In this series, we are looking at the damaging effects of parental alienation after divorce, which also known as toxic parenting, and talked about the ways that you can overcome the damaging messages of a toxic childhood.
In the previous article, we talked about the importance of breaking away from the toxic messages of your childhood in order to parent your own children with truth. We introduced the first two items on a list of toxic messages, and provided the healthy truths that should replace them. Moving on, we are going to address the next few items on that list.
Toxic Message 3: I don’t know how to be a good parent
Children who are raised in toxic environments are taught to question their own perceptions, as they are forever being told what to believe. And invariably, what feels natural and normal is painted as being unacceptable. They are told that a loving parent is manipulative. That a caring parent is cruel. As a result, they are often uncertain.
Healthy Truth 3: You are a good parent
The very fact that you are concerned about what makes a good parent, is a clear indicator that you want to do better for your children. Parenting is not an exact science. But if you allow your love for your children to guide you, and use your desire to offer them a better childhood than you had as a compass, you will be well on your way to being a great parent.
Toxic Message 4: Love is conditional
Children raised by poisonous parents are taught, usually through actions, that in order to be worthy of love, they have to be ‘good’. Unfortunately, this is a terrible message to send to a child. Especially because ‘good’ is never clearly defined, and leaves them constantly fearful that they will not measure up.
Healthy Truth 4: You are good enough, just the way you are
No one is perfect. But everyone is worthy of love. A child is never going to be well behaved and considerate all of the time. And no one should expect them to be. But despite their choices and behaviors, they should always know that they are loved. By showing your children that your love for them is unconditional, you are breaking the cycle of toxic parenting in a big way!
Toxic Message 5: Unquestioning obedience is the only way
As a child, you were very likely not given much space to make mistakes, or to have your own opinion. A toxic parent doesn’t appreciate a child who stands up to them. And so most children, out of fear and the need to make a parent happy, will comply with even the most unreasonable rules.
Healthy Truth 5: Independence and inner-strength are gifts
While obedience is very important, and children do need to learn to listen to the advice and instructions of those in authority, they shouldn’t be taught to be cowed, or to be fearful of standing up to something that they believe is wrong. Fostering a strong, assertive child is a good thing, as long as they also learn respect. Both for themselves, and for others.
Join us next time as we take a look at the next three toxic messages on the list, and their healthy truth counterparts. It’ll be worth it, we promise.