All children deserve a loving family that meets their needs and validates their feelings. But unfortunately, this was not the reality for many of us. Here are 18 signs you may have grown up in a toxic household.
Overreactions to Everyday Occurrences
Toxic parents often feed off emotional drama and therefore frequently appear to overact to seemingly small events. If you grew up with parents like this, you may have felt scared to make even the smallest mistake out of fear of receiving an overblown display of anger or punishment.
Constant Comparisons with Siblings or Peers
Dysfunctional caregivers have a tendency to assign specific roles to different children and pit siblings against each other. The children sometimes internalize this messaging, becoming hostile to one another and engaging in toxic comparisons.
Playing the Victim Card
As a child, did you sometimes end up feeling like the bad guy for reacting to another family member treating you poorly? If so, it’s likely that you grew up in a toxic household. Parents who engage in this behavior often do so because they lack accountability and fail to see their own wrongdoings in any given situation.
Disrespecting Personal Boundaries
Kids who grew up in toxic households are more likely to have boundary issues. This is because toxic caregivers tend to overstep, disrespect, or trivialize their children’s boundaries, giving them the message that their boundaries are unimportant and will not be taken seriously.
Always Needing to Be Right
Toxic and narcissistic parents frequently have an issue with taking accountability, being wrong, or accepting criticism from others. Because of this, they commonly refuse to accept the possibility that they could be wrong about any particular topic.
Giving Ultimatums and Conditional Love
Children need and deserve unconditional love from their parents, but unfortunately, toxic families often fail to achieve this. In these kinds of families, children may feel like love has to be earned by acting in accordance with their parents’ wishes.
Conversations Always Centered Around Them
Toxic people, especially narcissists, have a tendency to make every conversation about themselves. If it felt like you were never truly listened to as a child, it’s very likely that you grew up in a toxic family where some family members’ needs were prioritized over others.
Feeling Drained After Interactions
Growing up in a toxic family can be extremely exhausting. The emotional drama, gaslighting, and mental battles would tire out even the hardiest of us. If you regularly feel in need of a long rest after interacting with family members, it’s likely you grew up in a toxic family.
Your Feelings Were Never Taken into Account
Do you have the sense that your feelings are less important than those of others? If so, it’s possible that this is a false belief you picked up in childhood. Toxic families will often pass this message on to their children by neglecting or invalidating their emotions.
Feeling Bullied Within the Family
In toxic families, one child often ends up being bullied and ridiculed by other members of the family. This is often done to boost the egos of those engaging in the bullying, making the target an inferior “outsider” in the process.
Constant Competition with Siblings
Some toxic families are in a constant state of unhealthy competition. These individuals feel like they need to prove their worth by seeing the flaws in other members of their family. Often, this means parents will instigate fights and comparisons between siblings.
Feeling Controlled and Manipulated
Manipulation and control are key tools for toxic parents. Because they learned that they cannot meet their own needs directly and healthily, they will often do so by manipulating their children to give them what they’re looking for.
Craving Approval from Others
Studies show that too little validation in your childhood leads to a greater need for approval in your adulthood. If your parents or caregivers failed to give you the attention and praise you deserved, it’s possible you grew up in a toxic family.
Distrusting Your Own Judgment
Toxic parents often gaslight their children by invalidating their feelings and experiences. As a result, these children learn that they cannot trust their own sense of judgment or their decision-making abilities. If this sounds like you, you may have grown up in a toxic family.
Easily Trapped in Codependent Relationships
Codependency frequently plays a key role in toxic family dynamics. If it seemed like one of your family members held all the power while others bowed down to their every need, no matter how unhealthy, then you may have grown up in a toxic family.
Undervaluing Personal Emotions
Dysfunctional parents tend to make their children feel like their emotions and thoughts about things are unimportant or inconvenient. This occurs when caregivers fail to listen to, acknowledge, and validate their children’s feelings.
Emotional Unavailability Leading to Isolation
Emotionally unavailable parents can be extremely damaging to their children, who naturally require love and attention. If it felt like your parents were never there when you needed them or you turned to others for emotional support, it’s possible you grew up in a toxic family.
Overbearing Control and Lack of Autonomy
Did you feel like you had no control over your life and were incapable of doing things for yourself growing up? If so, you may have a toxic family. Toxic parents often seek to control every aspect of their children’s lives, leaving them feeling powerless and out of control.
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