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Toxic Parents: How to Cut them off

7 min read
Toxic parents exhibit signs of being possessed by strange spirits. Some of them need divine help!
how to deal with toxic parents

Toxic parents remain toxic until you act

Many times, we do not believe parents can get toxic. We expect a parent-child relationship to thrive, as is the norm in most families. The existence of toxic parents surprises us, especially if our parents are so good to us! The affected children tend to keep their problems to themselves because discussing them looks like washing dirty laundry in public.  

Toxic parents will quote the Bible to scare their children.   

Honor your father and mother is a commandment we have grown up reciting. This is where such parents derive their strength.   

But what runs in the minds of toxic parents?  

toxic parents
Tired of being intimidated by your toxic parents?

How would we know our parents are toxic? 

When do parents get toxic?  

Why would parents comfortably express their toxicity to their children?  

What’s the best way to handle toxic parents biblically?  

Since a problem shared is halfway solved, we’re going to look at these points in depth.  

First, we need to check out the character traits of toxic parents.  

Signs We’re Dealing with Toxic Parents

Most people never get to realize they have toxic parents until they begin to feel the impact of their toxicity. Knowing the problem exists is usually the first step to finding a solution.  

Now, we need to look out for these signs.  

Selfishness: Toxic parents care more about themselves, irrespective of the situation at hand.  Whether their children are sick or well, have a job or not, are happy, or are going through a rough marriage patch, they wouldn't put aside their demands to shelve their children’s problems! They always require the support of their children but don’t try to lift them during their low moments.   

They overreact: Toxic parents are dramatic. They will build a mountain out of a small disagreement. Such parents hold grudges for a long time. They talk to their children with disrespect.  

They don't respect boundaries: Toxic parents find it difficult to let go of their adult children. They feel some sense of entitlement in their children's homes and pop in without notice.  

They are controlling: When they visit, they tend to control everyone, especially the workers in their children’s homes.  

They talk beyond the limit: Toxic parents discuss their children with anyone. Most of the time, it's usually negative talk. No matter how much their children struggle to accommodate and support them, they don't appreciate it.  

They're good at criticizing their children: Their children struggle to make them comfortable, but they still complain. 

 Comparison: Toxic parents tend to expect their children to treat them the way other children handle their parents. Income brackets may differ, but toxic parents don't see it. When they want something, they pressurize their children for it. It doesn't matter to them what their children do to give them what they want. 

I found this comprehensive article on the telltale signs that our parents are toxic. There is no harm in looking at it while focusing on the fact that we Christians need to maintain decorum when dealing with toxic parents. 

Now that we already have an idea of who our parents could be, let’s look at what leads parents to become toxic.  

What Makes Parents Toxic?

Some of us grew up in the hands of good parents. They later became toxic. We, therefore, tend to compare the two sides of our parents and wonder what happened to them! 

Now, we're going to look at this biblically.  

Their toxicity is usually based on the pain they have encountered in life. It leaves them with mental torture that grows into unresolved inner wounds.  

Most toxic parents have a bitter past. They've carried the pain along over the years. In worse cases, they attribute a lack of achievement to their children. It's usually concerning their marital problems, which the children may know or not know about. When their children reach the age of independence, their parents begin to vent to them.  

In extreme cases, toxic parents mistreat their children as they grow up.  

So why let out on children?  

Parents experience humiliating situations in their marriages. Some choose to live with it. Other parents decide to quit the marriage. In both cases, the attitude of the affected determines how they'll behave in the future!  

Parents who aren't toxic also had painful moments! Most likely, they used the pain to gain their footing. They wouldn't do it without the power of the Holy Spirit!  

Now, this is what toxic parents miss!  

They dwell more in the pain than in using the pain to step forward. As a result, they get stuck. Their unfortunate children find themselves having to bear with the outcome! 

We’re probably wondering why Christians who regularly go to church can remain toxic! 

It’s important to note that going to church and developing a relationship with God are two different things. Toxic parents go to church. However, they struggle to maintain a good relationship with God!  

And this is where their children come in! 

What should Christians do to accommodate or change their toxic parents?  

I found the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement to be a good avenue that helps us evaluate our relationship with God. As time goes by, we will be able to categorize ourselves appropriately and take the necessary action to make better friends with Christ. We will then peacefully implement changes with our parents.

How to Change Toxic Parents 

It’s believed that we cannot teach an old dog new tricks. However, that’s the world’s view. Anyone can change in the Lord’s kingdom.  

So, how do we go about it?  

We need to begin with ourselves. Although we feel we’re right and our parents are wrong, we ought to find out what we need to rectify in ourselves. We’re going to use divine wisdom tactics.  

Now, let’s hold our guards as we unleash the strategy.  

When we cast our nets deeper, we catch more fish.  

Let’s begin by understanding the Lord’s view on toxic parents.   

We sometimes take too much from parents for fear of appearing disobedient to the Lord.  

So, what should we do as committed Catholics to balance our relationship with our toxic parents and God?   

Let’s bear in mind, God has the power to bless or chastise our parents. Because of our parents' sins, which affect us negatively, God allows us to create some space between us.  

But where exactly did God say this?  

Most of the time, God does not speak directly. He expects us to relate our stories to the stories in the Bible and solve ours!  

Look at the story of Terah!  

Terah was Abraham’s father. Anyone would wonder if the obedient Abraham was indeed Terah’s son!  

At some point, God chose to separate His obedient son Abraham from his disobedient father Terah! If you'd like to revisit Abraham and Terah's story, click here

Why did God separate them?   

God did not want Terah’s filth to stain Abraham!  

In normal circumstances, staying around toxic parents for a long time inhibits our growth. For God to use Abraham appropriately, He wanted him away from his father Terah.   

Now, do we also have to leave our parents?  

This is how we’re going to do it! 

How to run away from Toxic Parents 

Firstly, we need to remove the word curse from our vocabulary. If we’re living a straightforward Godly life, we have no reason to live in fear.   

Some of us got cheated a mother’s curse is always valid.   

No, it isn’t!  

Curses only affect us if they find us vulnerable. Vulnerability means living in sin in one way or another. But don’t we realize even the person who curses sins?  

I have come across Christians who live in fear of their toxic parents' curses.

Christians, look at what this verse says! 

Proverbs 26: 2; curses can never hurt you unless you deserve them. They are like birds that fly by and never settle.   

This is a call for us to do as much as we can for our parents. On the other hand, let’s make the difficult decision to avoid them when we must for the sake of our health.  

Toxic parents can take us into depression and will never pay for our costly therapy. It's we and our spouses who will suffer the consequences of their toxicity by digging deeper into our pockets.   

Space has always proved to be good therapy.  

When toxic parents realize we've given them space but they're still inside, they'll calm down and start to respect us. They'll evaluate every statement they utter before they speak.   

how to deal with toxic parents
Toxic parents remain toxic until you act

But there is a caution.  

We need not neglect our parents if we desire to live long and prosper while enjoying good health. Let’s give them all that we can. If we neglect them, we'll deserve their curses. At the same time, let’s not tolerate their pressure.  

Once we’ve taken the right position to safeguard our health, it becomes easier to identify how else we can support our parents to make them better.

Final Nuggets

Refusing to be misused by toxic parents does not amount to disrespect. It is love. Considering the blood relationship, it's obvious that we love our parents so much that we want to save them from sin! If the space between us makes them talk to us with deserved respect, so be it!

Praying for others, our parents included, requires an accompaniment of actions. We can't just pray and cry. We need to act.

Some toxic parents could be going through a depressive state. We need to consult professionals if the situation appears wanting.

Our definition of toxicity also matters. We ought to avoid being petty. Nobody is perfect.

Now, if we know anyone who is struggling to live with their parent's toxicity, let's take care to share this with them.


6 thoughts on “Toxic Parents: How to Cut them off

  1. Tintana – what a wonderful website!! Soooo much information! I am so glad you came through your life changing experience and have accepted the mantle of sharing with so many others 🙂 May God richly bless your work here and use it to save many lives.
    Welcome! To May God bless you with encouragement, direction and protection as you grow in your relationship with Him through the scriptures and spending time in prayer!
    Be sure to click on the scriptures at the bottom to read and see what God will share with you personally!

    1. Thank you, Laura, for the compliments and encouragement. I do not take it for granted that you took your time to peruse the pages. I’ll also visit your website and participate where necessary for the glory of God. Be blessed.

  2. Interesting article Tintana! You really caused me to think.

    My dad was a toxic person, filled with all of the pain and confusion you discuss. The distance of decades taught me he was a good man, generally speaking, who probably should not have become a parent.

    The best piece of advice I heard was: “Just because someone becomes a parent doesn’t mean they become good people.”

    Funny thing about narcissistic parents, and toxic parents, most of us don’t recognize their maladies until we absorb and perpetuate their tendencies. These elements of toxicity were their ways of dealing with a world they didn’t understand, so they reduced it to manageable components. When we stepped out into the world, we found it just as chaotic and overwhelming as they did, and if we had any desire to unshackle ourselves from our parents, our inability to carve out our own niche often leads us to fall back on what we know, or we seek advice from our toxic parents.

    I had two different friends who had very loving, loyal and supportive parents, but those parents had very toxic ideas about how the world worked. They indoctrinated him into such outrageous and harmful beliefs that he ended up being as toxic as they were. It was difficult for him to escape their way of thinking, and in some ways he didn’t.

    Much later in life, my brother and I talked about our dad and these parents of our friends, and we couldn’t believe we never recognized the toxicity of these people who influenced our lives sooner. As you write, Tintana, the first and hardest step to avoid absorbing and perpetuating the influence of toxic influences is to recognize it for what it is. I like to think I’m an objective thinker, but it took me decades to see these influencers for who they were, and the reason was they had such a profound influence on me in my formative years. I grew up thinking their ways were the norm. It took me decades to shake most of their influence, and some might say that I never have in some ways.

    1. Thanks Rilaly, for taking the time to read and sharing your experience. Sorry for the decades you had to spend shaking off their influence. I believe you picked out some good lessons that have helped people close to you. If a dark past leads to a bright future, it’s a win.

  3. My parents were the opposite of toxic, but I have dealt with several situations that involved such parent/child relationships. We need to remember that “honor” does not necessarily mean “obey,” or even “like.” When we deal with toxic parents, we need to be careful that we discern but not judge. We can have trouble with that distinction! We need discernment as to how we are to respond, but we aren’t to try to take God’s place as Judge.

    1. You’re right. Judgment may end up disastrous to the relationship. Discernment focuses on solving the problem. That’s a great insight. Thanks for being here.

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