Interpersonal relationships are often multidimensional and, at times, complex. They can create stress and tension in our daily lives. How we relate to others is often based on our relationships with our parents.
If, as a child, you were fortunate to have a loving, warm, affectionate, kind and humble parent, this will have made for a very rich childhood. This doesn't mean that your adulthood is problem-free, but you most likely now have a positive relationship with your parent.
However, if you grew up with a toxic parent, your relationships with yourself and others might be filled with angst. And the communication with that emotionally unhealthy parent is fragile.
To be very clear — I am not writing about relationships with parents in which there was a history of physical and/or sexual abuse.
At the same time, this is not to home in on one bad experience you had as a child. Every parent has a rough day. No one is perfect.
What I am writing about is a parent who engages in a constant pattern of hypercriticism, manipulation and overly controlling behavior causing intentional hurt to benefit and serve their own interests and ego. This can include verbal abuse, emotional blackmail, and the silent treatment.
The toxic parent is self-absorbed, and fails to see how their self-centered approach to parenting causes damage to their child’s sense of self-worth.
This style of parenting teaches a child that love is conditional. In other words, “I love you if you do the following.” They give their children this message, whatever their age might be.
However, even if the parent is confronted about their behavior they have a litany of excuses and justifications. They are magically able to turn around every situation to not only put themselves in the right light, but many times can elicit an apology as well.
A toxic parent is famous for writing letters or leaving voice mail messages that can be tricky to decipher. There is always a deeper message that you are left to decode. Try as you might, there is a chance that you will still misinterpret their note. Bottom line message they are sending you — “I’m OK and you are not.”
Narcissistic Parents’ Psychological Effect on Their Children: Psychology Today- Retrieved February 22, 2016.
Toxic Parents: Bantum publishing 2002- Page 53, 69 by Susan Forward, PhD.
Phone interview with psychologist Mary Seyuin