7 bad parenting traits that make you a toxic parent

  • PublishedMarch 6, 2020

Most parents usually have the best interests at heart for their children, even a toxic parent. However, at times parents can go overboard and overdo something that is detrimental to the well-being of the child, sometimes without knowing it.



It is understandable, especially for first time parents because there’s no parenting manual that comes with babies.  There’s no right or wrong way to raise a child as long as their physical and emotional well-being is put first. However, there are some common signs associated with a toxic parent.

A toxic parent compares his/her kids

Every child in a household possesses different skills and capabilities. One may be extremely good at sports while another may be a genius in school or display musical talent. A toxic parent will start comparing one child to an overachiever with such questions as, “Why can’t you just be like her?. This is detrimental and brings about sibling rivalry in the end. The competition may turn out ugly as they try to prove themselves worthy of your love. In many cases, the rivalry extends to adulthood and the whole family becomes toxic.

A toxic parent will also openly dote on one child in front of the others. It is almost impossible to not have a favourite child is but do not make it too obvious that the others feel like they have to compete for your attention.


Physical and mental abuse

Some toxic parents physically and mentally abuse their children. This can happen when they overdo the punishing or just don’t care about their children’s well-being. Some parents beat their children so badly that they have to be admitted in hospital for a few weeks, sometimes because of very trivial things.


Spoiling children

Toxicity is not only expressed negatively. Sometimes a parent can overdo the spoiling, never punishing or admonishing the child for any wrongdoing and giving them everything they want. It’s understandable that the parent may want to give their children the world. However, when you overdo this you’re only raising a spoilt brat who may become a nuisance to society at some point in their lives.


Encouraging bad behaviour

Some parents do not want to be seen as disciplinarians by their children. They want to maintain that friendship relationship and treat their children as adults or friends. There are some positive aspects to this. For instance, they may be more open with you.

However, if you indulge in alcohol, drugs or pornography in their presence, you’re not setting a good example for them. Some parents even encourage these vices. Some children may know the boundaries that should not be crossed while doing these vices but most end up on the other extreme side.

READ ALSO: Dealing with toxic family members

A narcissistic parent

Some parents come first and their children second. It is not bad because you have to love yourself first before you can love your children properly. However, if putting yourself first in some situations will be detrimental to them, then reconsider the options.

This type of behaviour is apparent when a parent chooses to stay with an abusive partner who either physically abuse or sexually preys on the kids. Making the decision to stay with such a partner for your selfish reasons as the children bear the brunt of the toxic partner is simply toxic.

Expressing regret at having raised a child

A child does not choose to be born in this world. Whether the conception was accidental or not, that’s not the fault of the child. However, a toxic parent usually keeps on expressing regret at having born and raised their child. They make their child feel inadequate, unwanted, unloved and unworthy of anything the world has to offer. Of all the nasty things to hear, this is probably the worst, coming from someone you love.

Living their dreams through the child

Some parents want their children to do only what they want, and never what the child wants. Be careful not to impose your sport, career, skill on to the child when they would prefer other things. When it comes to career choice especially,  most parents believe that professions such as medicine, engineering and piloting are very lucrative compared to the arts. While this comes from a good place, it is not fair to live the life you never had through your children.

Written By