It’s hard to find the line with toxic parents sometimes. In general, parents want what’s best for us, and sometimes, they just get it a bit wrong when it comes to encouraging us. However, when your relationship with your mother and father is tarnished by emotional abuse, it can be difficult putting your family back together. Toxic parents come in all shapes and forms: they can be unsupportive, overly coddling, or even too distant from their children. If you think you need help and you can’t rely on either parent, having people surround you can help, but you still need relationships free of abuse. So what is the best way for dealing with toxic parents? Here are our six top tips:

Repeat their behaviours back to them

If your parent is being problematic, don’t be afraid to mimic their behaviours. By mirroring their actions, they will see how much the things they say and do can hurt you. They may lash out at you for doing it to them, but they’ll soon realise that you are only doing to them what they do to you. Dealing with toxic parents is never going to be easy. A parent may view themselves as an authority figure when it comes to their children, and they don’t like to be called out by them. Family dynamics will always vary over time as you grow up and more in tune with life, but you should always feel that your relationship with your family is balanced. Remind them that you’re all human, and you need to be on the same level as each other.

Discuss the issue

Speaking to your parents about the issue like adults is the best was for dealing with toxic parents. If you want to avoid being passive aggressive, sit them down and discuss where they’re going wrong. Strong emotional contact is key, and it will do you the world of good to talk through difficult emotions. It may be something that comes more naturally with your mother, since women tend to be more emotional, but help your dad feel like he can open up too. Your relationship will strengthen the second you open up. Don’t be afraid to put all your cards on the table and give them an ultimatum. Let them know that things have to change for good, or you’re not interested in being in their lives. If you’ve been suffering abuse at their hands, having control is vital to getting your life back on track. 

Ask them where they’re coming from

Sometimes, our wires can get crossed and we can get the wrong impression from someone. When dealing with toxic parents, it’s important to remember that they may not realise they’re hurting your feelings. For all you know, you’re the centre of their world, and all they’re hoping to achieve is seeing their children succeed. Though it may be difficult, don’t go in guns blazing. Just ask them to explain why they do the things they do, even if they’re not very emotional people. You’ll find you understand each other much better afterwards if you have a good chat. It will take time to heal, but the contact you make at this point is vital for progress.

Get some space and perspective

If you need to, take some breathing space to calm down and think about the situation. There’s no use in getting angry and saying things you don’t mean. It’s not the end of the world if you do, but it takes more time to mend a relationship than it does for it to fall apart. Before you approach the situation of your toxic parents, make sure you’ve thought it through. Sometimes, you might find you’re overreacting, and you just need some space to deal with the issue.

Prove them wrong

Are your parents constantly putting you down, or belittling the things you do? Are they trying to make you do something you don’t want to? Don’t stand for it! Go out there and show them what you’re made of. Your mother will want to interfere and your father will always have something to say, but if you want to help yourself, block out their negativity. Take pride in your own achievements and they’ll start to as well – positive attitudes all around will make everyone feel much better.

Dealing with toxic parents – show them they’re toxic

If they’re not listening to you, and they just can’t seem to change their ways, let your parent know their behaviours are problematic. A problem won’t go away until you address it, so let your parents know that’s what you’re doing. If you’ve had careful consideration of the situation and you’ve concluded that you’ve got right to feel the way you do, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t bring the topic up.

If you feel that your relationship with your parents – or just your mother/father – is toxic and you have no escape, there are people you can contact to help you through. Simply put into your search engine ‘child support’ or ‘emotional abuse’ and you’ll be met with a plethora of charities and organizations that dedicate their lives to helping people who are suffering from emotional abuse. You’re not alone, and if it escalates to the point where somebody could get hurt, it’s important that you deal with the issue. Don’t wait – save yourself the emotional trauma and seek help.