Nothing you did was ever good enough
Most parents are critical of their children, pushing them to do better. But there’s a distinct difference between offering constructive criticism and being harmful. If nothing you did was ever good enough, with impossibly high standards set that you could never reach, this may have been a toxic household. Toxic parents downplay their own children’s achievements in order to boost their own ego: far from the nurturing, loving behavior we should expect from parents.
You constantly hold back your thoughts
Being self-aware isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but toxic parents can instil a detrimental coping mechanism of self-regulation. Your parents may have downplayed your emotional responses throughout your childhood, resulting in you stifling your reactions as an adult, scared to rock the boat or say what’s truly on your mind. Being raised by toxic parents can make you play small, leaving you afraid to reveal your true personality.
You seek out emotionally unavailable partners
Living in a toxic household can reach into relationships, resulting in a constant cycle of failed romantic pursuits. We tend to mimic what we experienced as children, all the way through to adulthood. You could constantly be seeking out emotionally unavailable partners, unconsciously replicating the chaos of your parents’ love, as opposed to a healthy, stable dynamic.
You were used as an emotional crutch
Having an open, supportive relationship with your parents that goes both ways is healthy. However, toxic parents may overstep boundaries with their children, including oversharing information about their personal lives, or having an over-reliance on their child’s emotional support. This can leave a child with their own needs neglected, leading to the child feeling a need to ‘fix’ their parent – which, of course, is an unattainable goal.
You have trust issues
One of the biggest signs of being raised by a toxic parent is a hefty dose of trust issues. Whether it’s in your romantic or platonic relationships, you may find it hard to trust people’s genuine, good intentions. Trust issues can manifest in many ways, including assuming the worst in people, isolating yourself and avoiding commitment.
You had an unstable childhood
Toxic parenting inevitably results in a wild, rocky childhood. You may have been raised in an environment that was filled with drama, arguments and even abuse. A parent’s primary goal is to ensure the safety and security of their child, and if these basic needs aren’t met – and are swapped with constant altercations and drama – it’s a key sign that you were raised by a toxic parent.
You constantly seek approval from others
Being raised by toxic parents often means you were never given the emotional support you needed as a child. As an adult, you may seek to fill that void by seeking approval from others – constantly needing to be told that you’re doing the right thing or a good job. Using others – be it bosses, strangers, or friends – to fulfill your own sense of self-esteem is a pinpointer that you had a toxic childhood.
You have overly-competitive tendencies
If your parents constantly compared you to other children, highlighting their successes and downplaying your own, this can create a competitive edge to your personality. Originating from never feeling like you are truly enough, you could constantly be trying to prove yourself by ‘beating’ your peers, be it in your career, your finances or otherwise.
Your parents were highly controlling
Whether it was what you wore, who you dated, or what you ate – if your parents were overly controlling, it’s likely they were toxic. Constantly seeking to micromanage every aspect of your life to the point of sabotage can leave you feeling without any sense of independence, perhaps leading to a highly rebellious adolescence.
You don’t set up healthy boundaries
Your needs may not have been met as a child, with one or both of your parents putting their own needs above your own. This harmful parenting can reach into adulthood, resulting in a need to value other people above yourself. You could be lacking in boundaries, allowing people to treat you badly just to keep the peace. A lack of respect from your parents can result in a lack of respect for your own self and wellbeing.
You suffer with depression and/or anxiety
Depression and anxiety can be caused by a myriad of issues – but one likely factor is that you were raised by toxic parents. Hints of mental health issues caused by family usually display at a young age, though they can show during adolescence or adulthood. We tend to repeat the patterns we’re familiar with during our childhood when we’re adults, so if you were raised in a mentally unhealthy home, these patterns are likely to manifest as mental health issues.
You were never allowed to make mistakes
Another method of problematic parenting is never allowing children to make mistakes when they are young – no matter how small. From the simple matter of accidentally breaking a plate to failing a test, if your parents were exceedingly hard on you for menial issues, exploding with rage at trivial matters, you likely had a harmful upbringing.
You struggle to accept or give love
If you struggle to give love to others, or receive it from them, it probably stems from how you were raised. Giving love may seem like a foreign concept to you; you might not quite know how to navigate the tricky waters of emotional matters. This can usually be traced back to how you experienced love during your childhood, a lack of giving or receiving following you throughout your life.
You apologize for everything
We should, of course, always apologize when we’re in the wrong – open communication is vital for healthy relationships. If you find yourself constantly apologizing, however, there may be something deeper going on. Unhealthy parents often pass the blame onto their children, never admitting their own errors. This can lead to you becoming a constant apologizer, even when you’re not at fault.
You blame yourself whenever something goes wrong
Guilt is a horrible emotion to feel. If you didn’t have an ideal upbringing, you may see the world as something you should be able to fix, blaming yourself if you fail. From friends’ troubles to others’ illnesses, you might have a habit of relating everything back to yourself, even if these things are far beyond your control.
You were a victim of abuse
Abuse is something that no child should have to experience. Abuse comes in many forms other than just physical, however. Verbal and mental abuse can have a long-lasting, far-reaching impact on your psyche, leaving you with a host of issues to work through when (and if) you finally cut ties with your abuser. If you’re struggling with the effects of experiencing abuse from a parent, seek a qualified professional to help you through it.
You struggle to effectively communicate
If your parents failed to communicate properly with you, it’s a pattern you’ll likely carry with you into all of your future relationships. Mimicking your parents’ behavior, it could feel like you don’t quite understand how other people work. You may struggle with having open, honest conversations, or with not knowing how to resolve arguments and disagreements, leading to explosive conclusions.
Your parents forced a rivalry between you and your siblings
A little bit of sibling rivalry is healthy. Constantly being pitted, compared, and weighed up against your sibling is just straight-up toxic. One could have been the golden child, while nothing the other child did lived up to their sibling’s actions. This can be hugely detrimental to your self-esteem, and damage the relationship you have with your sibling for years to come.
Your parents kept secrets from you
Keeping things from your child can create a poisonous environment to live in. This is because it creates a false sense of reality, whether the secrets be about divorce, death, or finances. It creates an environment where the child can feel something is wrong, but their feelings are never acknowledged as being true – leading to severe trust issues and anxiety.
Your parents didn’t respect your privacy
Whether it was invading your personal space, removing the door to your bedroom or never letting you out of their sight for one minute, frequent invasions of privacy can have far-reaching implementations. Of course, young children should always have an eye kept on them for their own safety, but if this carried into your teenage years it may have left you feeling frustrated, confused and anxious.
You always feel guilty
Parents can instil guilt complexes in their children surprisingly easily – even if they don’t know they are doing it. Using phrases like “after everything I’ve done for you” implants a baseline of guilt as a child’s automatic emotional reaction, leaving them feeling as though they’ve let their parents down. It’s a form of emotional manipulation by guilt-tripping another in order to achieve a specific outcome.
You’re highly self-critical
Whether it’s in your career, relationships, finances or just how you see yourself as a person – if you’re condemning everything about yourself, it’s likely you were raised in a toxic household. If your parents were highly critical of everything you did – no matter what the achievement – your default response may be to carry that self-resentment with you for years.
You have body confidence issues
Our biggest critic isn’t ourselves – it’s our parents. Constant digs at an emotionally vulnerable age can manifest as body confidence issues in adulthood. These problems are born from being critiqued about our weight, our hair or our skin, to name just a few. Forever avoiding the mirror or feeling uncomfortable in your own skin often stems from how our parents treated us as children.
Your parents wanted you to be a mirror version of them
Narcissistic parents don’t want to raise a child, they want to sculpt them in their own image. Never allowing their offspring to form their own identity or make their own choices, these types of parents instead enforce their own likeness on their child, lashing out when they make decisions that can’t – or won’t – understand. This behavior is self-serving and only creates a whole host of future issues.
Your parents withheld their love as a punishment
Withholding love is both cruel and unnecessary. A lot of venomous parents use this as a tactic to punish their child, retreating from them emotionally when their son or daughter does something they deem unacceptable. This only teaches that love is conditional, and that you only deserve it when you’ve done something to earn it. Which, of course, is not how anyone deserves to be raised.
You don’t take care of yourself
If you take little pride in your life, it may stem from childhood. Whether it’s your physical appearance or how you keep your home, a lack of self-care is a telltale sign of low self-esteem and depression. Evaluating why you feel this way is the key to undoing any learned habits, and more often than not it’s our early experiences that shape who we are.
You find it hard to make any decisions
People who are easily overwhelmed by the simplest of choices, be it where to eat for dinner or what outfit to wear, usually have some form of trauma rooted in their childhood. The inability to master decision-making comes from a lack of self-belief, which can be created by a parent constantly chastising a child over menial choices, permanently damaging their confidence.
You don’t deal with failure well
Failure is a natural part of life which we all experience in some form or another. People raised by narcissists tend to react to failure very poorly, getting exceedingly depressed or even violently angry when they do not achieve a desired goal. The frustration is caused by the friction between parent and child, and the endless need for the latter to feel the need to prove something.
You have an avoidant-attachment style
Shrugging off, ghosting or ignoring people you care about is an unhealthy coping mechanism. Those who do this repeatedly are known as having an avoidant-attachment style, which is a form of self-preservation. Parents who were emotionally unavailable or unresponsive to their child’s needs usually leave their children with isolated tendencies, teaching their youths that it’s safer to be alone.
Your parents had zero empathy
Our emotional needs are hugely important, all throughout our lives but especially while we’re growing up. Parents who downplay their kid’s emotions, ignoring their pleas for care or downplaying any problems the child may have, are highly self-centred and ego-focused. These types of parents put their own needs before those of their children, resulting in a fractured home environment.
You were always silenced
Toxic parents never want to hear what their children have to say. Although it is the guardian’s duty to care and provide for their kids, it doesn’t automatically mean they’re always in the right. Narcissists always think that their line of thinking is the only way to think – apathetic to anyone else’s opinion. Being raised in an environment where the parent is always right and the child is always wrong creates a volatile dynamic.
You have little to zero confidence
You may find it hard to make friends, stand up for yourself, or speak up for what you believe in. Those raised in toxic households have their confidence and self-worth gradually stripped away, year by year, until they reach adulthood as a shy and reserved person. Confidence can be learned, though, so it’s never too late to undo the patterns imparted on to you.
As a parent, you try to do the opposite of what your parents did
After seeing your parents’ errors, you vow to do better. When you have doubts about how to raise your own youngster, you choose to do the exact opposite of what your folks would’ve done. Healing generational traumas isn’t an easy task, but it’s an important one. Using your negative childhood experiences to shield your own child from experiencing those very same emotions is a way of turning a darkness into a light.
You never ask for help
You won’t let anyone in, even if it helps. You’d rather fly solo, taking on every task possible until you snap. Parents who overburden their kids from a young age teach them that their needs don’t matter – and these children grow into people who’d rather suffer in silence than accept the hand that’s reaching out to them.
You over-explain a lot
If you have a tendency to over-explain yourself, this shows a yearning need to get others around you to understand your point of view, desperately seeking their validation. It’s likely this may come from being raised by a controlling mother and/or father figure, one who constantly demanded explanations for the most innocent of actions.
You lie to those around you
Pathological liars constantly spout untruths due to underlying mental health issues. Some even believe lies that they’re telling, having a distorted view of reality. If you were brought up by a figure like this in your life, it’s quite common to become a serial liar yourself. Lying becomes a form of protection, attempting to deflect anyone from getting in too close or getting to know the real you.
You feel guilty for having any downtime
Demanding parents may treat their children like their own personal workers, never allowing them a moment to enjoy for themselves or to have any fun. This can stretch into your maturity, where you feel the need to constantly be on the go for fear of being reprimanded. If you’re not careful, this underlying feeling can quickly develop into anxiety issues.
You try to stay as small and quiet as possible
If you tend to remain quiet or keep yourself small, it’s probable that you had to do the same as a child. Whether it was to keep hidden for fear of verbal or physical abuse, or simply out of fear of your parents’ reactions, kids tend to retreat into themselves for their own wellbeing. Being afraid to express yourself is a miserable existence, one that the parents are usually responsible for.
You’re emotionally numb
Numbness is a way of dealing with unprocessed trauma. If you were exposed to a lot as a kid, emotionally numbing yourself may be the only way you can find solace amongst the chaos. Witnessing too much anguish at a young age is a lot for anyone to contend with, but through therapy and self-care you can move past it to live a fuller, more enriching life.
You can’t deal with any form of conflict
If you were raised in an environment where drama and arguments were commonplace, you probably avoid any form of conflict at all costs. It may have been how you navigated these issues as a child, carrying those coping mechanisms with you as you grow and develop. Perhaps your parents raged at each other, or perhaps they raged at you – either type of experience will lead to a complete shutting down on facing any dispute head-on.