Kids of Mentally abusive parents often bear lifelong  Consequences

02. September 2017 Parenting Guide 0

Shawn Johnston will always remember thenbsp;taunting.

In 13, Johnston was slightly overweight and had yet to hit puberty. Worst of all, his emotionally distant father would encourage Shawn’s two younger brothers to mock hisnbsp;appearance.

“They would have a big laugh. It was for ‘fun,’ but it really was not fun for me,” said Johnston, 40, who lives in Vancouver and runs a Web strategynbsp;agency.

“They’d go on for hours where they would think of fat jokes or late-bloomernbsp;jokes{}”

The jeering went on for almost a year, until his mom — they’ve since divorced — eventually put a stop tonbsp;it.

However, that was hardly the limit of his father’s abuse. “He was always unkind. There were plenty of times when he said he was not proud of me or I was disappointing,” Johnston said. “I still struggle with that feeling ofnbsp;unworthiness.”

Child protection agencies across Canada now recognize psychological abuse — yelling, name calling, bullying and making hurtful remarks — along with other forms of parental abuse, including sexual and physical abuse. It may inflict lasting damage on a child’s mood, mental health and behavior. And if emotionally abused children grow up, many see no option but to end their relationships with theirnbsp;parents.

Even name calling can merit an investigation of psychological abuse, ” said Pat Sisson, a child welfare supervisor at the Children’s Aid Society ofnbsp;Toronto.

The organization was contacted anonymously by someone who heard his neighbor shout at his adopted son that the boy was the worst $40,000 they actually spent. “That was enough for us to go out and speak with them,” Sisson stated. “It’s tough to prove occasionally, but we’ll go out and start to speak with parents about how wordsnbsp;thing.”

Taunting and group bullying like that experienced by Johnston clearly fall in the category, according to Gary Walters, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto who has studied abusivenbsp;parents.

He said that psychological abuse can lead to depression, anxiety, and, frequently, risk-taking behaviors, but even the most abusive parent frequently won’t acknowledge any wrongdoing. “They do not see this as poor,” Walters said. “They really feel that this is how tonbsp;proceed.”

Robyn Bambrick, a teacher in Alberta, was raised by a mother she said is a narcissist who not only withheld affection but frequently belittled her. “She’d taunt me in the afternoon when I was hoping to go to college,” Bambrick said about a period in high school when both lived alone after her parents’nbsp;divorce.

Now attempting to be a “healthy, engaged mother myself,” Bambrick has maintained her relationship with her mother to a bare minimum for many years. She’s seen her at funerals and a nephew’s baseball game, but {}’snbsp;it.

“My husband and I have decided she is not really a secure person. She is not trustworthy,” she said. “You love her from a distance and you do not let them on your innernbsp;circle.”

(Both Bambrick and Johnston declined to place The planet connected with their parents, saying it would cause a lot of problems in their extendednbsp;households.)

“The parent who does not allow the child be an individual and form their own opinions, who denigrate them [is] being a poisonous parent just as far as the parent who strikes and leaves bruises on the outside,” said American writer and therapist Susannbsp;Forward.

She believes both mentally and physically abusive parents “toxic,” as she outlines in her 2002 book, Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life. Toxic parents are those who “attack your dignity, your self-respect, your confidence, your look, your intelligence. There is so much self-loathing that comes from that, and a feeling ofnbsp;grief.”

Before patients fully cut ties with toxic parents, Forward advises them to confront their parents and inform them how their negative behavior affected them in childhood and beyond. If the parent indicates some guilt or signs of being prepared to construct a healthy dynamic, it may be possible to fix the relationship. If not, it could be time to look at a tough but necessarynbsp;option.

“Ask yourself what you’re getting from a connection with your parents, and if the solution is nothing, or pain, then you may want to take into account a cut-off,” Forwardnbsp;stated.

That radical decision is rarely simple, but is often the healthiest decision to make, Forward said. “I’ve taken countless individuals through a cut-off, and with just 1 exception, they haven’t regretted it and it has enabled them made their livesnbsp;better{}”

Johnston said he’s never been able to create his dad see the harm he caused. Five decades back, he asked his father to not bring a parade of girlfriends into his home, and his dad broke ties with him. He has not had any contact with himnbsp;because.

“From my daddy’s victim perspective, he did the best he could and he sacrificed a lot and he really does not understand why we would not thank him for everything he did,” henbsp;stated.

He and his mum, who’s now 14 years have a “viable” relationship today that she’s coped with all the alcohol problem she had when he was growing up, Johnston said. “Notably going through the 12-step procedure, there was lots of reconciliation. There was a lot of apologies. It was a healing process,” henbsp;stated.

The exact same can be said for discussions he’s had with his brothers in adulthood, which showed him that both of them dealt with a reasonable bit of toxicity asnbsp;nicely.

Even though the relationship with his dad might be over, the effects persist. “There is some anxiety that I deal with from the injury. I have some OCD tendencies, mostly obsessive thought patterns usually focused around doubt and self-worth,” Johnstonnbsp;stated.

He’s attempting to work through his youth with a therapist, and doing his best to not repeat any of his own father’s behavior with his two kids, a 13-year-old daughter and 11-year-oldnbsp;son.

“My son was being too dramatic [recently] and made a stutter to feign he was additional scared. I sort of mimicked him back. It wasn’t the perfect thing to do. It just sort of happened,” Johnston said. “An hour after, when he was calmer, I sat down and said, ‘It was not right and that I should not have done that. I am really sorry. Can you forgive me?’ Which is nothing my dad evernbsp;did.”

Walters, the U of T scientist, stated that parents should recognize just how much impact even moderate forms of shaming could have on a child. No, the funniest comment or snide remark toward a child does not qualify as abuse, but “they could internalize it, and it’ll affect them,” henbsp;stated.

Children of toxic parents frequently bear lifelong consequences, and Johnston stated he’ll not be free of the pain, nor of the hole it left innbsp;him.

“I always knew my father loved me after a fashion. I wanted him to be proud of me,” Johnston said. “Love is simple enough to give in simple moments. Concerning understanding I was worthy, it is the pride that you hunger fornbsp;many.”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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