Intentionally Emotive with Shaun Karim
Episode 9 - The Toxic Parent
In this episode, Shaun goes into detail what a toxic parent is and the effects this has on their children–you. The obstacles, the behaviors, the guilt, the shame, and confusion–these are the things that a toxic parent thrives on, and these are the things that can kill you.
Once you identify that your parent is toxic, what can you do about it? What are the pitfalls that they’ve laid for you? How do you maneuver THROUGH it (not around it)? Are you even capable of moving on?
Shaun shares his experiences and what he did to overcome it all, and he wants to help you understand that you can overcome all of it too!
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Hey everyone. Welcome to the Intentionally Emotive Podcast with Shaun Karim. New episodes are available every Wednesday. If you haven’t already, please subscribe and check out my past episodes.
Today’s topic is the toxic parent.
So, what is a toxic parent? In my experience, it is a parent who consistently behaves in a way that makes their child feel fear, guilt, or obligation to satisfy their parent’s needs. This is a pattern of behavior that ends up forming a negative viewpoint for that child.
Whereas a “normal” parent can admit their mistakes, like unintentionally doing something damaging to their child, their intention is to always to do things the right way, the toxic parent is instead thinking about their own needs first; they don’t understand that they can and should apologize for the wrongs they’ve committed, and on top of that they only do worse as time goes on.
There are a bunch of characteristics that a toxic parent can have, but I’ve narrowed it down to a few.
The first thing is their lack of boundaries. They think it’s OK to invade your privacy, physically and mentally, for any reason, such as “curiosity”, suspicion, or to gain and maintain control over you.
The second is abuse, both verbal and physical. Things like hitting, punching, slapping, yelling, giving threats that the child at least wonders if they can be carried through. Insults, name-calling, silent treatment, shifting blame, and gaslighting, like saying things that actually have happened DID NOT happen or twisting the child’s viewpoint and causing confusion.
There’s also wanting to be the center of attention, but in a way that makes them uncaring when it comes to the child’s emotional needs, lack of emotional availability, or narcissistic behavior. By the way, I have an episode about narcissistic parents that I’ll link in the notes; I highly recommend you check that one out.
The toxic parent also is very manipulative. We’ve all experienced some level of manipulation from other people, but from the toxic parent, this more specifically involves using guilt or shame to control the child; and even using time, money, and other things like that as a carrot to dangle in front of you to get you to do something for them even if they say it’s for you.
And last, but not least, they can be extremely controlling. I’m talking about not only do they not allow the child to make their own decisions, but on the rate occasion that even happens, they are super critical about them, and ESPECIALLY as the child moves into adulthood.
The thing about all of this is if you can properly identify yourself as having been raised, especially in your formative years, by a toxic parent or toxic primary caregiver, then it’s vital to your life, the way you look and feel about yourself, that you do a self-check to see how this may be impacting you.
There are so many questions to ask. The ones I’ve asked myself are:
There’s one thing about all of this you need to understand. DO NOT blame yourself for how they treated you and acted with you, and certainly not for how you react. Don’t feel inadequate, and forget about how they wanted to make you feel guilty for whatever silly reason they gave you. The stress and confusion as you get older and now into adulthood did nothing good for you; instead, it brought down your self-esteem. I understand esteem comes from self, but when you have a shitty environment in your formative years, you’re starting in the negative. The baggage you’re carrying now? That’s a bag full of shit that belongs to them, not you.
The effects of a toxic parent impacts your world tremendously. It impacts how you view people, your self worth, and everything around you. It’s not normal that the lens you’re wearing is skewing your view with experiences you should never have had, so understand any of the behaviors you exhibit now based on all of that is not your fault, that it’s all something you learned from someone who is extremely unhealthy and unboundaried.
So what do you do? What do you do when you’ve been dealt this hand at the start of your life? Do you go around the rest of your life blaming someone else for the state you’re in now or do you muster the courage and strength to change it? In either case, the decision belongs to you. Right?
So it’s important to understand–and accept–that as you walk on the path to change the trajectory of your life, none of this is your fault. It’s not your fault. It doesn’t matter whose it is, but it doesn’t belong to you. You can not only unlearn whatever you’ve picked up from this toxic parent, but you can replace it with something healthy. Your environment shaped you, and although you can’t change that or the person or people who did that to you, you can change it now. So don’t wait for someone to give you permission to tell you it’s OK to leave that part of your life.
Remember how we talked about boundaries before? Boundaries are healthy. Right? We understand this, so understand that the toxic parent–who is unhealthy–did the opposite with you. So set boundaries with them. It doesn’t matter if they don’t like it. It doesn’t matter what they say about it, either to you or someone else. Who cares? You’re setting boundaries for yourself; and the best part about that is it’s up to you where those lines are drawn. When they inevitably try to cross them, you shut them down or you leave. I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s that simple. If they continuously cross them and disrespect you? Do what I did and cut off communication with them for as long as you want. This is YOUR life.
The healing portion of this journey is incredibly important, and I’ll admit it’s not difficult. I’ve mentioned before about how it’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I spoke more about that in a previous episode about shadow work that I’ll link in the notes if you’re interested in checking that one out. So sit with yourself and think about and go through in your mind your childhood experiences with this toxic parent. Get down to the root cause of those things. Acknowledge your feelings and how you’ve carried them with you, how they’ve impacted the way you treat others and yourself. You can seek professional help if you need to; I went to a licensed mental health professional.
At the end of this, it’s important you no longer carry this baggage, that you understand none of this is your fault, that you have the option to change things in your life, that you can step out in faith to make those changes, and that when it’s all said and done, you can look back at those times in your life and know that you not only survived them, but that you can thrive now.
All right, guys. That’s it for this one. Thanks for listening to the Intentionally Emotive Podcast with Shaun Karim. If you haven’t already, please subscribe on your preferred podcast platform and check out www.shaunkarim.com.