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Learn How to Love Yourself After Being Raised By Toxic Parents

Updated on October 4, 2014

Parenting 101

Well let’s face it parenting is hard but so is being a child. Children often referred to as an extension of their parents and expected to be silent, never to disappoint or embarrass. But in actuality children are a part of a household and has responsibilities, duties and needs. In addition, children learn to be adults by mimicking their role models. No those are not the teachers or another adult in the community - it is a parent’s responsibility to prepared children for the “real world.”

What happens when that goes terribly wrong? Many times it does just that. Parents without ill intentions hurt their children. Those parents do so by dragging their own unresolved traumas into their parenting and thereby passing off that same unhealthy trait.

Throughout when I mention “child” I am speaking to the young person that experienced the abuse and in some ways that child still lives inside the adult survivor. As you read through allow that child to get in touch with the ideas that appeal and speak to you personally.

Alright Let"s Face It, We Are All Damaged

Perfection is an unattainable idea and that unquestionably goes for human life as well. The uniqueness of most of us is encompassed in our life journey. Yeah alright, that sounds a little cliché but it is certainly true. I have learned through my own bad parenting experience that my parents molded me into the great person I am.

No, I did not arrive at that point so easily and Yes it is a daily reminder that I keep close to me.

As with most damaged they, repairing is an option. Thankfully humans love to learn and evolve.

You only have to remain damaged and tattered as your parents left you if you so choose to do. Though no one is telling or asking that you do that.

If something in life is not working – change it.


What Happens When Parents Are Toxic

This is when we really get into the intentions of this article.

So what does it mean to have toxic parents? Well the word in itself sounds pretty harmful.

Toxic parents discourage the advancement and growth of their children due to their own psychological trauma or other motivations. Their behavior at times in unconceivable and totally baffling. It is not intended to build a healthy person but to tear down the aspirations of a young developing body and mind.

Have you ever felt like you were hit in the stomach with a ball from left field. Well that is exactly what I am talking about.

Hearing things such as:

  • You are worthless/will never amount to anything
  • Why are you so fat/ugly/skinny, etc.
  • You are the laziest kid I have ever seen
  • Why can’t you do anything right
  • You look just like your father/mother

Those are just some of the indiscriminate examples and maybe the least offending. None the less they are insulting and should have never been said or heard. What does that do to a child?

Well simple the child learns to ignore the bad, which is then internalized and accepted as the truth. This is done without known intentions but rather as a defense. The child learns to defend their own emotions by only seeing the good side of the parent. So in the child’s mind everything that the parent says, which is negative, the child believes and becomes.

Effects of Having a Toxic Parent

  • Insecurity
  • Shame
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Bad relationships
  • Addiction
  • Narcissism
  • Borderline personality disorder

Type of Behaviors That Are Toxic

Children are often the victims of their own parents dysfunction. And many times the child is a pawn in meeting the parents own needs instead of the child’s. Parents may use their children to manipulate others such as a marriage gone bad or between children.

Parents that overly promise their children things as a way to bribe or relieve the parents own insecurity of being liked by the child or reducing the fear of letting them down in some way. Though doing nice things for children are not bad, failing to follow through teaches the child that people cannot be trusted.

What about the parent that needs everything to fit right into place including their children. This may include perfect grades, perfect behavior and even the perfect look. Kids want the freedom to find who they are as a person and likely it is different from their parents and even their siblings. Thankfully there are no cookie cutter images that can be used to define a child completely. But in some way that parent devises one in their mind and forces the child into it.

The most damaging of all is the parent that manipulates the child to do as they say or risk being disowned or out of the family. A parent like this places the most stress on a child. Parents instill fear that they will abandoned or take back their love. Children ultimately fear disappointing a parent and is likely to adopt a lifelong fear of abandonment. For example, a young girl hears from her family that “if you get pregnant you are out of here.”

There is such a long list of the damage a parent can do to a child one article certainly could not detail it all. I have a few books that are great recommended reads for repairing the damage done and to fully understand how toxic parenting alters ones thought processes and emotional states.

Distinguish Between Healthy and Unhealthy Parenting Responses

Failed a Test
Bullied at School
Didn't Do A Chore
Unhealthy Response
Yelling - You should have done better - You are stupid
You should have fought back, what a baby.
Go to your room - you are so lazy.
Healthy Response
I understand that is tough I will help you study and you will do better next time.
Let's go and make an appointment to talk with the principal tomorrow.
Remind the child of their family responsibility and discuss a punishment - such as losing an electronic or being grounded for the weekend.

Healing the Damage

Recovering from childhood trauma is certainly no walk in the park or an easy task. Many go all their lives without repairing their own damage since it is so terrifying. But starting somewhere is very important. The old saying that “if nothing changes, than nothing changes” certainly applies to abuse as well.

Accepting the facts that you did not have the ideal parent or one that provided for you emotional needs is one good place to start.

Getting in touch with that internal hurt child will help one find all the answers. That child can really express how overarching the damage is. Internal children must be listened to, nurtured and re-parented. Re-parented by you. That may sound a little weird but that is exactly how the reparation phase starts and continues.


Are you ready to re-parent yourself and heal the trauma?

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How to Re-Parent Yourself

Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations are statements that are said repeatedly with the hopes of correcting and negative and automatic thoughts. For instance, a person that believes they are worthless after repeatedly hearing such statements while growing up may replace that with, “I am a good person.”

Tell yourself what you wished you heard from parents

For children that lacked compliments or the positive side of parenting really needs to hear that they are good at something. As humans we all enjoy compliments and knowing that we are valued. However, children that did not receive compliments fear that they do not actually add anything to another person’s life or better yet their own. So being able to say, “I am good at writing,” may be something of value that is essential to recognize by the individual.

Set healthy boundaries for your parents

Boundaries are huge with adult child survivors of emotional abuse. Many times out of the fear of disappointment, abandonment or rejection the child allowed the parents to literally walk all over them. As an adult that behavior continues and the parent expects to continue controlling their adult child.

However, boundaries are essential in every – I mean every relationship. When boundaries are not enforced or even established the person that continues to be imposed upon feels used, unappreciated, frustrated, among other emotions. But by setting boundaries the adult will begin to feel empowered and in control of their own world without the need to alleviate the parent’s issues.

Soothe the inner critic

All of us build an inner critic despite our parenting, so that’s where I’ll start here. But it is very important to challenge that critic. The critic develops as mentioned above, by internalizing all the negative statements heard repetitively during life.

Many times that critic is wrong or at least inaccurate.

Be aware that the critic will not go away, however, focus on reducing its effect. Keep evidence of the positive times in life so when the critic pops up you can abruptly hush it.

For example, during a conversation something comes out in the wrong way and offends the other person in the conversation. That critic lights up and starts telling you how stupid you are and no wonder no one likes you. Well stop it right there and remind yourself that you are talking with a friend, someone who does like you, and then kindly apologize. It is ok to apologize to people you are safe being around.

Resolving The Hurt and Loving Yourself

Be patient is definitely key when learning to love yourself. It will not happen overnight and will never be perfect. Do the opposite of your critic and give yourself a break. Seeking professional help can also help to guide the reparation. Doing something different is going to be the biggest payoff and benefit to the change process.

Start by telling yourself something kind.

You are worth it.


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    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      4 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you teaches for your comment. I am sure that caring teachers repeatedly come across the damages placed on children.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      I have had to deal with the emotional scars left on children through the years as a teacher. Your post some wonderful advice for all to keep in mind.

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      4 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Catherine for your comment. Yes I would have to agree and I have another hub about taking responsibility for your actions :)

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      4 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Very important subject and you handled it well. I would add, if you are over 30, stop blaming all your faults and failures on your parents. As an adult, it is your job to learn how to cope with the damage done by bad parenting.

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      4 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Absolutely clarity1225 - rebuilding in a healthy way is definitely key. It's all about changing our automatic thought processes.

    • clarity1225 profile image

      Gabrielle Banks 

      4 years ago from Colorado Springs

      Loving yourself is definitely important when recovering from toxic parents. One thing that we must realize is whether we know it or not we have been conditioned in negative ways. We must notice the ways that we have been conditioned and recondition ourselves with healthy habit.

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      4 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thanks Kate for sharing. I hope that this can be helpful for countless adults, both as survivors and for parents to avoid making blatant mistakes.

    • profile image

      Kate Freelance 

      4 years ago

      Excellent article, hits home as a child of a dictatorship home, former teacher and step-parent.

    • mdscoggins profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Scoggins 

      4 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thanks Bill. Certainly what I deal with all day, adult children healing from parental damage. Have a good one :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Important article. I was a teacher for eighteen years, and I saw my share of this, and it is heartbreaking. Well done, Michelle!


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