The effects of a toxic relationship on your children

I have first hand experiences with this one, as I grew up in a dysfunctional family, and also I raised my daughters while living in a dysfunctional marriage and after that, in toxic relationships.

It’s pretty obvious that a toxic relationship will have toxic effects on the lives of your children. When you live and raise kids in a dysfunctional family, as being the part of this unity, your kids will have a lot of toxic and dysfunctional experience, and their lives will become dysfunctional either.

Still many people find the excuse of having common children the reason of not going separate, however they cause a lot greater damage to their kids. It’s never the kids who are the real reason, but the fear of the parent of being single. Nobody benefits from a toxic relationship, because if you live in a toxic relationship, you breathe in poison.

Growing up in a toxic relationship I gained the following things:

  • low self confidence
  • the feeling of being secondary
  • fear
  • anger and resentment
  • uselessness and unworthiness
  • the feeling of never being enough
  • feeling of ugliness
  • lack of self love
  • lack of self care
  • the feeling of being disturbing, bothering and annoying
  • impatience
  • the feeling of defiance
  • the feeling of being ignored
  • the feeling of being misunderstood
  • the feeling of being a victim
  • the feeling of revenge
  • the feeling of loneliness
  • boredom

Not a nice list, and it’s not yet complete, but I think it’s enough!

Now check my list again please and see what you have from my list. If you have felt these as a kid, or feel them right now, you were also brought up in a toxic family. But what is more shocking, is that if you raise kids, you will very probably pass these on to them!


Living in a toxic relationship I got much less attention and emotions as I needed. The inconvenient relationship of my parents required a lot of energy from them, their fights, their arguing consumed most of the attention I would have needed.

In a toxic relationship, the energy and the attention shift from kids to fighting and arguing. In these relationships the parents are busy with satisfying their egos, making it sure that they win. It means that their children are only bothering circumstances – when they need something in the middle of a fight – and so the parents show a lot of impatience towards their kids. And this ignorance generates most of the things on the list above. Kids begin to feel themselves as secondary, unimportant persons. They will be afraid of this revelation, and they will grow angry and resentful towards their parents, or in some cases towards themselves.

As not getting the attention and energy they would need, they feel unworthy and useless. They don’t experience love and care, as their parents are busy with arguing, so they don’t learn to love and care about themselves. They don’t have the feeling of being loved, and so they accept the fact that they are unlovable.

In the middle of  fight, they are sent away, as they are under the feet, so they begin to feel themselves as an annoying circumstance in the lives of their parents. Not getting what they need makes them impatient, and these will generate the feelings of defiance and revenge.

I felt it many times that I was under the feet of my parents. They had no time for me, as they needed the time for satisfying their egos. In my teenager years I tried many defiant behavior to get their attention, but I got punishment.

In a toxic relationship, the energy and the attention shift from kids to fighting and arguing. In these relationships the parents are busy with satisfying their egos, making it sure that they win.

Stop for a second and think!

When parents are fighting and arguing, they are angry, resentful and impatient. These are the qualities they are able to pass on to their kids. These emotions will filter their behavior, and they cannot give anything else only what they have. And anger and love have no meeting points. When you are constantly angry, anger filters your behavior, you speak through anger. And not only with your partner, but with your kids too.

Have you ever caught yourself up in sending your kids into their rooms just because you had no nerves to deal with their fighting? What had happened to your nerves? Oh well, you had given them to your partner, you had lost them in the last battle. And what you have right now is anger and hurt. And it is very likely that you act out of this anger, and this anger filters what you think, say and do. Your kids will receive the angry mom/dad, and they will develop all those feelings I listed above.

What’s the case when you happen to stay alone?

Many people think that if finally they are out of their toxic relationship, everything will be alright. They believe that the hell they are experiencing right now, will be over immediately. However when it happens, many people end up in a deeper hell than she was in before.

The next story is mine.

When my husband died – with whom I had a dysfunctional marriage – I ended up in great emotional pain. In the beginning I lived in shock, the robot pilot took the lead. After a time, when I was coming back to life emotionally, I began to feel alone. Lonely, to be correct.

Loneliness equaled to uselessness and unworthiness to me, so I began to see opportunities to find someone who could be the proof of my being lovable and desirable. And this process needs time, effort, energy and attention. I gave my time to find a replacement, and while doing so, I felt my kids to be disturbing circumstances. Just like I felt myself when I was young.

I have learnt something, and even today I remind myself often, never to do this again! I’ve learnt that when I’m not happy, instinctively I will look for things and people to make me happy. This is why we are here, to be happy. And when we aren’t, we will do everything to find happiness. And all things and people we think to stand between us and our happiness will be disturbing circumstances. No wonder why gurus, mentors, spiritual leaders and teachers advise always to find happiness inside, because if you can’t, you will bulldoze down everything and everyone who disturbs your quest.

When I was looking for a guy to make me feel happy, my kids were under my feet always. I had no time for them, because I wanted to give my time for the search. I was angry at them when they disturbed me. They showed up in the inconvenient time, for example they needed to drink when I was chatting, so slowly they became ghosts. They did not know what they did wrong, why I was angry at them, so instead of looking for contact with me, they stayed invisible. I was unapproachable for them, the only parent they had.

The other lesson I learnt is that my happiness depended on others, if they texted me, or called me, I was happy. If not, I was mad. And the way I was treated filtered my behavior at home. My kids were exposed to my mood, which depended on some guys. I couldn’t be loving when I didn’t feel to be loved. When I was treated poorly, I projected it on those who were around – my kids.

Growing up in a toxic family, in a toxic relationship, or with a toxic parent poisons the lives of our kids. They develop a lot of dysfunctional thoughts and feelings about themselves, they will treat themselves the way they are treated by their parents. They will have a long list of awful emotions and limits that will prevent them to live a happy life. As they experience that they are under the feet of their parents, they are only disturbing circumstances of their parents’ lives, they will not be able to accept themselves. This will bring them into relationships where they will look for the other one to accept them, as they aren’t able to do that. And their happiness will depend on others.

And the circle is closed.

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  1. Sandi says:

    What about a Father Son situation, where father will not leave a very toxic wife, and child is used as a shield and the spouses compete for the loyalty or favor of the child? Please direct me to info ASAP

    • Zsuzsanna says:

      Dear Sandi. Thank you for contacting me. I have learnt not to try to figure out what other people might think, why they do things the way they do. They have their own blocks, fears, thoughts in their mind. Why someone doesn’t do what we expect him to do might seem the hardest to accept. It’s a mind game, but it’s not a mind game between two or more persons, but a mind game your own mind is playing with you. At that stage of my life when I wrote this article, I would have given you a different answer to your question. At the present moment I can tell you that the change begins with changing your mind about what you see, not changing the people around you. It might not make any sense to you right now, but I know that it will make sense one day. Much love, Zsuzsanna

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