TOXIC PARENTS- Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life

Bantam Books

(Reviewed 8/03)

     Although not Bible-based, Toxic Parents is a great resource for anyone who is suffering abuse at the hands of a parent.  Susan Forward is an internationally recognized therapist and writer, who has also hosted her own ABC talk radio program.

     Do your parents still treat you like a child?  Do they control you with threats or guilt or manipulate you with  money?  Does it seem that no  matter what you do, it’s never good enough?  As a child, did you have to take care of your parents because of their problems?  Do you still?

     Toxic Parents explains the dynamics of a dysfunctional family in a very easy-to-read format.  Types of toxic parents are discussed in detail, such as inadequate parents, controllers, alcoholics, verbal, physical, and sexual abusers, as well as the family system and why parents behave this way. 

     Some topics covered are: Spoken and Unspoken Rules, Obedience No Matter What, I Don’t Know Where You End and I Begin, No One in This Family is an Alcoholic, The Family Balancing Act, and Fear of Anger.  We are shown the rigid mechanisms by which toxic parents cope, such as Denial, Projection (accusing or blaming the child), Sabotage, Triangling (confiding in or enlisting the child against someone else), and Keeping Secrets.

     The reader is given steps to reclaim her life and instruction on assertiveness, how to state what you are or are not willing to do, and how to confront your parent, including old, ill, or deceased parents.  The chapters on confrontation are especially valuable, teaching what to expect and how to handle your parents’ reactions( ‘It never happened’, ‘It was your fault’,’I said I was sorry’, ‘We did the best we could’,’Look what we did for you’, etc.), as well as your siblings’ reactions and reactions from other assorted relatives.

     Toxic Parents teaches you that you are not responsible for your parents’ behavior, teasing, neglect, abuse, or unhappiness, their problems, or their choice to do nothing to solve their problems.  Your parents are responsible for their own lives and their own actions. 

     This book will help you decide what kind of a relationship, if any, you can have with your parents.  It is a very valuable tool for anyone who needs help in understanding and freeing herself from a situation that is poisoning her life.