with Craig Buck

Are you the child of toxic parents?
-- 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?

-- Do your parents still treat you as if you were a child?
-- Do you have intense emotional or physical reactions
   after spending time with your parents?
-- Do your parents control you with threats or guilt?
   Do they manipulate you with money?
-- Do you feel that no matter what you do, it's never
   good enough for your parents?

In this remarkable self-help guide, Dr. Susan Forward draws on case histories and the real-life voices of adult children of toxic parents to help you free yourself from the frustrating patterns of your relationship with your parents--and discover an exciting new world of self-confidence, inner strength, and emotional independence.

[from the back flap of the softbound edition]

Dr. Susan Forward's Toxic Parents

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About the Author

Susan Forward, Ph.D., is an internationally acclaimed therapist, lecturer, and author. Her books which include Money Demons, Men Who Hate Women & the Women Who Love Them, Toxic Parents, Obsessive Love, and Betrayal of Innocence, have been translated into fifteen languages. She is much in demand as a guest on the major national media, and she hosted her own daily ABC Talkradio show for six years.

Craig Buck, a film and television writer and producer, has written extensively on human behavior for many national magazines and newspapers. He is the co-author of Money Demons, Toxic Parents, Obsessive Love, and Betrayal of Innocence.

[from the final pages of the softbound edition]

Table of Contents


PART ONE: Toxic Parents    13
ONE   Godlike Parents
--The Myth of the Perfect Parent


TWO   "Just Because You Didn't Mean It
   Doesn't Mean It Didn't Hurt"
--The Inadequate Parents

THREE   "Why Can't They Let Me Live My
   Own Life?"
--The Controllers

FOUR   "No One in This Family Is an
--The Alcoholics

FIVE   The Bruises Are All on the Inside
--The Verbal Abusers

SIX   Sometimes the Bruises Are on the
   Outside, Too
--The Physical Abusers

SEVEN   The Ultimate Betrayal
--The Sexual Abusers

EIGHT   Why Do Parents Behave This Way?
--The Family System


PART TWO: Reclaiming Your Life

NINE   You Don't Have to Forgive   185
TEN   "I'm a Grown-Up, Why Don't I Feel
   Like One?"

ELEVEN   The Beginnings of Self-Definition   202
TWELVE   Who's Really Responsible?   214
THIRTEEN   Confrontation: The Road to

FOURTEEN   Healing the Incest Wound   273
FIFTEEN   Breaking the Cycle   306
EPILOGUE   Letting Go of the Struggle   318
      Suggested Reading   324

[from the softbound edition]

Buy Toxic Parents


"A dynamic, powerful, hard-hitting book. It offers tremendous hope, as well as understanding. It could truly be a lifesaver."

--Abigail Van Buren,
"Dear Abby"

"I consider Susan Forward to be among the foremost therapists of our age. In Toxic Parents she offers us a penetrating model of how to heal the frozen grief of our dysfunctional past... Please read this book!"

--John Bradsahw
author of
Bradshaw On: The Family,
Healing the Shame that Binds You,
and Homecoming

[from the back cover of the softbound edition]

Read more reviews of this book on the
Amazon.com website:
Toxic Parents

Toxic Parents on Amazon.com

Buy Susan Forward's Book


"All parents are deficient from time to time. I made some terrible mistakes with my children, which caused them (and me) considerable pain. No parent can be emotionally available all the time. It's perfectly normal for parents to yell at their children once in a while. All parents occasionally become too controlling. And most parents spank their children, even if rarely. Do these lapses make them cruel or unsuitable parents?

Of course not. Parents are only human, and have plenty of problems of their own. And most children can deal with an occasional outburst of anger as long as they have plenty of love and understanding to counter it.

But there are many parents whose negative patterns of behavior are consistent and dominant in a child's life. These are the parents who do the harm.

As I searched for a phrase to describe the common ground that these harmful parents share, the word that kept running through my mind was toxic. Like a chemical toxin, the emotional damage inflicted by these parents spreads through a child's being, and as the child grows, so does the pain. What better word than toxic to describe parents who inflict ongoing trauma, abuse, and denigration on their children, and in most cases continue to do so even after their children are grown?

There are exceptions to the 'ongoing' or 'repetitive' aspects of this definition. Sexual or physical abuse can be so traumatic that often a single occurrence is enough to cause tremendous emotional damage.

Unfortunately, parenting, one of the most crucial skills, is still very much a seat-of-the-pants endeavor. Our parents learned it primarily from people who may not have done such a good job: their parents. Many of the time-honored techiniques that have been passed down from generation to generation are, quite simply, bad advice masquerading as wisdom (remember 'spare the rod and spoil the child'?)."

Toxic Parents
pages 5-6

"It's not always easy to figure out whether your parents are, or were, toxic. A lot of people have difficult relationships with their parents. That alone doesn't mean your parents are emotionally destructive. Many people find themselves struggling on the cusp, questioning whether they were mistreated or whether they're being 'oversensitive.'

I've designed the folowing questionnaire to help you take the first steps toward resolving that struggle...

I. Your Relationship with Your Parents When You Were a Child:

1. Did your parents tell you you were bad or worthless? Did they call you insulting names? Did they constantly criticize you?

2. Did your parents use physical pain to discipline you? Did they beat you with belts, brushes, or other objects?

3. Did your parents get drunk or use drugs? Did you feel confused, uncomfortable, fightened, hurt, or ashamed by this?

4. Were your parents severely depressed or unavilable because of emotional difficulties or mental or physical illness?

5. Did you have to take care of your parents because of their problems?

6. Did your parents do anything to you that had to be kept secret? Were you sexually molested in any way?

7. Were you frightened of your parents a great deal of the time?

8. Were you afraid to express anger at your parents?

II. Your Adult Life:

1. Do you find yourself in destructive or abusive relationships?

2. Do you believe that if you get too close to someone, they will hurt and/or abandon you?

3. Do you expect the worst from people? From life in general?

4. Do you have a hard time knowing who you are, what you feel, and what you want?

5. Are you afraid that if people knew the real you, they wouldn't like you?

6. Do you feel anxious when you're successful and frightened that someone will find out you're a fraud?

7. Do you get angry or sad for no apparent reason?

8. Are you a perfectionist?

9. Is it difficult for you to relax or have a good time?

10. Despite your best intentions, do you find yourself behaving 'just like your parents'?

III Your Relationship with Your Parents as an Adult:

1. Do your parents still treat you as if you were a child?

2. Are many of your major life decisions based upon whether your parents would approve?

3. Do you have intense emotional or physical reactions after you spend or anticipate spending time with your parents?

4. Are you afraid to disagree with your parents?

5. Do your parents manipulate you with threats or guilt?

6. Do your parents manipulate you with money?

7. Do you feel responsible for how your parents feel? If they're unhappy, do you feel it's your fault? Is it your job to make it better for them?

8. Do you believe that no matter what you do, it's never good enough for your parents?

9. Do you believe that someday, somehow, your parents are going to change for the better?

If you answered yes to even one-third of these questions, there is a great deal in this book that can help you."

Toxic Parents
pages 7-9

"It is tremendously difficult to regain feelings of trust and safety once they have been trrampled by parents. All of us develop our expectations about how people will treat us based on our relationships with our parents. If those relationships are, for the most part, emotionally nourishing, respectful of our rights and feelings, we'll grow up expecting others to treat us in much the same way. These positive expectations allow us to be relatively vulnerable and open in our adult relationships. But if...childhood is a time of unrelenting anxiety, tension, and pain, then we develop negative expectations and rigid defenses."

Toxic Parents
page 123

[from the softbound edition]

Read more about this book on the
Amazon.com website:
Toxic Parents

Toxic Parents on Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Toxic Parents

Susan Forward's book
Toxic Parents

may be purchased through Amazon.com.

Buy Susan Forward's Book

Other Books
by Dr. 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 Your Lover Is a Liar:
Healing the Wounds of Deception and Betrayal

Betrayal of Innocence: Incest and Its Devastation

Learn more about these books also
written by Dr. Susan Forward.

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