To be honest, asking yourself the question, “Am I the problem in my family?” can go a very, very long way. You should be proud of yourself!
This article is for you especially whether you are the teen or young adult or adult child, or, on the other hand, the parent in the family. In fact, I divided this article into those two categories.
You may find that some points may overlap, and that’s okay.
Disagreements, conflicts, and difficulties happen within families, and they are normal. What’s abnormal is when these things turn toxic, which eats away at historically warm family relations.
And ideally you would want to maintain good relationships within your family. Why? Because a poor relationship with your family could make you sick.
In any case, let’s jump into it!
Am I the Problem in My Family?
Part 1: If You Are the Child
1. You find yourself constantly lying.
99% of the time, you don’t have to lie—I would argue this is true even with toxic parents.
You could choose to lie now but, guaranteed, the truth will come out sooner or later. And considering everything, you’ll most likely find out that lying is not worth it. I’d rather shut up than lie.
2. You’re a fault-finder.
Fault-finding is a way to feel “superior” to another family member, but why would you want that? For revenge? To hurt them? These things don’t sound good and surely there’s a better way to live your life.
It would be better to just pick something to commit yourself to, and be very good at it.
3. You derive joy from family members’ misfortune/bad day/bad mood.
It’s like you’re subtly wishing them harm. It is a problematic behavior. Family should be trying to bring out the best in one another.
It may be time to contemplate why you’re thinking this. Try to recall events that you may not have settled with your family.
4. You focus on the negative side of family members.
We humans remember the bad times better than the good. Now that you know that, consider yourself absolved!
Kidding aside, why not try to focus on the better traits of your family? This way you could find it easier to hang out with them.
5. You always start fights.
Fighting, with overflowing emotions involved, isn’t usually worth it. (The first could be worth the shot—but only the first.) It only raises already-existing tensions. Talking about it, while sometimes very hard to do, is still the traditionally better way of resolving conflicts.
6. Then you start toxic conversations.
It’s quite simple to spot a toxic topic:
- It’s about another person’s life, decisions, and troubles.
- People involved in the conversation start raising their brows and talking negative things.
- One is willing to talk only without listening.
- Then someone decides to start another fight.
Related: Do Toxic Parents Love You?
7. You refuse to take well-meaning suggestions or help.
Let’s say someone calls you out for being the “problem.” How would you react? They may sound harsh at first but would you consider they could be right? Do you think your ego is playing a huge role here?
8. And then you expect family members to always take your side.
You feel attacked when no one seems to agree with you, which is actually a normal phenomenon and should be a light bulb moment already.
Acknowledge that your personalities and views are not (or should not be) the same, and that’s okay.
9. You refuse to meet them for no reason at all (and it’s been almost a decade since you saw them).
What’s a couple of hours over dinner? You can find lots of ways to meet them. Unless they have been abusive and you’ve decided to limit your time with them or cut them off completely, a good reason to meet them is simply, why not?
10. You think family members owe you for some wrongdoing in the distant past.
You’re an adult now and I’m pretty sure you can take charge of your life. Trying to let yourself be dragged down by a wrongdoing—especially if they’ve already apologized—is at this point just an excuse.
11. You find yourself always confiding in relatives and friends even if your family is willing to talk.
This tends to add fuel to the fire. The more people through which the message is delivered, the more prone it is for the message to get distorted.
If there are issues within the family, try to address them directly with the family member(s) involved, and settle them there and then.
12. You’re always enmeshed in drama.
Hear me out: Once in a while, allowing yourself to be a drama king/queen could be actually good for you.
But being in that mood always is no bueno. Mastering your emotions is a valuable skill. I even believe that constant drama can also bring harm to your family, because drama attracts all sorts of negative (outside) people, things, etc.
Part 2: If You Are the Parent
1. You’re taking your own childhood trauma for granted.
There’s a chance that you had a difficult childhood, and although you are careful with the way you treat your children, you may be “shrugging off” what happened in the past.
If you’re displaying symptoms such as emotional dysregulation, passive-aggressive behavior, perfectionism, etc., you may want to seek professional help.
A lot of people think that the trauma they had in their young years is normal. I hope you recognize that this kind of thinking can be harmful in the long run—for you and your family as well.
2. Emotions are nothing to you.
As long as you’re getting things done and the daily routine is on point, you disregard any emotions because you think entertaining them is a weakness.
As a result your spouse and kids may find it hard to talk to you, let alone share interpersonal struggles they may be having.
3. You don’t take responsibility for your actions.
You don’t admit you screw up and don’t apologize. Know that every day is a learning process and mistakes are normal.
Instead of owning up to being a normal human, you evade dealing with mistakes and instead do other things that make you look faultless, which is a recipe for toxic relationships.
4. Family members look stiff, drained, and miserable when they’re around you.
Maybe it’s been that way forever. Maybe it feels that family members are different whenever you’re not with them. But at least they should be able to express themselves, not trying to walk on eggshells in your company.
5. You gossip behind their back and, therefore, encourage ill will.
I can’t really think of the role of a family as a unit, except that it must continuously bring out the best in one another. That’s really it in a nutshell.
As a parent, your responsibility in this regard does not end. You could talk about someone in their absence, but always strive to do so in a loving manner.
6. You still think you’re always right.
Even though your kids are now adults, you’re still not open to their ideas. This implies that you don’t respect their autonomy and development, or you have insecurities you have not settled with your family.
7. You bring up past issues whenever you argue even if they’re not related to the argument.
Being a parent is indeed an enormous responsibility. Children subconsciously imitate what you do (even if reluctantly).
A golden rule of a healthy relationship is that whenever you’re talking or fighting or arguing about something, you stick to it only, no matter what. Disagreements are normal, being toxic is not.
8. You encourage competition among your children.
I’m not talking about the friendly games you play on picnics or whatnot.
It becomes problematic when you pit your children against each other as if their accomplishments become the basis of their worth as a person or, worse, as your child.
You’d be better off encouraging cooperation instead.
9. You don’t support your children’s lifestyle and views just because you don’t like them or yours are different.
That’s a narcissistic trait where you see your child as an extension of yourself. You do not own your children. Yes, they came from you, and life is beautiful like that, but they are their own persons and you should rather be grateful for who and what they are today, especially if they’re constantly aiming for excellence.
10. You compare your children.
… among themselves or against the children of your peers. While it could be tempting to do that, there’s just no point in comparing, no matter who’s “above” or “below.” This is a toxic behavior that pervades everything you do. You develop the habit of comparing just about anything and this could hurt relationships within your family.
11. You still treat your adult children like young kids.
Do you find yourself reminding your children to do something as if it were their first time doing it? I can only think of two possible reasons for this. Either you’re developing some dementia-type condition, or you just don’t trust them.
12. You always criticize family members.
It’s as if there’s no other and better way to communicate. The attitude of being critical should be buried in the archaic sands of time.
There’s no one way to learn something. People have different temperaments and mannerisms. It’s okay to be human.
Is my family toxic or am I the problem?
This might be hard to determine, especially if you’ve known your family all your life and you suspect you’re also toxic yourself. In any case, the best way to go about this is to educate yourself. Start with credible resources on the internet.
You may also notice a sort of faction that’s going on within your family. Note that the majority could be the toxic ones: say, they gang up against a scapegoat. But the same can go for the minority: say, a family member turns to alcohol in dealing with his problems.
Beware of your biases. Of course you would want something that works for you, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of other family members. Let them be responsible for their actions, but that’s about it.
Seek fairness. I know this sounds hard to do especially if you feel you were wronged. But the way you deal with it is the better aspect to tackle rather than the wrongdoing itself.
Acknowledge that you have (or have had) toxic parents.
I’m not talking about “strict” parents. A family could be in any circumstances but still end up fine.
The truly toxic parents, on the other hand, are the ones that could cause harm and trauma that could burden their family—especially their children—for life.
Here’s a truth: You could be a “problem” for having been raised by toxic parents.
By “problem” I mean even though you have the best intentions, education, and coping strategies, the trauma you have had may still pop out in ways you don’t expect. (For example, there’s this thing called “somatic” symptoms, as if they’re literally under your skin just waiting to pop out with the right triggers.)
Just keep that in mind. In this respect, you are special in that your needs may be different from those of “normal” people, but guess what, that’s okay!
It is acknowledging your past and embracing who you are. Notice that you can do this as if it were just a simple household chore while being at peace and being content.
You are fine and you will be fine.
Image Credits: Photo by Luke Brugger on Unsplash