I’ve Just Realized I’m a Toxic Parent

This week's question from my portal “The Neagle Code: Directions for Life” comes from someone who wishes to remain anonymous.

Neagle Code Question

Hi David,

I’ve realized I’m a toxic person. I carry a lot of my mother’s traits. In the past, I’ve yelled at my kids and made them feel like crap.

Now that I’m more aware, I’m consciously trying to change how I act and speak to people. However, now I’m feeling some guilt and shame about it. I’ve told my kids I’m sorry and that I would change. But sometimes I fall back into it. How do I deal with that?

Neagle Code Answer

The way to deal with guilt and shame is to apologize. Tell them you’re sorry (which you said you’ve already done).

However, the issue of correcting your behavior is something entirely different.

You have to set new standards for yourself
to correct your behavior.

For many people, when they try to change a behavior, they get exhausted. They’ll think about doing the new behavior for a while—and maybe they’ll even see some progress. Maybe the people in their life will start seeing the change too.

That’s all good. But you need to make sure you continue to work on changing those things. You have to be really careful and stay aware of your behavior.

You’re breaking a pattern that’s been there for a long time.

Let your family know that you won’t be perfect at it, but you’ll do your very best.  Because if you go back on your word to them, they won’t trust you when you say you’re sorry.

You can tell them, “Hey, I came to this realization. I know this is who I was in the past—but this is who I want to become now.” Then build up the trust in the relationship with them over time.

Whatever areas you’re going to work on—stick to those. Keep working on them. Hold firm to the new standards you’ve set for yourself.

Then if you need support, find somebody to support you.

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