12 Ways The Trauma Of Typical Toxic Indian Parenting Affects Our Kids – How Can You Avoid This?

What is toxic parenting, so widespread in Indian families? It can truly traumatise our kids, yet we persist with the same patterns.

Trigger warning: This deals with toxic parenting – parental abuse and its short term and long term effects on a child, and may be triggering to survivors.

Understanding toxic parenting, and checking your own parenting for toxicity to make changes is the only way to break the cycle of generational trauma, something that our future generations need us to do.

What is toxic parenting?

Parenting that usually focuses on and demonstrates narcissism, lack of respect and boundaries, humiliation, manipulation, criticism, comparison, restriction, neglect, withdrawal, apathy, emotional unavailability, physical and mental abuse, control, self absorption, rigidity, blame, emotional instability, lack of empathy, lack of autonomy and decision making for the child, forms the broad umbrella of Toxic Parenting.

Children who grow up in a dysfunctional family set up, grow up to have low self esteem, anxious attachment styles, and abandonment Issues, and in extreme cases, PTSD (especially in cases of child sexual abuse). These usually follow them into adulthood and they can struggle with forming lasting relationships with their partners and spouses. They often get attracted to partners who are emotionally unavailable, narcissists, or partners who gaslight/ghost them, as an acceptable form of love.

What can be the cause of toxic parenting, which can happen even when parents mean well?

Toxic parenting can stem from generational trauma- the emotional and psychological wounds that have accumulated over years and transferred to the future generation in the form of Toxic parenting. In such a scenario, this style of Parenting is commonly prevalent and it is not usually seen as a sign of toxicity. It is the accepted form of parenting and is considered as a right of passage especially in a cultural setting like ours.

Physical abuse in childhood which is often seen in the form of slaps and is commonly seen in households as a means to discipline the child. It is considered as an acceptable form of punishment for the child. Most parents are remorseless and consider it as a matter of pride.

Toxic parenting manifests itself in various forms

Manipulating the child into doing things, guilt tripping the child when things don’t go according to them or when the child starts to set boundaries for self. It takes the form of criticism, caustic remarks, comparisons, shaming (slut shaming and body shaming in girls) and ridiculing the child in person and in front of others.

Blaming the child for everything that is going wrong.

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Being passive aggressive during conflicts and arguments with the child. Inconsistent parenting through mixed instructions, blowing hot and cold, making the child feel responsible for parenting them (putting the onus of parenting on the child), lack of communication and trust in the child.

Gaslighting the child and showing complete disregard for their boundaries and space. Making them feel worthless and up to no good in person and in front of others.

How does this affect the child?

Toxic Parenting has a negative long term impact.

  • It affects the self esteem of the child, causing him/her to constantly question and second guess themselves and their life choices.
  • Children grow up under-confident and often unsure of their true identities.
  • The constant blaming may lead them to believe that they somehow “deserve” all the negativity they receive in their lives. Hence, they get attracted to partners who gaslight them and they accept it as a form of love.
  • They settle for crumbs in relationships and are often quick to ignore the red flags in the relationship.
  • They can use sex as a way to gain love and affection from others.
  • They may use manipulation with their partners to get their needs met. For them, blaming, guilt tripping and manipulating are acceptable forms of love and they often use these tactics to get their way with their partners in a relationship.
  • Some of them may undergo body issues if they have been shamed for their bodies, and feel judged by the parents for being too thin or too thick.
  • They develop trust issues and paranoid ideation and a general lack of trust for others. They mistrust others and their intentions and do not give them the benefit of doubt.
  • These children grow up into adults with abandonment issues and develop insecure attachment styles in relationships. They have a constant need for attention, and have very high expectations from their partners, which often remain unfulfilled and cause them a great deal of distress. They project their fears and insecurities onto their partners and end up making them feel bad for not meeting their high standards.
  • Their tendency to overthink and create implausible scenarios in their heads about things and situations that are not likely to occur, gives them a sense of calm in the chaos of their thoughts.
  • They often think the worst of others and their actions often mimic their thoughts to make the imaginary scenario come true. For e.g, preempting a fight and actually ending up in an argument with the partner. This acts as a self fulfilling prophecy and helps in reiterating their negative belief instead of challenging it. It provides a source of comfort and familiarity in their otherwise chaotic and intrusive thought patterns.
  • In severe cases of Child Abuse or Child Sexual Abuse, the child may grow into adulthood, developing PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), Anxiety and Depression.

The trauma faced by the child may leave indelible scars within, which can cause conflicts in relationships and prevent them from forming loving and lasting relationships with others.

Dealing with parental trauma is important for the resolution of relationship trauma

The first step would be to identify ones triggers. Once identified, learning to manage the triggers is important.

Self awareness, introspection and reflection, developing healthy coping mechanisms, setting boundaries, developing resilience and interventions through support groups, and in several cases, professional help in the form of psychiatric interventions and therapy would be beneficial to overcome the generational trauma and the impact of toxic parenting.

Image source: YouTube/ Taare Zameen Par

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