As a teenager, you may feel that the entire world is out to get you, especially your parents.
Parents are your “Enemy No.1”. You would like to think of them as toxic, no doubt. But does that make them toxic parents? Are they really toxic parents?
Before you go ahead and form your strategies to deal with toxic parents as a teenager, it would be worth checking if they are indeed toxic. Just because they are annoying and disagreeable doesn’t make them one.
If your parents are indeed toxic, you shouldn’t waste any more time. There is no need for you to suffer humiliation and manipulation any longer. If you indeed have toxic parents, their harmful behavior will make you feel so helpless and isolated that you may think you will never be able to escape from their clutches. Don’t despair. Remember where there is a will, there is a way.
As you’re still a minor and your parents are your guardian, you should know how to deal with toxic parents when you live with them. This article is an attempt at deciphering the behavior of toxic parents and teaching teenagers how to deal with them. Here are a few helpful suggestions on how to deal with toxic parents as a teenager.
Practical tips to deal with toxic parents as a teenager
So, you think that you have a toxic relationship with your parents. As a teenager, you may be living with your parents or dependent on them in many ways including financially. You may not have the luxury to walk out on them and regain your freedom. That makes things more complicated for you.
Then, the next question is what to do about it. How can you deal with this situation? And, what can you do to heal the wounds and recover your sanity and freedom?
Let’s begin at the beginning and see the best possible choices available to you as a teenager.
Are they really toxic parents?
Being a teenager, you may not like how your parents treat you. You may think that they are too intrusive and meddle too much in your affairs. Do you know that most teenagers feel this way about their parents? And, that doesn’t make them toxic.
Typically, the teenage is a difficult phase for you as well as your parents. You are going through many physical, mental, and emotional changes that may cloud your judgment. When you are irritated or frustrated, you will be looking for the easiest targets to blame for your predicament. That would be parents or even sometimes siblings. Do remember that this doesn’t make your parents bad or toxic.
Before you brand your parents as toxic, you should check the ground facts and not let your emotions cloud your judgment.
Do you feel jittery or suffocated when your parents are around? Are your decisions influenced by the need to please them? Do you have a hard time expressing your emotions and thoughts with them? Do you think that your parents are prioritizing their own needs before yours?
Some of the common signs of toxic parents are
- They are self-obsessed and self-centered.
- They are highly critical and demand your attention and obedience.
- They fail to offer you a safe and secure environment.
- They humiliate, manipulate, gaslight, and guilt-trip you.
- They make you believe that you deserve the life you’re living.
- You are scared of your parents and don’t feel comfortable expressing your emotions.
- They use the money to keep you in control.
- They disregard your boundaries and discourage you from setting boundaries.
- They give you the silent treatment if you resist their high-handedness.
- They hold you responsible for their happiness and well-being.
Just remember that a one-off episode of any of the above doesn’t make them toxic or abusive parents. You can confirm only if you spot multiple signs consistently over years.
Personal boundaries are non-existent in your relationship with your parents
And, the roles of parent and child are often reversed in a toxic parent-child relationship. Instead of the parent taking care of the physical and emotional needs of the child, you are expected to cater to the demand of your parents. When this is the case, personal boundaries fade and disappear. Set boundaries to take back control of your life.
Often, you are drawn into the fight between your parents and forced to take sides. Your parents are too invested and involved in their own personal drama that they have no time to think about you, your emotions, or your needs. However, to make up for the lack of love and care, they go overboard at times overstepping your boundaries. Setting boundaries is vital for your independence.
If you have never had personal boundaries in your relationship with your parents, you may find it hard to set boundaries and harder to enforce them. But it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If you’re determined about bringing a change in the relationship, be ready to go the extra mile.
Understand more about yourself and your needs and figure out the kind of boundaries you want in the relationship. The next step is to communicate the same to your parents. Be firm but respectful while at it.
Your parents may continue to disregard the boundaries you have set. Don’t give up just yet. Persist in your efforts and continue insisting on your parents respecting your boundaries. Until you can win them over.
Divert their attention with compelling comments
When the environment gets too suffocating for you or you find yourself cornered into a negative situation, you can try using certain pre-rehearsed phrases or statements to terminate the conversation or stop the assault.
“I can see that you’re having a hard time. I’m really in a hurry. We‘ll continue this conversation later.”
“I understand how strongly you feel about this. But I am too tired to have this conversation right now.”
As you’re validating your parents’ emotions, they will find it hard to dismiss you outright. At the same time, you’re including yours in such a way that they cannot ignore them. You’re also not denying them their right over you. All you’re asking is to be let go now.
The advantage of this strategy is in your parent forget all about it later on. So, in effect, you’re escaping the situation without being obvious.
You may find it difficult to come up with the right things to say in such moments and may have hesitation in saying them. So, it would help if you consider such situations beforehand and come up with diversionary tactics and rehearse well. You use them like a mantra to get your way with your abusive parents.
Think up a plan to shield yourself
Sometimes, the going will get so tough that you feel as if you’ll lose your mind. Before it reaches a breaking point, figure out how to stay calm. Even if you don’t have the luxury of cutting off toxic parents, maybe you can spend a day with your friends until things calm down.
Putting some distance between you and your parents may help you relax and find happiness. For this, you need to find yourself a safe place where you can retreat to. Another way to limit your exposure to your toxic parents is to keep yourself busy. Take up more courses and participate in more activities to fill up your time.
Rehearse your answers to avoid falling into the toxic trap
If you think about it, it is almost the same conversation repeating umpteen times with your parents. It almost always ends up with you feeling bad. Instead, think of answers to change track and deflect the routine.
Again, this may not come easy for you. So, you need to prepare well in advance. You may even ask your siblings or friends to support you in this charade.
Learn how to say “no”
Somehow this word has been absent from your vocabulary until now. You may not find it easy to include it now. Positive self-talk may help you there.
When you find your parents forcing uncomfortable situations on you, you should be able to say “no” to them. Getting your own mind to accept the word “no” as part of the normal conversation is a big positive development for you. As a next step, include this word in your conversations with your parents. There may be resistance, but stand firm.
The word “no” has a vital role to play in your efforts to deal with toxic parents as a teenager.
Final thoughts on dealing with toxic parents as a teenager
Teen years are hard enough to get through. Toxic parents can make it worse for you.
You may feel lost, helpless, confused, and unsupported. In situations like this, only you can help yourself. And, you must take constructive steps to counter their toxic behavior and take back control of your life at the earliest.