The toxic parent in your life could have been your mother, your father whoever raised you. If you have been reading my story the past couple of weeks. I have pretty much been putting it out there that I had a rough childhood growing up. There is quite a list of parenting mistakes my mom made that I still think about to this day. They are things I will never forget. So I want to share 9 lessons a toxic parent will teach their children.
Thinking about my childhood, these are the lessons taught to me by my mother. I think it is important to share the things I went through to show you that no matter what kind of life you were dealt that you have the power to make a choice.
These may not all apply to you growing up or to your kid, but these are the lessons I learned from my mother. I want to share them with anyone and everyone. For my mother, I have said in previous posts and in YouTube videos that when she was growing up mental health wasn’t a thing. It was always having a bad day lets go party. She lived her life that way for many, many years. Not that I am defending her, but she did what should with what she had.
But there has to come a point in your life where you did what I did. You wake up one morning and just say to yourself. “I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!” and then you work really hard to make that change. It is not going to be perfect, but at least you can say you tried.
If it was hard my mother couldn’t be bothered to do it. That was too much work for her. So let’s get into the 9 lessons I learned from my mother that I will NEVER do to my children.
Fun is not allowed
For the longest time, I thought I was a burden to my mom. We never did anything fun growing up. I remember going to a WrestleMania once when I was like 5 or 6. No vacation, no beach days, no amusement parks. Nothing. It took me a long time to realize that It wasn’t a US problem… it was a HER problem. If it wasn’t my mom’s thing we never did it. If it didn’t involve beer, cigarettes, or the man flavor of month and friends she wasn’t doing it.
Any fun thing I did as a child was because my older sister took me to do it. She took me to my first amusement park, my first vacation, beach days almost every weekend. If it wasn’t there it was the park. We did so many things because of my sister.
Do not interrupt a toxic parent
When mom’s friend was over we were not to be seen or heard from. It had to be an absolute 911 emergency. Mom’s friends would come over drink and listen to music. Sometimes I would peer around the corner to watch in awe when they would sing at the top of their lungs Helen Reddy’s – I Am Woman. I wanted friends like that. I understand having adult time, but she would flip if the kids were in the dining room. You would get an evil glare if you walked through to the kitchen to get a drink or snack.
A toxic parent blames you
My mother would look me dead in the face and tell me and my siblings that we were the reason she was alone. She lost 2 husbands my dad and my stepdad, Dave. We were the reason she had no money, living paycheck to paycheck. I couldn’t tell you how many times we have caught her or a friend of ours told us she wished she never had kids.
Do not make you a priority
I used to always tell everyone a specific order in which my mother cared about things As I said previously that if it didn’t involve beer, cigarettes, or the man flavor of month and friends she wouldn’t do anything. Well, that is the exact order in which she cared about things in her life. Her kids came last. Her wants and needs came first and her children were an afterthought. Talk about being a toxic parent…
Does not believe you
When I told my mom about the physical fistfight I got into with her boyfriend Mark she didn’t believe me. The cut on my elbow and handprint on my arms and neck weren’t enough proof. Even when he walked out with his face looking like a puffer fish she still wouldn’t acknowledge it.
When you read her a poem written about how shitty of a mother she was… she wouldn’t believe you. You didn’t share it with her to be mean. You shared it in hopes she would see the error in her ways. Nope. She just ignored it.
A toxic parent guilt trip
Anything that didn’t benefit her was a guilt trip. Anytime I wanted a little bit of freedom I would get the speech and tears of “you don’t love me”, “I do everything for you”, “why would you treat me like this?” She would say anything and everything to make me feel horrible. For a while there I believed it. I used to think of myself as such a bad kid. That I don’t appreciate my mom for everything she does for me.
Because of the way I viewed myself I was very shy and timid. I have to thank the bully in high school. I wish I could remember her name. But if she didn’t give me and my friends shit every day… I probably wouldn’t be as outspoken as I am.
I just remember one day my friends and I laughing on the bus having a good ol’ time. Not bother anyone and that bully told us to shut up. If we didn’t shut up she was going to beat me up at our bus stop. I just stood up, looked at her and yell “What the fuck is your problem? What did I ever do to you to make you hate me so much?” She was shocked that I stood up. As my friends pulled at me to sit down… I just kept yelling “Every day you tell me you are going to kick my ass and every day you don’t. Just do it already! If you are not going to do it then sit the fuck down and you shut up”
Ever since then I have stood my ground. That bully was the reason I finally stood up to my mom when she would give me a guilt trip.
Argue about everything
Well since I learned how to be assertive. That made me and my mom argue all the time. I didn’t dress right. If I came out with my bra strap showing in a tank top. I didn’t put the groceries away right. I had an attitude when her or her boyfriend said some nasty comment to me. Anything and everything was an argument now.
Instead of just being assertive… It became a defense mechanism whenever someone talked to me. I would automatically have an attitude if someone criticized me. In my mind, they were doing 1 of 3 things. Either they were attacking me, guilt-tripping me, or blaming me.
It took me a very long time to realize not all people were being assholes.
A toxic parent always plays the victim
Anytime something happened in our life my mom would play victim to everyone. She would twist the events to fit her narrative so people would help her. It was always poor Donna. She is raising 3 kids by herself. Poor Donna, can’t afford things for birthdays, Christmas, or just because. Let’s lay on the guilt trip to everyone who can pitch in money to help her. Only for her to buy toys from the dollar store and pocket the rest of the money.
For years I watched my mom get hit by her boyfriends and I always felt so bad that there was nothing I could do as a child. As I got older I realized that she would start with the hitting. She would hit them, get in their face, throw things at them. Granted they shouldn’t have put their hands on her, but that’s when I realized she was the abuser then played victim when they reacted.
This goes along with the lesson above. She swindled so many people out of money by manipulating them. Honestly I wish I was this heartless. She manipulated men, her friends and her kids. She could turn any situation about someone else and make it about her.
My favorite is when she would tell me that I was being overdramatic and emotional. Making me feel like a crazy person because I didn’t agree with what she was doing. If I didn’t do something for her it automatically meant that I didn’t love her. Always telling me how much she had to give up for her children. Placing these unrealistic expectations on me as a child.
Unlearning all of the toxic habits
Once I became an adult I thought I was good. That I was nothing like my mother. She had no hold on me. I am my own person. HAHAHAHA that was a joke. I am now 35 years old on a personal growth journey… I have found so many toxic traits of my mother in me.
I was doing things I didn’t think were toxic. Kidding around with boyfriends saying “If you don’t do this, you don’t love me”. I would tell myself that I was just joking, but I know looking back I 100% meant it. If they weren’t doing something for me I thought they didn’t love me.
I manipulated, I lied, I cheated to get my way. I blamed that on being young, dumb and naïve. No, that was my mother being a toxic parent. The more I look back at my past and talk about stories the more I realize I was 70% my mother.
Once I figured out that all of this was a learned behavior… there was only one thing I had to do…
Make a choice
I had to ask myself if I was going to continue down the path that I was or was I going to do something about it?
Was my mothers toxic parenting going to define who me are or am I going to work through it and become a better person?
It took a long time but I finally chose to work through it and become a better person. That is a choice I will always make. It was hard though. For the longest time, I didn’t. I could see myself turning into my mother and it was driving me crazy but I didn’t know how to stop it. One day I woke up and just said to myself “This needs to stop”. Ever since that morning, I have been working really hard. These past few years I have had to wake up and make the conscious choice to be better than I was yesterday and better than my mother.
In my journal, I have a running list of toxic traits I learned from my mother that I am working on. I don’t want to be a toxic parent to my kids or my stepkids. I still have a long way to go, but I have a clearer vision of who I want to be. It is the choice I have to choose every day of my life. My choice is to not be anything like my mother.
That is on being self-aware.
Until next time, have a great day!
43 thoughts on “9 lessons a toxic parent will teach their children”
This is a great article. I know so many people that have experienced toxic relationships especially women and their mothers. It’s great that you are sharing your experience and healing.
Growing up I never thought of my mom as being toxic because that word was never used around me. Now that I am older and all about mental health and personal growth… I want to share what I know so the younger generations know that they don’t have to deal with this.
Great read Michelle 🙂
This is so relatable on so many levels. A good read. Always love your work Michelle.
Thank you, Aimee.
This is a very important post. It is good that you were able to figure these issues out and share them with others. Keep moving forward on your journey!
Thank you, Dominique. That is all I can do.
A very informative sharing for all parents as a reminder in guiding the younger generation. thanks! cheers, siennylovesdrawing.wordpress.com
Being a parent is a hard thing to master, that’s why I believe that there is no perfect parent in the world. Thank you for this post!
My mom is not entirely toxic, but she can be. And in so many ways it was truly exhausting for us. But I know that it has also built us up in a good way.
My mom is not an awful mom. I think she is a product of her own suffocating mother, and we can see that she tries, but is also carrying some baggage.
In the end, you are right, you have to make a choice. We have to make a decision about what kind of person we truly want to be.
I’m just thankful that my parents are not toxic. It’s just sad that toxic parents do exist and I pity their children.
This is a fantastic post Michele but I am so sorry you had to live through it. I am so glad you found your voice and gave the bully what for. And that you don’t even credit her with a name.
Your strength of character shows in every post you write and your acknowledgement that you are still very much a work in progress speaks volumes about your strength and personality.
Thank you, Karen. I appreciate your comment. I am better than I was, but I do still have a long way to go.
Wow! Must have taken some courage to put this post together. Well done and thanks for sharing. I’m a parent, and it’s hard, it’s the hardest job I’ve done. But also by far the most rewarding. I have two daughters and always put them first, it’s what we signed up for right! Too many people throw the towel in these days with relationships and family matters. I wish you all the best for your future.
Thank you so much John. I didn’t expect to share all of this, but something in me told me I should.
It’s horrendous what some parents will do to their children. I’ve got a good relationship with mine thankfully. I’m shocked at some of the things mentioned here and that some parents can be like that.
When I think back to my childhood it is crazy the things we went through. I am sure I could tell more stories if I sat a thought hard about it, but it is all about moving on.
Wow, I am grateful that I never had toxic parents growing up. Were they perfect, no, but I always felt safe, loved and treasured. As a mom, I do however sometimes have to catch myself when I feel like I am being too hard on my kids. Toxic traits are unacceptable regardless of the situation or circumstances. Such an important article!
The one thing I have to be grateful for is that me my brother and my sister all vowed not to be like our mom when we had children. Sometimes it can slip through, but we correct ourselves quickly.
It’s hard growing up in a household with a toxic parent and worse if other relatives are there too. I’m just glad that even though I had a rough childhood because of toxic relatives, I still have my mom who taught me all the good stuff.
I am sorry your relatives were toxic. It is wonderful that you had your mom to keep you sane and stable.
Thank you for sharing this. I’m sorry you had to deal with it. I agree with you, being a better person is a choice that we should always make. I admire you for being strong, keep it up, momma!
Sometimes it does suck always making that choice. I would love to be an a-hole and be okay with it, but that is not in my nature. I can stand up for myself, but I can’t intentionally go out of my way to be mean to someone.
This is a very good post. I am sorry that you had to deal with this. But it is good that you are sharing your experiences to help others. Keep moving forward!
That’s all you can do, Dominique.
Hi Michele. You are such a wonderful woman. Yes, our relationship with our parent may not be perfect. But, as you did, we should assert the things we think are right for us. Cheers.
I agree, Ramil.
I’m sorry you had a rough childhood, there are so much we learn from old and past experience. Thank you for sharing!
Some much we can learn. A lot of our childhood can explain why we are the way we are.
Toxic parents leave lasting scars on their children. It can affect your world views, personality, behavior, and decision-making. I’m so grateful that my parents are not toxic. Thank you for sharing this with us.
I am so glad something clicked internally in me that made me want to change things. It has probably been the harder path, but so far definitely worth it.
Not sure how we are as a parent but so far my teens were raised well. As for me, all I remember is having a working parent so we have $ for needs so not sure how we can define toxic? Sad share for us but lessons learned.
Not all parents are toxic, Kenneth.
Very delicate and difficult topic. Cleaning your own soul first is crucial before you have an impact on your kids. It’s part of the huge responsibility.
You HAVE to clean your soul first. I 100% agree. I talk to my stepdaughter about all the things I went through as a child because I want her to know that no matter what you think your life is like you have the power to change it.
Oh! This is sad but true. I am lucky that I do not have toxic parents but I have heard stories from friends where they mom is so strict that basically, they are not allowed to have fun.
Children were not to be seen or heard.
This is a great read as one questions about their relationships with their parents when they were younger. Also, it questions about your relationship with your kids (and for me, my students).
Going through all of this I find myself talking out loud, but more so lecturing my stepdaughter about becoming her own person, making her own decisions. Because the opinion of everyone doesn’t matter.
I can relate with this my best friend had a bad past because of his parents(toxic). Thanks for sharing
Very useful. I agree, toxic parents are a thing and we need to be aware of what lessons they teach
Well curated piece here Michelle, there’s lots of insight we can get. I think not believing in our kids is the worst. A lot of kids quit their dreams not because it’s hard but because no one believes in them.
I agree. I am always telling my stepdaughter she can do whatever she wants in life and I absolutely mean it. I want her to do what she loves, move out of this town she grew up in, explore the world and have everything I always wanted to do in my 20s and still want to do, but never did. I don’t want her to have the kind of “support” system I had growing up.
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