The idea of family has always been a central part of humanity. Over time, it took many forms and, even today, it continues to evolve. One of the main factors of this evolution is the perception we have of the relationship between parents and children. We, both as individuals and as a society, are becoming more aware of the different aspects of such a relationship and we are able to make a distinction between what is healthy and what is not, what creates abundance and what destroys it.
When we realize this distinction, we usually find ourselves in one of the two sides, either as parents or as children. Most often, it is the latter. In all cases, we have to face both the good and the bad aspects of the relationship, while being unable to choose between them. Unless the awareness of both sides reach a similar altitude, a proper communication cannot be established. Our best and probably only option is to bring into discussion this distinction between healthy and toxic interactions and help the other side become aware of it.
By looking deeper into the nature of what we perceive as negative behaviors, such as emotional blackmail, unfair judgement or victimization, we realize that all of them are actually emotional strategies that have been used effectively over the course of our history. We could even consider them to be emotional technologies. And as with any technology, once a new one is invented, the old one becomes obsolete. Today, we are in the process of replacing the old emotional technology, which we consider toxic, with a next-generation one, which we consider healthy. This change is not easy, especially for those who have lived their entire life based on tradition.
Apart from that, there seems to be another factor at play that drives this toxic relationship between parents and children. In the past, one of the few sources of self-esteem has been our family, especially our children. We learned to define ourselves in terms of them. This aspect is changing rapidly, since more sources of self-esteem are now available, such as work, friends, life experiences and more. Unfortunately, some of us are having problems transforming ourselves.
When our self-image depends mainly on our children, we are forced to ensure control over them, in order to avoid the fear of losing our self-esteem. This seems to be one of the biggest causes of the toxic relationships we are facing. To overcome this problem, we need to learn how to reimagine ourselves in today’s world, for the sake of our well-being and that of our children.
What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.
— Abraham Maslow