7 Surprising Long-Term Effects of a Toxic Parent

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Are there long-term effects of a toxic parent? The short answer to this question is yes there is. Some of them are surprising because many times we won’t make the connection to our own upbringing.

We often end up disliking ourselves even more not knowing why we are the way we are.

For many reasons, we struggle to admit some of the problems we experience in our lives as the result of our toxic parents and how we struggled during our childhood, and also how they affect our lives now.

This is not to blame our problems and all our weaknesses on our parents. Blaming your parents completely for everything is disempowering. It is important to know that even though we were not responsible for how we were parented and we weren’t to blame, we have choices now to put things right in our lives.

This article helps highlight those issues that could be affecting us. It helps us understand so we can learn from them that we could change our lives for the better for ourselves and also don’t continue to make the same mistakes for future generations.

This article will highlight the 6 long-term effects of a toxic parent.


1. How you parent your own children

Your experiences with your toxic parent, could in many ways affect how you parent your own children. 

An example of this is if you experienced a parent that was very emotionally distant, cold, very disciplined, and uncaring. You may decide because of your experiences that you won’t be as strict with your own child, giving them more flexibility and freedom than you got. 

The fact is, you are trying to provide the childhood for your children that you didn’t get.

The problem that can happen here is that you never feel that you are doing enough for your children and may find yourself in a constant state of guilt. You may also feel guilty for making mistakes or just wanting to put yourself first at times.

This could be because you haven’t learned from your own experiences, what a good mother or father is so you may not know where the middle ground is that you can be both loving, and kind with your children but also provide discipline to them with firm boundaries.

2. People pleasing 

You may feel that you don’t have a life for yourself otherwise from taking care of other people. Even if it is taking care of your family, busy working in your job, or both. 

Knowing when to stop, when enough is enough is a concept you just can’t do.

The problem is that the only time you may have gotten the attention or some sort of self-esteem was by doing for your parents. So taking care of others, gives you confidence so why would you give it up?

The problem with people pleasing is that no matter how much you do for others, like how it was with your parents, it would never ever be enough. Plus you may also find that you are not getting the recognition and the gratitude that you want so you are left often feeling used and resentful.

Unlearning people-pleasing is something you can learn to do. Not that you need to be the total opposite because for some of us that are a step too far but learning how to balance your life so that you can care for your own needs and allow others to care for you is something you can move towards step by step.

3. No identity – not knowing who you are

As your identity is taken up with what your parents want for you, you could end up not knowing what you want for your life or who you really are.

Maybe your parents lived their dreams through you or maybe they forced or manipulated their expectations of what they wanted you to be on you. Or maybe your family was preoccupied with one or both of your parent’s untreated mental health issues or addictions that there wasn’t the time or space for you to flourish.

You were then left with no room to learn who you really are. Your life was taken up as a child and a younger person was taken up with what was going on with your parents. 

4. Toxic Shame

Guilt and shame are normal human reactions to life when we have done something wrong. There is nothing wrong with feeling guilt and shame and we shouldn’t be trying to get rid of it as we would end up as a sociopath as it gives us that moral compass that we all need.

However, due to childhood difficulties, we could be experiencing toxic shame where instead of feeling ashamed of what we have done, then trying to make amends. We feel ashamed of who we are as a whole person.

This could happen when someone treats you poorly. Instead of saying that person treated me poorly so I would sort the person out or know how to protect myself. With toxic shame, you would internalise their actions and then make it about how bad and worthless a person you are as a person.

Toxic shame is a debilitating sense of worthlessness and hopelessness of who you are, which is often the message that was given to us about ourselves as children by our toxic parents.

There is a great book that explains Toxic Shame really well by John Bradshaw “Healing the Shame That Binds You”. The link to purchase it on Amazon is here. 

5. Emotional disorders

You could struggle to understand your emotions, in particular, being able to name what you are feeling.

A classic example is struggling with the emotion, Anger. One of the long-term effects of toxic parents is not feeling OK with anger.

You may find it difficult to at least show others that you are upset with them. You would rather internalise it and make yourself wrong and a bad person than accept how you are really feeling. Or you relive those negative experiences with others over and over in your mind causing worry and anxiety.

Being angry is a definite no-no for you and you would never show anger or feel comfortable admitting to being angry. But anger is an important emotion as it lets you stand up for yourself, and motivate yourself to do what is right for you and it is also good for your self-esteem. 

As you know too much anger is not good for you but too much of any emotion even the so-called good ones like Joy, Peace, etc. You may find yourself only feeling comfortable feeling those emotions which isn’t healthy for you and for others.

A good balance of all emotions keeps us emotionally healthy.

6. Relationship issues

Many struggle with relationships because of the other points highlighted in this article they would all affect your intimate relationships and also your friendships.

If you feel toxic shame, you may automatically default to other people hating you if you have made a mistake. If you are a people pleaser, you would go to the ends of the earth for others, even if it is making you physically unwell.

One of the major long-term effects of a toxic parent is attachment issues, which I have addressed here in this article.  Well worth a read!

Having issues with an attachment will affect all your relationships in a negative way.

There are four different attachment styles: Secure, Anxious, Avoidant and Disorganised.

In short, attachment issues will affect how comfortable you feel in a relationship. If you had, on the main, doesn’t have to be all the time, a secure person who you could rely on and trust as a child. You would learn as an adult that you could find people that you can rely on and trust.

If your parents were not reliable, you could grow up not feeling secure about your relationships and feeling anxious about the security of your relationships.

Summary of Long-Term Effects of a Toxic Parent

I pointed out first that this article isnt about blaming your parents but helping you to understand which will benefit you for many reasons.

Your upbring could affect how you parent your children, how you relate to others, how well you manage your emotions etc.

You may find it useful to read through again and record your reflections in a journal how it applies to you and how you feel those issues have affected your life.

Share with me: Which one resonated with you the most. Are there ones that are affecting you that are not listed here? Let me know and I could consider doing a blog on it.

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Do you have a Toxic, Emotionally Immature, Narcissist, Co-dependent, or Parent with an Addiction? Have you struggled with their behavior for most of your life? Maybe your Childhood wasn’t the best but you want to make sense of why it still affects you now.

You may find yourself struggling in so many ways.

I am an experienced and qualified Online-Therapist based in the United Kingdom helping you on your road to healing from your Toxic Parents. 

Healing is Possible! I’m here to walk with you on your Journey

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