Signs That Your Parents Are Emotionally Abusive Towards You
Parents are supposed to be the ideal role models, giving us unconditional love, support, respect and always being there for us whenever we need them. But unfortunately for some of us, that is not the case. In my case, being raised by a verbally and emotionally abusive narcissistic mother and a very aloof father, my childhood life was no picnic.
Although, I can neither go back in time and change how my parents acted nor undo all the damage they caused me, the least I can do is, to help others to be wary of these certain telltale signs of being emotionally abused by any family members or spouse.
They are as follows:
1) They always find a way to make you feel guilty
All of us have disappointed our parents at some point of time, intentionally or unintentionally. It’s normal and most parents would understand and get over it. Parents are not perfect neither they are right about everything all the time.
But if you find yourself being blamed for everything, then you should be concerned because they are not being fair to you at all. If you get the constant feeling that whatever you are doing for them, they are not enough or you are not good enough for them, it is neither normal nor healthy.
In my case, my mother always told me that I’m responsible for all the problems and unhappiness in my family.
2) How you feel is not important to them
Another less obvious form of emotional abuse is being ignored and ostracized trying to express your feelings and opinions. You should be able to talk to your parents about anything without being judged, being put down or being told about your parents that you are wrong feeling that way.
As Holly Brown, MFT, explains “when you express a need or viewpoint, that is not endorsed by your parents and you feel discarded as a result.” For example, if you tell your parents that a person has been rude to you or you are being bullied, instead of sympathizing with you or trying to comfort you, they are going to tell you that it is your own fault or you don’t know how to talk to people.
Yes, my parents do that to me all the time.
3) They call you rude names
It is natural for parents to get angry or upset if their children misbehave. Most parents know the effects of hitting or spanking their children, so some of them resort to verbal abuse. Parents should never call you rude names no matter what you do. Respect goes two ways. Children should respect their parents and parents should also treat their children with respect.
Aggressive verbal abuse impacts the psychological and emotional development. It results in lowered self-esteem, disobedience, more aggressive or depressive behavior and having troubled and unhealthy relationships with others.
No child should be called an “idiot”, “brain-dead” or a “cow” for simple and trivial things.
4) They never apologize to you
Parents always teach their child or children to apologize or own up for misbehaving, yet they themselves are too proud or feel awkward when it comes to apologizing to their own children, so most parents avoid it.
They think that apologizing to their child or children may lessen the respect they have for them. But it has the opposite effect as apologizing to your child or children actually increases their respect and trust they have for you.
It helps you to be a better parent, and it helps your children to be more emotionally mature who know how to value relationships and take responsibility for their actions.
5) They put you under too much pressure and scrutiny
Every parent put their child or children in charge of some basic responsibilities like cleaning their room or taking out the trash. But there are some parents who ask too much from their children and thus intentionally or unintentionally end up putting too much pressure on them.
Their expectations and intentions can feel too smothering at times and can impact negatively on the mental and emotional health of their children. It is not normal when parents demand their child to keep the house spotlessly clean while working 8 or 9 hours per day.
Nowadays, grades and a well-paying job are more importance than children’s mental, emotional and psychological well-being.
6) You are frequently compared to your siblings or other children
Emotional abuse includes frequent comparisons with siblings or with other children. Some parents cannot love their child or children for who they are, they try to turn them into something they are not and can never be.
According to a psychologist Brown, “instead of highlighting your strong points. Your weaknesses are brought out to the forefront to the supposed virtues of your siblings or other children. This not only damages the self-esteem, but it can also stop you from having healthy relationships with other people in the future.”
My parents are experts in this matter. They never get tired of comparing me to my cousins or other children.
7) You tend to suppress your emotions
Children, who are emotionally abused from a very young age, learn to shut down their feelings. It is one of the telltale signs of emotional abuse. Victims of emotional abuse are experts in disconnecting and withdrawing themselves from the outside world to help them cope with emotional or verbal abuse.
The victims of emotional abuse use this ability to internalize and suppress their emotions in order to survive and cope. Suppressing emotions is very bad for our physical and psychological health and it results in mood swings, unexplained sadness and depression.
Unexpressed emotions take the form of recurring nightmares, results in low self-esteem, stress and cause high blood pressure, affect the heart and brain and even increases the risk of dying from certain forms of cancer.
8) You like to seek out attention
According to research, parenting style during the first 3 or 4 years determines a child’s level of self-esteem. As an infant, he or she relies heavily on the feedback from his or her primary caregivers. A child’s sense of self is defined by what he or she is told and how he or she is treated in their childhood.
When parents do not express love, affection and encouragement adequately, their children grow up emotionally immature, unconfident, insecure and fail to achieve their potential. Excessive criticism, withholding love and affection or placing excessive demands on the child, crushes and distorts their self-worth and confidence.
According to Mendez, emotional abuse starves a child of necessary love and affection, often resulting in over-reaching for validation from others and excessive approval-seeking behaviors.”
9) You tend to be very pessimistic
Are you tired of being the “party pooper”? Do you find it difficult to think in a positive way? If you always tend to focus on only the negative things, it could be the result of how your parents treated you as a child. Emotional abuse slowly and insidiously chips away at hope and motivation of an individual.
When a person has been exposed to humiliation, belittling and excessive criticism from a very young age, it changes how he or she perceives the world. Due to the lack of hope and motivation in their life, emotionally abused individuals tend to be more pessimistic than the people around them.
According to Mendez, “long term exposure to negativity or personal attacks damages the foundations of hope. A negative self-perception solidified and created over time.”
Anybody can be a victim of emotional abuse anywhere and at any point of their lives. Little children, teens and adults can all experience emotional abuse without even knowing it. This kind of abuse can have devastating and lingering effects in a person’s psyche and it hurts more than physical torture. It ruins relationships and has a negative impact on all those involved. Just because no physical trauma is there on the victim’s body that does not mean it isn’t a problem and it is not real.