No one wants to grow up with a toxic parent. Trust me. As someone who grew up with at toxic, abusive father, let me be the first to say that there are more negatives than positives to your childhood being stifled by an unhealthy environment. However, I can also say that you learn a lot from an otherwise horrific experience; you learn how to be a better parent to your kid, how to be a better individual for yourself, and how to be a better partner to someone else. These lessons, while taught in the unhealthiness of ways, are the reason why people who grew up with a toxic parent, have the strongest relationships.
I was forced to watch my mother endure an abusive husband, and I was forced to grow up in an environment ruled by an abusive and toxic parent. During that time, it was difficult to see the silver lining through the violence and pain and the fear but, eventually, I realized it was always there, lying beneath the surface and present during every horrific altercation. When my father yelled obscenities at my mother when he was angry, I learned how to handle disagreements in a healthy, respectful way. When my father called my mother names, I learned what slut-shaming is and why it's so dangerous and horrific. When my father lost control and was violent, I was made acutely aware of the many reasons why gender equality must become the rule, and not the exception.
I also learned how to be a better partner. When I started dating, I was so very afraid that I would pick a partner that would end up being just like my father. And while it took me a while, I realized that people who grow up with toxic parents are actually capable of having some of the healthiest, longest-lasting relationships. Sure, we don't necessarily appreciate the way in which we learned, but these eight reasons are why our relationships will remain strong, healthy and happy.
They Know What Not To Do
It isn't the ideal way to learn, to be sure, but when you grow up with a toxic parent you're acutely aware of what not to do. You've seen how unhealthy habits, debilitating narcissism, and/or violent behavior can negatively affect pretty much everything and everyone around that toxic person. It can change the way you raise your kids, change the way you view yourself and most certainly changes your present or future relationships. You know what you don't want to become, and will act and/or adjust accordingly to ensure that you don't do to someone what was so callously done to you.
They Realize The Importance Of Communication
When I watched my toxic father and my mother argue, I quickly realized that their inability to successfully communicate (along with other factors, of course) contributed to their toxic relationship and my father's toxic, and often violent, behavior. Rarely were they on the same page; rarely did they understand one another; rarely did my mother feel comfortable (or safe) communicating with my father. I learned the value of effective communication, and it is a lesson that I have carried with me into every aspect of my life. People who grew up with a toxic parent are quick to apply the hard lessons they've learned, so their behavior doesn't mimic the behavior of their toxic parent. If your toxic parent was horrible at communicating, you'll (no doubt) work tirelessly to ensure that you (and your partner) are pretty fantastic at it.
They Value Individuality
Growing up with a toxic parent is like scoring front-row tickets to a painful show in which you're forced to watch one person devalue and dissolve another person's individuality. Whether it was one parent hurting another parent, or one parent hurting you, a toxic parent is quick to establish a hierarchy of sorts, in which their individuality is the only individuality celebrated. My mother was forced to let go of everything that made her happy, if and especially when those things didn't include my toxic father. Friends, family members, hobbies, outdoor activities; they were all taken from her as a way of assuring my father that he would constantly be in control.
A person who grew up in that kind of a toxic environment, is going to be acutely aware of the value of individuality, especially in the midst of a romantic relationship. He or she will work to cultivate their own individuality, and celebrate the individuality of their partner, so healthy boundaries are established and respected.
Establishing Healthy Fighting Habits Are Important To Them
Every couple argues, and many of those arguments are going to turn into fights. Someone who grew up with a toxic parent, however, is going to realize the difference between a healthy argument, and a not-so-healthy one, and will do their part in establishing fair fighting techniques and practices. For example, giving your partner space to decompress and find neutral before engaging in an argument, is vital; respecting your partner's feelings instead of telling them what they're expressing is "wrong" or "stupid"; giving adequate time for both partners to speak their mind; it's all vital parts of healthy disagreement, and all steps to make sure those disagreements don't turn your relationship into a toxic one.
They Pick Their Partner Carefully
While there are studies to suggest that children who grew up with a toxic parent are prone to pick a partner with similar, toxic traits, I'd argue that kids with toxic parents are also given a palpable road map of speed bumps to actively avoid. They know what traits can combine to form the toxic, violent and unhealthy personality their parent embodied, and they'll will make sure to avoid any potential partners who exhibit similar attributes. No one is immune to picking someone horribly wrong for them, but when you grow up with a toxic parent, you're arguably more aware than most.
They Remain Financially Independent
One of the contributing factors to successfully abusing someone and facilitating toxic behavior, is financial dependence. I, for one, watched my mother as she was forced to live in an unhealthy environment because she was financially incapable of supporting herself and her children, alone. Financial abuse is commonly used to establish power and control in a relationship, and while it can be subtle, it is paramount in allowing one toxic parent/partner to continue their unhealthy behavior.
Someone who grew up with a toxic parent probably saw the affects of financial abuse, and will be much more likely to contribute to their future relationships financially, or establish personal accounts that only they control, so they can always be financially independent.
They're Cognizant Of Potential, Toxic Patterns
One-third of people who are abused in childhood, will become abusers themselves. Studies suggest that the earlier the abuse or neglect started, and the length in which it was allowed to continue, contribute to an individual's risk of becoming abusive or neglectful. Someone who grew up with a toxic parent are likely to know these devastating statistics and, having grown up surrounding by warning signs and red flags, will be quick to evaluate themselves and their behavior. There's (arguably) nothing more terrifying than becoming what once caused you pain, so someone with an abusive parent will be cognizant of the warning signs, and be diligent in their efforts to stop repeating a violent pattern.
They're Ultimately In Charge Of Their Own Happiness
A person who grew up with a toxic parent is going to realize (at an early age, too) that the only person ultimately responsible for their happiness, is themselves. It's unhealthy to demand that someone else constantly make you happy, and it's unfair for someone to do the same to you. Yes, we all want to work with our partner to help them be as happy and healthy as possible, but the source of one's happiness should be primarily an internal, not external, one. My mother worked tirelessly to make my toxic father happy and, guess what; it never happened. We are all responsible for our own happiness, and that realization goes a long way in establishing healthy, strong and long-lasting relationships.