A toxic family background is perhaps one of the most challenging issues to overcome, and sometimes it is passed on from generation to generation. The belief system and coping skills that we learn as children, primarily from our parents, significantly impact the quality of our adult lives. Our parents hand down their coping skills and beliefs about us and the world around us, and these attitudes have a significant impact on our adult decision-making ability.
For example, if I grew up with a parent who had very high, unreasonable expectations for my performance in life, I would most likely develop the belief that no matter what I do, I am not good enough. As an adult, I will make decisions geared toward living up to that belief—This could work in two ways; I might try to prove to everyone around me that I am good enough, leaving myself open to disappointment and burnout. Despite this, I will still never be able to meet that expectation, which has become my own over time. Alternatively, I will avoid challenging and growth-promoting situations and miss out on a lot of opportunities in my life because I am afraid of failing.
As children, we absorb the beliefs of those closest to us because these messages are implanted in our minds before we can question or reject them. As children, we don’t have the ability to critically assess the situation, and we don’t stop loving our parents for shouting at us or making us feel upset or fearful. We stop loving ourselves. It is vital to notice that I am not talking about unloving parents. I am talking about parents who love their children dearly and only want the best for them but do not know how to give them the best; this is because they themselves had unhealthy childhoods with toxic parents. Unfortunately, another generation of toxic parents is one of the toxic parents’ legacies.
On the other hand, when we become aware of our own toxic patterns, we can take control of our destiny and change our mindset, thus breaking the vicious cycle of toxic parenting. We can rise above it all and parent our inner child in order to parent our own children in more open, loving, and prosperous ways than our difficult childhood experiences provided.