Unhealthy Parenting? Move Out.

Andrea Gomez, Staff Writer

  Many kids grow up thinking how they were raised was the standard. Parents are supposed to be strict, right? They are supposed to disagree with every decision  and make you feel like a failure, right?

  As much as this is normalized, noticing the signs of toxic parents and knowing what to do not only improves your mental health, but improves you as a whole. Once these signs have been identified, the best choice to consider is likely going to be moving out as soon as possible.

  Diana Baumrind, a graduate of UC Berkeley, Hunter College and University of California, is a clinical and development psychologist who focuses primarily on parenting styles. Baumrind, being a parent herself, maintains a healthy parenting style called authoritative. However, she has also identified three toxic parenting styles: authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful. Gerald Schoenewolf, a licensed psychoanalyst, mentions seven more styles to Baumrind’s list on Psych Central:

  1. Authoritative: The healthy style of parenting, Baumrind categorizes this type of parenting style as firm but up for negotiation. Psych Central states, “Their children grow up to be well-adjusted, independent, and capable of empathy—the cornerstone of healthy relating.¨
  2. Authoritarian: These types of parents do not care what the child wants. Because of this, the child grows up scared of their parents. They can also be insecure, have a temper, and be frightful.
  3. Permissive: Another one of Baumrind’s, these parents do not usually enforce any type of rules or punishments. Have you ever seen a child throw a tantrum at a toy store? That is because the child likely grew up spoiled; the parents thought if they gave them whatever they wanted,  they would receive love from their child in return. In this case, the parent is the insecure one as they constantly try to please their child.
  4. Neglectful: When a parent’s world becomes too much or are they are just “too busy” with work or something else, they do not think about the child. They forget to parent them because they are so preoccupied with themselves. Baumrind states, “[The children] lack self-esteem and confidence, and are quite needy.”
  5. Overprotective: It is normal for parents to worry about their child. However, too much of something is never beneficial, so when parents forbid their children from doing certain tasks or hobbies, it can affect their growth in a negative way. These parents are so afraid of bad things happening to their child that the children become fearful of simple tasks or requests.
  6. Narcissistic: This is the opposite of permissive. Instead of feeling like they have to serve the children, narcissistic parents want their children to serve them. The child has to do and say whatever the parent wants. They are not there for their child and certainly do not think they should be, often afraid of what others think if their child does not abide by their rules. Thus, these parents try to force their views upon their children. Once their child becomes independent, they too feel threatened.
  7. Polarized: Two opposites do not always go together. Have you met a couple with two people who just are not made for each other yet they are still together? Polarized parents are when both are toxic but in different ways. They can emulate any of the styles above (except the first one) but are not the same type.
  8. Dependent: When parents cling on to their child, the adults seem to weigh down the child. Do not get me wrong: having your parents is great, and many do not have that privilege. But when it gets to the point where they do not want you to leave, ever, it gets unhealthy.
  9. Isolated: Have you ever seen someone who was considered a “loner?” Their parents may have something to do with it. These parents isolate themselves from almost everyone and do not set  a good example for their child on how to communicate.
  10. Toxic: These parents can be hard to notice: even the child cannot see it sometimes. Have you ever seen someone’s parents so nice and so loving that you just doubt they can be that way? Well, looks can be deceiving. Most of these parents are just faking it. If the child calls their parents out, many people would not believe the child. The parents have such a strong image of being loving that they can easily put down their child without damaging their relationship and reputation with others.

     I have had my share of these. My parents are both toxic and narcissistic. At the beginning of the year, I thought I had my  heart set on pursuing a career in accounting but before applying for college, I decided psychology was something I really did wanted to pursue. However, when telling my parents this, my father replied with, “You are going to starve.” My parents were not happy with this, especially since they wanted me to get a well-paying job they could brag to their friends about. My parents did not believe psychology was a sturdy career. Once I expressed these feelings and moments to my friends, they just could not believe my parents were like this. They thought they were so loving and simply blamed me for thinking that way.

  If you can, move out. Get out of that toxic environment. It is going to be difficult, but the feeling of worthlessness and the act of self-blaming is not worth it. Find a friend or family member that is willing to take you in. If you have enough money, try going to a college with dorms. Many people cannot do these things because of financial problems, age restrictions, or they are simply just unable move out, however, there are ways to cope with these unhealthy parenting styles.

   For starters, try to go out as often as possible if the parent is affecting you emotionally and mentally. Occupy yourself with outside activities or stay with a trusted friend for  sleepovers. Challenge yourself to not let them define you. If your parents do not set boundaries for you, put some on yourself. If your parents tell you to become a doctor but you have your heart set on being an author, do not tell them and just go for it.

  Now, I am not saying to go right ahead and disobey your parents, and I am not saying this task is  easy. No doubt these types of parenting styles can come differently. As long as you recognize this is a problem, it is a big step into stopping the cycle. No doubt, you will have some characteristics of one or both of your parents, but knowing that you can change it makes you responsible.

  However, if you believe your parent is  physically abusive in any way shape of form, contact the child abuse hotline at 1 800-422-4453.

  In conclusion, as a senior leaving high school, it is a huge weight off the shoulders to understand what is going on and how to help yourself. It is never too early or late to try to take accountability and take steps to improving yourself and your life..