Toxic Parents: How do you know when it’s time to let go?


Toxic parents

Our parents are the ones who should love us the most.

So we think and so we believe and in an ideal world, it would be true.

In our hearts and in our minds, we WANT it to be true.

But sometimes it isn’t.

Sometimes for whatever reason, we as adults come to understand, maybe after years of guilt, frustration, hurt, emotional abuse and manipulation, financial burdens or relationship break ups and lots of disappointment that one or both of our parents are toxic people.

As much as we wish they were different. As much as we long to believe that they do really love us and care about us and will be there for us, when you have a toxic parent, there will come a day when you have to face the facts.

Our relationship with them is full of emotional, physical and spiritual poison and it feels like it’s killing us.

By definition, any toxic relationship is primarily characterized by actions and behaviours that are emotionally damaging. It is riddled with feelings of guilt, insecurity, self-centredness, control, manipulation, insult and threat.

A healthy relationship is one where there is mutual love, caring, respect and compassion, where there is care for the welfare and well-being of the other, where we feel loved and accepted for who we are and the relationship feels SAFE.

A toxic relationship does NOT feel safe.

It feels anxious and destructive and drains us emotionally, physically and spiritually.

It feels like a burden, an obligation and a trap and because it’s our parents, it’s not generally a relationship that we talk about or even consider ending.

It’s acceptable to divorce your partner, it’s acceptable and encouraged to leave any sort of toxic, abusive relationship in fact, it is actively encouraged, EXCEPT when the toxic person is your parent.

That’s where the guilt really kicks in!

This is the person who helped create you and shape you and gave you life.

This is the person who raised you and put a roof over your head and put you through school.

This is the person who is supposed to love you the most and always be there for you and love you no matter what.

But instead, your parent is the person who is constantly criticizing you, who is always putting you down and manipulating you with guilt.

This is the person who is telling lies about you and to you, sabotaging your relationships, attempting to control you and demanding all of your time and your energy.

This is the person who is spiteful, malicious, contemptuous or impossible to please.

This is the person who always lets you down, who breaks promises and is unreliable and tells you that you are never good enough.

This is the person who who will not be happy until your life is as miserable and unhappy as their own.

You cannot appeal to your toxic parent’s better nature and hope they will “get it”.

You cannot reason with them or depend on them.

They do not care how tired you are, how sick you are, how overwhelmed you are. They want what they want when they want it.

Loving your toxic parent will not protect you from who they are or how they behave.

Being the best daughter or son in the world will not change your toxic parent or make them finally approve of you.

A truly toxic parent has no concern about what his or her behavior does to you or those around you. They will have no hesitation in destroying your mood, your relationships, your finances, your goals or your physical or emotional health.

In my clinical practice, I have had many clients who are the victims of toxic parents.

  • Parents who pit one child against the other.
  • Parents who delight in planting seeds of malice and mistrust and doubt.
  • Parents who see their adult children as competition or who are jealous and resentful of their success or relationships or family or lifestyles.
  • Parents who want to keep dragging their child down into their own pit of misery and bitterness and addiction.

If you found a venomous snake in your house, you wouldn’t reason with it, analyze it, google it to see if perhaps you were doing something to attract it in the first place.

You would take action to get it out of your life!

A toxic relationship with your parent needs you to take action!
This doesn’t mean it will be easy because it won’t. It will be one of the most difficult things you have ever done.

  • It will involve dealing with masses of guilt and lots of soul searching and tears.
  • It will mean finally giving up the dream that you can have a close, loving relationship with your parent and giving up those dreams brings feelings of grief and loss.
  • It will mean risking the disapproval of extended family and friends and may cost you some relationships from people who cannot accept your choices.
  • It will mean making a decision on the action you will take that will make you feel as safe as you can be when dealing with your toxic parent.
  • It will mean deciding how much of a relationship you will have, setting strong boundaries and doing what you can to protect yourself and limit the toxic fallout.

The GOOD news is, it can be done but you WILL need support, understanding, clarity, good advice and lots and lots of self love!

Here are some tips to help you start the process:

Accept the fact that you cannot change your toxic parent.
You know this logically but you really need to get this emotionally. This is the way they are and it has NOTHING to do with you!

You may have been trying to figure them out for years, looking for the way to make things right, trying to find the right words to please them but what you need now is to just accept that this is who they are.

It is not your job or your task or your responsibility to change them into who you want them to be or who you think they should be. Accept your toxic parent exactly the way he or she is right now.

Don’t give in to guilt.
Toxic parents are experts at manipulation and their key weapon is guilt. They have spent years knowing exactly which button to push and when to get the result they want.

You may have been trained for years to put their feelings before your own or have given in to them to keep the peace. Ask yourself this question: “Am I making my parent’s feelings and needs more important than my own?”

Guilt is a method of controlling you and making you do what they want. Learn to recognize when you are being manipulated by guilt and refuse to take it on board. If you have trouble with this, get help.

Years of chronic guilt is difficult to overcome as you may not be able to see things clearly and guilt is often associated with strong anxiety, which is why when you give in to guilt, it initially feels better as the anxiety goes away. However, this is usually followed by resentment and anger and more anxiety.

Limit contact with your toxic parent wherever possible.
Decide how much contact you can handle with your parent and start setting boundaries.
Make or take less phone calls. Let it go to voice mail or set a time limit for the length of calls.

Make yourself less available. You need to honour your own time, relationships and limits.
Learn to say “no” by starting small and working up to bigger things.

Again and I can’t stress this enough: dealing with a toxic parent, taking actions steps is NOT EASY. But IT MUST BE DONE!

  • For your emotional and physical health.
  • For your happiness and well being.
  • For your relationships with your partner and your children and your life.
  • For your right to live the best possible life you can have, in safety and peace and love.

You are not responsible for your parents happiness.
You are not here to live the life they want you to live.
You are not here to live up to your parents expectations or dreams. You are here to live your own dreams.
You are not here to sacrifice yourself for them. They as adults have made their own choices and will continue to do so.

Here are some tough questions you have to ask yourself:

  • Am I willing to sacrifice my own health and happiness for my toxic parent?
  • Am I willing to sacrifice my relationship with my partner for my toxic parent?
  • Am I willing to sacrifice my job or my income or my finances for my toxic parent?
  • Am I willing to give up my dreams and my needs and my career for my toxic parent?

Ultimately, this IS your decision, it IS your choice even though at the moment it may feel that you have no choice at all.

If you need help to find your choices, to explore your options and get help and support in your relationship with your parents, I will help you find your way and do as much as I can to help you take the steps to freeing yourself from your toxic relationship. One little step at a time.

It will be challenging, it may be full of sadness and grief and fear but you can do it! I have seen relationships change in amazing ways and sometimes, in ways people never thought possible!

You can find a free, one hour webinar recording with my most valuable tips on how to deal with and begin to recover from Toxic parents, as well as many other free resources here:

Watch my free replay of my Toxic Parent Webinar Recording.

Ready to start dealing with your toxic parent and get your life back?

Book your free 20 minute Discovery Session with me on Skype.

Got a toxic parent or know someone who does? Share my blog and let them know they are not alone and I would love to hear your comments!

best wishes



161 thoughts on “Toxic Parents: How do you know when it’s time to let go?

  1. For years I have dealt with an extremely toxic relationship with my mother. I am stuck in a state 3000+ miles from any friends or family.

    The toxic relationship started back in 2010 when I was a freshman in high school. She had begun to abuse her prescription medications (adderall & clonopin) and had started going to the casino, blowing what little money we Had, nearly putting us on the streets multiple times.

    Eventually, we decided to move back east in April of 2013 after a couple hard years, in hope we could rebuild a different way of living and to be closer to family. But the toxicity was still there. She had started doing the same things she had done to me with the “guilt trips” and the “blame game” to her parents & brothers.

    After about 6 months or so, she decides to take me and move back west stay with one of her casino “friends” she had made, and whom I have never met.

    So, my plans were to go back to school get that finished, get a job, go to college. You know, the normal thing most kids my age do.

    But again comes another weight on my shoulders…

    The woman we were staying with was addicted to methamphetamine….

    My mom was already addicted to adderall … So the inevitability…happened….my mother became addicted to methamphetamine….so since I was so scared and concerned for my mother’s health and sanity….I dropped out of school…while her addiction became stronger…so did the tension in the house…. That led us to become homeless on the streets…that’s where I hit rock bottom….I was a high school dropout…watching all my “friends” graduate….although I soon came to realize….they weren’t my friends….
    So here I was…on the side of the road…with a methamphetamine addicted mother with an extremely bad gambling addiction…which kept us on the streets….so….a few months pass and I’m in front of a walgreens ….crying….next to my strung out mother on a bench with my our suit cases laying around us….and an extremely great women pulled us aside and said “God” had sent me to get you guys….”pack your bags into my truck, you can stay with my husband and I” I couldn’t believe it…about a month passes….and they do the unimaginable…they got us am apartment….it was empty but I did not care…I slept happily on the floor…But her addiction has continued.. I have had to step in and take care of everything…now…I am 20 years old… Still dealing with this emotional abuse….I am in pain all the time…due to the stress and anxiety I continue to endure.

    Now, I want to move out, and she keeps telling me I’m a piece of shit if I do and that I had betrayed her…


    I Might not be able to see your reply here
    Please e mail me at

    • Hi Marcus,

      You can’t save or help your mother from where you are right now. This is why in the airplane safety demonstrations they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first.

      You need to save yourself first.

      Watch my free video here which has more information. toxic parent webinar
      There is also a free book on the home page of my website that will help you with communication and boundary settings, all things you need right now.

      Save yourself first.

      best wishes


  2. Hi Kerry,

    I found myself in a toxic relationship with my father. He is very manipulative and makes me feel guilty whenever I dare not to do the slightest thing his way. He always wants me to be available for him, and to do the right things. I do as he says because I love him and to keep peace at home but it has come to a point that I can’t perform my daily tasks because I’m also tense and anxious about what he will tell me next. Again, the good thing I see from my behavior is keeping peace at home specially between my mother and father and honoring my father. Other than that, I feel I’m going crazy with all this guilt and the fact that I cannot approach to him spontaneosuly but need to choose the right words so that he won’t get upset and start arguing that I’m disrespectful and then go tell his family (who believe him every word) so then they can be against me (and my mother and sister). The difficult part in overcoming this I think is the fact that myself, my mother and sister live with my father’s sister and aunt. At first, I thought my aunt (my father’s sister) would help me understand why my father would scold me and treat me and my mother the way he did. However, my aunt showed me that she supports whatever my father does as well as my other aunt ( my dad’s aunt) or even worse and since I live with them it has become daily torment filled with emotional distress. My mother is on the same page as me and my sister as well but it has become to the point that it is US against my dad and his family because his family does not show any sign of emotional support for they way he manipulates me and my sister and mother. I’ve been trying to figure out how to talk to him, what to say word for word to not upset him. I even thought that graduating from University last year and bringing excellent grades and Cum Laude home will help in moving my dad and showing me some understanding but nothing helped. I’m on the process of applying to medical school and it’s a point in my life when emotional support is good to have but my dad is taking up my mind most of the day. I need help on figuring out how to deal with my dad because if I try to talk to him softly and not mad I always end up being the bad person along with my mom for my dad and his family. Please help!!!

    • Dear Miriam,
      It’s not your job to make your parents happy, you are here to live and enjoy your own life. I really want to encourage you to watch my webinar recording which is available here toxic parent webinar and to sign up on the home page of my website for my book on setting boundaries. Best wishes Kerry

  3. Dear kerry,
    Thank you for this page that I pray helps me in some way let go of my toxic parents. They are trying to get over the alcoholism that controlled them for so many years. But i have given up so much of my years to their emotions and difficulties that even though they have given me everything to empower myself – i still find myself unhappy because they are not happy! So i ask myself – how can my parents be toxic and also show that they love me and empower me???? The only answer I can think of is that its because I have tried for years not to be embarrassed by them and their alcoholism. I have tried over the years to be there for them and get them help but it lasts for a few months and its over again! and I’m then back to square 1. Lonely and unhappy over my parents disappointments! I am so scared that i will never have the peace I deserve as a child! i love my parents. I will try your steps and pray for strength.

    • Dear Melissa,
      Your parents as adults are responsible for their own happiness. This is not your job or your responsibility. It’s time to put your attention on your own life and happiness. Loving people does not make us responsible for them. I strongly recommend that you watch my free webinar which you can find here toxic parent webinar and that you sign up on my home page to get my free book all about Boundaries, why you need them and how to keep them.

      best wishes

  4. Hi Kerry
    Thank you firstly for this page. All my life my Mother has had problems with all of my partners and all my life I have listened to her views and opinions taken them on board and ended my relationships. I am 44, engaged to a man I love, he isn’t perfect but neither am I but we want to be together. At first my Mother starts as supportive and happy then starts picking holes and finding things wrong with my partners. For 9 months now, weekly if not daily she is finding fault with my partner (we do not live together yet) and trying to influence my views on him and our relationship. She complains if I don’t have long conversations with her, she tells me I am talking differently to her in front of him, tells me what is going to happen in the future in my relationship. She ruined my holiday, I called her every day and on one occasion she said I obviously didn’t want to speak to her (despite me calling her). Verbally abused me throughout the rest of the holiday and also on a few occassions put the phone down on me after swearing at me. I could go on an on about what has been said and done. I her every day and call her every evening and when I am staying with my partner I call her 2-3 days a day. My father dies 11 years ago and I felt I needed to look out for her. This has turned against me. I know my Mother is possessive and controlling, she also guilt trips me saying that I have changed towards her but I have had 9 months of her interferring but she says is because she loves me. i don’t know what to do anymore its affecting my relationship and my actions in it.

    • Dear Georgina,
      You are not responsible for your mother’s feelings, behaviours or actions. It’s time you gave yourself permission to start to really live your life and enjoy your relationship with your fiancee. Have you watched my free webinar yet on Toxic parents? You can find it here. toxic parent webinar.

      If you sign up for my newsletter, you will also get a free book from me that will help you understand how to set and keep boundaries and communicate and negotiate.

      Best wishes

  5. Hi kerry
    thank you for this article, it has helped me make a clear choice..
    im 25 now and i grew up in violent abusive house with a lot of sadness empty of hopes and dreams.. it taught me how to be destructive negative insulting and violent with a addictive personally.
    I have rid of my addictions on my own with no support and dealing with hatered.. it was hard but im so much better for it.. my next misson was to help the one I love most my mom.. but my mother’s manic depression hurtfull words are the most poisonest ‘toxic’ thing i have ever expiriancd.. I used drugs and traveling as a excuse for not having friends or not being able to be faithful or just loveing.. I write to you from bali where I payed for a 7 holiday with my mother so we could try to talk even.. the plane hadn’t even taken of and every one was looking at us because she couldn’t help herself and had to start over a 20cent disagreement.. I didn’t care about anything other than to be with her.. btw I have hardly any money and I just wanted to see her happy.. I have now dissided to erase her from my life, it’s not my preferred choice but hers..
    she is sick id I see that but it hurts too much I feel I don’t even know myself and all I wanted was to end it all for a long time.. now I see my happiness and my future are more important.. when I am stronger and have more confidence in me self, if I choose to I will bring her back into my life.. for now its over.
    Thanks you once again.. I write this with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face.

    P.s my tablet is spelling its own words sorry if it hard to read..

    • Dear Matthew,

      I’m so very glad that my post helped you to make this decision to step up for you and affirm that you deserve a happy life. Have you watched my webinar recording yet? It gives a lot more information. You can watch it here: toxic parent webinar

      Also what will really help you is to download my free ebook on boundaries on my home page. All great tools to help you reclaim your life.

      I am so glad that you took the time to write and let me know. Thanks so much.

      best wishes


  6. Many years ago my parents gave my brother most of the property they own. I think they did this so I could not challenge their will when they die.
    Now years have past and I am financially struggling while my brother is very well off financially because of all the propert he now owns. My parents have no regrets about their actions which causes me a lot of hurt and anger.
    They are now very old and have disposed of most of their assets so there will be very little left when they die. I have been trying to support them by visiting and helping out when I can. The anger is eating me up and making me depressed. I want to withdraw from their lives but feel guilty about doing this.
    Should I?

    • Dear Anne,
      It’s always a difficult choice to make and one that is totally up to you. Will you feel better if you don’t see your parents? Will it help you find peace? Have you watched my webinar recording on my website, it’s available here: toxic parent webinar
      Another resource you can use to help you is to download my free book from my website all about setting and keeping boundaries and why you need them. This might give you some clarity to make the best decision for you.

      best wishes


  7. Ever since my family moved my life had been a living hell almost whenever I’m “Home”. I’m 17 now, and I have a bad relationship with my mother. I must admit that I don’t help on doing chores as much as she expected me to be. However, I felt like it was because of the feeling of “fear” stuck in my subconscious that would took over whenever I’d not do chores without being asked. It wasthe fear that whenever I’d be out there to help her, she would literally start YELLING how things are supposed to be, how bad I was and that she never needed an “intelligent child if she has a son as useless as I am”… I just… Fear and loathe being around her. I do not feel any love anymore. She has such high standards for how things were supposed to be at home, break it and you’ll have your whole day ruined as she’d yell how a failure of a son you are and would never reach anything in life. Looking back at all these and after reading this post, I realized how much it affected my self esteem, self image and remarkably my mental health. I’d cry at night before sleep. I had no one to talk to. I feel that she don’t understand and know me at all.I really reallly try hard in school and values learning out of all. I achieved a myriad of awards, but she just… Doesnt recognize it. She only sees me as the person she thinks I am, never considering putting herself in my shoes and considering that I have feelings and own dreams and goals. She never fails to weigh me down, and make me feel guilty. At one point I accepted the hard truth that perhaps parents are really this way. But no, I was shocked by how different my friends’ parents were from my mom. Especially my co actor’s parents whom I got a ride home a few times. They were the kind of parents who encouraged her and at the very least, don’t say negative, hurting words to their daughter.

    I reallly hate to say this, but sometimes I wonder how it is that I am her son. We are the complete opposite personality wise. She’s a huge Extrovert/ Sensor/Thinker and I’m on the Introvert/ Intuition/Feeling spectrum.

    Sorry for this rant/negative post. It is one of those nights were I just got yelled and just thought of disappearing.

    • I am glad that my post helped you or at least made you feel that you are not alone. There are some things you can do to help yourself including watching a webinar replay on my website here toxic parent webinar and you can also download a free ebook on the home page of my website that will help you with setting boundaries and being able to support yourself emotionally. You do deserve a happy life and I know you are doing your best. Look ahead to the time when you can create your own life and your own home. If there is some sort of counselling available through your school, it would be good for you to have someone to talk about this with and get some support. Best wishes to you. Kerry

  8. Hi kerry, i have a father that abandoned me when i was about 9 and growing up with my mother and my 2 older brothers it has been a very stressful 10 years.
    Today is the day i finally figured out what is going on with my mother, she has physically and mentally broke me in ways that changed me and have left scares in my head that will not go away. My mother beat me and threw anythin she can get her hands on. When i was about 15 years old i told my mom she needed help. She thought i was crazy and told me im the one that is crazy and she made me believe that i had a mental problem for years just to disguise herself and her problems. Ive helped her out in so many ways around the house and devote half of my weeks towards her needs, she is very controlling and manpulative when she doesnt get her way, and covers her lies with promises she doesnt ever have any intention on keeping. My mother has never told me she was ever proud of me, she always has something negative to say. I skipped a grade when i was in high school and she took the credit and said that if it werent for her that it wouldve never happened but she didnt do anything, she didnt even appear to my school meetings. And when i had a job and i was going to school, she would take her sweet time and have no consideration that i would have to be their at a certain time and take me late. Then later blame it on me like she always does with everything. She helped me get my brothers old car on the road for me by paying the insurrance for it but then she holds it has leverage everytime when she needs something done that is her priority and somehow makes it a burden for me every single time. I am 18 years old almost 19 and i can say i dont fear death, and it scares me because i feel like ive gotten so depressed and felt like my worthiness is as little as to nothing because my mother says so in my face. I dont know what to do, everytime i pick myself up and dust myself off and do good in my life. My mother is always somehow their calling, texting, screaming out my name, trying to track me down just to contrive of any reason to scold me or make me feel like im shit. She isalways threatening me to kick me out and she is a major distraction and drama in my life that i cant focus on my own dreams, i get urges to drop out of college, and join the marines but its not my dream, but i feel as if thats my only escape that or death.

    • Dear Christopher,

      I am so glad that you have decided to take a stand for yourself. Dealing with a toxic parent is much more difficult and intense when you are living with them. You need some distance and space to get some insight and clarity and most of all, some peace. My advice to you is to get out of home as soon as you can and make this your priority. Does your college have options to live in? Do you have friends you could board with or house share with? You are feeling the way that you do because you are under constant stress. Things can change for the better. Please don’t give up hope. You will be amazed how much can change from getting out of the environment and not having that constant stress. Please watch my webinar recording here which will give you more information toxic parent webinar and sign up on my website home page to get my free e-book which will really help you understand what you are responsible for and what you are not when it comes to your Mother. Don’t give up!
      best wishes


  9. It’s funny how people won’t put up with abuse and disrespect from a boss, co-worker, spouse or neighbor. But it when it comes to our parents, we hesitate to defend ourselves because we’ve been conditioned to think parents have the right to do what they want and we are in the wrong. That kind of thinking has to stop and I know it’s tough to be around other people who make you feel like you are wrong for distancing yourself. But just remember God sees everything and on Judgement Day everything will be revealed.

  10. I sought out this information for a dear friend..thank you! I hope it helps him deal with the sadness of not having a mother that he can be close to due to her hurtful behavior.

  11. Dear Amanda,
    You need to know where you want to be and where you will be happier. If it is only a sense of obligation, guilt or manipulation that is keeping you with your Mother, than your happiness and peace is what you need to pursue. Watch my webinar recording here toxic parent webinar that goes into much more depth than my article and if you sign up for my newsletters, you will get a free e-book all about building strong boundaries that will really help you.
    best wishes

  12. Oh my lord . almost every single word you wrote about toxic parents is what I am experiencing right now. In answering all your questions you ask us to reflect, the current one and most important one is the age of my mother and her hurting herself without someone there.

    This is the biggest obstacle, guilt I feel right now to move forward. I feel guilty leaving her alone. My other siblings have health issues and also depend on me for help. I can manage that. But I have never had a good relationship fro. Young child. My mother and I do not approach how to handle things the same. She is very negative and catrogrophic
    And I am a very optimistic person. My mom has a degree in psychology but has major anxiety and fear. Now she is aging and drinking at least 4 glasses of wine a day. I don’t drink, my father was a alcoholics and did significant verbal damage to the family and I overcame that. But I think she is too toxic and I am wanting to remove myself to stay positive but because I was the one from little appointed to take care of this, I am afraid of looking bad. How could you support my decision to move back out on my own. Thank you.

  13. Your blog posting of this subject is 100% exactly worded the way I am feeling. I can relate to every word you wrote.

    I need help even after reading your blog especially in the area of guilt. I currently live with my mom after my father passed away. Although my mother has a degree in psychology, since a child I have never had a good relationship with my mom. We have always shared completely different views and approaches to how to deal with situations. However my mom is constantly living her life with catastrophic thinking, fear and anxiety. She does not even use any of the psychology she studied to help herself or me for that matter. Now, she seems to be drinking at least 4 glasses of wine a day which further makes her have more psychotic episodes and mood swings up and down. I am not sure whether it is the affects of the alcohol speaking or she is starting early signs of dementia but because I have had no really good relationship with her the impact, the toxic effects are beginning to erode my optimistic personality. I want to leave and move out on my own but I feel so guilty leaving her in this current state even though I want to leave because I am the one that held everything together as a child for the family. I really never had a mother, …I was the mother. But I feel guilty and everything you mentioned on your blog posting I get ……in behaviour. So what can I do to ease my guilty conscience. You know it is the oldest always to look after the family. I have had enough. Just lots of guilt to deal with and she will never speak to me again. Please help. Thanks. Yvonne

    • Dear Yvonne,
      I am so glad that you found support in my blog post. Guilt is the biggest manipulator used by toxic parents. I suggest that you watch my webinar recording on my website here toxic parent webinar and that you also sign up on the home page of my website and get my free e-book on setting and keeping boundaries. Once you do that you will be in a clearer position to make a decision that supports you. You didn’t come into this world to sacrifice your own health, happiness and dreams for your Mother or your siblings. They all as adults get to decide what is best for them as do you.

      best wishes


  14. Thankyou for speaking out Kerry, this is important to people like me in this bad situation. For many years I have managed to build a wonderful life away from emotionally abusive father and physically / emotionally abusive mother. It was at the age of 16 that I knew something was very wrong in my life. I was underage, going to nightclubs with my parents both knowing I was drinking and that is when I met my first abusive partner who was 19yo. He beat me for a year every night and finally I was able to crawl out of the mess with the words from my father “why have you done this? why do you go for these dickheads?” so it kind of locked in the “it’s my fault syndrome, I should have known better”. I was like a comatose zombie for around 3 years when I finally felt like I was my normal self again. I moved away, lived with a more healthy group of people and my life began to get better and before long the abuse of my childhood and my second love became a bad dream, although I was still haunted by images of what had happened for 10 years after. I went traveling, got jobs, did my dream of making music, getting signed to a label and getting paid, things were great. I met the love of my life, got married and then, it all started to go sour about 3 years later. I met a friend from work suffering some form of mental illness that I wasn’t aware of, she convinced me I was in a bad relationship in which I guess, I began to believe. I started drinking, traveled and lived overseas and met an abuser there. We had a baby, after he had beaten me and choked me almost to death. I was in shock until now, and that’s when I realised, that even though I was far away and had little contact with my toxic parents… the psychological ties were still in my life in my relationships. Through those years I had an AVO out on my mother to keep her out of my life and unable to contact me due to the fact she punched my face in one night when I had her stay at my home to meet my husband who I later divorced. All my friends heard the story and nearly all of them decided I was some kind of freak and distanced themselves slowly, even though it was my mother who had been violent and out of her mind, somehow I was attatched to that in their minds. I have been in therepy for over a year now and my therapist can’t believe some of things I’ve told her about my family and how I’ve been treated as their child. Now, with my own child who is only 18mths old, I worry for her not having a wonderful, close, warm, loving family. Because my daughter’s father is also abusive emotionally and physically she is reluctant to be around him. Because of the fact he kicked the front glass door in terrifying her, I had an intervention order placed on him, reported it to the police. He no longer has access to us or the house we are in but we are still in the house and unable to move which leaves us as sitting ducks if he has some kind of psychotic episode. I have placed a new lock on the door and have stayed at a friends house, but that won’t last. My step-mother is adamant that I am not to stay at my Grandmothers house, where they and my aunt is… I don’t understand why my father hasnt’ called or talked to me and I have only talked to my step-mother who is not happy if I say I would like to stay there. My Grandmother would turn in her grave, if she knew that my step-mother was preventing me from coming to stay at the house as her door was always open.

    • Hi Bel, I am so glad that my blog post has given you some validation about the impacts that toxic parents can bring. I have some more great resources available that will help you, my free webinar recording with more information about how to deal with toxic parents toxic parent webinar.

      Also if you sign up for my newsletter on the home page of my website, you can download my e-book about how to set and keep strong boundaries. The information in there will really help you.

      Best wishes


  15. Pingback: Toxic Parents: How do you know when it’s time to let go? – morgan hearn

  16. I feel not alone. I have been toxic with my parents norms ever since when I got a problem and I always want someone to lean on because aside that I’m close to my sister I also want my parents to know the condition that I am currently afraid of. Even though I know from the start that they wouldn’t listen. I try and try until I said details about the things that I have been through… It is very dramatic for me to say what I have been through but MY MOTHER’S response was so passive likely she comment saying WE TOLD YOU FROM THE VERY START AND YOU DIDN’T LISTEN, NOW WHAT HAS GOT YOU. TAKE RESPONSIBLE INTO IT. At my mother’s feedback about it I accepted it and learned to take responsibility into it. My father’s response is somewhat different likely he comment saying things that I need to balance it of what really happened. It seems that my father wants to dig details and as I give him details, he just stayed silent and likely he seems to suggest something I can’t really determine what is it because as I always speak about the problem he just stayed silent from that point. Their response seem to be pleasing that I need to carry responsible of the problem that I have been through. But they are just have sweet talks because as I do my part of moving on and taking responsible to my problem. I didn’t really adjust well onto my responsible being a daughter and my responsible of my personal problem. It takes me a hard time because I’ve done a lot of research and talks to respectable people and to friends/bff about my condition but I feel that I AM SO GUILTY AT SOME POINT. Because as I encounter solutions… my parents were not pleasing to the way I act because I seem to solve more into my personal problem. So I tend to balance as much as I could but I have a hard time explaining myself to them because at that point I just tend to look forward more into what solutions I should do. So, I’ve raised my voice to them by saying HOW WILL I EVER COMFORT THE WORD PROGRESS IF I AM NOT EVEN OKAY. BECAUSE THE WAY I SEE IT I NEED TIME ALSO TO FIX MY PERSONAL PROBLEM TO BE SO CALLED EFFECTIVE AS YOU WANT ME TO BE. All I ever did is to boast what I want and at some point when I just felt unsupported I am somewhat affected and now I tend not to make further progress because it seems that they do not understand that I just need time to heal. As they want me to heal so quick. It has been years that I’m bothered because of the way they talked likely they say curse words and even manipulative. But I never thought that I will not be compensated if I will talk about my problem. I never thought that they would see me more worst while I’m having a problem. 😦

    • I hope that my blog post helped you understand more about your situation. I also have a free webinar that you can watch on my website here Toxic Parent Help and if you sign up for my newsletter on my home page, you will get a free e-book to download that will help you set boundaries and be able to communicate effectively.

      best wishes

  17. I’m 18 and my stepmother abused me for 14 years and I finally told my boyfriends mom and a few months ago she helped me get out of the house and to my grandmas. My dad would call begging me to come home but I wouldn’t. Then one night my boyfriends sister took me to a store to meet my dad so he could give me clothes. He yelled at me saying “She said she never abused you!” And then a little while later he goes “When was the last time she hit you!?” He didn’t even care she hit me, all he cared about was when the last time was. He’d call me constantly for the two months I was gone and how up at my grandmas to “check up on me” He’d call me while I was at my boyfriends and scream at me to come home. It was March 6th 2016 and I got a call from my dad saying my uncle had passed and asked if I’d go to Tennessee with my stepmother to get my aunt. I accepted (worst mistake EVER) The whole 4 hours there she kept asking me why I left and playing the victim. They used my uncles death against me to make me stay home. So being depressed, I went back home. The whole time my aunt was there they would emotional abuse me while downstairs calling me terrible names and brining up my drug past. I got tired of it and left again. I stayed with a friend for a week then her mom kicked me out saying I needed to make up with my family. Forget that they emotionally and physically abuse me and stay with them. I am currently staying with another friend and tomorrow will be 2 weeks and I love it here. My dad would call and text repeatedly saying “I miss you” and “How will you pay for college?” And “You need to stop being stubborn and come home” and “People can’t take care of you forever!” I got tired of it and blocked him. Am I a bad person for doing that?

    • Dear Hayley,
      Getting yourself away from abusive people doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a wise one. If you need help setting boundaries, go to my website at toxic parent webinar and watch the webinar. You can also sign up and download my free e-book on how to set and keep strong boundaries.

      best wishes

  18. I am very glad to have found your article. I grew up with a very abusive grandmother, physically, mentally, and emotionally. The sad part is my mom knew but did nothing. I also had an uncle that sexually abused me regularly and living under the same roof. No one protected me. Eventually my aunts boyfriends did the same as well. I begged my mom to live with her but she refused. I explained why but she did not care. My grandmother would constantly say that my mom was raped and that she should have killed me as a baby. My mom was not raped.

    To this day, im close to 40, my grandmother still hates me because I was born. She constantly stated that she wish I would be found dead in a gutter. They never did much to help me but just enough to keep me alive. I had to hitchhike daily yo and from school about 40 miles. Many times I didn’t think id make it home. My mom refused to put me in a closer school where my sister attended. When I ask why she did not try to help me she stated that she did not finish school. One day I was sent to stay at a friend while the entire family moved out of state. I got no explanation.

    As a child all I could think of was leaving home and never returning just to get away from the beatings and abuse. I was barely fed as well. To this day im still hated by my grandmother and my mom hides to speak to me so I decided to distance myself.

    Its very hard for some to understand why I don’t speak to them. I felt inadequate and unloved by them. I tried to please them but finally realized that its impossible and that I should cut off communication for my on mental health. I do miss them but I know its not healthy to speak to them. I try to avoid telling people because they can be so judgemental without knowing the facts. I feel like that was the best decision for me even though my sister calls me every name for not speaking to them. It puzzles me because she grew up seeing what I went through and going through it as well and still allows them to manipulate her.

    • Hi Dee,
      I am so glad that you found my post. It’s a sad fact that many family members are in denial of the awful abuse and neglect that can take place with toxic parents and family members.

      What a wonderful stand you have taken for yourself. It took lots of courage and you are very worth it.

      If you need more help, you can watch my free webinar recording here toxic parent webinar and on my home page you can download my free e-book that will help you set and keep the strong boundaries you need.
      best wishes

      Kerry Jeffery

  19. Hello Kerry.

    I am current 24 years old and I’ve been staying with my mother, step father and step sister since I was 8. I came from a broken family. My parents split up when I was 2 years old, so I stayed with my father till I was 6. My long lost mother suddenly came back into my life and took over my custody when I was 7. Since then, my life was a nightmare. She constantly abused my brother and I, physically and mentally. To the point where we had to go for counselling very often when we were young. Even my brother was beaten up so bad, he was sent to the A&E.

    Over the years, she is less abusive physically. She attempts to assimilate herself into our lives. Even when I excelled academically and managed to live independently without any financial help from her, she still constantly put me down and attacks me verbally with degrading remarks like ‘so what if you are intelligent? You’re still worthless.’ It made me question my achievements and my self worth. Despite my hard work, she never fails to remind me how I’m never good enough. Even when it comes to my relationships, she would pinpoint flaws of my boyfriend and try to anger me. Imagine coming home from a long day’s work, looking forward to a nice hot shower and a goodnight sleep, but coming home to an unsupportive mother who blames you for not being home to do her chores, and for working a crappy job with long hours, and that you are stuck up for not being sociable enough to her.

    Some part of me feel that it’s the resentment brought over from my bad childhood, or maybe because she is never there for me when I needed a mother, that makes me hate her so much. I feel like a bad person for hating her, but she really gives me no choice.

    What do I do? I really want to dissolve my r’ship with her. Am I an evil daughter for doing so?

    • If it was anyone else except your mother physically and verbally abusing you, would you feel “evil” for wanting to end the relationship? You never have to justify leaving toxic, abusive behavior. You have the right to live a happy, safe life. Do what makes you feel that way. Have a look at my free webinar replay here toxic parent webinar and I also recommend that you join my mail list on the home page of my website and download my free e-book about how to set strong boundaries and communicate clearly. You most of all, deserve your own love and support. Kerry

  20. I truly appreciate your advice on the toxic parent. I have for years considered myself “the black sheep” of my family, not in a bad way as I was only one if 5 children to graduate high school and college. Had loving relationships with my children and husband, and really made something out of myself up until my disability 3 years ago. My mother has never made me feel wanted or loved all my life. In my youth I was pawned off to different family members, molested, physically and emotionally abused by them and yet she would send me back to them. I left home at 15 and married at 16 just to get away from her. 14 years later I left my 1st marriage and returned to be near her thinking I could have an adult relationship with her. She brags about the drug addict and the alcoholic siblings yet never complimented me . I distant myself from her and controlled my communication with her but ALWAYS celebrated her on every holiday. I moved away 3 years ago due to PTSD and advise of therapist ” get the hell out of dodge” but stayed in touched. Recently my eldest sibling “the demon” as I call her has moved in to care for her stealing not only her medications but all ger money and forged moms signature on checks. I called Adult protective services for the second time, trying to save my mom. Well a few weeks ago during a phone call to mom, she and I got into an argrument over the demon and mom told me ” JUST TO SHOUT UP AND MIND MY OWN BUSINESS. BETTER OFF JUST STAY THE FUCK OUT OF MY LIFE.” I hung up and have not contacted her again. But I have felt guilty and getting harsh comments from the family and at the same time kinda of relieved to be out of the drama. I just wanted my mom to love me the way she did the others. Am I right to assume that it will never happen? Is our relationship toxic enough to completely walk away?

    • Hi Sandi, you are the only one who can determine if it’s time to walk away. Ask yourself this question, if this were anyone else, would you still want them to be in your life. I really recommend that you watch my webinar replay as it will help to clarify the issue for you. You can find it here. Toxic Parent Help best wishes Kerry

  21. My 3 children are under 5. We are estranged from my husband’s parents who are extremely toxic. I deal with a lot of guilt of taking my kids away from their grandparents even though I think they’d be better off without their influence. I’m not sure how I will approach the subject one day. I don’t want them to believe family is disposable. My eldest remembers his grandma but doesn’t ask for her.

    • Hi Katie,
      What is important to understand right now is that it is your beliefs about taking your kids away from their grandparents that are creating your guilt. While family may not be disposable, being family does not give anyone the right to treat another family member with abuse, neglect or manipulation. At some stage you and your husband made the step to end that relationship because it felt like it was the only way. That is the conversation you can have one day about having boundaries, not accepting bad treatment and not being afraid to remove toxic people from your life when needed. I hope that helps. Kerry.

      • Thank you Kerry I appreciate your response! I’m very happy I stumbled across your page, there is a lot of useful information here.

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