There are plenty of self-help books for toxic relationships. There are a plethora of information on abusive families and relationships. There are only a few books/information on toxic family members. It is easier to spot a physically abusive relationship. There are marks and bruises. If you are really attentive you might be able to spot an emotionally abusive relationship. However, it is hard to spot a toxic relationship. The hardest is when you have a toxic relationship with a family member. Unlike friends who you can cut out if they are not willing to change thy ways. Family members have special hold on you. Do you emancipate yourself and then risk being alone if you are single or do you stick with it because they are all that you have. As a therapist I understand the turmoil that toxic family members present personal. According to Dr. Susan Forward the author of Toxic parents their are 6 types of toxic parents.
- The inadequate parent.
- The controllers
- The Alcoholics
- The Verbal Abusers
- The Physical Abusers
- The Sexual abusers
The first 2 are harder to spot. Inadequate parents are somewhat hard to spot if the child is provided the necessities of life Food, clothing, Shelter, protection. I’m not saying that inadequate or controlling parents don’t love their children, it just that they don’t know how to love. As a therapist you learn a lot about yourself as well as how you developed your level of emotional well-being.
To get to the point, I am in a toxic family relationship. No my parents didn’t abuse me or physically hurt me but they were inadequate parents.
Inadequate Parents: Constantly focusing on the their own problems, they turn their children into “mini-adults” who take care of them.
My parent’s were not chronologically too young to have children. However, their emotional level of maturity is pretty young. As a child I spent a good majority of my time taking care of siblings and being responsible for things that weren’t my responsibility as a child. I wasn’t even the oldest to warrant having all that much responsibility. Unfortunately, there love for me was expressed by how helpful I was at helping them with their responsibilities. As a child I went above and beyond the call of duty in hopes of them noticing me.
There not bad people, they are actually pretty nice. I just think their relationship with me is toxic. I know adult children complain about going home to visit the parents is boring or exhausting. In general I hate who I become when I am in their presents. It starts out welcoming and nice the first two days and then it starts in with the complaining talk from mom and then the controlling guilt talk from dad topped off with “I need you to help me with what ever”. Mixed in is a splash of one parent complaining or talking about the other parent and one of them asking me to talk to one of them because you know “I was a therapist way before I was even educated or licensed according to my parents”
I have worked with clients with similar issues but it wasn’t until now I realize how difficult this toxic relationship is to break. My parents aren’t willing to change anything. I know if I told them how they made me feel they would give me the guilt trip and then it would turn back to them. However, I am in a transition in my life in which I can change the enmeshed hold my parents have over me. The toxic relationship that my parents have over me is also affecting the relationship I have with my siblings. One sibling has broken all communication with my parents and the other is supportive of my parents. I don’t speak to one of my siblings because of his history of misbehaving. I live with my other sibling and her relationship with me is also toxic. She pretty much learned the same behavior that my parents subjected on me and puts me in the parent roll.
At this point in time, I believe the distance will allow me time to get the anger and emotions I have in our relationship out and decide from there where to go.
Either way it is unhealthy for all of us and I might be the only one willing to change it. I can’t accept “It is what it is” I hate that phrase!
How do you cope with your toxic family relationships?
If interested in learning more about toxic parents there is a book by Dr. Susan Forward called Toxic Parents: Overcoming their hurtful legacy and reclaiming your life. I thought the book was very insightful and interesting. It’s a good inner reflection kind of book.