Based on some advice I gave a girl with abusive parents, here’s a list of signs that I’ve gathered from personal experience with my mother:
- Constant criticism: Most parents criticise their children now and then but constantly putting down your child is not normal. For the most part, the criticism comes out of the blue and is often about your looks, interests or behavior. It’s not just “normal” criticism, like commenting on something stupid you did. They’ll often compare you to other children and demand that you should be like them instead.
- Not taking you seriously: No matter how old you are, you’ll always be a dumb child to an abusive parent. It doesn’t matter how well-informed you are and how great your arguments are: you’re wrong, naive and stupid. My mother would often shut me out when talking with her and other “adults” at parties and gathering, even when I was 18 and older and could easily talk with the “adults”
- Being overdramatic: Making a situation seem a lot worse than it is will always put the parent in control and make the child a nervous wreck. My mother still has a habit of blowing things out of proportions and act like a tiny problem is the end of the world. As an adult, I just roll my eyes but for a child, it’s absolutely terrifying.
- Projecting their feelings/faults onto you: My mother always pointed out how angry and sour I was and I believed her for a long time until I was told otherwise by friends on multiple occassions (whenever I was described, happy was always included). Guess who’s angry and sour, though? My mom, of course. She’s extremely negative about a lot of things and tends to think the worst of everything. She complains nonstop but somehow she’s convinced that’s me doing that, not her. This goes for other feelings/faults too (being jealous, violent, naive etc.)
- Mocking your interests: Loudly commenting and making fun of what you enjoy is not something normal parents (or people for that matter) do. A parent should never shame an interest unless it’s harmful to others. My mother has done this my whole life whether it was my interest in animals, collectiong stones, reading a lot, or wanting to study psychology (according to her it’s not “real” science)
- Blaming you for having negative emotions: Whether you’re rightfully sad or angry, the parent will respond with ridicule and sometimes anger. You don’t have the right to be angry yourself and sadness isn’t met with comfort. I was a very emotional child and cried easily yet my mother just got annoyed and/or furious. If I cried at school, I’d have to beg my teachers not to tell my mother because she’d throw a fit and lock me in my room
- Not respecting that you’re an introvert/extrovert: This often comes from the fact that the parent is the opposite of what you are. In my case, my mother was a social butterfly and scorned me for being an introvert (she doesn’t even believe that term). Even if I spent the entire day with other people, she’d be angry if I didn’t want to go play with someone after dinner. She’d also be pissed in the most ridiculous situations, like if I didn’t sit next to someone in the bus on trips and alike.
- You have to protect others from their anger: In my case, it was my younger brothers and sometimes my father. I’ve swallowed my words or let my mother mistreat me several times so that she wouldn’t throw a fit and later let it out on my brothers or my father. A child should not be responsible for keeping peace in the home.
- You have to lie all the time: With all the previous points, it’s not unusual that you end up lying to the parent in question all the time. I seldom lie to my father but I’ve lied to my mother my entire life and still do. Making up excuses and stories to avoid conflict becomes an essential part of interacting with the abusive parent and if you’re unlucky like me, it’ll last an entire liftetime.
If these things happen to you a lot, you’re dealing with an abusive parent and need help. Emotional abuse can affect you on the long run and has to be stopped as soon as possible.
If the abusive parent can’t change their awful behaviour towards you, you don’t have to stay in touch with them and/or see them. You don’t owe your parents anything if they mistreat you like this.