Households differ from state to state, country to country, and block to block. No two people have the same experience with their parents growing up. That being said, those who suffer emotional abuse in childhood often take that trauma into adulthood. Often times, it’s not until a close friend or relationship brings this trauma to light. If you’re still in the dark as to whether or not your childhood has left you with long term abuse symptoms, here are x signs that your parents were emotionally abusive.
1. Your parents were very critical of you
It’s natural for your parents to criticize your actions growing up. In many ways, the commentary from our parents lets us know whether or not we’re on the right path. It’s not natural for your parents to demean you or criticize you with negative comments.
In adult life, this form of emotional abuse presents as self-doubt. Many reports remaining fixating on comments their parents made in their youth and using it as a form of self-deprecation. For example, if you constantly heard your parents call you stupid you may find your mind echoing that abuse when you encounter life’s shortcomings. Instead of accepting situations as they are, you begin to ask yourself: “Why am I so stupid?”
2. Your parents always used a guilt trip
Were your mistakes met with comments like, “After everything I gave up giving birth to you, you treat me like this.” Or worse, ‘If you loved me, you wouldn’t act like this”? If so, your parents were emotionally abusing you with guilt trips.
An emotionally abusive parent needs to feel like they have absolute control over their children. It’s important to understand that if your parents used guilt trips to get you to act or think a certain way. This can breakdown your confidence and as an adult, lead to social anxieties. Many adults who were raised with emotionally abusive parents report being afraid to talk to their partner even when they’re partner si honest and open- out of fear that another guilt trip is on its way.
3. Your parents were emotionally absent
This is two-fold: On one end, your parent may have been physically present but unwilling to listen to your feelings. On the other end, your parents may have outright denied you by deploying a silent treatment. No child or adult should be denied the opportunity to express their feelings. If you suffered this treatment as a child, it likely that you struggle to express your feelings in adulthood.
4. Your parents controlled every aspect of your life
Though many look back on their ‘smother’ affectionately, there are long term effects associated with a parent that wants to control every aspect of their child’s life. Parents need to give their children the appropriate space they need to grow. If your parents felt that all aspects of your life were they right to look for, you may now struggle to keep healthy boundaries in your friendships and relationships.
In the same light, your parents may have insisted that everything you did as a child should be serving them. This is a sign you were raised by narcissists. Kids aren’t perfect and parents that expect their children to serve their parents in every way possible have no idea of the degree of emotional damage they are impacting on their children.
5. You now blame yourself for everything
If you’re a person that takes on the weight of the world, even when it’s not your place- your parents may have been emotionally abusive. When you’re accustomed to everything being your fault, it’s hard to break that behavior as an adult. You may now take the mistreatment of others as a sign of your own mistakes, even when you’ve done nothing wrong. Not only does this spill into your relationships as you age, but it also makes you susceptible to future abuse from narcissists and abusers alike.
6. You’re still afraid to talk openly and honestly with your parents
The easiest way to determine whether or not your parents were emotionally abusive is how you truly feel about your parents now. If you still fear to talk to your parents about the simplest of subjects, you’re likely still suffering their abuse. This is a sign that though you are now in control of your life, you don’t feel that way. Not only does this cause personal distress, but it can also interfere in your romantic relationships. After all, a healthy romantic partner will not stand for anyone abusing you- even your parents.
Conclusion: Get help to heal
If you feel that you’re experiencing any of these signs, it a good idea to reflect on the relationship you have with your parents. Recovering from abuse is a process and there is never a bad time to start. Find a therapist or counselor to talk to. They will help you learn healthy coping mechanisms and overcome the effects of childhood emotional abuse. Likewise, turn to those who do love and support you to express your feelings. Build up your support system with friends and loved ones that truly value you and want your mental health to improve.