10 Signs You Grew Up In A Toxic Family - Don't Let It Define You!

Last updated by Katie M.

We all have different rapports with our families and that's perfectly fine, yet as the saying goes, blood is thicker than water, meaning it can be difficult for us to judge whether we grew up in a healthy or toxic environment. Now, identifying blatant and brazen toxic behavior is straightforward, however, when it includes gaslighting, love bombing, and is also tinged with narcissism, the task instantly becomes more complicated. Although that being said, certain signs don't lie, so without further ado, here are 10 of them.

10 Signs You Grew Up In A Toxic Family - Don't Let It Define You!

Whilst some people have amazing memories of their childhoods, others struggle to look back on theirs, and even feel anxious at the idea of having to do so. Our formative years are supposed to be some of the happiest and carefree of our lives, yet this isn't always the case, and this is even truer for those who grew up with toxic family members. If reflecting on the so-called good old days means that trauma resurfaces, then perhaps (now as an adult), it's time you decided what kind of relationship you want with your family members. Having an adult's perspective will give you the necessary objectivity and hindsight to prioritize your happiness and mental health.

>>> Discover whether we are obliged to love our parents

10 Signs your family was totally toxic

These signs don't lie...

1) Your parents never said they loved you

Whether it be in a romantic relationship, or in this case a family setting, these 3 little words are often the hardest to say, yet they mean so much. Now, we mustn't forget that our parents are from a totally different generation from us, and are therefore a little more tight-lipped when it comes to expressing their emotions and feelings. Now, no one is expecting a declaration of love every hour of the day, however, in any healthy relationship, parents should tell their kids that they are loved and cherished.

2) Your adult relationships never work out

If you find that now, as an adult woman, you are one of those eternally dissatisfied singletons, the answer as to why could lay in your childhood. People from unstable backgrounds often carry the weight of this pain and unconsciously take it into relationships with them, meaning they are often emotionally unavailable and unable to profess their feelings for their partner, simply because they are scared of being rejected and ridiculed. Furthermore, their lack of confidence means they'll never feel comfortable expressing their needs, and will therefore never find fulfilling relationships.

3) Conflict reigned

Let's face it, being a parent is no easy task, and definitely not one for the fainthearted. Parenthood comes with an extensive list of ridiculous pressures which result in disputes breaking out, insults being traded, as well as sporadic yelling. Who said family life was a blissful experience?

>>> Read; I was a victim of parental bullying

4) You never felt cared for

The bottom line is that even the toughest amongst us need to feel loved and appreciated from time to time. We all need to feel the warmth of a hug when we are feeling down or to hear a few words of encouragement when we doubt ourselves, especially during our formative years. That being said, those with a toxic family dynamic were likely never lucky enough to experience these simple moments of comfort and reassurance.

5) Your beliefs were never respected

Whether that be your religious beliefs or even your dietary habits, if things that were important to you were frequently overlooked, then this is the ultimate red flag. When we love and respect people, we do our utmost to ensure that they feel good and comfortable, regardless of whether we adhere to the same beliefs as them. Plus, if we can't be our true selves with our family, then where can we feel safe, and at home?

6) Your feelings were never taken into account

If looking back on your childhood, you felt virtually invisible and almost ignored in your family unit, then the chances are that you are the product of a toxic environment. If the idea that children are to be seen and not heard frequently materialized, then something was definitely off in your upbringing.

7) You felt bullied

Every family has its own level of sensitivity and sense of humor, yet if you were always the butt of the joke, then alarm bells should be ringing at a deafening volume. Bullying equates to both physical and emotional abuse, and although we like to believe that it's a phenomenon related to childhood, it leaves psychological scars that never completely heal.

8) You were in constant competition with your siblings

If you were raised in a toxic household, you'll no doubt know who the golden child was, and if you're here reading this article right now, then I'm guessing it wasn't you. Emotionally abusive parents don't bother to hide their preferences for one particular child, who they will use as a reference to make their other children feel bad. I bet that no matter how good your grades were, or how many sporting achievements you won, you were never as good as your star sibling.

>>> Read up on the tips for dealing with a jealous sister

9) You constantly felt drained

Do you have plenty of memories of Sunday lunches that ended in arguments, or days out that almost lead to World War 3 being started? Now, no family is perfect, but if when you think back to your childhood and the bad memories outweigh the good ones, then the writing is unfortunately on the wall, and the conclusion isn't exactly rosy. Yes, every family unit experiences bumps along the road, however, they should never completely mask the good memories, or leave deep emotional scars...

10) You felt controlled

Now, toxic parents have a knack for inserting themselves into every area of your life. Their need to manipulate their kids means they'll constantly attempt to railroad them into doing what they want, whether that be following a certain career path or even influencing who you are 'allowed' to date, for example. The sad truth is, growing up in a dysfunctional family that attempts to control your every move will only make you resent your toxic family members even more because you'll feel like they have clipped your wings.

How does growing up in a toxic family influence our personality?

Family relationships play a key role in how we become adults. When these relationships are healthy, when enough love is received in childhood and parents pass on the right values to their children, the person is most likely to be an emotionally balanced adult. On the other hand, in families where there is a lot of arguing, verbal and physical violence, abuse and other types of mistreatment, it is inevitable that this will have an impact on the person who has been exposed to these harmful dynamics.

Being part of a toxic family can have many psychological consequences. Some of the more common ones are:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Panic
  • Personality disorder
  • Emotional dependency
  • Sense of inferiority
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty in resolving conflicts

>>> Read; Is my mom a narcissist?

Do toxic people know they are toxic?

It's hard to believe, but it's the truth: yes, toxic people know perfectly well what they’re doing when they try to manipulate you, and they succeed in doing it. Yes, poorly intentioned people know that they hurt others and also take pleasure in hurting them. In this case, their conception, they themselves are perfect, essentially good, and whatever bad he may contain, he will attribute to the other. The shame and guilt that they thus provoke in their victim nourish a feeling of well-being in them, allowing them to feel irreproachable and powerful.

How to overcome growing up in a dysfunctional family

Evolving as an adult after growing up in a chaotic family can be a challenge, but it's entirely possible with determination and reflection. First of all, it's essential to recognize the patterns and behaviors inherited from this experience, becoming aware of their effects on your life today. The next step is to seek support, whether through therapy, support groups or specialist reading, to better understand and overcome these traumas. Open communication with trusted friends or family members can also play a crucial role. Learning to set healthy boundaries, manage stress and cultivate self-esteem are essential skills for evolving as a balanced adult. Finally, it's important to remember that you have the power to choose your own path and break harmful cycles. By investing time in your personal growth and showing compassion for yourself, you can gradually build a more stable and fulfilling life as an adult.

Editor's opinion - The toxicity doesn't have to continue

Contrary to many popular beliefs, people from toxic upbringings don't always go on to repeat the mistakes of their parents. Toxicity doesn't have to breed toxicity, as long as it is addressed properly with an adequate form of therapy. However, if it goes untreated, it can be dangerous moving forward and is capable of warping all future relationships. The accumulation of abuse will inevitably leave scars, but the good news is that they can be healed over time, therefore breaking the cycle of abuse.

🤗 Understand yourself, accept yourself, be happy... Let’s do it here and now!


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Wengood's playlist


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How to detect a narcissist?

How to detect a narcissist?

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." 

- Oscar Wilde