Mommy ScoldingNot everyone’s parents are a blessing to be cherished. Not everyone sees the word “parent” as an active verb or sees their role as being a caretaker. It is not uncommon for parents to see their children as a burden or as a means to an end.  They may try to form them into adjuncts to the relationship, having them make up for what they aren’t getting from their spouse or they may see them as a rival to be strictly controlled.  They may be trained as a the peacemaker, forming them into an adult responsible for the good behavior of others from a very small age or they may see them as a way to get their own needs met even though those needs become a black hole which can never be filled.

Eventually these children grow up.  They become adults themselves and are faced with the juggernaut of the holidays.  A time for coming together, celebrating, reconnecting and reaffirming love and family.  This is, of course, an emotional minefield. It can seem easier to remain unaware, allow the abusiveness of the situation to be “normal” and suffer through it because it’s just one weekend or a series of events and then its over even though each interaction is a possible explosion in the making. Even if nothing goes wrong, it feels wrong and the effects linger.  Those who take the courageous steps to move towards healing feel as if there is no right step to take. Honoring themselves means seemingly becoming the center of the drama while honoring the family and cultural messaging means a level of self harm that simply can’t be sustained. Yet honoring themselves, setting boundaries, and releasing the guilt of not having the perfectly imperfect family that they “should” is the only way out of the cycle.

JR Thorpe’s article 9 Signs You Have a Toxic Parent describes her life struggling with toxic parents and lists the 9 ways you can tell if your parents are toxic.  The first step in the healing process is knowing that there’s a problem.