There are many scholarly articles out there on the impact that toxic parenting has on the relationship between the slandered parent and their children in the wake of a divorce or custody battle. But little is said about the long-term impact on those children after they have grown up and become parents themselves. Or on the relationship between them and their own children. But there should be!
A toxic parent not only damages the relationship between their child and their child’s other parent, but they also make parenting very difficult for their own children in the future. For those children, whose own childhoods were full of poisonous parenting and who are now trying to raise their own kids in a healthy way, the emotional and psychological obstacles can be enormous.
With that in mind, we have compiled a list of struggles that survivors of toxic parenting face when raising their own children, along with strategies for overcoming them. So join us for a look at ways that you can escape the toxic messages of your past, and go on to raise happy, healthy children in the future.
Toxic message 1 : Stand down, soldier
Children raised by toxic parents are often not given the freedom to have their own opinions. “Go with the flow” becomes the easiest way to manage the relationship with their toxic parent, as opposition can cause strife and lead to punishment.
Healthy truth 1: It’s okay to disagree
The truth is, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and should be encouraged to share how they are feeling about something. What matters when you disagree is how you handle that disagreement. Objecting to something that someone else believes or says is perfectly healthy and normal in a loving relationship. You should not be required to comply with someone you disagree with, simply in order to be “good enough” for love.
Toxic message 2 : Children should be seen and not heard
This phrase was the cornerstone of Victorian childrearing. But it has little place in our more enlightened times, as people have since realized that it is actually a very harmful perspective. Much of what children come to believe about themselves, they learn in their formative years. So a child taught that their opinion doesn’t matter, or that no one is interested in what they have to say, will often go on to struggle with self-worth, and be fearful of speaking out against injustice.
Healthy Truth 2 : Everyone has a voice
By encouraging your children to share what they are feeling, to voice their needs and talk about what is going on in their lives, you empower them to develop opinions. But more importantly, you teach them that they deserve respect, and deserve to be heard when they have something to share. The focus here should be on teaching them how to share their thoughts and feelings with others, not whether or not they are entitled to share their thoughts and feelings with others.
Join us next time, as we move on to the next three items on the list of toxic messages that survivors have been taught, and what healthy truths they can work to achieve instead.