Every child deserves to be born into a loving, happy family. But in reality, far too many children grow up with unstable, destructive parents. And to make matters worse, not all types of mistreatment are obvious to outsiders. For instance, many people have grown up with parents who appear outwardly normal, but who are privately cruel and destructive. And, to be blunt, this confusing upbringing can continue to mess with your head for years after you've left the nest. That's why it's a smart idea to know the signs your mom was a toxic parent so you can make peace with your past and avoid replicating this behavior with your own children.
Part of what makes growing up with a toxic parent so difficult is the secrecy and sense of living a double-life. In many cases, the parent appears to be a normal and productive member of the community to outsiders. But in private, this persona drops and a cruel, cutting person emerges to bully and cut down the child. It doesn't take a doctorate in psychology to see that this kind of an upbringing can do serious damage to a kid. Sure, raising a child is hard work. But taking out old wounds on an impressionable kid is never appropriate. Read on to see whether any of these signs ring true for your own childhood.
1. She Undermined Your Goals
Feeling like your mom has your back is crucial. But as noted in the Huffington Post, toxic moms possibly undermined your interests and abilities as a child. This is sick: kids need support and love, not derision.
2. She Interrupted Conversations
When you tried to talk to your mom as a chid, did she listen attentively or talk over you? According to Relationship Media, conversations with a toxic parent may feel more like a competition. Basically, trying to talk to your mom might have felt like a tug-of-war game (except far less fun).
3. She Overshared Inappropriate Topics
Every relationship needs healthy boundaries. If your mom regularly discussed finances, addiction issues, or other topics best left to a therapist, then this could be another signs of a toxic relationship. Oversharing private topics with your child is inappropriate: kids aren't equipped to deal with the intricacies of adulthood.
4. She Inhibited Expression
OK, so sometimes it is appropriate for a mother to help steer her child toward appropriate avenues of expressions; perhaps tagging a building at night is not the best way to show off artistic skills. But in more dysfunctional dynamics, a child's expressions of her thoughts and feelings are dismissed or hampered, as noted by Brown University. Did you feel like you were able to express yourself to your mom, or were your feelings swept under the rug?
5. She Hindered Your Independence
In a healthy relationship, moms gradually steer their kids toward independence and growth. But unhealthy moms may encourage their kids to remain dependent for far too long. According to Deseret News, more dysfunctional moms may overreact to the usual conflicts that arise when kids start growing up and asserting independence. But in reality, budding independence should be encouraged.
6. She Encouraged You To Keep Secrets
Healthy relationships and secret-keeping usually do not go together. Toxic parents are usually masters at keeping family secrets, as noted in The Brighthill Lantern. If you were asked to keep secrets about addiction, alcohol abuse, or other troubling issues, then it's likely you had some dysfunction in your family.
7. She Prioritized Her Feelings Over Yours
Healthy relationships prioritize the feelings of both people. But if your mom prioritized her feelings over yours — especially if her feelings were grandiose and volatile — then this may be a sign of a toxic relationship, as noted in Thought Catalog. Sharing your feelings shouldn't become a competition.
8. She Demanded Inverse Responsibility
Parents care for children, and if this role gets reversed, it's usually a bad sign. Did it often feel like you were responsible for the well-being of your mother, even when you were still a child? That's a pretty strong indication of a twisted parent-child relationship.
9. She Made You Feel Bad About Yourself
This idea is particularly unsettling. But sometimes, a toxic mother will project her disturbances onto her child. In this case, a kid who is otherwise fine may start to question the sense of herself and even her reading of reality.
10. She Discouraged Growing Up
Plenty of toxic parents thrive on the idea that they are needed. According to Controlling Parents, toxic moms may take normal acts of growing up as a sort of personal insult. Granted, many parents may feel a bit wistful on the first day of school or other milestones, but healthy moms ultimately encourage this move toward adulthood.
11. She Humiliated You
Any bullying is awful, but it's particularly insidious when your own parent is the culprit. According to All About Love Inc., if your mom humiliated or belittled you, especially in front of others, you likely had a toxic parent. Fortunately, if you can recognize these signs now as an adult, you can work toward repairing the damage and making peace with your past.