The aim of my previous post READ HERE was to ascertain what 'toxic' means before making a comprehension of what a toxic parent is.
To summarise, toxic is a substance that can poison, noxious and contaminate through infecting it's surroundings. A toxic parent; distorts, alters, affects and harms their children.
How to recognise whether someone is a toxic parent?
There are two main types of a toxic parent; The Sociopathic Parent, and The Narcissistic Parent.
The Sociopathic Parent will never say sorry to their child for any wrong doings they have inflicted onto their child, and that is because they believe they are never wrong. They have the ability to justify everything they say and do and because of this they are expert manipulators. They will make the child feel like the child is to blame and because they are generally insensitive and have total disregard to other people's feelings, they lack empathy and often find a crying child extremely annoying, and that may cause them to punish the child further.
Being self-centred is the driving force behind their core behaviour. This makes them demanding, controlling and dictatorial. It can also make them cold, calculating and sneaky, using emotional blackmail to get what they want. They are incredibly deceitful, irresponsible and impulsive, because of this, they have a tendency to break promises or betray their child.
Sociopathic parent's do not truly care about their children. Because of this, they are more likely to abandon or neglect them.
The Narcissistic Parent will essentially see their child as an extension of themselves. Something they can put their name on or to build themselves up to make them look better, this makes them controlling, manipulating and demanding. They are egotistical, self-centred and threatening, essentially they use their child to feed their ego. However, the parent deploys their child, this is usually because they regret having the child. Most narcissistic parent's have children by accident or by mistakenly thinking a child would increase their self-serving purpose.
Noticing a narcissistic parent can be tricky as they wear different masks in public. They are very charming and likeable at first. Those close to them, but mainly their children, will know their many faces as they are more likely to let their guard down around those close to them. They will behave differently in different social settings, often to gain friends, lovers, etc. and once they've gain the trust of others and a relationship is well formed, the narcissist return to their true nature. Another example, everyone thinks the mother or father are the most wonderful people (parent's) in the world, and yet at home the child is left to feel isolated, confused and scared as they put up with the narcissist's constant out bursts, dis-interests and put downs. Narcissist's are great story tellers, they will retell an event in a over exaggerated and often untrue way to others and can sound so convincing that the child is left to appear as the lier.
The narcissist will be in direct competition with the child and jealous of them, they can at times find their child quite psychologically threatening. This is increased as the child starts to grow into the age of reason from around the age of 7 years old or when the child enters into puberty and starts to stand up for themselves. It's common for the narcissist to become more abusive and sarcastic towards the child during this stage, and their aim is to break down the child. One way to achieve this, is, nothing a child does is ever good enough, and the child will often be meet with constant put downs; you're hair is a mess, you look fat in that, stop being so stupid, why are you always miserable? or they will behave like the victim, such as; look what I've done for you, I'm always helping you, you never tell me you love me, why don't you call me? etc.
In addition to this, when the child is doing well in school, at home, out and about, the narcissist would not praise the child, but instead they will take the credit for it and tell others how wonderful they are at parenting. However, when a child does something wrong, or not up to the standards the parent expects, the result of the behaviour towards the child will be; blaming, shaming, patronising and demeaning for making the parent look bad and this can often lead into physical, psychological and emotional abuse. And because the narcissist is self-centred and egotistical, more often than not, the child is perceived to be never doing anything right, which perpetuates the cycle of the abuse.
A child will gain a sense that their parent isn't quite like other parents, but will never fully understand why? This may stay with them well into adulthood, constantly experiencing years of emotional abuse. This maybe due to the many faces and the manipulation of the narcissist parent.
An example of how a narcissist behaves towards their child can been seen in the character 'Jonathan Flynn' played by Robert De Nero in the film Being Flynn.
The narcissist parent is generally more dangerous, damaging and toxic towards their child than the socio-path, although both types tend to overlap.
To summarise: How to recognise a toxic parent?
This list is not exhaustive and there are many other presenting behaviours a toxic parent will display. Mainly look for- Demanding, Manipulating, Immature, Controlling, Jealous, Abusive, Neglectful, Critical, Egotistical, Martyrdom, Oppressive, Sarcastic, Threatening, and Insulting behaviour towards a child and adult.
In a future post, I will write about-How to overcome a toxic parent?
If you are affected by what I have a written and feel you may need some help, do please visit. www.restoringlives.co.uk