Sunday, March 15, 2009

Introductions, concepts, and beginnings of a fight

What is a "toxic parent"?

Susan Forward's book, "Toxic Parents: How to Overcome Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaim Your Life" was a godsend to me. She defines it in her book, but I add some details.

"Toxic" could simply be another name for abusive, except that I think society has a narrow view of what an abusive parent looks like. To them, an "abusive" parent is someone defined by three myths:

Myth 1: Abusive parents are horrible people that are easy to spot. Wrong. Abusive parents are usually only abusive when alone with their kids, including adult kids. In front of others, they are usually as nice, professional, and "normal" as anyone. The parents' friends, co-workers, an associates will likely view the parents as "wonderful" or "saints" (common for parents who are doctors). If we kids think about telling these people the truth, we feel little reason for them to believe us...and they might try to "out" us by telling the parent what we told, in the hope of "reconciling us" (which is another fallacy)

Myth 2: Abusive parents are always intentionally cruel to their children. If a parent doesn't mean it, its not abusive. Wrong. Parents can be cruel without intending to be. How? Parents who have exaggerated, distorted beliefs about the dangers of sex may try to stop their children from ever dating, or in some cases, masturbating. And when the kids do date, have sexual relationships, they often hide it from their parents. This is especially true in non-Western immigrant parents (South Asian, Asian, Middle Eastern, etc) who come from cultures where pre-marital sex is condemned.

Myth 3: If a parent is abusive, one can call the police and get rid of them. End of story. I wish. I really do. But the truth is that the only witnesses of these crimes are the victims (as is the case for any domestic abuse). So small children are expected to recognize that their mommy and daddy are criminals and phone the cops? No, they grow up with it, and they learn to accept it. It is the family way, even if they learn the concept of abusive homes ("that happens to them, not us").

Also, as far as I know, the law does not criminilize parents for having extreme beliefs, like hatred for pre-marital sex or thinking that "no good jobs" come from a field that the parent knows nothing about. Ignorance is ignorant, it's scientifically falsifiable, but it's not illegal.

So no one is going to challenge them.

What do we do?

I'm so happy to be done with the 101, because I'm suffering tonight. My mother is thankfully leaving tomorrow, and my strength is needed for things like job searches and apartment hunts.

The truth is that, inspite of all the garbage we are told, these parents do not change by "talking it out". You do not talk someone out of their nature. And its iditiotic to argue that they are this way because we didn't say the right words. They are this way because of the decades of upbringing and neurophysiology that took place before we were born. Good parents can change their views, but if their doing the same shit when your 25 that they were doing when you were 5, 10, 15, 18, 22...then it's fair to say that that is who they are.

Of course accepting your parents nature does not require you to forgive them. Forgiveness should be earned for changing bad bevaiour and mindsets. It should not be obligatorilly given. There is NOTHING wrong with you for refusing to forgive your parents. You don't have "issues", you have values, specifically the value that abuse in your own home is unacceptable, even if you must accept the fact that they will never change. There will be no "healing" if you push yourself to forgive parents who continue to torture and mistreat you, with no reform in sight.

Stop blaming yourself for hating them. Anyone who treats you this way, ESPECIALLY your own parents, does not deserve forgiveness unless they realize the cruelty of their actions and make real attampts to change them. Sadly, this is unlikely to happen.

Which is why you must stop trying to "talk" with them and start trying to talk with yourself, for the purpose of surviving. But ultimately for the purpose of thriving and learning the mental will to resist their ugly control. They are monsters, but YOU are a warrior. Follow the path of self-control of your mind, of ACCURATELY weighing the pros and cons of decisions, INSTEAD of the bigoted, ignorant, prejudiced ideas your parents want you to believe. Learn to tell the difference between a real worry and an ignorant worry (and expect both such worries to come out of the same mouth of the parent. Be on guard to tell shit from reason as your parents will indiscriminately speak both in the same breath.)

Financial independence is key, but you must also learn psychological independence. And you may have to practice the psychology first, because this economy means many more sons and daughters will be pushed to rely on their parents for money. Keep searching and keep striving. You don't have to settle for menial jobs, at least not in the long term.

I pray (though I'm an atheist) that this blog is the start of something beyond hope. We must stay strong and find the strength in ourselves and each other, especially when unsympathetic listeners will tell us to "grow up". We're ALL growing up, and that process is not linear. Backwards, forwards, up, down, zig zag, experiment, make as you go crossed with look before you leap. That is the maturation process for EVERYONE, even the shitheads who think they know it all.

There are no police, no knights, no lobby groups (yet), and no stimulus package...As our President once said:

"We are the change we have been waiting for."


  1. Thank you so much for this blog, I think it's going to help me. (I've dealt with a lot of crap in my life and I can't just move out currently.)

    And thanks for your facebook page too.

  2. thanks for the information on this blog! I find it very interesting and entertaining! hopefully soon have updates that I love your post! I thank you too!
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  3. I am dealing with an abusive mother since childhood,and i dnt have an option to move out.but i feel she is going to damage me permanently.i have started to remain sick all the tym.

  4. I have a mentally and emotionality abusive mother that acts as if she is jealous of me shedrains the life out of me and my two children. I don't have the option of moving out right now but I really don't know what else to do I'm at the point that I want to physically hurt her what should I do?

  5. l am also dealing with abusive parents, even my own elder sister is abusive too. And she once also was abused but after her marriage she is abusing me just like my parents. To me they are the shitty family in the world. and at the same time l am not financially independent.So , now l have no other choice without ignoring them and move on. abusive families never change. So its my responsibility to pull the trigger now l guess as l am 22. l don't get it that why God love abusive parents........