Parental Conflict while growing up Wordsmith Foundation

Parental Conflict While Growing Up

Written by: Mohini || Graphics by: Shushma

It isn’t uncommon for children to have such trust issues, commitment phobia, low self-esteem and so on. It is said that almost two third people experience at least one type of trauma. The ratio of the being reported is very low. Today, we will throw light on parental conflict, how it affects us and 10 steps we can take to overcome them.

Parental conflict is defined as a disagreement that leads to a greater or lesser interaction of the parents. When a child does not get the love we need, we often search for it in different place, often for the rest of our lives. Childhood is the time where our subconscious develops. It’s when we learn
to process emotions, learn about relationships and create your coping mechanisms.

“If children could, if adults knew.”
Sigmund Freud


There may be different types of adverse childhood experiences ranging in parental separation (divorce), parental addiction, domestic violence, physical neglect, emotional neglect and abuse. Apart from the usual stress that it is causes, there are several issues that might come up and take
root in you. These concerns include various health issues, learning challenges and problems with substance abuse.


Parental conflict comes in various shades and experiences may differ greatly. It could be not being said or heard by your parent/s, as a result making you feel insignificant and lowering your confidence or it could be having a parent who focuses on overcompensating the things that they felt
lack of in their childhood, thereby ignoring your needs. Many people feel like they are their parents’ emotional support and treating you like their own therapist, having a parent who cannot regulate
their own feelings, trying to make you keep secrets from the other parent, using you as a messenger /spy to communicate or keep eyes on the other parent, sounds familiar?

Coming from a broken family is not easy. The fear and anxiety it instills in you is no small feat. You might think that it was their responsibility to understand that you are an innocent bystander in
whatever was going on between your parents. And it is the truth. Sometimes, parents turn out to be emotionally out of control, lashing out on you, they can’t empathize with you, they are extremely
controlling, and highly critical of everything you do. Sometimes they don’t take responsibility of their actions and blame others. They lie to you so often that it becomes difficult for you to understand if they are telling you the truth. The disparaging comments about the other parent, using you as pawn or leverage to get something in return, not letting you meet the other parent, not protecting you from the abuse, turning you against a parent- these are the acts of a toxic parent.


Depression, anxiety, guilt and shame, low self-worth and self-image are some of the frequent effects of parental conflict. It is very easy to be in denial that your parents inflicted negativity onto you. Children always want to believe that their parents are perfect. This is why when a parent acts
negatively, the child thinks it was their own fault. This leads to entering abusive relationships when they are older, acting like your parents even when you don’t want to, being afraid of letting people in, being shameful for being abused, getting angry or sad for no apparent reason. This further leads to paralyzing fear, unfocused rage, depression, anxiety, rage, procrastination, self-sabotage and many other destructive behaviours.
You need to remember to take care of yourself first. Stop trying to please them constantly. Accept that you can’t always reason with them. They might not have worked out their issues, but that does not mean that you cannot. It could be that they themselves were abused in their childhood or that you were the rage outlet from the pent-up emotions. Nonetheless, it is always prudent to start a new cycle of love and growth. Be better for your sake. Get a therapist and follow through the path you have set for yourself.


Here are some ways that you can over-come toxic parents:

  1. Add more self-care into your routine; it may sound cliché, but it does work wonder to have some time just for yourself and doing things that you love.
  2. Notice your good qualities, the progress you make, the efforts you take to improve yourself, the accomplishments you have achieved and journal them. When you feel down, read those words.
  3. Cheer yourself for each good deed. Encourage yourself to do more of them and push to strive harder in the right direction.
  4. Tend to your emotional, mental and physical needs. Its okay if you need a good cry or a 12-hour nap. Go for it. Let it fulfil your needs.
  5. Give yourself a hug and a pat regularly. Validate your feelings. Trust your intuition.
  6. Hold yourself accountable for your feelings, but in a compassionate and gentle way. This will enable you to take control of your mind in a constructive way.
  7. Set boundaries. It may be hard saying ‘no’ to some people, but this practice of saying ‘yes’ will cause burnout or breakdown.
  8. Set limits for yourself. Cultivate healthy habits and encourage yourself to pursue your interests.
  9. Practise affirmations. Be aware of the self-talk in your head. Make it a habit to say nice things to you. Be mindful of what you share with others.
  10. Most importantly, allow yourself to have fun. Do the things you love fearlessly. Focus on enjoying and making the most of the time you have.

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