12 Signs You Have An Emotionally Abusive Parent

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Your parents are supposed to be loving, nurturing, and help you grow strong. They're supposed to show you how to become confident, teach you how to be better, and give you the inner strength you need to navigate this lonely, cruel world.

For many of us, the word "parent" conjures up imagery of love, care, and stability. Not everyone has the same reaction, though. Those of us who have an abusive parent often just feel anxious, angry, or defensive when asked about Dear Old Mom or Dad.

I've seen the effects of emotionally abusive parents on their children, and the consequences for those children when they become adults are not pleasant. The "funny" thing I've noticed about people who have been abused by their mother or father is the child doesn't realize they have an emotionally abusive parent, or they claim it's "not that bad."

RELATED: 6 Things You Can Learn From A Man's Relationship With His Mother

Let me be clear about this: it can be better to have no contact with an abusive parent than to let them continue to hurt you.

If any of these traits are true for you, you may need to rethink your role with your mother or father. The decision to cut out a parent has many challenges. Going no contact can give you space to heal, but it also presents various difficulties such as: fall out from family, cultural stigma, and complex emotions to navigate, as explained by Rena Goldman on PsychCentral.

Often, people who have survived a toxic upbringing develop maladaptive coping mechanisms.

According to author Peg Strepp, recognition is not only first step to heal from childhood trauma, but can also take a shockingly long time to happen. If you want to get a head start on recognizing the signs of parental emotional abuse, keep reading.

12 Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Parent

1. Growing up, your mother or father would only "love" you if you did what they told you.

This is one of the most common indicators of emotional abuse I've seen, and it's especially evident among abusive mothers. Love is not supposed to be conditional. Every parent knows that their kids want their love and approval.

Not every parent will withdraw love, acceptance, and affection because their child stepped out of line. This kind of behavior can really mess up a kid, or even a full-grown adult. If you feel like your mom or dad only loves you when you are exactly what they demand you to be, you've got an abusive parent.

2. People tell you that your mom or dad is toxic on a regular basis.

Though you might think otherwise after checking out some of the more messed up comments you'll see on OKCupid, most people still have some scraps of manners they practice. They will not speak up when they notice something messed up going on in your family because they don't want to make you upset.

I've personally noticed that people only really will tell you someone is toxic or abusive when they get very concerned about your wellbeing. If you regularly hear people say your mom or dad is toxic, you probably have an abusive parent.

3. You're low key terrified of upsetting your parent.

Everyone tends to dislike upsetting their parents, but what you need to think about is the order of magnitude. In an abusive relationship, most victims feel a certain level of terror at the potential of upsetting the abuser because of the outcome it would have on them.

Do you find yourself scared that your mom will berate you, scream at you, and tell you you're worthless? Do you worry your dad will publicly humiliate you or withdraw financial support at the slightest provocation? If the idea of saying "no" to your parents makes your stomach drop, you're being abused.

4. They regularly belittle you, criticize you, and put you down.

Emotional abuse is verbal abuse in most cases. If your parent regularly calls you names, criticizes you, makes fun of you, or belittles you, she's abusing you.

Parents are not supposed to treat their kids that way. It is not okay. From what I've seen, most abusive parents will either backpedal or turn it around as the victim's fault when called out on this. So, no, the explanation they give you that they were "just being honest," and that you got them angry doesn't excuse it.

RELATED: I Survived Severe Abuse As A Child — But I'll Never Let It Define Me

5. If you are being honest, being around your mom or dad makes you feel weak and powerless.

Abusers are people who enjoy making others feel powerless. They like controlling others and ruling with an iron fist. To keep the power they have over others and make themselves feel big, they do whatever they can to tear others down.

When your parent is the abuser, you'll often know because you'll notice a tendency they have of making you feel insecure, helpless, and worthless without their approval. It's just the way abuse is!

6. You need to tiptoe around them.

Abusive relationships really aren't that different from one another in this sense. Whether it's a parent or a lover, most abusive relationships will involve one person being terrified of upsetting the other, and actively avoiding saying anything that could set them off.

Do you feel like your mother or father is a ticking time bomb? You are most likely being abused.

7. You're pretty sure your parent has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or some other kind of personality disorder.

Now, I'm not saying that all people who have personality disorders are abusive, but there's definitely a correlation in a lot of cases. This is especially true when you're dealing with narcissism or antisocial types of personality disorders.

If your mother or father has been diagnosed with a personality disorder, or if they show a lot of symptoms of it, chances are you are dealing with some level of emotional abuse.

8. Several of your exes have claimed that your mother or father was the reason you broke up.

I see this behavior a lot more with men than with women, but it's definitely possible to see it with both genders. Some abusive parents really can't handle seeing their children potentially leave the roost or have happiness away from them. So, they sabotage the relationships until the partner leaves.

RELATED: What It's Like To Love Someone Who Has Been Emotionally Abused

9. They blame you for how they feels or what they do.

Do they say it's your fault they act the way they do? Is everything always your fault, but never theirs? Your parent is abusive.

Parents who have healthy relationships with their kids don't act like their kids are responsible for their unhealthy mental state. Your job is not to make them happy.

10. The guilt trips are real and, at times, insane.

A lot of moms will use guilt as a way to keep kids in line, and yes, it works. However, if you find yourself feeling like a horrible person for expressing your feelings, doing everyday things, or even just growing to be a healthy adult, you have a problem parent.

Guilt trips are not a healthy way to maintain control. It's a good way to cause lasting damage.

11. They're extremely critical.

We all hear about that one parent who never is pleased with their kids, even when they are over achievers. Never getting praise while constantly being torn down is often a sign of abuse. It may be intentional, or it may be mistaken. Either way, it's time to talk to someone and look into a low-contact relationship.

12. They've ruined important moments on purpose, or stirred up drama just to drag you down.

At weddings, you can tell who is an abusive parent by their demanding and unreasonable behavior. It is important to point out, the guests at a wedding never judge the bride for an out-of-control parent. However, you can use this a clear sign that you are dealing with an emotionally abusive parent.

RELATED:10 Lessons People Who Were Emotionally Neglected As Kids Learn In Life

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a renegade writer who focuses on dating, relationships, love, and all sorts of lifestyle stuff. She writes about things she's experienced, things she finds interesting, and things that matter.