How Toxic Relationships Between Parents Harm Children and 8 Ways to Avoid This
Children experience stress in the same way as adults. Approximately 13% of children have anxiety because they are in an unhealthy environment. Toxic relationships between parents are dangerous for the present and future life of a kid and it is important to know the ways to avoid the consequences.
We at Bright Side know how important it is for everyone to have healthy relationships, especially between parents and children. And we found 8 ways to avoid stressing your kid out from being around a toxic relationship.
1. They can feel sick all the time.
“Tell your daddy that I won’t talk to him.” These phrases, baked with negative emotions toward your partner, show a child the wrong way to be a family. A study showed that if you don’t control your emotions, they may affect the physical health of your child.
At the same time, parents who can manage their feelings, have children who score higher on math and reading tests.
What to do: Try to control your feelings if there is a fight and there is a kid nearby. Some people start going to psychologist sessions or buy special books. There should be an agreement between partners that you don’t use your child to manipulate each other.
2. They get used to being the victim.
When there is psychological abuse by a partner that is humiliating or destroying, there is an indirect abuse of a child. Kids become victims and can have a bad emotional experience.
What to do: Accept that you may be part of a problem too is hard, but you need to at least be honest with yourself. Awareness can bring you to a new level and maybe it will be the beginning of solving your problems. Have a therapy session together with a spouse or alone, if you feel you need it.
Think about what you’re going to say or do. If you need time to calm down, take it. It is always better than having constant emotional discussions or complaining in front of your child.
3. They feel guilty.
During hard times, divorce, and in toxic relationships, the feeling of the family is lost, and very often kids may feel guilty for quarrels and like it is up to them to solve everything. Children might try to unite their parents in their own way or even react unpredictably: yelling, crying, or refusing to do something.
What to do: You need to tell your kid that it’s not their fault that their parents have fights, problems, or that they are getting a divorce. It will relieve your children of a heavy burden and won’t leave a mark on them psychologically.
4. They blame themselves.
When a parent feels guilty all the time, this kind of mood can rub off on their kid. In some cases, parents buy lots of toys and candy to please their child, in other cases, they don’t notice anything except their own pain.
What to do: Let it go and stop feeling regretful about things. Each time you start feeling guilty, just switch to some other activity. It can even be spending time with your child. Stop spoiling your kid with toys, because the best gift is your attention.
5. They believe their feelings are not important.
Negative feelings are also important feelings and parents shouldn’t ignore them, according to psychologists. For example, your kid can be acting aggressive or suddenly become too sensitive. Pay attention, maybe it happened when you started to fight with your partner.
What to do: Parents can encourage their child to express their feelings via stories, drawings, and games. For example, you can ask them to do a drawing of your family. Check out the little details in this drawing to understand if something is bothering your child.
6. They are depressed.
A study showed that depression in mothers is significantly associated with less warmth in parenting and it can lead to psychological problems for their kid in the future.
What to do: A happy parent is a happy kid. Start a hobby with your child that you wanted to start a long time ago. Children should see their parents smiling, not crying and fighting all the time.
If you can, talk to your spouse about setting some rules that can help to protect your child from conflicts. The kid shouldn’t see you solving the same problems all the time and not being able to find a solution.
7. They are pushed to pick a side.
A child can’t handle toxic relationships between parents, so they often choose the side of one parent. But this is not natural and will leave a scar on that child’s psychology. So, it is important that they get enough love from both parents.
Pushing them to pick a side can include:
- Showing irritation when your kid is with the other parent
- Exaggerating the mistakes of the other parent
- Involving other family members or friends to push the child to pick a side
What to do: Explain to your kid that both of their parents love them and that both parents should be in their life.
8. They feel anxious and in danger.
Children are sensitive and even if they don’t understand the root of a problem, they can feel that something is wrong. Each kid might react in a different way, including aggression, isolation, and bad behavior. Children’s anxiety and a feeling that they are in danger can have an effect on their thinking because they perceive the fear as being much greater than it actually is.
What to do: Remind your kid that they are safe. There is no need to explain every detail about why their parents are fighting. Just give your kid the feeling that they are not in danger.
Was our article useful for you? Do you have any secrets for growing healthy children, despite problems with your spouse? Please share your experience with us below!
Illustrated by Daniil Shubin, Anastasiya Pavlova for BrightSide.me