Dealing with toxic parents can be an extremely difficult experience. Some parents thrive on getting you worked up, they are less understanding, and they refuse to see things the way you do. You are left feeling miserable and misunderstood. Having a parent like this can take a toll on you physically, and psychologically, and affect your performance at school or work. Furthermore, not dealing with your toxic parent well can affect your future relationships with them, as well as other people. We have put together a few tips to help you set boundaries with parents.


How Do you Know if You Have a Toxic Parent?

Perhaps you already know whether you have a toxic parent or not, but usually, there are signs. If you notice some of these qualities consistently, you might be dealing with a toxic parent.

  • Manipulative – twisting things so they are always the hero
  • Overly Critical – finding faults in everything you do
  • Controlling – wanting to make every decision about your life
  • Demanding – expecting you to drop everything whenever they need something
  • Unempathetic – they don’t care about your emotions or feelings
  • Angry – they are often raging or being passive-aggressive


Identify What Boundaries You Want to Set

The first step is to consciously decide what boundaries you want to set. These boundaries will depend on what kind of behavior your parent engages in. You have to be aware and identify the areas of your life where their behaviors have impacted you. Some examples of boundaries you might need to set include:

  • Saying “No” when they expect you to do whatever they ask
  • Resisting the urge to constantly seek their approval
  • Doing more things on your own rather than letting them do it for you


Understand You Will Likely Make Them Angry

As you probably know, saying no to a toxic parent is asking for them to try and manipulate or guilt-trip you. They may even go into a rage and begin blaming you for things that aren’t even your fault. Their reaction has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with their need for control. Parents like these are never pleased no matter what you do.


If you are at a point where trying to please them is too much, stop! You’ll make them angry, you’ll make them sad, but you must draw a line in the sand with what you are ok with. You will have to learn to live with them being disappointed in you (and aren’t they usually disappointed with you anyways?) and find joy in your new confidence and ability to do things on your own.


Easier Said Than Done?

It’s easy to say “just do this” but much harder to implement. If you feel like you need help or guidance in setting boundaries with your toxic parent, seek help. Your parents might be fine with you seeing a family therapist, however from our experience, many toxic parents are very much against that idea. So what can you do? You have a few options.


Faith-Based Organizations

If your family attends a religious center, such as a church, mosque, or temple, you might have access to free counseling options there. Assuming you trust them, reach out to your faith leader for help. They might have some great solutions for you.


School Guidence Counselors

Your school has counseling services. While it might feel uncomfortable to go talk to them, they are a fantastic resource. They can help you figure out what your options are, and offer suggestions about dealing with your toxic parent’s behaviors.


Online Counseling

The last option is online counseling, which can be beneficial if you can’t go to a physical location. At our office, we offer mental health counseling for teens. You meet with a therapist once a week (or less if you prefer) and can talk about whatever you’d like for the 50-minute session. Your therapist can help you figure out how to set boundaries with parents. In addition, we offer sessions for as low as $10 for those without insurance or little money to pay for sessions. As long as you are 12 years or older, you can sign your paperwork without involving your parents at all.



Dealing with toxic parents is an extemerely unfortunate position in be in, but one that many young people face. You probably know if your parent is toxic or not, however if their behavior is too much for you to deal with, it’s time to set boundaries with your parents. You need to start by identifying which behaviors you want to set boundaries for, and then you need to be discimplined about implenting them. Undstand you will likely make them upset by doing this, but your mental health is more important than their need to be in control of you. If you feel like you need help setting these boundaries, reach out to your faith-based organization or school guidence counselor. Furthermore, you can seek out online therapy options, which we offer to for as little as $10 a session and do not need parental consent for anyone over the age of 12 years old.


Family Strategies Counseling & Mediation is a family-focused therapy office located in Homewood, IL. We specialize in a holistic method of family support. Our services include mental health services for children and adults, couples and marital counseling, and strategic family therapy. Take a look at our staff page, and contact us at (708) 798-5433 or info@Family-Strategy for information to book online or in person.