When the children of toxic parents grow into capable adults, parental control gives way to a new friction. The kid, fully grown, presents a sudden equal force, one with opinions and words and a mouth.
That confrontation, where a child finally speaks up after dealing with a toxic parent for so many months or years, can produce a variety of results.
Successfully reforming a parent's approach over the course of an argument is nearly impossible. But it has been known to happen, and a Reddit thread gives some evidence.
Generally, though, things go POORLY.
A flaw or criticism, even when presented lovingly, is hard to hear about. And that difficulty ramps up when the person delivering the criticism is your own flesh and blood, the very person you raised.
So, most confrontations take the form of a whole constellation of emotions. Anger, denial, blame, and irrelevant counter-criticisms are all common approaches.
i- wanna-see-it-all asked, "People who have confronted their parents about their toxic behavior, how did it go?"
Never Too Old to Gaslight
"Either 'that didn't happen, you're making it up' or 'that didn't happen that way, you're remembering it wrong.' I'm still relearning to trust my own memory because I spent thirty years being constantly gaslighted."
"Now I just go to therapy and keep conversations with my parents nice and light and surface-y. Saves a lot of trouble."
One and Done
"My father had, over the years, developed an 'I call, you come to where I am' set of mind. I was at my parent's house for the weekend from college. I was a senior, and was close to graduating. I had worked hard. My parents weren't able to contribute to higher education."
"I was in the house talking with my mother, and I hear him whistling for me to come to him. I continued my conversation with my mother."
"He whistled again. My mother advised me to go see what he wanted. I told her it wasn't going to hurt him to wait or come in here if he really wants me, and we continued our previous conversation."
"He came stomping into the house, and demanding to know if I heard him. I told him I did. He asked why didn't I come then. I asked him if he expected me to come to him like a dog whenever whistled."
"From the look on his face, I don't think it had ever crossed his mind that he was treating me that way. It was something he never did again."
A Trickle Down Theory of Trauma
"My brother and I sat down with our dad with our grandfather as a mediator to explain the effects of his verbal and emotional abuse through the years. I cried the whole time as I explained that I had almost killed myself earlier that week by driving off a bridge because I couldn't take it."
"His response? 'Well, my father beat me. So really, you're getting the better end of it. It could be soooo much worse. This is just how it goes. You guys are going to do the same thing to your kids too, and they might be the ones to break the cycle, but there's nothing you can do about it.' "
"My brother and I said f*** that and immediately jumped into counseling and dismissed him as a father figure and sought new men we could trust."
Grasping at Straws
"Just as unsatisfying as you'd expect."
"Cried. Played the victim. Made excuses. The apologized. A week later pretended nothing happened & went off on me for not forgetting everything when she apologized."
"She's very mentally ill."
Varying Degrees of Success
"My mother wasn't really toxic but emotionally distant. When I had a heart to heart with her, she hugged me and we cried together. Our relationship has greatly improved."
"My dad is super toxic. When I tried to have a serious talk with him about the damage he's done he was adamant that he did nothing wrong. He even laughed when I told him that I was suicidal in the past because of him."
“The Fear Killer of My Life”
"Bio Father: scared the holy sh** out of me most of my life. The day I called him on his abusive, drug addicted, alcohol dependent ways and was able to look him dead in the eye with a 'F***. You' was the most liberating, fear killer of my life."
"Mom, she's struggled with her own mental illnesses most of her life. Those eventually got projected on to me. Morality doesn't come from stone half-a**ed religious belief. Self-medication isn't a healthy coping mechanism. I stood my ground, explained how she was being a goddamned a**hole, and ever since we've been on great terms."
Layers of Toxic
"It's never gone well. Alcoholism is terrifying to confront." -- CantHandleFacts
"It is. They almost always get violent." -- dontniceguyatme
An Established Theme
"They'd rather gaslight their own child than own up to anything." -- RoadFlowerVIP
"I just did. I was screamed at, I'm pretty sure gaslighted? Said I was being dramatic and stupid, immature. Lazy (severely depressed) and snippy (extreme anxiety and ptsd because of said parents) It hasn't been a good day." -- youraverageslytherin
The Brick Wall Kind of Confrontation
"Got angry, swore at me, cursed my existence, the usual toxic parent stuff." -- GarunixReborn
"Well, I haven't talked to my dad in over 3 years, so I'd say it went alright." -- puffmonkey92
"Well, I haven't spoken to my mother in damn near 10 years." -- Satanicbuttmechanic
The Twilight Zone of Arguments
"Horribly. I've tried multiple times and it only results in circulate conversations where it's all turned around on me and I'm left feeling like I'm crazy."
"We'll go from me saying I feel x when you do x and then I'm being told I'm lying about example x because I told a lie 18 years ago."
"The topic changes a thousand times, we wind up yelling at each other, and then my parent will suddenly pretend to understand after all, I'll hear all about how loved I am, then after I leave I realize there was no apology and no resolution to what happened at all."
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
That's One Way to Take It
"He moved to a bunker up north and keeps trying to convince me that we're living in the end times." -- waitforaberrymuffin
"Oh, glad it's nothing too crazy then." -- i-wanna-see-it-all
Toxicity In Multiple Directions
"My mom. She went to rehab got kicked out after a few days for harassing other patients, came home harassed me and then took off. Have blocked her out of my life since."
A Disproportionate Response
"Not great. When my dad picked a fight with me over the fact that I moved out (wtf) I told him the reason I moved out of the house was because of his toxic behavior."
"Dad flipped his sh**, said I was an ungrateful selfish spoiled brat with a personality disorder and that I was brain controlling my mother and sister. He was literally screaming and frothing at the mouth. It was terrifying."
"All because an 18 year old with a full time job decided to move out. Yeesh."
"On the plus side, Mom started to realize just how awful he was. They've since divorced and now none of us talk to him aside from occasional holiday cards. It's a huge improvement!"
Finally Some Good News
"It went better than expected. My mom had a moment of self-realization and had never realized the effect she had on me. She apologized and has since changed her behavior."
When the Eight Year Old is More Mature
"My dad was throwing a fit because I called his behaviour nonsense. He didn't let go and was sulking all day. I got tired of his BS and said sorry. I was 8." -- Gmax100
"My dad is just like that; entitled, always takes anger out on whoever the Hell it is closest to him, always plays the victim, etc. We mostly get along well, and always bond over video games, movies, etc., but I'm thankful him & my mother broke up when I was born; there's no way I could handle living with him." -- EloquentScumbag69
"They thought I was joking." -- bbthatguy
"I was honest with them as a teenager. They just laughed at me." -- blizzaga1988
"Same." -- sydude_365
"When I was trying to find a job as a teen, I was chubby. And very unhappy about it."
"My dad used to ask me what jobs I applied to, how much it paid, etc. And then one day he told me, 'When you hand in your application, tell them it may not look like you work hard, but you really do.' "
"I was so crushed, that my dad had such a low opinion of me. I tried to tell him how that made me feel, but he just laughed it off. That was a long time ago and we're still not close. For that comment and many other reasons."
Hard Work After the Confrontation
"Back when I was around 12 or 13 my mom uses to be in a horrible mood and scream at us for little to no reason. This mostly was caused by stress. I would sometimes wake up with anxiety attacks and nightmares of her."
"Sometimes she got physical about it but usually it was just the "u are a disappointment" etc. At some point I just got so tired of it that I just snapped. We got into a big fight, didn't talk for a few weeks."
"After my father realized what was going on he decided to contact a therapist. We now (22 currently) are fine and have decent relation."
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