The term ‘toxic parent’ was coined by Craig Buck and Susan Forward in their book to describe parents whose own negative disposition leaves an indelible imprint on the mind of the child. Toxic means poisonous. Of course the term was very literal, meaning parents who mete out violence and abuse or sexual assault to their children are toxic for their health. But in the long run the term has undergone transformations.
Toxic parenting can be any kind of negative parenting which leaves a legacy of shame and guilt in the child as an adult. Negative parenting can refer to incorrect method of treating your kids based on half knowledge, ignorance, neglect or some old propagated myths which damage the self-development of children.
Sometimes parents in their attempt to be best and perfect, eventually turn out to be worse for their kids. Hence identifying the truth about yourself and your kids is the primordial necessity to avoid toxic parenting.
How can we identify the truth?
- Break the chain of mythical parenting- In a family, toxic parenting comes down ages like a chain, because one is influenced by the other. A couple usually takes the lesson from their previous generation and try to follow what they have done, hence the same methods and procedures continue like a chain. This is not correct. Your improvement on parenting will come with your exclusive experience. Do not blindly follow other’s instances. Even if your parents did something, doesn’t mean they were correct and that you have to follow it.
- Break the myth of ‘good’- we have been hearing from our seniors that parents should always be ‘good’ to their kids, otherwise they do not love them. What is being good? We all have flaws; we are not always good; we go through emotional outbursts, make mistakes and show lack of wisdom at times in life. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t love your kids. Sometimes your children can be the most annoying, disgusting wreckless people on earth and you feel like hitting them on the head. It is normal; you have full rights to feel that way. Your goodness belongs to yourself, you are not answerable others. you know you love your kids; teach them and nurture them with the depth of love; you don’t need to prove it to others.
- Break the myth of agreeability- Children are always taught to agree on everything what elders say. They are taught not to argue. Agreeing is easier; arguing is bad behaviour. No it is not true. Argument is healthy. An argument leads to knowledge, opens various avenues. Teach your child to argue with logic and reasoning, that is proper parenting.
- Break the notion that kids should do what they are told- children are not puppets. They have their own thought and understanding. Respect their individual mind. Let them grow with self-respect and assertiveness.
- Break the myth of kid’s voice- we have been watching and hearing that kids should be taken care of, watched over, seen, but not heard, i.e. kids can say anything, we should not bother about that. This is incorrect. Kids have a voice of their own, they have rights to say what they feel, and they need to be heard, corrected if they are wrong in a proper way.
- Don’t infantilize your kids, encourage self-sufficiency- let your child do things themselves. You can assist them if they need it, but don’t make them feel that they cannot do things without you.
- Let your child’s achievements be his own and his failure be his own- don’t hang your emotional expressions on your kids. “My child’s success is my success, if he is happy I am happy.” “If he is misbehaving, I am to be blamed.” This is a wrong attitude. You can claim but you can never feel what your children is feeling so you should not claim his success and achievements, he has earned it with his talent, let them belong to him.
Parenting requires lot of patience and understanding. It demands attention, and recognition of the truth. Know the difference between criticizing and correcting. You are elder, behave like one. Show your maturity in resolving conflicts; your behaviour will teach your kid.