When you're younger, you pretty much assume there must be a parenting guidebook, or at least a class, that taught all parents-to-be the rules and privileges they would allow for their kids. But as we get older and interact with more "adults," we realize that parents can come in all shapes and sizes, and some parents might be toxic when they're meddling in the relationships and decisions that their grown children make. How many times do you hear about someone whose partner has toxic parents, or someone who has been forced to end a relationship due to a mom or dad who didn't think they were the right choice for their son or daughter? Or, for those of you who are on the way towards marriage, how much unwanted input has your future mother-in-law offered that didn't fit your vision or budget?
We're taught to love and respect our parents through the good and bad, but unfortunately, some people have parents that are so toxic that they unknowingly drive their kids away. While it's ideal to always have a great relationship with mom and dad, sometimes it's just much easier said than done.
When it's your significant other that has the toxic parent, things get a bit more muddled. While you don't want to be the person to suggest they go no-contact, you're also tired of seeing your partner's parents boss them around and cause them a bunch of distress. There's a good chance that your significant other is in denial over the relationship, since face it — nobody wants to officially come to terms with the fact that they've been raised by narcissistic or cruel people who may not have their best interests at heart.
If he or she is on the fence, here are some signs that your partner has a pair of toxic parents.
1. They continue to ask for financial help.
Helping out your parents financially is a nice thing to do. After all, think about how many expenses they covered for us back before we had a job. Of course, this kind act can quickly turn messy, since hello, money is involved.
If your significant other is helping with some bills, that's one thing. But if the money given is never enough, or being spent on frivolous, questionable purchases, he or she is being taken advantage of. If you're strapped for cash yourself, you should always remember that your financial stability is your top priority. Both sets of parents are, obviously, adults, and should know how to budget their own money by now.
2. They constantly make your significant other feel bad.
Whether it's a set of snarky comments or making them feel like they should be doing better, your partner always seems to feel a little down after a visit. There's a good chance that your guy or girl tries really, really hard to please them, but nothing ever seems to be good enough. Parents might not always like the actions that their kids take, but they should at least acknowledge all of the great accomplishments they've achieved.
3. They act like your significant other just isn't around enough.
His or her parents live a distance away, and you always try your hardest to visit during special occasions. However, this isn't good enough for them. Since they made an effort to live close to their parents, they expect you to drop everything and move closer to them. While all parents wish their children were closer, you feel as if this exchange isn't necessarily because they miss your boyfriend or girlfriend's company — they just want to have the security of knowing they're easily around if they want or need something. They don't seem to realize that the distance isn't a personal diss, it's just where their job was located.
4. They've already planned out your future.
They have a say on the amount of kids you'll have and when, even if you're really not feeling children. They also want to invite their 50 church friends to their wedding, not because they like these people, but because they want to gloat that their child is getting married. Even if you wanted a small wedding, it's impossible with a demanding future mother-in-law. Even if she's not financially supporting the wedding, it's her word over all others.
5. They constantly compare your significant other to his or her siblings.
Everything's a competition in their house. If your partner failed to do something, no doubt about it that their little brother would have had no problem with the task. It's gotten to the point where the relationship that your partner has with their siblings is a little strained, as well. Parents should never compare kids. Plain and simple.
6. They judge your parenting, and often bring it up.
If you're a parent, you know it's hard work. You also know that your significant other's parents don't agree with any of your choices on the matter. In fact, going to visit with your little one is like a fail compilation. It's tough, since you want your child to have a good relationship with their grandparents, but you also don't want your kid to grow up and think that they could have done a lot better with their grandparents in charge.
7. Visits lead to more awkward moments than happy moments.
When you go to visit, you can guarantee that there'll be at least one argument. In fact, you've started resenting the visits, since you've developed anxiety about when the explosion will be happening. Your partner's parents, in your eyes, have a list of things they've been waiting to start fights about, and feel more comfortable airing their grievances when they know you'll have difficulty escaping the situation. While all parents often argue with their kids, it's not normal to expect to walk into a disagreement every single time.
8. Nothing your significant other does is good enough.
He got a raise at work, but it wasn't a big one. In fact, if only he became an accountant like his dad, he would have had a much easier time paying the bills and supporting himself. Even though he had no interest in balancing books, it was the right path for him to take, and his parents will never let him forget it.
Parents who have unrealistic ideals regarding their kids love to pull the "I'm right, you're wrong" card, which can really be a blow to anyone's self esteem. No matter how proud you are of his or her accomplishments, you know their parents won't understand the significance of these minor successes. It's just really tough to navigate a relationship where parents just can't find a way to be happy for their kid.
So, what's your role as the significant other? Be supportive. If your partner decides to go no contact, it's a choice that they have to make. If the "grin and bear it" technique works best, make sure you know that you hate seeing them so unhappy, and always have their back. When toxic parents are involved, it's best to work as a team to navigate the obstacles ahead.
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