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Don't Miss These Signs of Toxic Parenting

Theresa Edwards


Shark Wrestler

Theresa Edwards is a freelance writer and professional whiner. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her family where she enjoys reading, roller derby, and complaining about the heat.

What does it mean to be a ‘toxic parent’?

Elaine Taylor-Klaus, a parent coach and co-founder at Impact ADHD, says the following phrases and behaviors are good indicators that all is not well:

  • If your kid says, “You never listen to me," you need to ask yourself if you’re really listening.
  • Your kids complain about the same thing repeatedly. Hearing this means you might want to ask yourself if you’re responding to their concerns.
  • If you find yourself constantly identifying the ways in which other people are responsible for the upsets in your home — or if you're convinced family drama is always someone else’s fault — you may be part of the problem.
  • If you’re screaming or yelling more than you’d like, you’re part of the problem.

More: 4 Ways Fighting in Front of Your Kids Is Actually Good for Them

Grant weighs in with an extremely succinct and surefire determinant of toxic parenting. "We can tell when we are being toxic when our children begin to behave in like manner... a parent will see similar patterns of behavior within their children and the place to begin correcting the behaviors is to correct it in ourselves as parents."

So if you suspect that you're exhibiting toxic behaviors as a parent, what can you do to rectify that? A great place to start, suggests Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, author of Discipline Without Damage: How to Get Your Kids to Behave Without Messing Them Up, is to determine whether or not you have a bonded or binding relationship with your child.

"Binding is created by nothing other than circumstance. For example, 'I am your mother and because you were born to me, we are bound together. And because in this binding I am the big person, you will do as I say.'" On the other hand, she continues, "Bonding is created by a relationship cultivated through enduring experience. In other words, 'I am your mother, and I adore you. I will always take care of you and have your best interests at heart."

Masini concludes that toxicity is "usually a sign that you’re passing on learned behavior and your toxicity in relationships is historical. Recognizing the patterns in your personal [life] is a way to see that you’re replicating bad behavior, and this is a step towards changing it."

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