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Toxic parents: how to manage

Toxic parents: how to manage

Although he still didn’t know the term “toxic,” Rashawnda James knew he was only 13 when something was wrong about his relationship with his mother. “I realized in school conversations that there were a lot of parents talking like that,” he says.

James’ parents, a crack cocaine century, was not. “Sometimes I had to go look for my mother, I didn’t know where she was,” James says. “I felt responsible for my mother. Once I made that connection, I knew it was healthy. “

Common toxic properties

Signs that you may have toxic parents include:

  • They are self-centered. They don’t think about your needs or feelings.
  • They are emotional loose cannons. They overreact or create drama.
  • They share too much. They share inappropriate information with you, like details about their intimate lives. They use you as their primary source of emotional support.
  • They seek control. They can use guilt and money to get you to do what they want.
  • They are harsh critics. Anything you do is not good enough. They don’t respect your good qualities or achievements.
  • They have no limits. You may show up at home unsolicited or attack your life chances.


Now an Atlanta-based licensed therapist, author and self-care expert, James can name her mother’s toxic behaviors. These include manipulation and gaslighting, a technique that questions your ability to tell the truth or what is actually happening. “I couldn’t avoid my mother as a child. I couldn’t set boundaries, “James says.” The lines were blurred. There were no filters. “

However, his mother managed to get James into positive activities. “That became my safe haven,” James says. He stood out on the track and field. An organization offered it for free therapy When he was in the 12th grade. “It literally changed my life,” he says. That same counselor was in charge of her when James decided to become a therapist a few years later.

Take away the blame

We as adults have opportunities we didn’t have as children and we don’t always ask parents to do what they want, ”says Sharon Martin, an authorized clinical social worker in San Jose, CA. CBT Workbook for Perfectionism and The Better Boundaries Workbook.


If you grow up respecting your elders, obey your parents and please at all costs, it may be strange to set boundaries. Martin urges his clients to question this mindset. “Remember that your inability to love, accept and value your parents is not your fault and has nothing to do with your shortcomings.

“For example, consider setting boundaries that you feel are wrong, ask them to treat you with respect, prioritize the needs of you or your immediate family over your parents, or limit how much time you spend with your parents,” he says. “Would you tell a close friend that they are wrong to do these things because of screams, manipulations, lies, harsh criticism, dirt campaigns or threats?”

Don’t Try to Change

For James it was a big “aha” moment when he realized he couldn’t have a reason to stop his mother from taking drugs. “I became a golden child. I thought, if I did it right, it would be clean. If I go to high school … college … ”And on and on.


“I had to start living my life and I had to quit,” he says.

“It’s normal for parents to like it, regardless of age,” Martin says. “But be realistic about whether it’s possible and what your efforts cost you emotionally, physically, mentally, financially and spiritually.”

“The worst thing to do to yourself is to believe that you can fix it,” James agrees. “If you know that, you don’t have to be there and take what they give you. You can choose for yourself. It frees you up when you don’t have to fix something. “

Limitations are key

Fifteen years later, James is a clean mother. They both live 22 minutes apart and talk twice a day, even though they took a 2-year break. James emphasizes that while he chooses to maintain a relationship with his mother, you have to do what is best for you.

“It took me 10 years to set boundaries,” James says. “No, mother. I can’t give you any money. ‘ “No mom, I can’t do this for you.” “I can’t go where people make me uncomfortable, but you’re free to come here.”

“Because she’s my mother, she has no priorities more than mine,” she added.

She helps her mother become self-aware over time and can sometimes catch up with old role models.

No need to explain

Contact your parents for a short answer to the questions about why you are, which is, “I don’t talk to my parents because they are emotionally abused.” This can help you remember why you set boundaries, even if others don’t.

“When others judge or criticize the decision to limit contact or place other limitations with your parents, it’s because they assume you have emotionally healthy parents who treat you with respect.” “But you’re limiting contact because your parents are treating you badly. And your parents don’t get a free pass just to get you to be abused just because they’re your parents.”

You still don’t owe anyone a reason, Martin added. “You’re right. I don’t want to talk about it.”

Practice self-care

Children of toxic parents are not used to taking care of themselves, Martin says. “Use a mantra such as ‘Self-care is not selfish,’ ‘My needs matter,’ or ‘I’m an adult and I have the right to make my own choices.'”


James plans a self-care activity, such as journaling or doing physical exercise after spending time with his mother. “I love making newspapers. It’s a great way to have an internal conversation, to release my thoughts. I don’t keep my thoughts inside and I’m burdened with that, ”he says. She also loves dance workouts music From Miami, Florida is his home state as well.

Listening to gospel music is another way to keep it as a basis. He says it helps me realize that my struggle is not just my burden. “It’s a good reminder that my mother is not my responsibility. God can do more for her than I could do for her.”

Configure the support system

“The support system is essential,” Martin says. Proposes support groups or individuals therapy with someone who works in narcissistic abuse, developmental trauma, or codependency.

To find a therapist, call yours insurance join the company or network and get a list of suppliers. If you don’t have insurance, the cheapest online options are Telehealth and BetterHelp.

Change your story

“I saw what life was like as a kid, and I committed to not repeating that cycle,” James says. “I didn’t have a roadmap or a plan, but from level 12 onwards, I’ve got the tools to live healthier and more positively.”

Along with these she is raising her three children. For example, she doesn’t share too much, like her mother did. “I really try to keep their innocence as much as possible,” he says. “I don’t burden my children with the problems of others. It allows me to see my emotions because I want them to know the full spectrum.

“I follow the principle of not putting my limits of happiness on others, places or things. I can be anywhere, I can have anything and I still find joy. That’s one of my superpowers! “

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