This book is excellent. Many of us tend to think of toxic parents as those who hurt overtly, such as by means of physical or sexual abuse. However, the term “toxic parents” encompasses much more than just this. Further, many people dismiss and minimize extremely harmful and hurtful things parents may have done to them, with misplaced thinking such as “my parent meant well,” they “couldn’t help it,” or, “they loved me the best they could.”
All of which only results in later harm and emotional dysfunction of the person who experienced such with their parents. The sad actuality is that a lot of people grew up with parents who were toxic in one way or another. And the main reason why its crucial to acknowledge such is so that one might heal, grow, and move on to become their own healthiest and happiest self. So that they might break the cycle themselves.
But first…what makes a parent toxic? You might be surprised.
Toxic parents can mean any of the following:
-name calling, put downs, undercutting, routine making fun of and teasing
-imposing strict and stringent rules and expectations on ones child to be “perfect” or else they “arent good enough.”
-encourage their child’s dependence on them, instead of their growth into independence
-controlling and manipulative
-not necessarily directly abusive to the child, but allowing their child to be abused by others
-the child was thrust into the role of parent and had to take care of their parent instead of being cared for the way they should have been
-forced to keep secrets on their parents behalf
-attempted to sabotage their child
-not listening to their child. Continually dismissing their viewpoints and who they are. Their child is always wrong and should be doing things their way
-parents who never apologize, never take personal responsibility, their child is never allowed to disagree
And further, now as an adult:
- do your parents still treat you as a child?
- do you have intense reactions, physically or emotionally, on spending time with them?
- do they attempt to control you with guilt and threats? Win your favor or even bribe you with money?
- do you feel no matter what you do, its still not good enough for them?
- do they still abuse you in some way?
- are they bullying, nasty, cruel, belittling?
- do they still press upon you to keep secrets on the family behalf?
- do they force you into meeting their needs at the cost of your own?
None of these are exhaustive lists. The lists can go on with more. These short list of examples are merely to show that toxic parenting covers a broader range of behaviors than one might have assumed.
This book helps one with identifying in what ways their parents were toxic (as many parents will fit into some categories and not others), and then, how to handle your relationship with your from this point on.
Both, how to heal from such yourself, and then how to proceed with your relationship to them.
With some toxic parents, there can be growth and change possible. Even forgiveness and a good relationship moving forward. This is when and only if they can acknowledge in full what they did, the ways in which they hurt you, as well as take actions to change their behavior and no longer treat you in such ways.
And then with other toxic parents, the heartbreaking truth is that in some cases, there will be no change nor growth possible. The parent will remain cruel, toxic, and harmful. And as a result, in some situations, its simply healthier for the child to cut ties.
Your parents reaction to the confrontation with them will determine the nature of your relationship going forward (or, if there will be one at all).
In terms of forgiveness, this should not be offered from the child automatically. It should be offered when and only if the parent offers a heartfelt, genuine apology in which they take full responsibility (not partial, full). As well as, if they take actions to earn your forgiveness. Take action that makes obvious the changing of their behavior.
The same goes for your relatives and their reactions. The reactions of your relatives and extended family members in their finding out about the abuse will determine the nature of your relationship with them (or not).
Thus, the book strongly encourages confrontation with ones toxic parents (as well as, I would assume, with any toxic person to whom you are close) for two reasons. For yourself, and because no change is possible without laying it all on the table. If you say nothing, nothing can ever change.
However, there is a caveat here. Do not expect change. In fact, more often than not, the toxic parent (or people) you are confronting will not change. So ultimately, the confrontation is for you, to make your voice known, and for your own healing. But, the point remains that if there were to be any change, it isn’t possible without speaking the truth first.
This is an excellent book for anyone seeking support, guidance, help, insight into, and personal healing with their relationship to their parents.