1. Do your parents still treat you as if you were a child?
2. Are many of your major life decisions based on whether your parents would approve?
3. Do you have intense physical and emotional reactions after you spend or anticipate spending time with your parents?
4. Are you afraid to disagree with your parents?
5. Do your parents manipulate you with threats or guilt?
6. Do your parents manipulate you with money?
7. Do you feel responsible for how your parents feel? If they are unhappy do you feel it is your fault? Is it your job to make it better for them?
8. Do you believe no matter what you do, it is never good enough for your parents?
9. Do you believe that someday, somehow your parents are going to change for the better?
If you answered "Yes" to even three of these questions, chances are your parents (or any other close parental figure) are toxic to you. Dr. Susan Forward, author of Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life, writes:
"...all toxic parents regardless of the nature of their abuse, basically leave the same scars. For example, your parents may not have been alcoholic, but the chaos, instability and loss of childhood that typify alcoholic homes are just as real for children of other types of toxic parents."
To begin recovery from having toxic parents Dr. Forward and I agree that two facts need to be accepted:
1. You are not responsible for what was done to you when you were a defenseless child.
2. Starting today, as an adult, you are responsible for taking the positive steps needed to liberate yourself from your parent's toxic legacy.
Coming soon: Positive Steps to Free Yourself From Toxic Parents