5 Ways to Spot a Toxic Parent

Hey Optimist Minds!

Are your parents a constant source of distress for you? Do they often try to make you feel ashamed or guilty?

People become toxic to you when their behaviour gets in the way of your wellbeing. Growing up with toxic parents is extremely challenging because the people in charge of your care end up causing you the most harm.

A toxic parent fails to prioritise their child’s needs and instead, becomes a source of negativity. There are many reasons why a parent might become toxic. For example, addiction, mental health problems, narcissism, neglect, and abuse.

Each of these interferes with the parent’s ability to raise their child in a healthy and wholesome way. If you have toxic parents, you might struggle with your mental and physical health, career, finances, or more. What’s worse is that the impact of a toxic parent lasts even several years after moving away from them.

In this video, we will discuss five ways to spot a toxic parent. This information can help you identify if your parents have been harming you in ways you didn’t recognise before. Knowing the signs allow you to take the necessary steps to safeguard yourself from their toxicity.

Before we begin, we want our viewers to know that having toxic parents can lead to many psychological issues like low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. We recommend consulting a therapist to learn how to overcome them.

Now, let’s start.

Number One

See if they encourage autonomy.

Is your parent controlling? Do they want you to only do things according to their demands? 

When you’re younger, it’s understandable for your parent to decide things for you. But as you grow older, you should be given ample opportunities to make your own decisions, especially if you’re an adult.

A toxic parent will always try to influence the choices you make. They might even resort to emotional blackmail and manipulation to get you to do what they want. If you stick to a decision they don’t approve of, they’ll keep berating you for it whenever they get a chance.

Number Two

Keep a track of how much they criticise you.

Does your parent frequently point out your shortcomings? Do they sometimes do so in front of other people?

It’s a parent’s job to provide feedback whenever required, even if the child doesn’t want to hear it. However, it becomes toxic if the number of negative comments is far more than that of praise. Without sufficient positive feedback, you grow up feeling inadequate and your self-worth diminishes.

Toxic parents might also take sadistic pleasure in humiliating their children in family gatherings or public places. Their criticism is rarely constructive and instead, rather demeaning.

Number Three

Reflect on their expectations of you.

Does your parent put pressure on you to do things that make you unhappy? Even when you assert your needs to them, do they still expect you to obey selflessly?

As parents invest a lot into your upbringing, it’s natural for them to have some expectations of you. Regardless, they can only hope for you to meet these expectations. It’s not right to pressurise you to satisfy them. After all, it is your life.

A toxic parent doesn’t understand this and feels entitled to your absolute compliance. They might think of you less as an individual and more of an extension of themselves. As a result, they think it’s okay to expect you to put their needs before your own.

Number Four

Observe how they handle conflict.

Conflicts are an essential part of any human relationship, especially in the dynamics of the family. Arguments are inevitable but they need not become nasty fights with attacking behaviour.

Parents set the example for their kids on how to approach conflict. If your parent tends to become defensive, aggressive, mean, and hurtful, you might never learn how to healthily resolve conflicts. 

Toxic parents also tend to ignore, stonewall, deny and minimise your concerns till they’re swept under the carpet. Consequently, problems remain unsolved and grow bigger than they should.

Number Five

Pay attention to how they express affection.

A toxic parent’s affection can be conditional, inauthentic, or completely absent.

When your parent is upset about something you did, it’s understandable if they express the negative emotion they’re feeling. What isn’t fair is if they start giving you the silent treatment, especially if it’s what they do every time you fight.

Sometimes parents are emotionally unavailable and don’t know how to show their love in ways that you need to see. While it’s good to understand their limitations, it’s perfectly okay to crave more affection as it’s a human need.

Not receiving enough affection from your parents can lead to anxiety and a fear of abandonment. These issues can last for years even in adulthood.

Were you able to resonate with any of the examples of toxic parenting that we shared? Do you think your parent could be toxic? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

A link for further reading and the studies & references used in the making of this video are mentioned in the description below.

Thanks for visiting optimist minds, take care. Until next time.


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