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Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life
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Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  4,791 ratings  ·  224 reviews
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...

Paperback, 308 pages
Published January 2nd 2002 by Bantam (first published 1989)
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I wish I had read this book months or even years ago, rather than after I've finally made the decision to end a toxic relationship with my mother.

Reading descriptions of other experiences of adult children who have experienced the type of things that I have might have strengthened me to the point of making healthier decisions sooner, but at least it provides validation and a sense that, despite the recent shunning of my entire family, I am not alone in my experiences.

One new thing that I *did*
D. Jennifer Dawson
Honestly, someone bought this for me because they thought I 'needed' to read it. I was so ticked off - the nerve of that person! that I filed it away for about a year. Actually, until I recently unpacked from a move, I thought I'd pitched it while packing, out of sheer anger and disgust.

But I didn't throw it out and it is actually full of helpful insight and suggestions. There's chapter called, "No one in this family is an alcoholic" (or close to that) and it caught my eye while thumbing through
About three weeks ago, my beloved mother died.

In my overwhelming grief and distress, I reached out to my father, whom I’ve been avoiding for several years now. In the span of a week, I ended up sending him money to move, which he used to buy alcohol. I called the police because he was threatening to kill himself, and he ended up in the psyche ward for a week. I drove over to his trash infested house to pick up his medication. *shudder* His place was just like the show Hoarders, crap and filth ev
This is a great book about how parents can really screw up their children.

The author breaks up abusive parents into 6 categories: inadequate, controlling, alcoholics (or addicts), verbal abusers, physical abusers, and sexual abusers. Between my parents, step-parents, and an adult relative I was often left with, I had the fun of experiencing five of the six types. Fortunately, none of them wanted to poke around in my swimsuit area.

The first chapter brings up a point that really explained a lot fo
This book pulls no punches. Reading it is an important step for anyone that had toxic parents in their lives. The exercises are insightful and the 'advice' is excellent. It doesn't focus on general abuse, but digs deep down into the different kinds of abusive parents (neglectful, alcoholic, sexual, physical, etc), so reading the entire book from cover to cover may not be 100% necessary. You can fine tailor your reading to the situations that most closely apply to you.

This book also helps with th
I had my first counselling session today, and mostly she just wanted me to read books, once she'd got some idea of how I'm feeling and why. This was one of them. I've always recognised that my parents were not the best possible parents they could be. While much of this book didn't apply to me, much of it could help me. While it does seem to set out a bit of an only-one-way attitude to it, which I don't think is true, it can definitely be helpful. It includes case studies as examples, some of whi ...more
It took me far to long to recognize the emotional manipulation and humiliation I grew up with. Once I did, a friend of mine recommended this book to me and I read it 2 years ago. I liked it a lot and it's helped me gain the courage to expect respect from my family. Just spent 10 days with them and I actually had the courage to speak up against the sexist, racist, and otherwise offensive comments and degradation. Unfortunately, I don't think I can do that for long. I need to re-read this and re-t ...more
Bebe Booth
Very insightful and confirming of suspicions you may have had/ still have but refused to believe.
Ever felt any of these feelings below in the back of your mind growing up in a family that gave the impression of perfect happiness? But never understood why or couldn't bare to think that your 'loving' family would try to cause you (mental/emotional/ and or physical) pain intentionally?
Like you were:
Being manipulated
Being spited by a parent ( said things knowing it would hurt your feelings)
Being cri
wow! this book really did help me to recognize how certain things affect/affected me throughout my childhood, and to the present. and i really like the first rule "you do not have to forgive." if you truly have not recovered from a parents toxic ways, you do not have to forgive them, cuz forgiving the toxic parent w/o addressing how they harmed/ affect(ed) you is like just sweeping the issue under the rug.. so not healthy. i highly recommend this book to anyone who had or has to deal with toxic ...more
S_Liz Kim
This book was given to me about 8 years ago, maybe more. Reading the cover, I thought - what a ridiculous sounding book; I had always scorned the concept anyway... the idea that I would "excuse" my life/ self-image/ relationship issues due to my "difficult" upbringing and by placing the "blame" on my ongoing relationship with my parents. And then I read the book.

The author's layout of the book, her easy-to-read style, and her not too harsh tone earned my trust. It's a sensitive subject and she h
Wow. Unbelievable.

This book explains you.
It opens your eyes.
It teaches you.
It helps you.

I almost cried after reading some painful experiences in the book.
It's so sad to see how a bad parent can damage his/her daughter/son.

I totally recommend this book to anyone. Even if you didn't have a toxic parent.

Susan, you're my hero.
I wasn't going to make my completion of this book public. I thought it would be an insult to my parents if I did. Then I realized that it would be an injustice to others who may need to read this book, but dont know it exists, if I didn't. Not to mention doing things to please or placate my parents is one of the many reasons why I needed to read it in the first place soooo....fuck it! lol

The book is exactly what the title implies. A book to help those end the vicious cycle of self-loathing, low
This a very difficult book to read. I was prompted by two different people in my life to read this book and listen to what it had to say and I found that after reading it I was much more aware of problems I had that I was not aware of. The way this was written was very positive and helpful, nothing making me feel like it was my fault I grew up the way I did, but also not telling me that I was completely without blame, because be honest. If I do not stand up for myself and try to change my life, ...more
Michael Cable
Never has a self-help book been more self-helpful and poignant. Once I picked this up, at the suggestion of my therapist, I was swept away. I saw myself and my life in ever page and the book helped me to recognize why many of the things that have gone wrong in my life have happened. Through the stories of the case studies, one begins to feel a developing sense of compassion and understanding for these injured people that eventually helped me to feel the same for myself. Ms. Forward's logic is so ...more
Shirley Cooper
I read this book around 15 years ago. Since then I've re-read it many times and bought copies for others. I have a yahoo group with the same title and I set questions on the book every week or so. I grew up in numerous toxic families. In the 90's I decided to pull off the onion skins and get to the heart because I kept having itises and I learnt that a sore throat is unshed tears. So although it was very painful to look deply ito my childhood I persevered, started changing my life, wrote my book ...more
Halo Peshdary
The topics discussed in this book were what constituted pretty much everything I found myself reading in late December to early February (what ended up becoming a bible of sorts out these readings was Alice Miller’s “The Drama of the Gifted Child,” which I strongly recommend), and as such, the book had significantly less efficacy than if I were a newcomer to the subject. I say this because my review may downplay just how important I believe this book is for anyone who has had a rougher upbringin ...more
Kes Swanson
This was a quick read but really didn't offer any useful, or real world, advice on how to overcome toxic parenting and reclaim your life. The book mostly focused on realizing and confronting the toxic parents. I would have given this book 2.5 stars if I could.
Borrowed this from the library. Whether or not you think you had toxic parents growing up, I would suggest reading this book. This book makes it easy to pinpoint your parent(s)' toxicity.

There are several patients followed in this book, all with different kinds of bad parents. Whether it's one of both parents, you get real advice (not substitute for going to therapy yourself), and all the stories resolve, in some form or another, by the end of the book. The book also gives you guidelines and sug
Dora María
Muy bueno, excelente, te abre los ojos hacia los errores de tus padres, todas las personas deberían de leerlo, porque hasta las que menos piensan tienen padres tóxicos en diferentes grados, pero no dejan de serlo.
( Y si no los tienes, tal vez tu esposa, tu esposo, tu mejor amigo, tu novia, etc, si los tiene)

Servirá para poner limites sanos con la relación con tus padres y extraer el veneno que enferma la relación con ellos.

Very good, Excellent, open your eyes to your parents mistakes, everyone
Rhonda Rae Baker
I read this book some time ago but have thought of picking it up again and reviewing. There are so many details and insights to consider...I learned a ton of things that helped me with my history as well as support of what had happened with my own children. It's hard to deal with things sometimes that are from the past but when they start to invade your dreams and waking moments then it's time to look at them again. Maybe do some journeling, artwork, or talking to someone that understands what y ...more
As I read this for a second time (my first go around being three years ago), I was reminded why I liked it so much to begin with. I sat down with the intent to not only read the entire book again, but to commit myself to doing all the exercises in the book. There is letter-writing, role-playing and rehearsing for a confrontation. I feel ready for the challenge of completing all these assignments. I will update when I finish them.
This book has been incredibly helpful to me. Surprise,'s my SECOND copy because my TOXIC PARENTS found the first copy, got pissed and threw it out! (With about $200 other self-help books that I owned to help me deal with their lunacy!!...ironic, sad and a little funny if you think about it!)

Very helpful when used in conjunction with other books dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder! (Randi Kreger is the best!)
Jaymi Boswell
Mar 23, 2008 Jaymi Boswell rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone working with children, therapists, or people dealing with abuse.
Recommended to Jaymi by: Joy Pickard, LMHP
This book was so painful for me I had to stop reading it. I picked it back up a few more times with breaks in between. You have to be ready to handle a book that makes you look at these very difficult issues. I do believe it's essential to read if you are going to work with children and or come from a background of abuse of ANY KIND.
Charlotte Aves
this book really helped me a lot!!!as in a lot!!! when I found this book and read it, my whole perspective changed..
I knew there was something wrong, i knew I was right and that my parents were cruel
Thank you Susan Forward for publishing this book
and somehow healed this broken soul of mine
thank you
I think everyone should read this, regardless of what kind of relationship they had with their parents.
A really great book that helped me break the cycle of abuse. Opened my eyes. Thank you Susan.
DISCLAIMER: If you did not enjoy this book, it is because of:
1) You did not have toxic parents, nor any experience of toxic parents by association
2) You are not open to what the book contains. For example, while I am open to information and aim to improve, I know my brother would either scoff at the book, or agree with the contents but say the book would help others (and not realize the impact our parents had on him). This is the reaction of someone who is not open to change, nor realize they
In my opinion, the single best book written on the subject of childhood abuse. I read this book originally fifteen+ years ago and it is still as powerful and as relevant today. The modern methodology for dealing with those who have been abused is much different than it was in days gone past, and Susan Forward makes a clear, concise and compelling point throughout about the strong feelings of guilt, of blame, and associated behaviours. How to deal with it, and how to reclaim your life.

This is a
Tom Douglas
It takes some stones to review a self-help book on a public site, however this review is more of a sentimental nod. It came into my life at the right time.

I purchased this book for one cent from a used retailer. At the time, I was going through a spiritual transition. I was trying to come to grips with a lot of aggression and hate that was brewing within me, and dealing with personal loss and transition. And I figured I'd take the traditional American route of blaming mommy and daddy. Throw it a
Hernekadar Psikolojik vakalardan oluşan bir kitap isede,Şahsen herkesin okumasını tavsiye ederim.Basit bir dille yazılmış ve akademik terimlerde uzak hertürlü insanın rahatlıkça anlayabileceği bir eser olmuş.Bazı noktalarda insana rahatsızlık verici okuma bölümleri var;Ensest gibi...Toksik Anne/Babalar, kendi korku ve öfkelerini çocuklarına geçirerek onları esir alabilenlerdir. Örneğin yetersiz ebeveynler ya da aşırı kontrolcü olanlar kendi problemlerini değişik manipülasyonlarla çocuğa yansıtar ...more
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One of the nation’s leading therapists, as well as a best selling author, dynamic lecturer and frequent talk-show guest. In addition to her private practice, she has served as a therapist, instructor and consultant for many Southern California psychiatric and medical facilities. She is the author of the #1 New York Times best sellers Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them and Toxic Parents ...more
More about Susan Forward...
Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them: When Loving Hurts and You Don't Know Why Mothers Who Can't Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters Toxic In-Laws: Loving Strategies for Protecting Your Marriage When Your Lover Is a Liar: Healing the Wounds of Deception and Betrayal

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“Children who are not encouraged to do, to try, to explore, to master, and to risk failure, often feel helpless and inadequate. Over-controlled by anxious, fearful parents, these children often become anxious and fearful themselves. This makes it difficult for them to mature. Many never outgrow the need for ongoing parental guidance and control. As a result, their parents continue to invade, manipulate, and frequently dominate their lives.” 41 likes
“Most adult children of toxic parents grow up feeling tremendous confusion about what love means and how it’s supposed to feel. Their parents did extremely unloving things to them in the name of love. They came to understand love as something chaotic, dramatic, confusing, and often painful—something they had to give up their own dreams and desires for. Obviously, that’s not what love is all about. Loving behaviour doesn’t grind you down, keep you off balance, or create feelings of self-hatred. Love doesn’t hurt, it feels good. Loving behaviour nourishes your emotional well-being. When someone is being loving to you, you feel accepted, cared for, valued, and respected. Genuine love creates feelings of warmth, pleasure, safety, stability, and inner peace.” 18 likes
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