Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life

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Are you the child of toxic parents?

When you were a child…

• Did your parents tell you you were bad or worthless?
• Did your parents use physical pain to discipline you?
• Did you have to take care of your parents because of their problems?
• Were you often frightened of your parents?
• Did your parents do anything to you that had to be kept secret?

Now that you’re an adult…

• Do your parents still treat you as if you were a child?
• Do you have intense emotional or physical reactions after spending time with your parents?
• Do your parents control you with threats or guilt? Do they manipulate you with money?
• Do you feel that no matter what you do, it’s never good enough for your parents?

In this remarkable self-help guide, Dr. Susan Forward draws on case histories and the real-life voices of adult children of toxic parents to help you free yourself from the frustrating patterns of your relationship with your parents — and discover a new world of self-confidence, inner strength, and emotional independence.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (January 2, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780553381405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553381405
  • ASIN: 0553381407
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces

Customer Reviews

An extremely useful book, non-academic and easy to read

626 people found this helpful.
 on August 17, 2000
By Simon Jackson
Open the front cover to this important book by Dr Susan Forward and almost as an introductory note we are told that toxic parents are the inadequate parents, the controllers, the alcoholics, the verbal abusers, the physical abusers and the sexual abusers. This is not a book about parents who get things wrong. As parents we all get things wrong – I know I do, we all do things that perhaps we regret – this isn’t being toxic, it’s called being human. These mistakes very rarely do harm. A toxic parent on the other hand is an individual whose behaviour scars and harms their child/ren to such a degree that often it can seem like the there can be no resolution to the damage caused. As a result the children grow into adulthood feeling inadequate, unloved and worthless.

Excellent Book!

535 people found this helpful.
 on March 23, 2000
After reading the one-star review by the reader from NY on March 14, 2000, I had to respond. It seems to me this person is awfully defensive and, I suspect, is guilty of some of the behavior that is described as abusive in the book…

A very supportive approach for abuse survivors

397 people found this helpful.
 on November 22, 1999
I first read this book six years ago. I found it confronting and very supportive. I believe this book has the power to encourage a lot of personal growth for people who have experienced abuse of all types in their childhood. What I found particularly effective about this book was that it covered a range of abuse patterns, which I believe many abusive parents use. Other books I have read tend to focus on one form of abuse exclusively, whereas if you have experienced physical abuse or sexual abuse, you may be likely to have experienced verbal and psychological abuse also. I read through this book with a pencil in hand, I found so many parts that rang true for me. The checklists in the book are a way of gauging honestly where you in dealing with your life and your relationship with your parents. Now six years later, I have just reread this book and I see how much I have grown in this time. No longer is this book so confronting for me, I was more able to appreciate the suggestions and exercises made. I have been thrilled to see that this book had planted seeds of thought and realisation within me, and that over the years I have been able to instigate real change within me and in my relationship with my parents. These relationships are far more real and true to me. I now speak with more personal authority and honesty to my family. One criticism I have is the way that confrontation is seen as a necessary goal. It is certainly helpful if it feels right and necessary to the reader, but i feel that the most effective form of healing is to reach a point in ourselves where we know our own truth and set out our own rules, whether we need to confront our family with our truths or not. I think in many ways survivors of abuse have attempted to reach out to their families and communicate their feelings, but I take on board that this may be more effective with self-knowledge and improved communication skills.Personally I have tried confrontation and found it ineffective, but by believing in myself, being honest and creating a life that is right for me, I have found freedom. This may not be the case for many readers, so I do not mean to deter you. I offer my silent support. All in all, this is an extremely useful, supportive and valuable book which I would recommend to anyone who wants to improve their relationship with themselves, their families and create a life which has more potential for truth and happiness

A practical and realistic read that is great for ALL adult children of toxic parents

87 people found this helpful.
 on May 5, 2006
By streem
I have read several books that attempt to help adult children of abusive (verbal or physical) parents, but most authors fail to connect with me because they feel a need to give the most horrible stories and examples in their books. My father didn’t sexually molest me or tell me to die, but he did constantly belittle me with subtle remarks, jokes, criticisms. This book spends over 100 pages giving stories and examples of all kinds of toxic parents,not just the ones that make the most horrifying read. It seems a little vague and scattered at first, because there are so many different examples of so many different types of toxic parental abuse, then you realize that most of the symptoms of the adult child who has suffered, are the same. Children of alcoholics, molestors, belittlers, hitters, all share a commond bond of lacking an identity, and struggling with their self esteem, and fighting a rage deep inside them.

The turth hurts…

125 people found this helpful.
 on January 29, 2005
By B. Leung
I picked up this book in secrecy one day while browsing through a book store, afraid that someone might know that my family at home was a little messed up.

A book I will NEVER throw away

91 people found this helpful.
 on April 26, 2005
By It’s me
If sometimes you find yourself feeling depressed or angry for no apparent reason- there may be a reason.

Groundbreaking and Not to be MIssed!

133 people found this helpful.
 on October 16, 2004
By Sister Renee Pittelli
Toxic Parents is a great resource for anyone who is suffering abuse at the hands of a parent. Susan Forward is an internationally recognized therapist and writer, who has also hosted her own ABC talk radio program.

Is Susan Forward still available for private consultations?

59 people found this helpful.
 on October 17, 2001
Wow! This book really nails my relationship with my parents and what’s been eating away at me all these years. And it does it in a straightforward, no-nonsense way. I am usually not a fan of self-help books because they are usually full of touchy-feely “healing the inner child” stuff. Once this book makes you see exactly how your upbringing damaged you, it tells you step-by-step how to confront the past and move on. A real testament to the power of this book is that I recommended it to my sister–very much a pull-yourself up by your bootstraps, accept it and move on kind of person–and she thought it contained amazing insight. My sister and I have started confronting the pain of our past for the very first time, and this book helped us do that. Can we get a two-for-one special for consultations with Dr. Forward?

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