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Toxic Parents
 
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Toxic Parents [Format Kindle]

Susan Forward
4.3 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)

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Godlike Parents

The Myth of the Perfect Parent

The ancient Greeks had a problem. The gods looked down from their ethereal playground atop Mount Olympus and passed judgment on everything the Greeks were up to. And if the gods weren't pleased, they were swift to punish. They didn't have to be kind; they didn't have to be just; they didn't even have to be right. In fact, they could be downright irrational. At their whim, they could turn you into an echo or make you push a boulder uphill for all eternity. Needless to say, the unpredictability of these powerful gods sowed quite a bit of fear and confusion among their mortal followers.

Not unlike many toxic parent-child relationships. An unpredictable parent is a fearsome god in the eyes of a child.

When we're very young, our godlike parents are everything to us. Without them, we would be unloved, unprotected, unhoused, and unfed, living in a constant state of terror, knowing we were unable to survive alone. They are our all-powerful providers. We need, they supply.

With nothing and no one to judge them against, we assume them to be perfect parents. As our world broadens beyond our crib, we develop a need to maintain this image of perfection as a defense against the great unknowns we increasingly encounter. As long as we believe our parents are perfect, we feel protected.

In our second and third years of life, we begin to assert our independence. We resist toilet training and revel in our "terrible twos." We embrace the word no because it allows us to exercise some control over our lives, whereas yes is simply an acquiescence. We struggle to develop a unique identity, establish our own will.

The process of separating from parents reaches its peak during puberty and adolescence, when we actively confront parental values, tastes, and authority. In a reasonably stable family, parents are able to withstand much of the anxiety that these changes create. For the most part, they will attempt to tolerate, if not exactly encourage, their child's emerging independence. The expression "it's just a phase" becomes a standard assurance for understanding parents, who remember their own teenage years and appreciate rebellion as a normal stage of emotional development.

Toxic parents aren't so understanding. From toilet training through adolescence, they tend to see rebellion or even individual differences as a personal attack. They defend themselves by reinforcing their child's dependence and helplessness. Instead of promoting healthy development, they unconsciously undermine it, often with the belief that they are acting in their child's best interest. They may use phrases such as "it builds character" or "she needs to learn right from wrong," but their arsenals of negativity really harm their child's self-esteem, sabotaging any budding independence. No matter how much these parents believe they're right, such assaults are confusing to a child, bewildering in their animosity, their vehemence, and their suddenness.

Our culture and our religions are almost unanimous in upholding the omnipotence of parental authority. It's acceptable to express anger at our husbands, wives, lovers, siblings, bosses, and friends, but it's almost taboo to assertively confront our parents. How often have we heard the phrases "don't talk back to your mother" or "don't you dare shout at your father"? The Judeo-Christian tradition enshrines the taboo in our collective unconscious by pronouncing "God the Father" and directing us to "honor thy father and mother." The idea finds voices in our schools, our churches, our government ("a return to family values"), even in our corporations. According to the conventional wisdom, our parents are empowered to control us simply because they gave us life.

The child is at the mercy of his godlike parents and, like the ancient Greeks, never knows when the next lightning bolt will strike. But the child of toxic parents knows that the lightning is coming sooner or later. This fear becomes deeply ingrained and grows with the child. At the core of every formerly mistreated adult--even high achievers--is a little child who feels powerless and afraid.

The Cost of Appeasing the Gods

As a child's self-esteem is undermined, his dependence grows, and with it his need to believe that his parents are there to protect and provide. The only way emotional assaults or physical abuse can make sense to a child is if he or she accepts responsibility for the toxic parent's behavior.

No matter how toxic your parents might be, you still have a need to deify them. Even if you understand, on one level, that your father was wrong to beat you, you may still believe he was justified. Intellectual understanding is not enough to convince your emotions that you were not responsible.

As one of my clients put it: "I thought they were perfect, so when they treated me badly, I figured I was bad."

There are two central doctrines in this faith of godlike parents:

1."I am bad and my parents are good."

2."I am weak and my parents are strong."

These are powerful beliefs that can long outlive your physical dependence on your parents. These beliefs keep the faith alive; they allow you to avoid facing the painful truth that your godlike parents actually betrayed you when you were most vulnerable.

Your first step toward controlling your life is to face that truth for yourself. It will take courage, but if you're reading this book, you've already made a commitment to change. That took courage, too.

"They Never Let Me Forget How I Disgraced Them"

Sandy, 28, a striking brunette who seemed to "have it all," was seriously depressed when she first came to see me. She told me that she was unhappy with everything in her life. She had been a floral designer for several years at a prestigious shop. She had always dreamed of opening her own business, but she was convinced that she wasn't smart enough to succeed. She was terrified of failure.

Sandy had also been trying to get pregnant for more than two years, with no success. As we talked, I began to see that her inability to get pregnant was causing her to feel strong resentment toward her husband and inadequate in their relationship, despite the fact that he sounded genuinely understanding and loving. A recent conversation with her mother had aggravated the issue:

This whole pregnancy has become a real obsession with me. When I had lunch with my mom I told her how disappointed I was. She said to me, "I'll bet it's that abortion you had. The Lord works in mysterious ways." I haven't been able to stop crying since. She never lets me forget.

I asked her about the abortion. After some initial hesitancy, she told me the story:

It happened when I was in high school. My parents were very, very strict Catholics, so I went to parochial school. I developed early, and by the time I was twelve, I was five-foot-six, weighed one hundred thirty pounds, and wore a 36-C bra. Boys started paying attention to me, and I really liked it. It drove my dad crazy. The first time he caught me kissing a boy good night, he called me a whore so loud that the whole neighborhood heard. It was downhill from there. Every time I went out with a boy, Dad told me I was going to hell. He never let up. I figured I was damned anyway, so when I was fifteen I slept with this guy. Just my luck, I got pregnant. When my folks found out, they went nuts. Then I told them I wanted an abortion; they totally lost it. They must have screamed at me about "mortal sin" a thousand times. If I wasn't going to hell already, they were sure this would clinch it. The only way I could get them to sign a consent was to threaten to kill myself.

I asked Sandy how things went for her after the abortion. She slumped down in her chair with a dejected look that made my heart ache.

Talk about a fall from grace. I mean, Dad made me feel horrible enough before, but now I felt like I didn't even have a right to exist. The more ashamed I felt, the harder I tried to make things right. I just wanted to turn back the clock, get back the love I had when I was little. But they never miss a chance to bring it up. They're like a broken record about what I did and how I disgraced them. I can't blame them. I should've never done what I did--I mean, they had such high moral expectations for me. Now I just want to make it up to them for hurting them so bad with my sins. So I do anything they want me to do. It drives my husband crazy. He and I get in these huge fights about it. But I can't help it. I just want them to forgive me.

As I listened to this lovely young woman, I was very touched by the suffering her parents' behavior had caused her and by how much she needed to deny their responsibility for that suffering. She seemed almost desperate to convince me that she was to blame for all that happened to her. Sandy's self-blame was compounded by her parents' unyielding religious beliefs. I knew I had my work cut out for me if Sandy was to see how genuinely cruel and emotionally abusive her parents had been to her. I decided this was not a time to be nonjudgmental.

Susan: You know something? I'm really angry for that young girl. I think your parents were awful to you. I think they misused your religion to punish you. I don't think you deserved any of it.

Sandy: I committed two mortal sins!

Susan: Look, you were just a kid. Maybe you made some mistakes, but you don't have to keep paying for them forever. Even the Church lets you atone and get on with your life. If your parents were as good as you say they are, they would have shown some compassion for you.

Sandy: They were trying to save my soul. If they didn't love me so much, they wouldn't care.

Susan: Let's look at this from a different perspective. What if you hadn't had that abortion? And you had a little girl. She'd be about sixteen now, right?

...

Revue de presse

“A dynamic, powerful, hard-hitting book. It offers tremendous hope as well as understanding. It could truly be a lifesaver.”
— Abigail Van Buren, “Dear Abby”

“I consider Susan Forward to be among the foremost therapists of our age.”
— John Bradshaw, author of Healing the Shame That Binds You and Homecoming


Bantam Books by Susan Forward:

Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them:
When Loving Hurts and You Don’t Know Why

Obsessive Love:
When It Hurts Too Much to Let Go

Toxic Parents:
Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life

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Commentaires en ligne

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Commentaires client les plus utiles
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Un bombe / A bombshell 3 août 2014
Format:Broché
Français : Ce livre a déjà été traduit avec les même titre : " Les parents toxiques". Truffé d'exemples cliniques l'auteur(e) nous livre une pléthorée d'exemples àù l'on se trouve forcément dans un cas ou un autre. Son langage est très simple et ses analyses sont très pertinentes. C'est vraiment une fine psychologue qui démystifie beaucoup de tabous. Nous sortons de cette lecture éclairés et parfois soulagés.

English : The author takes us into the depths of what have usually become ingrained wounds that we believe will never heal. Manily because we were not taught to understand. Through dozens of clinical examples we soon are able to identify the true origin of many of our traumas- especially those that hinder of personal progress and social interaction. She also breaks down many tabous. Very informative and enlightening.
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Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
The book is a good help if you have struggles with your parents, but you need to be open for it. I don't mean struggles for one or two days, but with things they have done when you were small and that still hurt you. That doesn't need to be violent, there are other means of stopping you from being yourself and the book really shows it.
It is a shame that I got the book damaged from Amazon, because the packing wasn't that well.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 great 24 avril 2013
Par anne
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
finally i ve gotthe words for it, abuse !
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  380 commentaires
391 internautes sur 401 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent Book! 23 mars 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
After reading the one-star review by the reader from NY on March 14, 2000, I had to respond. It seems to me this person is awfully defensive and, I suspect, is guilty of some of the behavior that is described as abusive in the book...
No parent is perfect. We all know that. This book is not about demonizing parents. It is about learning to recognize incidents in our lives that adversely affect our behavior and our emotional well-being. I bought this book because of problems my husband and I were having with his parents. Since he was a child, he had been put into a role of emotional partner to his mother. When he decided to start doing some things on his own, she got very upset and started pouring on the guilt. I arrived on the scene at about the same time and became a convenient scapegoat, accused of manipulating him and stealing him away from them. Unfortunately (before I found this book and other helpful ones) things got really bad, and now we have virtually no relationship with my in-laws. It's a very sad situation. However, my husband and I now recognize the games for what they are and no longer buy into the idea that it's our fault for "upsetting" them so much that they just can't be around us. (If I hadn't experienced it myself, I wouldn't have believed that adults could behave in such an irrational manner! ) Reading books like this one and speaking with counselors has provided us with useful insights that will help us interact with them in a healthy manner, if we ever get the chance again.
If you're going through this too, you are NOT alone! Get this book and read it. It helps you recognize behaviors that are harmful to you. It helps you learn to overcome problems in the past and avoid inappropriate treatment in the future. I also recommend the book "The Adult Child's Guide to What's Normal" by John C. Friel and Linda Friel for anyone who found this book helpful. It's not as detailed, but it gives a lot of information in a very easy-to-read format. If you're being manipulated by your parent(s), I recommend "Emotional Blackmail," also by Susan Forward. If you were put into an inappropriate role by your parents, I strongly suggest "Emotional Incest Syndrome" by Patricia Love and Jo Robinson. The title is disturbing but the information is excellent!
472 internautes sur 486 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 An extremely useful book, non-academic and easy to read 18 août 2000
Par Simon Jackson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Open the front cover to this important book by Dr Susan Forward and almost as an introductory note we are told that toxic parents are the inadequate parents, the controllers, the alcoholics, the verbal abusers, the physical abusers and the sexual abusers. This is not a book about parents who get things wrong. As parents we all get things wrong - I know I do, we all do things that perhaps we regret - this isn't being toxic, it's called being human. These mistakes very rarely do harm. A toxic parent on the other hand is an individual whose behaviour scars and harms their child/ren to such a degree that often it can seem like the there can be no resolution to the damage caused. As a result the children grow into adulthood feeling inadequate, unloved and worthless.
This book is about and at the same time is for those adult children.
As children, our parents give us a script, a way of being that we use to filter all that we experience. If that script is one that says ` you are worthless, to be abused - sexually, physically, emotionally ` then all I do in my life, all my actions, my reactions and interactions will be through the filter of my lack of worth.
This is a book for those adults whose sense of worthlessness underpins all they do.
I work as a counsellor and often those I work with tell me that they are responsible for what their parents did. "If I hadn't cuddled Daddy he wouldn't have got in to bed with me", "If I'd done better at school I wouldn't have got punished". A valuable message in this book is that the child is a child not a mini adult. The real adults are the responsible ones and it is they that are accountable for the abuse inflicted on their children. The abused adult child is however responsible for their actions as an adult no matter their experiences as a child. From this perspective the adult abused as a child has it in his/her control to change the script that has been given to them
If you want to change your unhealthy script or life pattern this book is for you.
There are some aspects of `Toxic Parents' that I have some professional and personal difficulty with. Chapter Seven for example is titled `Confrontation: The Road to Independence'. I wouldn't agree that confrontation is the only road to independence, indeed change, growth, self determination and awareness can all be experienced and lived without the need to confront. This aside, Dr Susan Forward has written an extremely useful book, non-academic and easy to read. As a result it will provide to those who have experienced toxic parents a valuable tool for change.
The journey to change will be difficult, it will be lined with pain and tears but you can get there, `Toxic Parents' will be a useful signpost on that journey.
290 internautes sur 300 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A very supportive approach for abuse survivors 23 novembre 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I first read this book six years ago. I found it confronting and very supportive. I believe this book has the power to encourage a lot of personal growth for people who have experienced abuse of all types in their childhood. What I found particularly effective about this book was that it covered a range of abuse patterns, which I believe many abusive parents use. Other books I have read tend to focus on one form of abuse exclusively, whereas if you have experienced physical abuse or sexual abuse, you may be likely to have experienced verbal and psychological abuse also. I read through this book with a pencil in hand, I found so many parts that rang true for me. The checklists in the book are a way of gauging honestly where you in dealing with your life and your relationship with your parents. Now six years later, I have just reread this book and I see how much I have grown in this time. No longer is this book so confronting for me, I was more able to appreciate the suggestions and exercises made. I have been thrilled to see that this book had planted seeds of thought and realisation within me, and that over the years I have been able to instigate real change within me and in my relationship with my parents. These relationships are far more real and true to me. I now speak with more personal authority and honesty to my family. One criticism I have is the way that confrontation is seen as a necessary goal. It is certainly helpful if it feels right and necessary to the reader, but i feel that the most effective form of healing is to reach a point in ourselves where we know our own truth and set out our own rules, whether we need to confront our family with our truths or not. I think in many ways survivors of abuse have attempted to reach out to their families and communicate their feelings, but I take on board that this may be more effective with self-knowledge and improved communication skills.Personally I have tried confrontation and found it ineffective, but by believing in myself, being honest and creating a life that is right for me, I have found freedom. This may not be the case for many readers, so I do not mean to deter you. I offer my silent support. All in all, this is an extremely useful, supportive and valuable book which I would recommend to anyone who wants to improve their relationship with themselves, their families and create a life which has more potential for truth and happiness
145 internautes sur 150 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Good but not great 5 octobre 2008
Par L. Sutherland - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Reading this book will confirm what you already suspect about your parent's behavior if you have toxic parents. It will also confirm that many of your emotional habits, such as letting people walk all over you, or not standing up to others because you don't want to make them angry, are because of the way you grew up. This book may help you to redefine your relationship with your toxic parent if you are in a position of still desiring a relationship with that parent. The short coming of this book is that it lumps so many kinds of abuse into one book that you don't get a good feel for how to deal with the specific type(s) of abuse that you experienced. It also doesn't really give the reader any tools to move forward in their own life. Yes, it validates that you were abused, but it doesn't talk about how to move yourself forward in any aspect other than your relationship with your toxic parent. The one thing that I took from this book, and am very greatful for, is the realization that my aging and in poor health, but still miserable, angry, mean, and toxic parent lived her life and made choices to get to where she is today, it isn't my fault she is miserable and mean (even though she would tell me otherwise). I am entitled to live my life, I don't have to feel sorry for her and try to make her feel better at my family's expense anymore. Basically, after reading this book and dealing with a nasty precipitating event, I have realized that I am not responsible for her problems, she is. So if you are in need of validation that your parent is toxic, read this book. However, if you are looking for a way to pull your life together because of childhood abuse, this isn't the book you are looking for.
110 internautes sur 116 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The turth hurts... 30 janvier 2005
Par B. Leung - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I picked up this book in secrecy one day while browsing through a book store, afraid that someone might know that my family at home was a little messed up.

My dad along with my stepmom it turns out, came from abusive families themselves and thus I grew up suffering their wrath. While growing up, I was afraid that I too would end up being far worse than them since they always seemed to unload everything from me. From their mind games, to their abusive words, to the way they put me down and never once admitted wrong.

Of all of the worst, my father was the most demeaning. It was sort of a jekyll and hyde relationship. He put me down the most, made fun of me the most and seemed to take pride in shredding whatever self-esteem I had. On good days he would seem almost loving, by talking to me, watching basketball games with me and buying me the things I wanted and loved. Yet just as quickly, and without warning, he could tear that all away in an instant. Whenever he chose to. It was very hard to please him. Jumping through endless hoops just wasn't enough, it didn't matter if I succeeded the first 80 times, the 81st would be treated as if it was the end of the world. I was denied the privilidge of going out at nights and doing much of what I wanted until I went away.

The point of all of this, is not to make you feel sorry for my ass but to understand that facing the truth really does hurt. My dad, never really knew what love was - and MORE IMPORTANTLY how to love ME. People need to realize that every individual is different and the way you express it, should never damage a person's self-respect or character.

The truth hurts, all this time I dreamed that if I made it big, that if I proved myself to his liking, that he would love me and tell me I was special. But it never did work out that way. There would be fault in no matter what I do. And he never would change. Confronting him personally, turned out to be one of the biggest arguments I have ever had, but I am better off for it, because I can see the person he really is and move onto better things.

In the end, I have to say I am better off from reading this book and seeing my parents as the cruel undeserving people they are. The truth hurts but face it squarely and it will set you free...
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