Parents have a significant role to play in the upbringing and lives of their children.
A parent builds a relationship with the child with all good intentions. They obviously want only the best for their child and want them to succeed in everything they attempt and live their dreams.
But somewhere down the road, things start to go wrong. What began as good intentions took a detour without both parties involved realizing it. At times it turns into obsessions, controlling, critical, or manipulative behavior, or refusal to acknowledge the fact that their child is growing up and needs more space and freedom.
All these can lead to toxicity in the relationship. For a child who has reached adulthood and can take care of themselves, the easiest choice would be to walk out of the relationship. If you are still a child who is dependent on your parents, this is not an option at all.
However, the point remains that a child cannot wish away the relationship with one’s parents just like that. Nor can the parent do this. It will remain as a sore wound in some corner of the mind, creating trouble now and then.
Before you start thinking about how to escape toxic parents or how to get away from toxic parents, you should explore other options.
This article explains ways to live with toxic parents and have a healthy relationship with them. You will find here examples of boundaries with toxic parents.
8 ways to deal with toxic parents even as you live with them
As a child, you have been seeing your parents all your lives and never thought about their behavior towards you as abnormal. Until one fine day, you woke up to the fact that this is not the way other parents treat their children. From this moment on, you would be trying to figure out how to deal with the situation.
Toxicity in parents varies a lot. Before branding your parents as toxic, you need to make sure that their behavior qualifies as such. Merely losing one’s cool or raising one’s voice occasionally doesn’t make a parent toxic. And, if the behavior is too toxic, moving out may be the only option for you.
These are some steps you can try to make it work with your toxic parents.
1. Stop to be a parent-pleaser
All parents have expectations from their children. They want you to behave in a certain way and this will earn you rewards. However, toxic parents are impossible to please. This means you are always trying to do things their way but unable to please them. This can make both unhappy and dissatisfied.
As you grow up, you will develop your own set of values and beliefs. As long as you live by them, you will be happy. Learn to break free from the grips of your parents by setting your own goals, charting your own path, and living by your own values. Stop being a parent-pleaser as you achieve nothing by it. Neither you are happy nor them. Regain control of your life.
2. Set and enforce boundaries
One of the most annoying things about toxic parents is their disrespect for your personal boundaries, be it physical or mental. You often find them entering your room without knocking and asking for permission. They offer you advice on your love life without being asked.
Maybe their behavior was alright when you were a baby. As you grow, the personal space you need keeps expanding. Parents need to respect the changing boundaries. If they are not, make it clear to them without losing your cool. They may still overstep the boundaries but every time they do that, talk to them about how important it is for you.
Setting boundaries with parents is considered one of the most effective ways to deal with toxic parents.
3. Be careful about what you share with them
Toxic parents use every bit of information they have about you as weapons against you. They may already know a lot about you or they may get it from other sources. You can do nothing about these. At least you can stop from supplying them with more ammunition.
Things you casually tell your parents may be used later against you. Moreover, you need to realize that you are not obliged to share everything with your parents. Make it a habit to filter the information you share with them.
4. Don’t try to change your parents
If they can see reason, they would have realized it a long time back. They would never have behaved the way they did. So, reasoning with your parents to change their mindset is a futile effort. It will not work. Better not waste your time and energy on telling them things they are not willing to listen to.
Arguing with your parents can only make matters worse. Even when you are right, they are never going to accept it.
It is indeed true that a parent-child relationship is the most beautiful of them all. You need to accept that you are not destined to enjoy that kind of relationship with your parents.
5. Take good care of your physical and mental health
Difficult relationships with parents can lead to depression and associated mental disorders. This may also reflect in your physical health. Guard against such eventualities. Toxic people can suck the happiness and sense of well-being out of you.
Invest some time and effort in self-care. Eat healthily, get adequate sleep, and stay fit. Connect with people you love and those who love you. Spend time doing things you enjoy. Develop and pursue hobbies that can help you relax. Ensure that your energy levels remain high and your mood is upbeat.
6. Learn to read their triggers
At least some toxic parents are tolerable most of the time and switch on their controlling or toxic behavior when they are triggered. It may be a certain topic or a sequence of events. Try to figure out these triggers and avoid them at all costs.
In case, you can’t prevent the triggers, learn to detect their foul mood and stay away from them until things have calmed down.
On the other hand, understand what makes them act normally. Try to ensure an environment when they are more agreeable and better behaved.
7. Learn to accept them as they are
If you want to be treated with respect and the boundaries set by you honored by them, you can make the first move. You show respect to your parents by accepting them for who they are. After all, they too are human beings, often living a highly stressed life.
Their behavior towards you is indeed inappropriate or even harmful. But try to understand the fact that they are who they are and cannot help such behavior. They feel they are doing their best for you.
You need to realize that you cannot control or change how others behave but you have control over how you react to such behavior. At times, you can change others through your response to their actions.
8. Plan your exit strategy
This need not be about moving out of your home. When the behavior of your toxic parents gets too unbearable, you need to have a plan ready so that you can adopt it without investing much thought into it. Instead of allowing the situation to escalate, it is always advisable to remove yourself from the scene.
Maybe you have a friend who can accommodate you for a day or two. Or going for a long walk. But before you leave, tell your parents that you are leaving because of their behavior and will be back when they are calmer.
Living with toxic parents without losing your mental equilibrium requires a balancing act. You need to manage a happy and content life without antagonizing your parents. Sometimes you may have to make compromises.
When you work within the limitations of your given situation, do your best and don’t blame yourself when things don’t work the way you imagined they would.
Breaking free is challenging as there would be resistance to the status quo from your parents. You may feel scared to stand up to them. Take small steps to regain control of your life.
Having someone who understands what you are going through to offer you proper guidance and emotional support can help. If you have a good friend, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Or else, professional help is always available within easy reach for you.
Codependent parents often believe they are doing what is best for their children. But the reality is, there are other ways to help them grow and flourish. Read more about “Codependent parents” in our full article here – How to Deal with Codependent Parents of Adults.