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5 important signs you are being raised by toxic parents


“Your parent is your parent. Just forgive them because you won’t get others”, “How can you call your mother toxic and she gave birth to you? You have no respect”, “You just persevere,” and “You’re bringing Westerners thoughts to Africa, they have no place here” are some of the off-the-cuff responses many social media users in Kenya often give when they come across complaints by kids having toxic parents.

This could be seen when comedian Mchungaji complained about his toxic mother, and people told him off for disrespecting his mother and demanded he seek her forgiveness- which he ended up doing on national radio. This was just an instance of how a majority of Kenyans do not know who a toxic parent is, whether they are being raised by one, and their options when dealing with toxic parents.

So then, what signs can you look out for to determine if you actually have toxic parents, and you might have just been chalking up their behaviors to the decade they were born in?

  1. When their love and affection are conditional. They raised you, so any money you earn should go towards their upkeep. You must financially support your siblings on their behalf because they supported you to succeed to whichever level. Only then will they be pleased with you, constantly offering praise. Failure to do this results in silent treatment, being gossiped by the family, and sometimes being insulted.
  2. They do not recognize any boundaries you put up for yourself and others. They overstep in their speech and actions. Your privacy is nonexistent, and you will often use guilt-tripping as a means to control you.
  3. Abusive- whether physically, mentally, or emotionally, they are toxic. Anything they do that does not work in your best interest is toxic to you. You mustn’t excuse them for living in the Stone Age, but you must recognize the ways of the modern age to explain their behaviors. A parent is supposed to protect and love their child. Failure to do so they are poison to the child’s holistic growth and development.
  4. After failing to respect your boundaries and abusing you, you can note that your parents are toxic when they then proceed to isolate you from your family- nuclear and extended. They will prevent you from interacting with others and telling them of your plight, will prevent you from forming healthy relationships and will always ‘chomea’ you when you finally get into a relationship with a good partner. They will always paint you as the bad guy who does not care about others just so you get left. This is a toxic form of control.
  5. They never acknowledge or apologize for their mistakes, no matter how great they are. Instead, they will try and shift blame onto you or others, will try and sweep the matter under the rag or will victimize themselves. You can also recognize this when in the end, you are the one forced to be the bigger person to put things to rest for the greater good of the family, your position not considered.

True, blood is thicker than water, and they are family, but we live in times where we can choose who our family is, not just the one we are born into. For the sake of your wellbeing, if you don’t want to be in constant confrontation and odds with such parents, it is better to limit the communication between you or opt to just go completely off-grid and live your life with the people you chose to be your family- or family that chose to stand by you over them.