The effects of being hounded and verbally abused by a horrid parent can gnaw at you throughout your life. They can also affect your confidence especially during key life events.    

Don’t let yourself become a victim. You can have a positive and fulfilling life despite your toxic childhood experience, not least because you have learnt so much about how not to behave. 

Moving along life’s path.

This is your chance to choose your own values and discover the adult you want to be. 

It is a slow and complex process, so don’t be surprised if it takes from your late teens to mid-thirties.  If you get impatient, try thinking of your evolution like a giant jigsaw puzzle where pieces fall into place over time to build the real you. 

Your development  will continue throughout your life as a result of the people you meet, what you do and the decisions you make.   


Be positive about yourself

Your maturing process will be more complicated if your horrid parent has criticised you for years and left you a legacy of automatically criticising yourself.  It's important to stop doing that and instead learn to be comfortable and  positive about who you are.   

Learn to trust.  

Trusting others is difficult if a parent hasn't kept the secrets you've trusted them with and tried to crush your spirit.    

You may have built up barriers to protect yourself from being hurt and feel uneasy about opening up to others.

The truth is that a good relationship can only thrive on mutual closeness and trust.  Take it slowly and make sure you feel safe.

Remind yourself often about the things that are going well in your life.

Aim for a busy social life with friends who care about you.  


Guilt and rebellion

Growing older won’t automatically rid you of feeling guilty that: 

  • you don’t love your difficult parent.   
  • it’s been your fault that you get on badly with them, especially if a favoured sibling gets it right.   

Don’t blame yourself.   A very nice person can have a bad relationship with a parent.  A not so nice person can have a good relationship.  

Rebellion doesn’t work, neither does trying to get your own back. Your parent could get nasty and you will be the one to suffer.  

Instead, live the life you want whether or not it is the life your parent has chosen for you. Don't stop  yourself doing something just because it might please them.   


Common traits

You are likely to have some of your difficult parent's character traits. Don't worry.  It’s how you manage them that counts.  

  • Negative characteristics are like muscles.  If you indulge and use them they will stay strong. 
  • The less you let them control you the less they will dominate your life.   
  • Concentrate on the more positive aspects of yourself so their power diminishes.  
  • Avoid people who bring out the worst in you.   
  • It is normal to occasionally be angry.  But stop  before you become vindictive.
  • Apologise if you hear yourself speaking like your difficult parent.   

Coming and going.  

Leaving home is an opportunity to escape from the clutches of your horrid parent. If you are going away to study it will need careful handling as you will be back during the holidays.

Until you leave for good, avoid those obvious triggers that  end up in arguments.   

Leaving home, especially for the first time, can also increase your horrid parent’s determination to control.  They could be nasty and make comments like how glad they are to get rid of you.   

Your career

A characteristic of a horrid parent is that they see events purely in relation to themselves. 

They might try to insist on the job you should do. Only agree if you feel it is the right thing for you.

They could try to belittle your chances of doing a job well.

Another possibility is that they show no interest in your chosen career, but boast about it to their friends to get kudos for themselves.  

Leaving home for good

Before you leave home it might be worth subtly suggesting to your difficult parent that this might be the ideal time to work towards  having a more adult relationship. It's risky and your timing is key.  If your horrid parent is irrational it could lead to a fierce argument.  

Staying in touch or breaking contact:

This is a difficult and individual decision.  If you have no contact with your parent once you leave home, you might feel guilty.   If you do decide to maintain a relationship, work out for yourself how often you will talk or meet.   It might make you feel more in charge of your life.  

Staying in touch or breaking contact:

This is a difficult and individual decision.   If you do decide to maintain a relationship, work out for yourself how often you will talk or meet your parent.   It might make you feel more in charge of your life.  

Whenever you see them try to be polite while maintaining a slight distance to avoid arguments. Unfortunately your difficult parent may store up resentments for whenever you return and spoil your visit.  

On the other hand you may no longer be able to bear the way you have been treated at home and breaking away may give you considerable relief.  You may also feel guilty.  Be prepared for it to take some time for you to feel better about yourself and build your self-confidence.      


Texting is useful if they are putting you under pressure.  Use neutral language and keep to safe subjects.  

Personal visits  

  • Keep them upbeat .
  • Don’t stay too long.
  • Take a small gift if you are staying for a meal.
  • If a row begins, politely make your excuses and leave. 


Don’t commit to phone them at precise times on certain days. If you are a few minutes late, you leave yourself open to criticism.

 Be polite but firm and  end the call if your parent is rude to you. It will make it clear you are no longer prepared to be bullied.  



If you keep this up your parent might consciously or subconsciously change how they behave towards you.  Most parents want to hear from their children and this desire might for a short time override their wish to control.