Methods to Deal With Poisonous Dad and mom

Although she didn’t but know the time period “toxic,” Rashawnda James knew one thing was very off about her relationship along with her mom when she was simply 13 years previous. “I realized that in the conversations at school that they were talking as though their parents were around a lot,” she says.

James’s guardian, a crack cocaine addict, wasn’t. “There were times when I had to go search for my mother because I didn’t know where she was,” James says. “I felt responsible for my mom. Once I made that connection, I knew it was unhealthy.”

Frequent Poisonous Traits

Indicators you may need a poisonous guardian embrace:

  • They’re self-centered. They don’t take into consideration your wants or emotions.
  • They’re emotional unfastened cannons. They overreact, or create drama.
  • They overshare. They share improper data with you, like particulars about their intimate lives. They use you as their essential supply of emotional assist.
  • They search management. They could use guilt and cash to get you to do what they need.
  • They’re harshly crucial. Nothing you do is ever adequate. They don’t respect your good traits or achievements.
  • They lack boundaries. They could present up unasked at your property, or assault your life selections.


Now an Atlanta-based licensed therapist, creator, and self-care knowledgeable, James can identify her mom’s poisonous behaviors. These embrace manipulation and gaslighting, a way that makes you query your capacity to inform what’s true or actually occurring. “As a child, I couldn’t avoid my mother. I couldn’t set boundaries,” James says. “The lines were blurred. There was no filter.”

Nonetheless, her mom managed to contain James in constructive actions. “That became my safe haven,” James says. She excelled at monitor and discipline. One group supplied free remedy when she was in twelfth grade. “It literally changed my life,” she says. That very same counselor grew to become her supervisor years later when James determined to turn into a therapist.

Get Rid of Guilt

As adults, we have choices that we didn’t have as children, and we’re not required to always do what our parents want,” says Sharon Martin, a licensed scientific social employee in San Jose, CA. She’s the creator of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism and The Higher Boundaries Workbook.


If you happen to had been raised to respect your elders, obey your dad and mom, and please them in any respect prices, setting boundaries can appear international. Martin urges her purchasers to problem that mindset. “Remember your parents’ inability to love, accept, and value you aren’t your fault, and don’t have to do with your shortcomings.

“For example, consider whether you think it’s wrong to set boundaries, ask to be treated with respect, prioritize your or your immediate family’s needs above your parents’, or limit how much time you spend with your parents,” she says. “Would you tell a close friend that they’re wrong to do these things in response to yelling, manipulation, lying, harsh criticism, smear campaigns, or threats?”

Don’t Try to Change Them

A big “aha” moment for James was realizing she couldn’t be the reason for her mom to stop doing drugs. “I became the golden child. I thought, if I do well, she would possibly stay clean. If I graduate from high school … college… .” And on and on.


“I had to start living my life, and let go of it,” she says.

“It’s normal to want to please your parents, no matter your age,” Martin says. “But be realistic about whether it’s possible, and what your efforts are costing you emotionally, physically, mentally, financially, and spiritually.”

“The most harmful thing to do to yourself is to believe you can fix them,” James agrees. “If you know that, you don’t have to stay there and take what they’re giving you. You can choose yourself. It releases you, when you don’t have to fix something.”

Boundaries Are Key

Fifteen years later, James’s mother is clean. The two live 22 minutes from each other and talk about twice a day, though they did take a 2-year break. James stresses that while she chooses to carry on their relationship with her mom, you must do what’s best for you.

“It’s taken me 10 years of me enforcing the boundaries,” James says. “I say ‘No, Mom. I can’t give you money.’ ‘No Mom, I can’t be this for you.’ ‘I can’t go over there where those people make me uncomfortable, but you’re free to come over here.’”

“Just because she’s my mother, her priorities don’t have to outweigh mine,” she adds.

It helps that her mom has become more self-aware over time, and sometimes can catch herself in old patterns.

No Need to Explain

Have a short stock response to questions about why you’re not in contact with your parents, i.e., “I’m not talking to my parents because they’re emotionally abusive.” This can help you remember why you’ve set limits, even if others don’t get it.

“When others judge or criticize your decision to limit contact or set other boundaries with your parents, it’s usually because they assume you have emotionally healthy parents who treat you with respect,” Martin says. “But you’re limiting contact because your parents are treating you poorly. And your parents don’t get a free pass to mistreat you simply because they’re your parents.”

You still don’t owe anyone a reason, though, Martin adds. “You have the right to say, ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’”

Practice Self-Care

Children of toxic parents might not be used to taking care of themselves, Martin says. “Use a mantra such as, ‘Self-care isn’t selfish,’ or ‘My needs matter,’ or ‘I’m an adult and have the right to make my own choices.’”


James plans a self-care activity such as journaling or exercising after she spends time with her mother. “I love to journal. It’s a great way to have an internal dialogue, to release my thoughts. I don’t keep my thoughts inside and burden myself with that,” she says. She also loves dance workouts to music from Miami, as Florida is her home state.

Listening to gospel music is another way she keeps grounded. It helps me realize that my struggle isn’t just my burden, she says. “It’s a good reminder that my mom is not my responsibility. God can do more than what I could ever do for her.”

Set Up a Support System

“A support system is essential,” Martin says. She suggests support groups, or individual therapy with someone who works in narcissistic abuse, developmental trauma, or codependency.

To find a therapist, call your insurance company or go online and get a list of providers. If you don’t have insurance, affordable online options include Telehealth and BetterHelp.

Change Your Story

“At an early age, I saw what life was, and I made a commitment to myself not to repeat that cycle,” James says. “I didn’t have the road map or the blueprint, but since 12th grade, I’ve gained the tools to live in a more healthy and positive way.”

She’s elevating her three kids with these in thoughts. For instance, she doesn’t overshare, as her personal mom did. “I really try to maintain their innocence as much as possible,” she says. “I don’t burden my children with other people’s problems. I allow them to see my emotions, because I want them to know a full spectrum.

“I follow the principle that my bounds of happiness are not placed in others, places, or things. I can be anywhere, I can have anything, and still find joy. That’s one of my superpowers!”

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