14 Things Abusive Parents Do – It’s Not Always Obvious

abusive parents

When abusive parents come to mind. We think of physical, mental, and sexual abuse. Parents can be abusive in ways that are hard to detect or in ways that we don’t consider abusive. It doesn’t matter how the parent expresses it. Abuse is abuse no matter what. Long-term abuse will increase the chances of developing serious mental health problems that will be dragged into adulthood. Different forms of abuse will affect children in numerous ways. The following is a list of things an abusive parent can do to their children:

  1. abusive parents
    Pic by: Emiliano Vittoriosi

    Little to no privacy: there is a big difference between a parent protecting their child from harm versus giving them a lack of privacy. It’s essential for parents to provide age-appropriate privacy to their children. Such as, allowing them to change alone in their room.

  2. Invalidating emotions and reality: parents can invalidate their children’s feelings by telling them how to feel or completely denying it. This makes children feel unheard and internally conflicted. In the long-run children will have difficulties trusting their judgement and making decisions.
  3. Giving the silent treatment: it’s an immature way of handling things and it’s emotionally abusive. Parents use this tactic to exert their power or punish their children. Due to this children feel unheard, rejected, and develop low self-esteem.
  4. Playing the victim card: this type of behavior is emotionally abusive because the parent doesn’t take responsibility for their actions. This in turn can affect children in two ways. They can learn this type of behavior and use it as a coping mechanism when they are older. Or develop feelings of guilt and shame, blaming themselves for the things that happens.
  5. abusive parents
    Pic by: Cassidy Kelley

    Gaslighting: this is a type of psychological abuse and it is difficult to detect. It’s a type of manipulation where the abuser creates doubt and confusion within the victim. A parent who gaslights their children will leave them feeling insecure, paranoid, anxious and mistrusting. In extreme cases the child will end up questioning their reality.

  6. Threats of violence: it is emotionally abusive for a parent to threaten their child with physical violence even if they aren’t going to use it. Children end up feeling unsafe around their parents and don’t want to be home.
  7. Favoring a child: parents can act differently with their favorite child. For instance, giving them more attention, better gifts, less discipline, and more privileges. This will affect the other child by decreasing their self-esteem. They can develop depression, feel rejected, feel inadequate, and in the long run fall into similar relationships.
  8. abusive parents
    Pic by: Tammy Gann

    Taking away your independence: some parents want their children to depend on them. It’s their way of maintaining power and control and this hinders the child’s development. A parent can go as far as not allowing their child to make a single decision and even prevent them to learn the necessary skills they need to become a successful adult.

  9. Being overly critical: this type of abuse occurs when a parent repeatedly criticizes their child. For example, harshly comparing their children with one another. Children end up developing low self-esteem, feeling inadequate and worthless.
  10. Taking control of your finances: Parents who take away their child’s money are abusive and believe their children owe them. It is not the child’s responsibility to payback for anything. On the contrary children should be encouraged to develop independence and learn how to correctly handle money.
  11. Emotionally absent: this type of abuse is difficult to detect. In many cases children don’t notice they are being abused. When a parent is emotionally absent the child will end up feeling unappreciative and unsupported. In severe cases children can develop depression and become needy as an adult.
  12. Using guilt: parents who are constantly guilt-tripping their children are emotionally abusive and it is a form of manipulation. This damages the child’s confidence and self-expression. They end up feeling like a disappointment and in many cases, children feel guilty for everything they do even when it’s correct.
  13. abuse
    Pic by: Cassidy Kelley

    Humiliation: intentionally humiliating a child as punishment causes more harm than good. It emotionally drains children and affects their self-worth. It also teaches children that it’s okay to bully another. In the long-run children end up feeling shameful and become preoccupied about what other’s think of them.

  14. Earning your parents love: parents should love their children unconditionally, but this isn’t always the case. Parents who love conditionally use this tactic to seek attention from their children and may even feel jealousy. In other cases parents may feel unloved and use their own children as a source of fulfillment. This deeply affects children emotionally.

Many of us struggle with different forms of abuse growing up. A lot of the times it can even be unintentional. No one is perfect and sometimes parents can do harm to their children unwillingly. This obviously doesn’t excuse their behavior. Which is why I wrote this article to bring awareness. Parents need to become aware of how their behavior affect their children. Have you struggled with any of these types of abuse? Let me know in the comment section below.

Related: 9 unhealthy behaviors adults have after going through childhood trauma

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