Below are described several types of abusive parents, links to some articles and coping tips for their specific way of hurting you.  This list is certainly not all – inclusive, so if you have further suggestions on coping or other information, please feel free to contact me at

All victims of abuse need to remember the following:

Remember – the abuse was NOT your fault!   You never did anything to deserve what was done to you.   Your parent has problems, and that is why he or she abused you, period.  Most likely, your parent was also abused, and did not have the inner strength to end the cycle, which is why he or she abused you.  It was not because you were a “bad” child, or you made your parent abuse you somehow.   It is all on your parent   You are good enough, smart enough and enough!  God loves you, and so do I. 🙂

Also, you need togrieve– grieve the loss of your childhood, grieve what that poor child (you) went through, grieve that you never may have the loving, normal parent that you want.  Grieving brings about acceptance of things that cannot be changed.   It also enables you to focus on healing yourself, rather than wishing your parent would get better, and continuing to be hurt. 

Grieving also helps you have a healthy perspective on your situation, and to eventually forgiveyour parent.   You may not want to hear that right now, but you do need to forgive your parent – not because he or she deserves it, but because you deserve better than carrying around that anger and bitterness inside you.

If your other parent stood by silently as your overtly parent abused you, you need to come to the place of realizing that parent is just as guilty of abuse as your other parent.  He or she was not an innocent victim, and could have and should have done something to protect you.   You will need to realize that, get angry, and then forgive that parent as well for the sake of your own mental health.  It will be hard, and take time, but you can do it!  For more information, please read this link:  The Unavailable Parent

If your abusive parent has a personality disorder, such as Borderline Personality Disorder orNarcissistic Personality Disorder, before you decide that your parent is sick, and cannot control his or her actions, keep this in mind – personality disorders describe a way of thinking and behaving.  They are NOT an actual physical problem with the brain, such as schizophrenia, PTSD or Bipolar Disorder.  The difference is someone with a such a problem cannot control their actions, whereas someone with a personality disorder can.  Some people with a personality disorder are very good at controlling their behavior, in fact.

As you are healing, you may have some very bad days sometimes.  Those days are a very normal part of the healing process, especially if you have  C-PTSD.  I know it can be very hard, but try not to lose hope or beat yourself up when those days happen!

The information you are about to read probably will seem overwhelming to you at first, but if you take things one tiny step at a time, you can do this!  You will be much healthier (emotionally and probably physically) for it, your relationships will be better, you will be a happier person, and you will naturally cope better with your mother. 


The Addicted Parent

Signs and symptoms:
  • Addicted to drugs, alcohol, etc., and is often physically violent
  • Often shows inappropriate actions, such as arriving at a special event drunk or high
  • The addiction comes first, before the child, leading to neglect
  • The child often has problems in school and relating to authority figures due to witnessing the parent’s addiction
Ways to cope:
  • Find a counselor or group therapy for adult children of addicts, such as Al-Anon
  • If your parent is still addicted, enforce healthy boundaries to protect yourself and your spouse and children
  • Remember- it is your parent’s choice to stay on drugs or to get clean.  You cannot force someone to clean up. It must be their choice.
  • For more information, click here: The Addicted Parent


The Childish Parent

Signs and symptoms:
  • Feigns ignorance, innocence (ex: says things like, “I can’t do that.. you do it for me”)
  • Pouts, cries, gets angry, lashes out or blames other people when he or she does not get his or her way
  • Depends greatly on others to take care of him or her
  • Can be very manipulative, but few see that, thinking this person is “too naive to be like that”
  • Competitive with her son, daughter (or son or daughter in-law)
  • Must be the center of attention
  • Judgmental
  • Closed minded
Ways to cope:
  • Do not play those games. If her or she pouts, ignore him or her. If her or she hints for you to do something, ignore the hints
  • Ignore the competitive games
  • Encourage your parent to do things he or she says he or she cannot do that you know he or she can
  • You are not the parent- you have no obligation to indulge the childish behaviors
  • Keep healthyboundaries in place
  • For more information, click here: The ChildishParent


The Controlling And Manipulative Parent

Signs and symptoms:
  • Shows conditional love, never unconditional (ex: you must do things his or her way or that parent withdraws love)
  • Uses intimidation
  • Uses “leveling.” In other words, acting as someone in authority or verbally tearing someone down (to their level)
  • Will gain the sympathy of others to use them to force you to do his or her will
  • She or he cries when all else fails
  • Uses money or flattery to get you to do what he or she wants
  • Tries turn your significant other and/or child(ren) against you
Ways to cope:
  • Set and enforce healthyboundaries
  • Limit your time spent with your parent
  • Do not give in “just this once,” because if you give in once, your parent will push harder to get you to give in again and again
  • Use phrases like, “I’m not going to discuss this with you,” or, “Well, that is your opinion, not mine.”
  • Remember that YOU are in charge of your life, not your parent. You have to live as is pleasing to you, not your parent
  • For more information, click here: The Controlling/Manipulative Parent


The Emotionally Incestuous Parent (aka parentalizing, parentification)

Signs and symptoms:
  • Confides in child about intimate matters, such as details about parents’ marriage
  • Treats child as a friend, not a daughter or son
  • Not there for her child, but expects the child to be there for him or her, no matter what
  • Makes her child responsible for his or her emotions
Ways to cope:
  • Set and enforce healthy boundaries 
  • Realize you are NOT responsible for your mother’s or father’s emotional well-being.  Your parent is
  • Change the topic of conversation when you begin to feel awkward or uncomfortable
  • Distance may help.  Talk to your parent only when you feel you are able to do so.  Once a week or once a month, whatever works for you
  • For more information, click here: The Emotionally Incestuous Parent


The Envious Parent

Signs and symptoms:
  • Competitive with their child
  • Highly critical
  • Threatened by the child’s successes
Ways to cope:
  • Keep topics of conversation superficial (the weather, local events, etc)
  • Reduce discussions of your life.  The less your parent knows, the less he or she will have to criticize
  • For more information, click here: The Envious Parent


The Mentally Ill Parent

Signs and symptoms:
  • The parent shows erratic behavior of mental illness such as rage, mood swings, extreme sadness, hearing voices, delusions of grandeur, risky behaviors, etc.
    Learn about the illness your parent has.
Ways to cope:
  • If she is undiagnosed, learn about the symptoms.  Talk to a mental health professional or research them on the internet.  This will give you a good idea of what to expect from your parent’s behavior
  • Set and enforce healthyboundaries
  • For more information, click here: The Mentally Ill Parentand here Mental Health


The Narcissistic Parent

Signs and symptoms:
  • Must be the center of attention. When that does not happen, he or she becomes agitated or angry
  • Highly concerned with appearances more than character
  • Self-centered
  • Lacks empathy
  • Often married to someone who fails to protect their children from abuse and enables his or her abusive ways.  This is often what is known as a covert narcissist.
Ways to cope:


The Physically Abusive Parent

Signs and symptoms:
  • Hits, slaps, punches 
  • Causes physical pain and injuries
Ways to cope:


The Psychologically Abusive Parent (including mental, psychological, emotional and verbal abuse)

Signs and symptoms:
  • “Messes with your head” by discussing altered versions of events as if they were reality
  • Accuses you of being oversensitive, reading into things, etc.
  • Uses guilt, anger, etc. to manipulate you
  • Distorts reality, reinvents the past.  Known as gaslighting
  • Highly critical
  • Invalidating.  For example, this parent tells his or her child that he or she is overly sensitive, over reacting, has a vivid imagination, etc.
  • The child grows up unable to trust his or her own instincts and what he or she sees
Ways to cope:
  • Set and enforce healthyboundaries
  • Learn to recognize the head games, and do not play them
  • Learn to trust yourself.  When your parent says something is true, but you know it is not, believe yourself over what your parent says.  
  • Keep a journal/diary and record events in it.  Not only does it help you to get things out, but it is excellent documentation of the way events truly played out.
  • Choose your words wisely.  You know what brings on a verbal attack, so avoid them as much as possible
  • For more information, click here: The Psychologically Abusive Parent


The Sexually Abusive Parent

Signs and symptoms:
  • Inappropriate touching, fondling or signs of affection such as kissing a child on the lips (even into adulthood)
  • Inappropriate comments about the child’s developing body or changes in appearance as an adult
  • The parent acting as if the child is his or her property
  • Forcing the child to watch the parent shower, change clothes, masturbate
  • An “ickky” feeling around the parent even with no memory of sexual abuse may be a sign that sexual abuse has happened.
Ways to cope:
  • Talk to someone who is not judgmental or critical. 
  • Write in a diary, or write letters to your parent that you do NOT mail to cleanse yourself of the negative emotions
  • For more information, click here: The Sexually Abusive Parent