I can never forget. My parents because of their own problems never got to know me. I could never be myself around them a hundred percent. I felt like every move of mine had to be controlled. I’ve decided to move out and I feel it will be a great way to create space where I can heal myself. My parents have always taken extra care when I was unwell. Other times I’ve just been made to feel miserable and like a loser. It has affected my work as well, where I find it hard to communicate properly because I fear making mistakes which often gets me into trouble. Reading this thread has made me feel so much better. It’s a relief to know that I wasn’t wrong and that there are so many people out there who feel the same.


This article and all of these comments resonate so much with me. I’m 34 and I feel so sad because it’s got to a point where I no longer respect my mother due to her toxicity. Whilst growing up I always thought that the problem was with me, but now I understand that her put downs and constant criticisms were due to her own issues and not mine.
I look at her and hope and wish that I don’t grow up to be like her, which is such a sad feeling and truly breaks my heart.
I am now engaged and my fiancé fully supports me and has seen how she can be, and he understands how worried I am about turning into her. The feeling of never being good enough is something I would not want to pass onto my future children.
Letting go is simply not an option for me because at the end of the day, I still love my mother but I still hope that she will wake up and realise the emotional pain that she causes to myself and my father.
Now I distance myself from her a bit, but I also can’t let go fully, because I would not want to leave my father to deal with her by himself.


Hi Cici, at 34 I felt the exact same way. I was so afraid of turning into my mother, and unfortunately, parts of me are very much like her. I couldn’t let go however, and just kept forgiving. However, at 40, I’ve realized that it’s best to let go and really try to focus on myself, be better and resist becoming toxic to my own kiddos. It sounds like your dad is a good guy, which is great! I personally have 2 toxic parents who feed off each other. My dad is spineless and even though sees the manipulation and control, he’s been under my mother’s spell for so long, that I don’t think he knows any different. But unfortunately, his inability to stand up to my mom, has earned him the status of a toxic parent as well. I have severed ties with both of them. It’s just very new for me bc this just happened last week, and my emotions are still very raw, but it’s 1 day/time. Good luck, and I hope your relationship with your mom takes a healing and healthy turn.


This is so very hard, I think the hardness of it all is actually holding on rather then letting go, today I have decided to let go and see where it leads, where ever it leads may be better then here, as at the moment, here feels like hell, a battlefield, a place I do not know nor understand nor even where I want nor need to be, it is time to set myself free.


After reading all of your stories, there’s a comfort in people who can relate to your experiences. I’ve always felt something wasn’t right or normal in my childhood. Thank you, all of you, for sharing such personal, deep emotions. It’s one thing to think of how you feel but entirely another saying it out loud. I’ve wised up long ago not to keep a private journal, my mother read my last one when I was 29 and used it against me in every fight. My private thoughts are mine, they belong to me and I have a right to my private thoughts and feelings. So do all of you! Remember that! You own your life, not your parents.


My mum read my diaries and although I once loved writing a mental block stops me from revealing my true feeling and thoughts on paper even thought I know it helps to write it down. I walked away from my toxic selfish mum 12 years ago but she has left a very deep scar on my soul. I try to treat my three kids with love, compassion and humor and I have a beautiful family I can’t seem to emotionally let go though. There is only my brother and father left of my family and I thing she finally turned his head. I speak to my dad but he lives abroad. Sometimes you feel like although you have your family ( hubby & kids) you miss a childhood love you never had. Walking away was the best thing to do no doubts! But getting over it is an ongoing thing for sure! Ps I am so glad I read this page it helps me understand a little more 🙂



I want to say thank you for your comment as it gives me the courage to express myself out in the open, which is something I struggle with. To talk about my childhood, I grew up in an environment where my father and mother would constantly fight with each other to the point where my mother would push my father to become violent. I was made to sit and watch and pick sides, which I never wanted to. My father would always criticise me and tell me how useless and worthless I was, that I wouldn’t do anything in my life. I’ve turned 27 and till this date when he gets angry because he thinks he’s losing control over my life, I can’t answer him back because I feel guilty and there’s a huge lump in my throat. I always feel bad about not standing my ground later. I also feel it’s got a lot to do with my culture. Being an Indian, if you don’t agree with what your parents have to say then you are disrespecting them. My mother being at the recieving end of her bad marriage always wanted me to reassure her and make her feel better. The concept of space and boundaries doesn’t exist even to this date. I was always made fun of, compared to other children, controlled and ridiculed. My choices were always seen as bad choices. For most part I grew up feeling confused, as I thought maybe the problem lies in me or maybe it’s just my age, because every time I would try to let my parents know that their reactions and judgement was hurtful they would laugh it off and treat me like I am being melodramatic. I’ve always had a tough time expressing myself anywhere and I get scared very easily. I’ve started now to identify the negative reactions that I have to things which are exactly like my parents’ and trying to change that to have a happier and healthier life. I don’t hate my parents because it won’t change a thing. I’ve just turned more inward and started to think more about my happiness and not feel guilty if my decisions make my parents unhappy. I am still struggling with it and it’s very hard for me, I’ve had many failed relationships but I’m trying to mend these negative control patterns passed down to me.


Hi mini

My childhood was exactly the same – watching parents fight and then thinking that this was the correct behaviour to solve any issues. I too have had many failed relationships, so you are not alone. If you are able to put some distance between you and your parents, this may help. Stay strong, and keep working on your self-esteem and confidence, and you will win in the end. I wish you joy and love in your life. Louise


Hi Mini, I can really relate to you as I am Indian too but only just realised that all the problems in my life are because of my toxic mother and I am 44….!!!!

Bottom line is she does not know how to love…I have been struggling with depression since last winter and prior to this I have always felt like there is something wrong with me. I found it very difficult to communicate openly with anyone as I always felt judged and have absolutely no self esteem.! I have suffered with work and friendships because of this.

Over the last couple of months I have tried to distance myself a little but when I see my mother I can’t help but put her in her place. She has discussed this with my dad and my sisters telling them that I am rude to her and making her feel depressed so they would tell me and then I would be the one that felt bad. She is so nasty but I also know deep down that she does not know how to be any other way!

As an Indian it is really hard to distance yourself as family is a huge part of our culture but I know my mother will never change and I want to live a happy life.

So good to find this group to know you are not alone.


Thank you for this! I’m 36 and just now realizing how toxic my mother is to me and my sister. It’s been years of emotional abuse, guilt trips, manipulation, constant belittling and pitting me and my sister against each other. She can be so sweet and nice, especially around other people, but mean, cruel and horrible the next. I’m always left feeling that I owe her and will forever owe her. For what?! Being born? I didn’t ask for that. She needs constant attention from people and doesn’t care about anyone else’s needs. If I or my sister have a problem whether medical or life in general, she always makes it about herself. I’ve never had self-esteem, or trusting relationships until I found my husband. He’s the exact opposite of everything I’ve ever known. She tries to manipulate him too and gets angry at him because he won’t allow it. I also have a 7 year old daughter and terrified of ever doing to her what my mother has done to me. She has a toxic relationship with her own mother, it runs in the family, and for years I’ve pitied her but enough is enough. I’ve walked away and through with it all! I control my life now, she can’t use me as her beating post anymore.


Hi CL, I feel the same way about my own mother, only that she pits me against 3 sisters (not just one.) My mother also had a horrible relationship with her own father, and I know she hated him. But unfortunately for me, she didn’t try to be a better parent. I think toxic parents didn’t not realize they are toxic to their kids. They are so narcissistic that it’s always about them. It’s a great thing you have found a supportive and loving person to lift you up. My husband is the same way, and I’m grateful. I also have 2 children and I’m desperately trying to not be the toxic parent my parents were. Unfortunately, some of my behaviors have been very similar, but I’m consciously trying to prevent that from happening ever again. My worst fear is my children growing up and hating me because I damaged them emotionally. But I will not let that happen, and learn from the past. Anyway, good luck to you!


What is it with mothers with four girls?

My mother was everything you described. She demanded that we listen to her every problem, small things that consumed hours to dissect. What someone said to her at work, how a friend talked to her on the phone. The small stuff of life that seems big late at night or when fatigue mounts, when most adults say to themselves: It will be better tomorrow. Or at least, I’ll call a friend, a relative, another adult. She did not.

She would sit at dinner hectoring us, and sometimes, afterward, come into my room and go on and on. She talked and talked and if I tried to bring up a concern of my own, she looked at me blank-faced and said some aphorism like, “Kill them with kindness.” Which I thought was wisdom, but I think now was just a put-off since she ended the conversation immediately thereafter and I remember feeling hurt and unsatisfied and angry and bad, because she was my mother and I was supposed to feel good around her.

Her favorite topic was my father. She insisted I listen to letters she wrote him demanding $ or demeaning him. I told her time and again that I felt torn loyalty when she forced me into that role and she would call me selfish. Sometimes she’d get really worked up and launch into her default criticism: I had a bad personality and would never make it in the world.

Of course, she had her better moments. Which is why I tried every which way to listen to her, make her feel better, and felt selfish when I wasn’t able to listen enough or say the exact right thing. To this day, I am so susceptible to needy people. I am sure if I listen long enough they will appreciate me and listen to me! Foolish me. I am working on that.

I only realized after my mother died how little I missed her, how much she had infected my mind, and how her legacy was infusing my sisters with all her negativity. They parrot all of her criticisms. If I were on the outside listening to their take on me, I wouldn’t like me very much either. And for a while, I did listen. And I didn’t like me very much. I’ve now cut my sisters out of my life, and it’s been liberating. Sad because there is a hole. But the hole is better than the negativity and I am working to fill it with other stuff little by little.

I too am working my utmost to not inflict this treatment on my kids. I try to be gentle, a listener, upbeat, thoughtful. I remove myself when I am not up to being my best and let my husband take over. I try, try, try. I mess up (too often) and curse myself. But then I try again. If I can do the opposite, I will have succeeded, I think.


Hi CL!

I relate with you so much in your relationship with your mom. I too, went no contact after my first son was born last year. It was the hardest, most gut wrenching thing I’ve ever done – to break from her chains. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the warm, loving and caring parts of her. I miss her smell. I’m still riddled with so much guilt, I feel sick to my stomach at the thought of her. Yet, everyday I remind myself of all the reasons why I went no contact. The gossip, manipulation, victimizing, constant drama and petty fights – she made no room for me emotionally. Everything was always about her, is always about her. Pinning my brother and I against each other, now my son doesn’t have an uncle. I had to. I felt no other way out – For my sanity, for my happiness, for my son, for my family. My mom is very manipulative, a narcissist. Since I tried to explain to her how hurt and the pain she caused me – she has made up lies, spread rumors on Facebook, contacted family members on our side and my Husbands side of the family as well (spreading more rumors). She will not stop. I have been dragged and I don’t have any ounce of fight left in me because at the end of the day, it has been the happiest time of my life living under my own control, not hers, enjoying being a mother to my son and not having to seek her approval, validation, etc.
My mom is at the lowest point in her life. No friends, not a good marriage, gossips about everyone, has no hobbies, sleeps all day, has health problems, constantly asks for help with money and takes advantage of people, etc. she will never make the effort to make her life better and it was exhausting. Any achievement or success my husband and i had felt like it had to be diminished or not celebrated because of their current failures – that we couldn’t succeed without carrying their weight. That our success means we should give give and give to them: it was always about money with my mom. It’s exhausting. Not being able to live for yourself and constantly worry about the weight of other people. I could go on and on.. but I won’t bore you. I’m sue you catch my drift! It’s hard these days.. raising children and missing someone you know is so toxic for you. I always look at my son and think of her. I feel like I’m robbing them both of so much. It’s so sad how the children are left feeling so much burden from going no contact bc society and culture makes us out to be the bad guys for doing it. I am now pregnant with my second and I hope I can stay strong. I want to be the best mom possible. My worst fear is to cause my children any emotional neglect or pain.

Thanks for listening and thank you all for your input! So so grateful to connect with you all x


I’m just drained, again I’ve allowed my toxic mom to insult and belittle me again. I’ve made an informed decision this time around at 40 years of age, that I’m breaking up with her. I feel the anxiety,slight depression and feelings of helplessness. I am sticking to my decision. No more contact with her and my siblings,which of course ,are on her side.


Wow I have tried to do this and it has been so hard for me because of the whole concept of a mother loving her baby the moment in time that changes a women’s life. How did u come to the decision she didn’t love you just trying to figure out why my own mom doesn’t love me. Thanks


A toxic mother has her favourite kid/s. You know she doesn’t love you when your opinions or life choices are ridiculed and she gangs up with your siblings and they gossip and ridicule your life. At first you tell them everything that’s going on in your life,thinking they are family. One day you disagree with mommy dearest and she insults you with all that you’ve shared with her about your life, then it will dawn on you regarding the perception she has of you. Not any of the siblings are bold enough to confront her or defend you. Mommy then continues to have a tight ,close relationship with your other siblings. They visit each other, spend Christmas together. You’re just never invited. The siblings on her side seem like they are under her spell. As for you, you’re sidelined cos you refused to live life on her terms. Of course to mommy, your life choices are bad for you and you will need her someday (this she will scream on top of her lungs) and that you’re nothing without her. She is a LIAR! Life is great without her. Slowly getting used to making your own choices and be responsible for the consequences. It’s freedom at last.


Show do I deal with my mother telling me I’m not her daughter anymore and calls all kinds of names in the book and carries the past with her and I’ve tried many of time to be a daughter to her but she does this all the time every two yrs when it’s me and her she fakes the smile and went to her office of the apartment and ct me cause I’ve liked to her like she didn’t lie too us when we were kids


Omg, I just read your reply to Normie, and honestly, BS, you and I seem to have the exact same thing going on. I also have siblings (3 other women to be exact) and they are exactly how yours are. They always complain about my mother and hate her at times, but are not brave enough to say enough is enough, because they are under her spell. Well, I broke away from it, and my toxic family dynamic to begin with. 2 of my sisters I never really truly got along with so I will not miss the loss of my friendship/sister ship with them as much as my other one. She, however, is too much under my morher’s control and spell, for me to truly trust her. It’s so dang sad because aren’t we all supposed to have loving and supportive families??! Why did we get so unlucky in family? But honestly, I don’t care for a pity party because I have my own family, and should really just learn from padt mistakes, and try to be a better parent to my own children.


I feel the EXACT same way. At 40, I just decided last week to cut off my relationship with my super toxic parents. I feel all the feelings you mentioned as well. It’s just sad that it had to come to this, but for self preservation, it’s probably the most important decision thus far. I also did it because I have children of my own and I was seeing the same control my parents always exercised over me, they were doing it to them, too ( and me, at the same time.) I just want to be a better parent to my children because, in part, I have behaved the exact same way my toxic parents did. I want to break the mold, and for me, that means breaking away from them for good.


I know how hard that is. I suffered from a spiteful toxic mother for years and because she was my mother I felt obligated to keep her in my life. I am released when she died. I am now suffering toxic treatment from my sister and have decided to put her out of my life for good. It is very liberating.



I would just like to say what a great website this is. I am also affected by these things and I am working my way through it. The one comment I wanted to make, and OK this will require for people to believe in reincarnation.

This may not be that difficult as almost half this planet believes in it (hindus, the buddhists, the sikhs).

So anyway, the way they view life means that its not as simple as going no contact with a sister, a mother or whoever we have depended on, or have an abusive dynamics with.

These things run deeper than that, so a way to “work off karma” is hypnotherapy that addresses the subconscious where the damage was done in the brain.

There are many ways to go about this, the key is that these things run deeper and can be fixed to a large extent.

Also, just because I believe that most people misunderstand what karma is, my understanding of karma is that we overdo or underdo something which then comes back and bites us on the arse.

We can overdo a good thing as well. So its not all about being bad and being made to suffer for it. It is about balance.

Western medicine also uses hypnotherapy but they dont always look at past lives, although some therapists are qualified to do that as well, and one does not have to believe in it for it to work.

Building on what is good and pooling knowledge and resources together from different cultures is a good thing and is the future.

Instead of the wars and the fighting we have now, people will be working together and sharing knowledge and experience.


I am now 63 years old and have hardly gone a day without thinking of what my parents did to me, largely to protect themselves. They have ruined my life. My father has died but he leaves a legacy and have enlisted my siblings to carry on the abose through money, power, dominance. They continue to manipulate through covert means if not outright insults. I am single, childless and trying to take care of myself financially. I expect some day i will be committed to hospice housing, if there is any available. Ive lived a life of running scared and dont know who to trust. Any advice is welcome. Ps, my patents were very well off


I am now an adult,,,I was sexually abused right under my parents nose for 4 years while they enjoyed their alcohol infused time. I am now 47 and it hit me like an s.o.b after many years of being able to keep it down,,,,time to cut ties because I know it will never fly.


I can so relate to this. I’m 62, same everything else: present circumstances and the parental motivations and consequences of said behavior. What is working for me is to create and maintain a distance (psychologically as well as geographically if possible,) not expect more out of myself than I have to cheerfully give, and to work on being content with what I have. An attitude of, “this is the hand I have been dealt, now what can I do to be happy therein.” Forgive, and realize you can’t change them, or the past.


Kaw, Your life is not over! You can still change things around for your self. I’m 55 and also childless and coping with narcissistic parents and siblings. The advice in here is good. Try and work on some small item each day.


It is never too late. I definitely recommend a good therapist — look for one who mentions attachment theory, and/or family systems therapy. Otherwise, meditation, learning to connect with and have empathy for your inner child, and doing things with other people who make you feel good. Go to a support group, something you find on, or some other group activity, and commit to do it regularly.


I realized when my mother told me I was too stupid to say anything against her I had to let her go , I was 18 then . I’m 21 now it’s been the single most freeing emotion for me . Never looked back .


This is great! I gew up with horribly toxic parents who tried to manage my life and my own family’s lives! I was so happy the day my parent’s died!


Well, my father is dead and my mother is still alive. I can only think about the day that bitch is dead too. I hate her in so many uncountable ways, she ruined my life and she does not know what love, trust or support is. I imagine how it would have been to have loving and caring parents, but it is just a dream. She lives with me right now and I cannot way for the day she finally sets me free. I love your comment because is sincere and BS free.


I’m 32 years old, heavily pregnant, and will give birth soon.
I have an awesome husband, my career was great too, and I have lots of great best friends who are very kind to me. My husband’s family (parents and siblings) are great too. Everything is perfect, only my problem in life is my very toxic parents.

I got out of the house when I was 18, before that maybe I could say I was also raised by my lovely late grandma and late uncle (from my mom side), but my toxic parents were always there.

My dad, was in jail for some times, no one trust him, he was also a drug addict. He never had/ have a good job, he is a lazy man. He had mistress, irresponsible, he likes gambling, he is a con artist, he trick so many people in terms of money, he is a liar. When my grandma died, he and my mom waste ALL of her heritage.

My mom always abuse me verbally, always want me to pity her life, to listen to her story, she does not have any good activities, she will just gossip about everyone’s life, she is not happy when I’m happy (when I tell happy things in my life through message, she just wont response!). She does not have any friends, her extended family don’t really like her, samebgoes to my dad. I don’t live in the same country with them, but they still manage to hurt me.

For years I finance them, but they are so ungrateful, and so lazy. Once my mom told me that I should keep financing them because they are too lazy to work, so I should help them. One day I stop financing them, just give them money occasionally, and they are not happy about it. They said I’m cheap bastard, ungrateful, because my husband is really good with his career, so what they see is just I have a gold tree (it’s not fair for my husband). They abuse me with their attitude and words.

I’m going to have a child, I’m so worry I will turn out to be like them to my child. I’m asian and like asian people in general, due to cultural thing, I can’t cut connection with them. Otherwise, I’m a bad bad child.
Could anybode give advise what am I supposed to do?


Good for you for recognizing you want to be a different kind of parent. I would look for some local parenting classes at local health centers or community centers. Also, there are many good books on parenting that you can get at your library , bookshop, or on line. Parenting is a skill and can be learned, even if your own parents never taught you. I bet you will be a great parent!


No need to wait for your parents to actually pass away, consider them gone. Block them out, they don’t deserve your love or support, they didn’t give it to you. You are clearly not like your parents! Embrace your new family (husband, his parents and siblings and most of all your baby!) and let them embrace you. Pick the things that you like about your culture and be proud of them. Leave behind the parts that don’t make sense to you. It is OK, you are not a bad daughter, you had the misfortune to have broken parents. I agree with Amy on the parenting books, classes and magazines. Good luck and best wishes. PS if you feel that you need permission, you at least have mine, and probably everyone elses that read your story. Give it to yourself ! You and your baby deserve it.


Oh, and topics you might want to look for in parenting books are “attunement” and “secure attachment.”

Becky G

Me too! While my siblings didn’t have the same toxic experience I did – it’s important for me to honor my own experience.
When both parents finally died, I felt free. Now, decades later, I’m still cleaning up the mess my parents left me with. I still find myself trying to “work out” their lack of parenting in my own behaviors and self-worth.


Mine have not yet but you have no idea how important hearing this from someone means,thank you!


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We have to change the way we talk about anxiety. If we talk about it as a disorder, this is how it feels.

Yes anxiety can be so crushing, and yes it can intrude into every part of their everyday. But the more we talk about anxiety as a disorder, the more we drive ‘anxiety about the anxiety’. Even for big anxiety, there is nothing to be served in talking about it as a disorder. 

There is another option. We change the face of it - from an intruder or deficiency, to an ally. We change the story - from ‘There’s something wrong with me’ to, ‘I’m doing something hard.’ I’ve seen the difference this makes, over and over.

This doesn’t mean we ignore anxiety. Actually we do the opposite. We acknowledge it. We explain it for what it is: the healthy, powerful response of a magnificent brain that is doing exactly what brains are meant to do - protect us. This is why I wrote Hey Warrior.

What we focus on is what becomes powerful. If we focus on the anxiety, it will big itself up to unbearable.

What we need to do is focus on both sides - the anxiety and the brave. Anxiety, courage, strength - they all exist together. 

Anxiety isn’t the absence of brave, it’s the calling of brave. It’s there because you’re about to do something hard, brave, meaningful - not because there’s something wrong with you.

First, acknowledge the anxiety. Without this validation, anxiety will continue to do its job and prepare the body for fight or flight, and drive big feelings to recruit the safety of another human.

Then, we speak to the brave. We know it’s there, so we usher it into the light:

‘Yes I know this is big. It’s hard [being away from the people you love] isn’t it. And I know you can do this. We can do hard things can’t we.

You are one of the bravest, strongest people I know. Being brave feels scary and hard sometimes doesn’t it. It feels like brave isn’t there, but it’s always there. Always. And you know what else I know? It gets easier every time. I’ve know this because I’ve seen you do hard things, and because I’ve felt like this too, so many times. I know that you and me, even when we feel anxious, we can do brave. It’s always in you. I know that for certain.’♥️
Our job as parents isn’t to remove their distress around boundaries, but to give them the experiences to recognise they can handle boundaries - holding theirs and respecting the boundaries others. 

Every time we hold a boundary, we are giving our kids the precious opportunity to learn how to hold their own.

If we don’t have boundaries, the risk is that our children won’t either. We can talk all we want about the importance of boundaries, but if we don’t show them, how can they learn? Inadvertently, by avoiding boundary collisions with them, we are teaching them to avoid conflict at all costs. 

In practice, this might look like learning to put themselves, their needs, and their feelings away for the sake of peace. Alternatively, they might feel the need to control other people and situations even more. If they haven’t had the experience of surviving a collision of needs or wants, and feeling loved and accepted through that, conflicting needs will feel scary and intolerable.

Similarly, if we hold our boundaries too harshly and meet their boundary collisions with shame, yelling, punishment or harsh consequences, this is how we’re teaching them to respond to disagreement, or diverse needs and wants. We’re teaching them to yell, fight dirty, punish, or overbear those who disagree. 

They might also go the other way. If boundaries are associated with feeling shamed, lonely, ‘bad’, they might instead surrender boundaries and again put themselves away to preserve the relationship and the comfort of others. This is because any boundary they hold might feel too much, too cruel, or too rejecting, so ‘no boundary’ will be the safest option. 

If we want our children to hold their boundaries respectfully and kindly, and with strength, we will have to go first.

It’s easy to think there are only two options. Either:
- We focus on the boundary at the expense of the relationship and staying connected to them.
- We focus on the connection at the expense of the boundary. 

But there is a third option, and that is to do both - at the same time. We hold the boundary, while at the same time we attend to the relationship. We hold the boundary, but with warmth.♥️
Sometimes finding the right words is hard. When their words are angry and out of control, it’s because that’s how they feel. 

Eventually we want to grow them into people who can feel all their feelings and lasso them into words that won’t break people, but this will take time.

In the meantime, they’ll need us to model the words and hold the boundaries firmly and lovingly. This might sound like:

‘It’s okay to be angry, and it’s okay not to like my decision. It’s not okay to speak to me like that. I know you know that. My answer is still no.’

Then, when they’re back to calm, have the conversation: 

‘I wonder if sometimes when you say you don’t like me, what you really mean is that you don’t like what I’ve done. It’s okay to be angry at me. It’s okay to tell me you’re angry at me. It’s not okay to be disrespectful.

What’s important is that you don’t let what someone has done turn you into someone you’re not. You’re such a great kid. You’re fun, funny, kind, honest, respectful. I know you know that yelling mean things isn’t okay. What might be a better way to tell me that you’re angry, or annoyed at what I’ve said?’♥️
We humans feel safest when we know where the edges are. Without boundaries it can feel like walking along the edge of a mountain without guard rails.

Boundaries must come with two things - love and leadership. They shouldn’t feel hollow, and they don’t need to feel like brick walls. They can be held firmly and lovingly.

Boundaries without the ‘loving’ will feel shaming, lonely, harsh. Understandably children will want to shield from this. This ‘shielding’ looks like keeping their messes from us. We drive them into the secretive and the forbidden because we squander precious opportunities to guide them.

Harsh consequences don’t teach them to avoid bad decisions. They teach them to avoid us.

They need both: boundaries, held lovingly.

First, decide on the boundary. Boundaries aren’t about what we want them to do. We can’t control that. Boundaries are about what we’ll do when the rules are broken.

If the rule is, ‘Be respectful’ - they’re in charge of what they do, you’re in charge of the boundary.

Attend to boundaries AND relationship. ‘It’s okay to be angry at me. (Rel’ship) No, I won’t let you speak to me like that. (Boundary). I want to hear what you have to say. (R). I won’t listen while you’re speaking like that. (B). I’m  going to wait until you can speak in a way I can hear. I’m right here. (R).

If the ‘leadership’ part is hard, think about what boundaries meant for you when you were young. If they felt cruel or shaming, it’s understandable that that’s how boundaries feel for you now. You don’t have to do boundaries the way your parents did. Don’t get rid of the boundary. Add in a loving way to hold them.

If the ‘loving’ part is hard, and if their behaviour enrages you, what was it like for you when you had big feelings as a child? If nobody supported you through feelings or behaviour, it’s understandable that their big feelings and behaviour will drive anger in you.

Anger exists as a shield for other more vulnerable feelings. What might your anger be shielding - loneliness? Anxiety? Feeling unseen? See through the behaviour to the need or feeling behind it: This is a great kid who is struggling right now. Reject the behaviour, support the child.♥️

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