Am I in a toxic relationship? Should I just leave? Do I need help?
So, today was an okay day. I had a long commute home; music was on in the car but I didn’t really like it. I complained a couple of times and the music was changed. Ugh… The sky is blue and the sun is shining – ugh it’s too bright and it’s in my eyes! I just hate it in my eyes. It’s blinding! My seat belt is bothering me. I tugged at it and it is still tight. Ugh… I hate the seatbelt. I complained again. Music was changed again. I complained again; I got water this time. Anyway, we’re home. I screamed. I didn’t want to be home. I’m tired but I want to go out, maybe Target or something, just to walk around. But no…we’re home. I may have complained a bit too much.
I’m now in my room. It’s lonely and quiet in here. My bed looks comfy, but I don’t want to be in bed. I want to go to Target! I want to walk around. I’m not tired enough for a bath or bed. He’s going to let me out soon, it’s going to be dinner soon. Oh, here he comes.
Fish? Why would you make fish on a day like this? If we go to Target, I’ll get chicken nuggets or something. Not FISH?! I don’t want fish. Oh no, I pushed it off the table. Ow. He hit my hand. I guess I deserved that.
And, I’m back in my room. I want chicken nuggets. Ugh. My eyes hurt. I’ve been crying. Why didn’t they ask me how my day was? Oh, my hand hurts. If I screamed louder, maybe she’ll let me out. Ok, that didn’t work. Now my head hurts.
Oh, I’m supposed to say sorry when she comes. Then, I’ll get chicken nuggets.
“What’s wrong with you?” She asked. What is wrong with me? I should grow up. Stop this crying or throwing a fit. People keep telling me I’m growing up.
“I’m sorry, mama.” I said.
We got to the dining room table. There’s chicken nuggets. Yum…I like chicken nuggets.
If I told you that the scenario above is between my husband and me, no one would hesitate to tell me to leave him. I may even get help! But when you learn that it’s a toddler and his parents, all of a sudden the above scenario is applauded and encouraged with comments like, “that’s what I do with mine.” Why?
“Oh you’re being oversensitive. You don’t know anything about parenting, I have 4 kids, I think I know what I’m doing. You just wait until they’re a little older, you will wish you had listened to me. I spanked my kids, I did timeouts, my children are fine. It’s parents like you that raise irresponsible and disrespectful adults. I discipline my children because I love them. Only I love my children this much. I sacrificed so much for them. I gave them life! How could I be hurting them?”
My mother said those words to me when I told her I won’t be adopting her parenting approach. That level of put-down and negativity is what I have been used to. Her toxicity overpowers her love, but I don’t think it’s entirely her fault; her mother said those words to her too. And I’m sure her mother before her, and so on and so forth. My mother loved me in the best way she knew how.
Toxic parenting is passed down from generation to generation.
Toxic parenting is more common than the common cold. But we don’t see it that way, do we? In fact, it can be very difficult for someone to even realize or challenge how they were brought up. Humans don’t like dissonance, and questioning one’s upbringing creates a lot of chaos. How we are raised and what we are taught at a young age leaves invisible traces in our lives; these childhood events and experiences shape our mindset and value system, our confidence and ego, our expectations and needs.
We think we turned out fine, because we were raised to believe so. We think spanking and discipline makes the child happy and respectful, because these thoughts were instilled in us. We were raised to believe timeouts corrected naughty children – that by isolating them, children will somehow turn good. And we can’t question or bare the discomfort that comes with questioning our upbringing because we were raised believing that our parents are always right and there is no challenging that.
Being a parent is the most powerful role you’ll ever be. Don’t abuse your power.
Parenting is not love. Parenting is not discipline. Parenting is a journey, an education. You would think that as a parent, this is your time in life to be the teacher; the truth is, we never stop learning. Parenting is a journey in which you help your child explore the world that you’ve come to take for granted, while your child helps you explore the depths of your inner self. If we spend more time listening to and letting our children be children, instead of correcting their behaviors and aligning them with how we see fit, we can actually enjoy this journey of self-exploration that is parenting.
Positive and gentle parenting focuses on the emotional well-being of a child. Happiness is deeper than a smile on their face, the applause from the numbers and letters they’re able to recite, or whether or not they hug and kiss you. Happiness is the most valuable gift you can give your children and it starts with love, grows with understanding and ends by passing on the torch. For when a child is truly happy, they develop self-reliance and resilience. They grow into confident and capable adults who believe that they have control over their lives. How you treat your children today will affect them and the generations of children to come.
When you practice positive and gentle parenting, you’re also focusing on your emotional well-being. You can’t teach gentle unless you’re gentle. You can’t teach positive unless you’re positive.