Your dream is not your child’s dream

Ever heard of toxic parents? Curious to find out if you are one? Guilt trips, jealousy, emotional blackmail—if any of these sounds familiar, it could be a sign that your child’s happiness is at risk.

By Caroline Décoste, Espresso

20 signs you’re ruining your child’s life

Ever heard of toxic parents? Curious to find out if you are one? Guilt trips, jealousy, emotional blackmail—if any of these sounds familiar, it could be a sign that your child’s happiness is at risk.

You criticize all the time

“That’s good, but you could do better.” Sound familiar? That could be because instead of praising your child’s efforts, you only see their faults.

You often make fun of your child

You think it’s funny to laugh at your kid, in public or in private. Although these jokes may seem harmless to you, you can be sure that for your child, it’s another story. Jabs at their weight or appearance affect their self-esteem.

You make your child feel guilty

When your kid screws up, they know it. You don’t need to make them feel guilty too! Plus, no child is responsible for an adult’s or a relationship’s failure.

You smother your child’s emotions

“Stop crying!” “That’s no reason to cry!” For you, it’s not a reason to cry, but for your child, it is. Children’s emotions are complex and difficult for them to manage, so it’s important to provide support and listen instead of telling them to bottle it all up.

You live vicariously

Did you always dream of being a ballerina or a star athlete? It may be your dream, but it sure isn’t your kid’s. You can’t live through them and impose your failed dreams on them.

You try to dominate your child

“Be quiet and listen!” If you find yourself saying this often, you’re taking away your kid’s right to speak. Do you brag that they’re well-behaved and never talk back? That could be because you’re encouraging submission and not expression.

You don’t trust your child

You read your teenager’s diary and texts, you search their room when they’re not home… You don’t give them any privacy. Kids need personal space too, just like grown-ups!

You don’t let your child speak their mind

Kids need to be able to express their thoughts freely and ask questions. If you don’t talk to your child or if you constantly tell them that “we don’t talk about that,” they’ll learn to hide things from you later.

You pressure your child

Ever heard of the cult of performance? If anything less than an A+ is a failure, if your child’s extracurricular schedule is jam-packed without a moment to rest, you’re putting way too much pressure on your child to perform. That can be dangerous for kids, since often they want to please you at any cost, even if it makes them sick.

You compete with your child

Is your teenager prettier than you? Be proud instead of seeing it as a competition. You’re not on a dating show, you’re their parent!

You’re jealous of your child

When your child shines, either through their personality or achievements, it’s your success too. Don’t try to steal their thunder because you can’t stand someone else being in the limelight once in a while.

You’re selfish

If even your kid’s birthday party has to be about you and your success as a parent, it may be time for some serious self-reflection. Being a parent requires a healthy dose of humility, and you might need a double dose.

You play the victim

This one goes hand in hand with guilt-tripping—playing the victim can take a serious toll. You’re not at your child’s mercy, and they shouldn’t believe that you’re suffering because of them.

You have fits of anger

It’s normal to lose your temper every once in a while, especially if you’re tired or overworked. But frequent, sudden fits of rage are a serious anger management problem. Is it really worth screaming over spilled milk?

You enjoy picking fights…

Toxic parents tend to enjoy sowing discord around them. If you don’t get invited to family events or if some members of your family don’t want to talk to you anymore, you might wonder why...

… and have marital spats in front of your child

Kids shouldn’t see their parents fight, especially if things escalate and a disagreement turns into a yelling match. Your kid can start to feel like it’s their fault. Try not to fight in front of them and whatever you do, don’t try to make them take sides!

You overprotect your child

Cuts and scrapes are how kids learn. Don’t try to protect your child from everything and prevent them from doing activities or going on trips just because something bad could happen. You’ll just end up making them anxious and afraid, too.

You emotionally blackmail your child

“If you loved Mommy, you would…” “Do it for Daddy…” Don’t use your love for your child as a tool. Let them make their own decisions and avoid emotional blackmail. Otherwise your child will learn that they always have to do what other people want in order to prove their love.

You have a favorite child…

… And you make sure the other ones know it! It’s common to have a better relationship with one of your kids, even though you love them all equally. But please! Don’t let your kids know and don’t use gifts, compliments, comparisons, and so on to show your preference. Unequal treatment will lead to competition between siblings instead of solidarity.

You never say you’re sorry

So many mistakes can be fixed by saying “I’m sorry” and meaning it. If nothing’s ever your fault and you never admit to your mistakes, your child might eventually cut ties with you once they’re all grown up. Find out what’s wrong and apologize, once and for all!


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Lifestyle Magazine: Your dream is not your child’s dream
Your dream is not your child’s dream
Ever heard of toxic parents? Curious to find out if you are one? Guilt trips, jealousy, emotional blackmail—if any of these sounds familiar, it could be a sign that your child’s happiness is at risk.
Lifestyle Magazine
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