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Therapist explains how a common toxic parenting behavior in couples who fight a lot impacts kids

Many parents got defensive at the therapist's comments but it's an important conversation to be had about how discord between parents affects their children.

Therapist explains how a common toxic parenting behavior in couples who fight a lot impacts kids
Cover Image Source: Instagram | @sitwithwhit

Therapist Whitney Goodman, LMFT—who is also the author of "Toxic Positivity" and the owner of the Collaborative Counseling Center—has sparked a conversation around a commonly seen toxic parenting behavior. She may have ruffled a few feathers but it's an important conversation to have. In an Instagram video, Goodman (@sitwithit) addressed people who grew up in a home where their parents fought a lot.

"This video is for anyone that grew up in a home where your parents would fight a lot and their marriage was really bad. If you grew up in this kind of house, you may have noticed that your family would split off into different alliances or teams to try to manage the material discord. Because the marriage wasn't a good or safe foundation for the family, everybody else had to kind of go and form these new teams," she explains.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by whitney goodman lmft (@sitwithwhit)


 

The therapist gave examples such as a dad teaming up with their child and talking badly about the mom or a sibling teaming up with the mom and behaving like her. "Everybody was, like, trying to find stability but also out to get one another at the same time," she says. "You're all looking for safety and trying to find it in different ways, but you'll never be able to achieve the same type of stability you would have felt if your parents had that concrete stable relationship. Parents do not have to be married to have that safe foundation. They just need to communicate respectfully and not pull kids into the discord."

Many parents get defensive saying "You know, parents are people, too, and we need to have empathy for parents," according to Goodman. While Goodman agrees that parenting is one of the hardest things someone can ever do and people do need to empathize with them, she points out something much more important. 


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by whitney goodman lmft (@sitwithwhit)


 

"What I find is that people have no empathy for kids. People expect kids to act like adults. And then, in my experience, when they become adults, parents look back at their experiences as if they were adults moving through all those life stages the entire time. And the focus is really put back on the parent: 'You don't know how hard it was for me.' 'You'll figure it out when you become a parent.' 'I didn't have money; I didn't have resources,'" she explained in a second video.

Whatever point a person may put across to take part in the debate, one cannot argue with the fact that "the child was a child who was helpless, defenseless and unable to care for themselves physically and emotionally. The adult had power and options. And when we keep that in mind, it makes the conversation a little bit more fair," she noted.

Image Source: Instagram | @sitwithwhit
Image Source: Instagram | @sitwithwhit

In a third video, she also elaborated on how important it was for a parent to take accountability if they've made a mistake. "I think there's a lot of empowerment in telling adults that your childhood is not going to dictate your life; it's over now, and you can work on it," she said. "But we also need to work on the dynamic and the healing that happens when parents are able to say: 'You know what, maybe I tried my best, and it wasn't good enough. Maybe I did hurt you. Maybe there is something that I can apologize for and I can take ownership of to allow us to have a good relationship moving forward."

While parents may feel defensive about their parenting techniques, they need to remember that even if their children are now adults the parent still holds power over that relationship. When a parent can acknowledge mistakes and is keen to understand their children, they can promote healing and also strengthen the relationship between child and parent. No matter what age they are.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by whitney goodman lmft (@sitwithwhit)


 

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