consistent parenting advice
consistent parenting advice

Toxic Parenting - Inconsistent Parents


How does toxic parenting affect children?


toxic parenting Inconsistent parenting by toxic parents means that children experience the very negative effect of toxic parenting on their sense of self. This affects us on the very deepest level as we grow up and also affects us as we parent our own children.

How does this happen? Suppose when you were growing up your parents came down really heavily on you for swearing and you were punished for doing so.

However, suppose they themselves did swear, and not occasionally either. Then suppose that there were times when your bad language wasn’t even noticed, let alone any punishment for it?


How is a child supposed to regard his parents then?

toxic parenting, shanme, guilt, grief
Imagine that this was the case for other things as well.

You dawdled on the way home from school and got such a terrible telling off that you were frightened for weeks about it.

Then it happened again and you lived in fear of the outcome but there wasn’t any. In fact no-one even seemed to notice, so you stayed behind again to play in the playground, feeling that it wouldn’t be a problem.

However, this time you were punished very severely for the same behaviour that hadn’t been considered bad at all only the week before.

How is a child to think?

toxic parenting Unfortunately what happens is that it isn’t what you do that becomes wrong, but who you are. As a child you come to see that it isn’t the behaviour that brings the punishment, but it is you the person that causes it.

Your parents’ inconsistent parenting creates a dreadful feeling of guilt within you as you struggle to come to terms with their inconsistency. You know you have done something wrong, but because you don’t know what it is you just end up with a huge feeling of guilt for being you.

If your parents also coupled your punishment with lots of anger, or worse still, by withdrawing their attention or affection toward you, then this message is even more powerful for young children. It tells you that you are not ok and that there is something about you that is bad or wrong although you may not really understand what that is.

  • Parental withdrawal creates much damage to a child’s sense of self worth. Coupled with messages that are hard to understand, a child grows up believing that there is something about them that is inherently bad or worthless, and children retain this as a very strong impression long after the incident has passed.
    Often it becomes such a part of their thinking that it isn't recognised without professional help in adulthood.
  • Toxic Parents Create Guiltt
    This guilt impacts on us as adults through a very strong critical inner voice which carried on from where our toxic parents left off. By reinforcing us in a known and familiar way, this critical inner self talk helps you to follow on with the same set of inconsistent rules that were part of your childhood. It tells you are wrong and bad you are when you slip up in any way, and keeps you in that familiar feeling of guilt and shame.
  • consistent parenting advice
  • Recognition
    Recognizing that this is patterned negative behaviour is the first step towards mending the painful incidences from your childhood, and setting you on the road towards a positive way of being, both within your self and as a parent.
  • Be Consistent
    By learning how to become consistent with your children, you will also learn how to be consistent with yourself and vice versa. By learning to recognize your inner negative voice, say no to it, and replace it with a clear, firm and consistent voice, you retrain yourself away from guilty thinking and into a place of strength.

Read more articles in this series:

What is a Toxic Parent? - parents whose own negative behaviour grossly inflicts emotional damage which contaminates their children's sense of self.

Toxic Parents - the inner critical voice. One of the powerful byproducts of having toxic parents is that we are left with low self esteem and a strong inner critical voice that speaks continuously to us of our guilt, our shame and our wrongs.

Best Books About Toxic Parenting:

toxic parents

Toxic Parents - by Susan Forward, Ph.D

Healing the Shame that Binds You - by John Bradshaw

Co-dependent No More - by Melody Beattie



I would encourage you to seek professional help if you recognize patterns
from toxic parenting created in your childhood.
The past cannot be changed but the future can! I wish you courage.


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