I hope this isn’t true, and I hope I’m just exaggerating it in my head, but I only just realized this, and I think I may have a toxic parent.
I read several articles on some signs to look out for, and here are some that clicked with me:
My mother often ignores what we (my siblings & I) say. She’d ask us questions but not listen to the reply. Part of it could be due to her speaking at ‘shouting volume’ all the time, such that her voice drowns out ours. But eventually it’s gotten to a point where I find it pointless to even reply to her, because she doesn’t seem to hear any of it anyway. She just verbally intrudes and talks to herself non-stop, not caring for our responses.
Whenever I have good news to tell her, such as my volunteer work or when I’ve found an internship, she’ll somehow turn it into bad news and say that I only got it because no one else wanted it. The only aspect of my life she seems to take in positively is when I do well in my studies (which hasn’t really been the case since I entered uni lol). Needless to say, I’ve closed off most of my life away from her and stopped telling her many things I would’ve previously wanted to. I think she secretly checks our phones and wallets just to see what’s up.
2. Overly critical
I have a long-term acne problem due to crazy hormones, and my mum likes to mention it alllllll the time, as if I don’t know it already. She says it’s because of whatever unhealthy food I’m eating, but she’s the one who buys said unhealthy food for me (and in excess) despite my efforts to avoid them. She also calls my other siblings stupid because they didn’t do well academically. Ironically, when my little brother (my mum’s favorite) put on a lot more weight than he should because my mum buys junk food for him all the time, she didn’t say anything and said fat was good (the old mentality of fatness indicating wealth), even though in the present people get bullied and ridiculed at for being fat. (In case you’re worried for my brother, he’s now of a healthy weight and exercises regularly on his own, which I’m really happy about!)
My mum also puts down any kind of hobby I wish to pick up. When I was really really young, I wanted to start learning the piano, but she discouraged me from doing so. I also wanted to learn ballet, but she said she didn’t want me to be touched by men and wear revealing clothing lol. A month ago, I decided to finally learn the piano on my own, and bought a keyboard. I got a huge scolding from my mum for wasting money (even though I got a secondhand keyboard with my own savings) and space in the house and trying to learn something useless instead of focusing on my studies (even though it’s the summer holidays now).
I also loved to sing since I was young and remember asking her if she thought I had the potential to be a singer. She said my voice was too ugly to be a singer. A few days ago, she heard me practising my vocals in my room and told my siblings how ugly my voice was and how I’ll never be a singer (*includes a scoff from her*).
I mean, it’s good to be honest with your child, but to put your child down like that without even letting her try…it really hurts. Now that I’m older, I’m thankful for gaining enough courage to start learning stuff I’ve always wanted to try when I was younger but was always discouraged from doing. I wish I had the fortune to be able to hone a talent from young though. (Yup, I’m currently talentless).
3. Feeling responsible for her behaviour
I’ve always, and still sometimes do believe that it’s not my mum’s fault at all, and that this is just the way she is.
I love my mum, and will always do. I know how much she’s sacrificed for us, all the house chores she has to do for us all the time, her home-cooked food that I stay home every weekend just to eat, how she has to juggle taking care of us while working 6 days a week, and how she buys random food and clothing for us (even though sometimes they don’t suit us and she tends to overspend lol)…
It’s just her style that she talks loudly and ignores our voices, and that she puts down our ambitions to protect us from failure. I think a lot of what she does could be justified into protecting us. She also sounds like a typical “asian” mother, someone who focuses on the child’s academic progress because that’s what they believe is most important, while leaving out everything else.
But I don’t think that’s right. At least, it doesn’t feel right. It hurts to feel estranged from someone who literally gave me life, to want attention and love and for her to be proud of me, but not receive enough of it. And it definitely hurts to portion part of the blame for who I am now, to my own mother. Sometimes, I know it’s my fault. Sometimes, I know it’s hers. But I guess what I haven’t realized yet is that it’s both our faults.