18 Behaviors of Parents in a Toxic

This article explains what a toxic family is, and it lists the basic need for a child and the behaviors of toxic parents. It also discusses some of the reasons for toxic families.


Pamela Oglesby

a year ago | 2 min read

Family Overview

No family is perfect all the time. There will be an occasional disagreement, sibling rivalries or some miscommunication. These tend to happen when there is some other stress in life, maybe in the job or the car needs a major repair.

Children are helpless when they come into the world, so they are wholly dependent on their parents or caregiver. They are biologically programmed to seek the approval of their parents and their affection.

Parents should provide the basic needs of a child by:

  • Setting clear boundaries 
  • Providing affection and discipline
  • Taking care of health
  • Making sure you are provided with a good education
  • Ensuring you provided with enough food and clean clothes

Behaviors Of Toxic Parents

There are numerous behaviors of toxic parents that damage the self esteem of their children. Those behaviors include:

  1. Mocking or belittling your choices
  2. Attacking your vulnerable points
  3. Sexual comments about your body
  4. Gaslighting - form of emotional abuse and manipulation by inappropriate touching
  5. Name-calling
  6. Physical violence
  7. Chipping away at your self-esteem
  8. Harsh or very extreme criticism
  9. Sexual abuse
  10. No regard for your boundaries or your opinions
  11. You can’t communicate with them
  12. They drag you into heated arguments
  13. You are afraid of being abandoned as you haven’t received enough love
  14. They make you anxious so you keep your distance and don’t make eye contact
  15. You have been parentified, which means you have been given too many responsibilities 
  16. You have been infantilized as an adult child but treated like a kid
  17. You are thinking of leaving
  18. You feel inexperienced because your parents keep doing everything for you

Sometimes the boundaries between the child or children and the parent is blurred, which is called enmeshment. The parents view the child as an extension of themselves. This is an extreme form of rejection of the child's identity and boundaries.

Abandonment is just the opposite of enmeshment, and it’s equally toxic. This occurs when parents do not provide adequate care and love for their children. This can be straight-up child abuse.

Causes of Some Toxic Treatment

Parents typically raise their children the same way they were raised. There is a cultural component to some abuse. They do not question their unhealthy parenting behaviors. 

Some parents are simply selfish. They feel like they sacrificed so much for their child.

Final Thoughts 

There’s no right or wrong way to deal with toxic family members. Sometimes, people choose to cut off the relationship. If it is not safe to be around them, then you may have to completely cut them off.

Others try hard to work with family by limiting contact with the toxic family members, but they may try to talk it out. Sometimes, regular family counseling sessions with you may be the only option, but that depends on the toxic family member cooperating.

You have the right to cut the family member completely off if they won’t agree to getting some help. You may need some individual counseling.


Created by

Pamela Oglesby

I have written on several sites, but on Hubpages for 14 years and currently on Medium. I am a wife and mother of 3 sons. I grew up in Lakewood, OH, have my bachelors degree and some master's level classes. I am a member of the Daughter of the American revolution. I do genealogy research and make stained glass art.







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