Like any other relationship, it’s hard to spot toxicity in someone you love and it’s harder to call them out for it. Parenting is a tough job and requires a lot of dedication and patience to do it right. Hence, an individual should only sign up for it if they are ready. While we know our parents only want happiness for us but sometimes they get a few things wrong. 

We have listed down some subtle signs that help you understand if you have toxic parents. Read on. 

1. “They’re extremely negative all of the time and they never offer anything positive to a discussion. Being able to have a “normal” conversation with them is non-existent. There’s nothing but persistent conflict.”


2. “They try to suppress the individuality or independence of their child. Even when the child shows the slightest form of independence they suppress it. Like if a child wants to wear a particular sweater they immediately impose their choice unreasonably. The child grows up thinking it’s wrong to have choices or everyone’s opinion matters more than own opinion.”

Ambika Puthur  

3. “They constantly remind you of sacrifices as you owe them a debt. Of course, most parents sacrifice a lot and deserve care from their children. But this doesn’t mean they can dictate the lives of their adult children. Everything has boundaries.”

4. “Using your kids like your therapist, talking to them about your adult problems all the time but not interested in hearing about their problems or interests.”


5. “Resorting to alcoholism or drugs – do they ever cope with drugs or alcohol to escape their issues? Do you ever need help but they were too drunk or high on drugs to even care?”

Albert Hsieh  

6. “When they tell you every little flaw you have for so much of your life, that you think it is normal adult behavior and only realize it is not when others have to ask you to stop.”


7. “When they’re abusive, manipulative, and focus only on what they want while ignoring your goals.”


8. “They violated your personhood, invalidated or brainwashed you out of having certain feelings or needs, and can’t relate to you as an adult even though you are grown and gone.”

9. “Pitting siblings against one another. There was definitely this divide that my mom almost encouraged and because of that I don’t really feel close to my siblings and feel like we are always constantly competing with one another.”


10. “They rarely call you but when they do they ask you for money. They don’t care where you are or how you are doing. They always throw you under the bus by making up shit when they can’t get their way with you.”


11. “They treat you like a terrible burden while also telling you how much they love you, will sacrifice everything for you, and you’re so ungrateful but oh, they still love you so much… Playing the martyr, basically.”


12. “I think an important one is a failure to respect boundaries. Even as a child, but especially as an adult. People have a right to privacy and agency including from their own parents. Some parents also worryingly can have a poor understanding of agency and consent. They often do this under the guise of intending to do “what’s best” for you, but it is damaging to the relationship in the long term. Never be afraid to set your own boundaries with anyone, including close family.”

 Sam Allen  

13. “Comments on the body look- Provocative questions towards actions- Their wishes are your burden- Unfair remarks- Unnecessary comparisons- Empty promises.”

14. “Putting their kids in the middle of their marital problems. My parents have a shit marriage and are constantly making my brother and I choose sides. One year we had to have two separate Christmases because they got in a fight, and both parents were angry with us because we didn’t fully choose “their side”. Setting a poor example for marriage is definitely something that can affect your kids later on in their relationships.”


15. “Telling you how you took their lives away, how they spent hours looking after you instead of themselves and basically blaming you for existing even though they were the ones who brought you into this world.”


Read more: 14 Things Parents Do That Can Give Their Kids Mental Health Issues Later.