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6 practical ways to deal with toxic parents

Coping with a toxic parent requires resilience, empathy, and a commitment to preserving your mental health.

Black father conversing with teenager near fence on farmland [Image: Any Lane]

Family plays a central role in our lives. However, not all family dynamics are nurturing and supportive.

If you have had to deal with a toxic parent, then you’ll agree with us that it can be emotionally challenging. Even so, striking a balance between maintaining peace and safeguarding your mental health is crucial.

As we approach the festive season, you’ll most likely be spending some time with your parents. Let's delve into a few simple tips that can help you cope with a toxic parent while prioritising your mental well-being.

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Establishing boundaries is a crucial step in protecting your mental health. Communicate your limits to your toxic parent, emphasising the importance of your emotional well-being.

Use "I" statements to express your feelings without making them feel attacked.

For instance, say, "I feel overwhelmed when..." rather than placing blame. Boundaries should be firm yet compassionate, allowing you to create a space where you feel respected.

Don't navigate this journey alone. Share your experiences with friends or mental health professionals who can provide valuable perspectives and emotional support.

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Sometimes, an outsider's viewpoint can shed light on healthier coping mechanisms and help you feel less isolated in your struggles.

Invest time in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Engage in hobbies, exercise, or simply take a quiet moment for self-reflection.

Nurturing your mental health through self-care is a powerful tool in coping with toxic parental relationships. By prioritising your well-being, you strengthen your resilience against negative influences.

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Learning to detach emotionally from your toxic parent's behavior is a vital skill. Understand that their actions are not a reflection of your worth.

Instead of internalising their negativity, develop a mindset that separates their actions from your identity.

This emotional detachment can provide a shield, preserving your mental health from the impact of their toxicity.

Therapy can be an invaluable resource in coping with a toxic parent.

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Professional therapists can guide you through processing your emotions, developing coping strategies, and building resilience.

Whether through individual or group therapy, seeking professional help is a proactive step towards reclaiming control over your mental health.

Arm yourself with knowledge about what constitutes a healthy relationship.

Understanding the dynamics of toxicity can empower you to set realistic expectations and recognize when boundaries are being crossed.

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Educating yourself about healthy relationships becomes a proactive step in breaking the cycle and fostering mental well-being.

While we still shy away from talking about toxic parents thanks to our conservative culture, we can’t deny that it can be a draining and stressful affair, to say the least.

Coping with a toxic parent requires resilience, empathy, and a commitment to preserving your mental health.

Remember, if you are ever in doubt, always choose your well being—it’s self care, not selfishness.

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Editor's Note: Mindful Kenya offers mental health services on short USSD code *702*30#. By following the prompts a person seeking professional mental healthcare is linked with a specialist under a guarantee of anonymity.

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