In this book, the author takes us into the minds of emotionally unavailable, over-controlling, dominating, neglectful, alcoholic, manipulative, verbally and physically abusive parents, whose actions stop children from living a happy, free and functional life. You may think that this doesn’t apply to you because you had a great childhood and great parents, but I would still urge you to read it because toxicity is not limited to parent-child relationships and even if ALL of your relationships are healthy, it is a good idea to read this because there might be many many people around you who have toxic parents. And if you live in a country like India, it is highly likely that your parents or your relatives use guilt, fear and many other things to manipulate you. But I must say that this book contains a lot of disturbing content. Parts of this book explores incest, rape and child sexual abuse. Once again, I would like to say that even if you haven’t experience these things, you must read this book because these things happen to people around us. Children are not safe and the least we can do is acquire some knowledge about the crimes committed against them. If you are a parent or planning to become one, this book can help you to recognize those who could possibly harm your child or somebody’s else child. No matter how loving you are to your child, he/she will be always vulnerable because you will be taking him/her into the world, where all kinds of people live. Don’t forget: The person who sexually abuses a child was a child once..so it’s important to understand the psychology of abusive parents and the children who become their victims.
Part one of the book explores the various types of toxic parents and the lives of the children who suffer because of them. Part two of the book has solutions and they are so detailed and powerful that they can seriously change people’s lives. Susan explores some of the most traumatic incidents that can ever happen to a child with a lot of compassion and sensitivity. But she doesn’t leave you midway…she gives you hope…and this hope is not ‘everything will be fine’ kind of hope. She has practical tips which require a lot of hard work and courage, but it is worth doing because it is important to stop the cycle. Very often, children who suffer because of toxic parents become toxic parents themselves.
Susan also explores abuse which is not direct, which is very subtle, but is destructive nevertheless. Teasing your child or joking with him/her is not a big thing but children are naive and they can take anything seriously.
What’s phenomenal about the book is that Susan’s focus is not to change toxic parents because 9 times out of 10, they don’t change. We usually suffer because we want people like these to change. However, Susan says that it is much more practical for YOU to change and most of the time, a change in YOUR behavior is enough for you to reclaim your life. What’s fascinating about the book is that it urges the victims to acknowledge their anger. When a child is raped by his own father, you cannot expect him/her to just ‘forgive’…atleast not so easily. It’s cruel. It’s important to first feel the pain and the anger. This is natural because the only adults you can trust in the world betray you and that changes the way you deal with people in the world.
This book is a must-read for every child, adult, parent and every member of the society.