Definition of caustic: corrosive substance is one that will destroy or irreversibly damage another substance with which it comes in contact.
Lately I have been seeing and sensing a greater open discussion amongst my peers relating to the issue of toxic parents. For many years, it was falsely believed that by the sheer fact that your parents gave birth to you, you must love and respect them regardless of how they treat you. There is a point here. Even when you are seventy years years old, you are still a child to that parent. So where does that leave you if you are in the prime of your life, starting your own family and balancing the time between your family, and your toxic parents? What is a suitable amount of time to realize you must make your own way in this world, and therefore relegate those parents to the sidelines?
Parenting over the years has changed somewhat. With continued evolution and progress, we now see a generation of parents who are more involved in child rearing and are parenting in a more unified front. This is wonderful. But if you are in the unfortunate position now to be dealing with toxic parents, you are certainly not alone. These relationship can undoubtedly wreak havoc in your life, as well as the lives of your children. Whether it is verbal or mental abuse, the notion that one must suffer this life trial is ludicrous. Often these type of caustic parents feel they are entitled to push their opinions upon you and your children about how life should be. From your choice of spouse, to child rearing habits, to schools, or even how your kids dress, a toxic parent places themselves smack in the middle of issues where they don’t belong.
Explaining to your parents that they have already had their children, and that this is your time to find your way as a parent, usually leads to no avail. These people are often oblivious to the destruction, confusion and havoc they stir up. Often you’re dealing with a parent who potentially has mental health issues of their own. Surely some are worse than others, but generally speaking, unless you have a truly thoughtful and wonderful parent, you can deduce that they are trying to control your life because they feel so out of control in their own. They are fine with leaving a blazing trail of fire as they crawl back into their own world, leaving yours whirling.
When deciding how much intrusion is too much into your family life, you must determine the impact that this relationship has on your overall happiness and that of your family’s. If each and every time you see or speak to that parent you feel exhausted, depressed and totally stressed…that’s too much! Allow me to say this, as a parent, you have the obligation to protect your family, spare your spouse and free your children from your toxic parent(s). Conventional wisdom of many therapists enforces the notion that because your parents bore you, you ought to accept them for who they are and how they act. Even the most abusive parents can be loving at times! So what can you do if you’re dealing with these kinds of people?
1) Have a cohesive strategy with your spouse on how to deal with the next potential outburst from your toxic parent.
2) Act responsibly towards your children, rather than adopting the same destructive attributes of your parents.
3) Seek guidance from any kind of professionals or friends that you identify with.
4) Accept the fact that these are your parents for life. And although they are are your blood relatives, you still have the choice to live your own healthy and normal life with your own family.
5) Set a goal or time frame in your mind, when you will rid yourself of the turmoil, if it has become too destructive. If you just can’t bring yourself to sever ties completely, then limit the time you see them and speak with them or involve them in your family life.
You owe it to your children to spare them the legacy of a caustic parent. In years to come, when your children are parents themselves, they will have a sense of respect and love for your personal sacrifice. There is no better gift to hand off to your children, than the gift of a bright future with love, happiness and the role modeling of healthy relationships.
Lastly, if you do succeed in balancing and making the best out of a bad situation, then relish in your success. Indulge in knowing that you have prevented the cycle of toxicity from replicating itself to your children. That is the ultimate success…..
Man On The Fence
Ladies, do you have a caustic or toxic parent? Are you on the fence about how to deal with them? Have you been able to work through your issues? Do you have an action plan going forward? Please share your tips.