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5 Boundaries to Set with Toxic Parents

Vivian Bricker

Contributing Writer
Published Dec 27, 2023
5 Boundaries to Set with Toxic Parents

If you have toxic parents, know you are not alone. There are many people across the world who also have toxic parents, and it can make your entire life toxic. Here are five boundaries to set with toxic parents.

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Setting boundaries with toxic parents can be very difficult; however, it is not impossible. If you struggle with toxic parents, you know how damaging their interactions can be.

As nice as it would be if all of our parents were supportive, caring, and loving, the reality is that not all of our parents are like this. For many individuals, our parents are toxic, and they are not helpful in the growth of our lives.

If you have toxic parents, know you are not alone. There are many people across the world who also have toxic parents, and it can make your entire life toxic.

Whether you live away from your parents or you are still living under their roof, there are still many things you can do to protect your own well-being.

Here are five boundaries to set with toxic parents.

1. Don't Invalidate My Pain

One boundary to set with toxic parents is that they don't need to invalidate your pain. Parents who are toxic have a way of invalidating their children’s pain.

Many parents have the false view that their children are “overly emotional” or see things from a different perspective.

This is not true, especially if you are a teen, preteen, or an adult. Even as children, we can see when our pain is being invalidated, or a parent tells us to “just grow up.”

While we still love our parents, it's hard to ignore when they invalidate our pain. I shared my struggles with my mom about my anorexia and depression, but she never really understood my pain.

Rather than walking beside me and encouraging me, she only tore me down. I love my mom, and I always will, but this was a flaw on her behalf. I'm not sure if she just could not understand these feelings or if it was something she was never capable of doing.

If your parents have ever invalidated your pain, know that I see you. Not only this, but know that God sees you as well. He sees all of your pain, and He wants to carry it for you.

When you set this boundary with your parents, they might not take it well, but it is something you need to stand by. 

Even if they do not honor your boundary, know that you can still keep reinforcing it. If they won't honor your boundary, it is best to just change the topic to something less stressful.

2. I Need Time Alone

A second boundary to set with toxic parents is that you need time alone. Everyone needs time alone, including yourself. It is okay to set this boundary with your toxic parents, especially during the holidays.

During the holidays, we are normally around our parents more often, and this can cause tensions to grow fast. Instead of allowing yourself to be overcome with anxiety and stress, set down the boundary ahead of time that you need time alone.

Don't give your parents any time to object to your boundaries. Instead, tell them that you need time to just be by yourself and to be away from everyone. Take a walk, stay in your room for a while, or watch a movie by yourself.

Despite your parents being toxic, it does not mean that they should not allow you to have some self-care time by yourself. If they are rude about it, respond as the Lord would. This can be hard, but it is what you must do.

3. Respect My Decisions Just as I Respect Yours

A third boundary to set with toxic parents is for them to respect your decisions just as you respect theirs. Parents have a way of wanting to helicopter over our lives and toxic parents will use this as a way to micromanage your life.

This can feel overwhelming and suffocating at times. Don't allow yourself to experience this anymore. Set the boundary that they need to respect your decisions just as you respect their decisions.

Most of us have seen our parents make some poor choices throughout their lives, but we never judge them for it. Rather, we are supportive and help as best as we can. In the same way, our parents need to do the same.

They need to respect you and your decisions without passing judgment. If they cannot adhere to this boundary, you need to convey to them that you might not be able to spend much time with them anymore.

All relationships are built upon respect and if your parents don't respect you, they are going to have a hard time being kind to you when you make a decision that they don't agree with.

When you set the boundary with your parents that they need to respect you just as you respect them, you can tell them that they don't have to agree or accept your decision, but they need to respect it.

Toxic parents are not normally respectful; however, this is a boundary you need to set down. If they don't honor it, consider removing yourself from the situation.

4. If You Have Nothing Nice to Say, Don't Say Anything at All

A fourth boundary to set with toxic parents is if they have nothing nice to say, they don't need to say anything at all. Our parents can be our worst critics. They make unnecessary remarks about our jobs, our life decisions, and our appearance.

Most of the time, these remarks are not kind or helpful. In order to prevent yourself from hearing any more of these hurtful comments, you need to establish the boundary that if they don't have anything nice to say, they don't need to say anything at all.

I had a friend who recently went home for the holidays, and her mother made many insensitive comments about her body. This caused my friend to have many negative emotions and struggles in her relationship with her body.

As healthy-minded people, we can see how damaging this remark is; however, my friend's mom probably didn't even think about it.

This is why it is crucial to establish this boundary ahead of time. Even our parents do not have the right to critique us or make us feel bad about ourselves.

5. Don't Comment on How I Am Living My Life

A fifth boundary to set with toxic parents is to tell them that they don't need to comment on how you are living your life. Since your parents are toxic, they are not going to give you good advice.

If they were healthy-minded parents, it would be great to hear their feedback and what they think is best, but since your parents are toxic, they are not going to have anything helpful to say.

Therefore, it is best to establish a boundary so that they don't need to comment on how you are living your life.

If you are living your life to the glory of God, there is no reason for anyone to say anything bad. We all sin and mess up, but there is no reason for a toxic parent to condemn us for something that God has forgiven.

The Lord loves you, and He will give you direction in your life. Your toxic parents will not be much help in the way you should live your life, but you can use them as an example of how you do not want to live.

Toxic parents are extremely unhappy with themselves. They become bitter and judgmental because of the lack of love in their hearts. Rather than being hateful and angry, they need to open their hearts to love.

You can't do this on your own, but you can pray for them. Even if they do not change, keep on praying for them. You still love your parents, and you hope that one day they could be the parents you need.

For further reading:

How to Set Boundaries and Still Live Wild and Free

5 Biblical Boundaries to Set with Others

How Do We Show Love to Toxic People?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/evgenyatamanenko



Vivian BrickerVivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.

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