Parents. Mom and dad. One of them (if not both) is supposed to be your go-to person, especially when you arrive at adulthood. In many people’s lives, mom or dad eventually becomes your best friend, that one person you can lean on when the rest of your life seems to be falling apart. Or it’s simply that person you can depend on, call at any hour of the night, and always know you have their support and love even if it’s from miles away. But for some of us, our parents cause more emotional distress, heartache, and unnecessary drama than happiness or comfort. Here are the signs that you may have a toxic parent.
1. They’re extremely self-absorbed
A toxic parent cares a lot more about themselves than you. They’re stuck in their own worlds and their needs come before yours. Toxic parents are extremely selfish and find a way to turn the conversation to be all about them and their own problems. It’s almost as if they want you to feel bad for them, or like you owe them something. They tend to beat to their own drum in the worst way possible – they don’t really care how much something means to you because they’re so self-absorbed. It’s always about them, one way or another. And whenever they do the tiniest bit of good for you, they’ll act as if they deserve a medal for doing so.
2. Your relationship is never quite stable
Having a toxic parent makes you feel like you’re always missing out on something. Like you’re missing out on a life where your parent is consistently involved and actually gives a shit. Your relationship is pretty rocky – you’ll be close one week, and the next you’ll barely hear from them. Or you go one month without speaking, and the next month they’ll make you feel bad for not calling every day. It’s a constant roller coaster, and one you wish you weren’t on.
3. They hardly ever ask what’s going on in your life
It is one of the most common questions you get from others when it comes to any type of life event or crossroads: “What do your parents think?” or “your parents must be so happy for you.” It’s hard to admit to a stranger, but you don’t know what the hell your parents think or if they even are happy for you. They hardly even know what’s going on in your world. They don’t really ask either. Your problems and stresses are either not discussed or barely touched on during a conversation. They’re not thoughtful, and they probably won’t reach out for support during times of high stress like a big exam or job interview. They may not even be aware that those things happening because they don’t really care to ask what’s going on in your life.
4. You parent your parent
You’ve felt like you had to parent your own parent in many ways. Roles tend to be reversed. You’re the one who needs to pick up the phone and call them, or if they call you, it’s because they need something or want to bitch about their lives. And more often than not, they forget that THEY ARE THE PARENT. Not you. For some reason, that tidbit of information just does not register with them. They want you to take care of them, whether it be for a favor or for comfort or advice, when they don’t reciprocate that same behavior for you.
5. They never tell you that they’re proud of you
No matter what you accomplish in life, a toxic parent will probably never tell you that they’re proud of you. While you may hear it from a million other people, the simple phrase “I’m proud of you,” will not roll from their lips and into your heart where you so desperately want it to be – so you’re missing that encouragement from the one person whose words tend to mean the most. And sometimes, all you want is to just know that they’re proud of you and hear it out loud.
6. You can never truly depend on them
Whether you want them to be there for you physically or emotionally, they most likely won’t be. You tend to depend on others like friends or siblings much more often, because you’ve been let down or burned in the past by your toxic parent.
7. They’re filled with drama
Even if they don’t think they’re the ones who are causing it. The drama tends to follow them and you often find yourself being dragged into it if you get too close.
8. They love to guilt-trip you
They will use guilt to get their way. They’ll make you feel guilty if you don’t call them or if you don’t spend all your free time with them (which they think you have excessive amounts of). They find it difficult to ever understand where you’re coming from or perhaps why you may need space from them. They’ll use guilt to make you feel bad about things you didn’t even do wrong, or if they want something from you.
9. They’re just downright immature
They act so childish, sometimes it’s completely absurd and the exact opposite of how a parent should act. The petty drama, the games they play – you feel like you’re dealing with a teenager, not someone who is supposed to be a parent.
10. They never apologize for anything
And if they do, they’re probably not sincere about it. They don’t see much from your perspective. Even if you tell them in a heartfelt way and are being completely open and honest, they won’t try to understand your side because they are too blinded by their own. If they ever hurt you or do something wrong, do not expect an apology. Toxic parents don’t know what it means to be sorry.
It certainly makes life more difficult having a toxic parent. Especially when you hear stories from others about their parents who care and love and almost annoy them with their constant concern. Having a toxic parent is like having a void in your heart that cannot be filled. You try to replace it with mother- or father-like figures that you may come across, but it’s never truly the same. You wish more than anything your parent would just start acting like just that – your parent. But you can’t change them. So sometimes, you have to accept the reality and let it be. It hurts, but it’ll only make you stronger.