Does Toxicity Run in Your Family?

Natasha Aragon, Staff Writer

Everyone’s heard the phrase, “you have to cut out the toxic people in your life.” The problem is no one explains how, especially when those “toxic people” are your family members. I agree with cutting off those that harm you mentally, physically, emotionally and all the inbetween. Life is short, you shouldn’t live it in a dreadful state even when it comes to family members. 

The word “toxic” is thrown around casually, jokingly or seriously with no clear definition. Having a toxic family member means someone who treats you in a harmful way: this can be physical or emotional abuse. Gaslighting, degrading comments and any behavior that makes someone question their well-being is behavior exhibited by a toxic person. It’s a constant, repeated behavior by the person. People have bad days, so ensure whether you are reading their behavior properly. Choosing whether to part ways with family members, or who to part ways with, isn’t possible for everyone. So, the first question to ask yourself is whether your family or family members are toxic.

Toxic behavior stems from needing control and projecting anger off on others. While it’s normal for families to suggest what they believe is of best interest to you, there is a limit. A toxic family sets unrealistic expectations making all your achievements small and flawed, in turn making you feel incompetent. Due to stereotypes given to teenagers, like being lazy, toxic families may ask questions like, “are you doing something with your life?” A toxic person also downplays your emotions and worries, for example saying, “it’s not that big of a deal.” 

Going through a toxic relationship can be extremely detrimental to a teenager’s health. Acknowledging this behavior and understanding that you are not alone is the first step to moving forward. Most toxic behaviors are carried out unconsciously, so it is best to first bring up the issue and set boundaries. Confronting them and voicing your feelings can help bring awareness to the issue. After talking, not arguing about the behavior, observe whether your family or family members become mindful of your request. You may need to talk to your family members more than once, but someone who cares for your boundaries will reflect on themselves and make a change. 

On the other hand, maintaining boundaries requires your enforcement. You know what you want and need, so you must communicate that to others. Creating boundaries will be relatively new for everyone, being uncomfortable and vulnerable will happen. When experiencing this, communication is key and remembering the reason for your boundaries is important. Even so, if no difference is noticed, consider cutting ties. You can physically shut out someone or start to detach yourself. You are in control of what you talk about. Decide whether or not you want to hold conversations about certain topics with them. 

Having a toxic family is possible and extremely common. Due to teenagers confusing this behavior for parenting and discipline, toxic etiquette goes unnoticed. Preventing this issue starts with acknowledgement and support. Talking to those around you is a great way to get through times like this. If you don’t feel entirely comfortable talking with your friends, know that the counselors are always an option. Finding comfort and safety in others can help and you will get through this no matter what.