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Every parent knows their child will go through a rebellious phase while growing up, but it’s truly tragic when that phase becomes your child’s modus operandi. As a mother, it hurts even more when your daughter turns from a rebel to a toxic person.
I had to wade through the murky waters of an adult daughter who had become so toxic that I had to plan an intervention. Perhaps you’ve been there too?
Has your toxic daughter caused you such pain and harm that you considered cutting her off and isolating yourself from her? No mother wants to contemplate such drastic measures, but unless you confront your daughter about her toxic behavior, you will have no choice.
Here’s all you need to know about whether your daughter is toxic or not, what to look for, and how to deal with her behavior.
What Is a Toxic Person?
A toxic person is someone who doesn’t deal with their dramas and challenges in helpful or meaningful ways. Instead, their behavior is damaging and harmful to those around them. The way the toxic person deals with their daily problems is upsetting to those who care about them.
Toxic people make mountains out of molehills, thrive on the emotional response they get from others, and manipulate those around them while leaving those people feeling like they are stuck in limbo. For a toxic person, the world revolves around them.
A toxic personality has many of the same traits as a narcissistic personality. Toxicity becomes a personality trait because the behavior becomes formational to their sense of self. A toxic person may get very offended when challenged about their behavior as they see nothing wrong with their negative and harmful behavior.
Why People Become Toxic
There are a few possible reasons why someone becomes or is toxic. Suddenly, acting in toxic ways is usually caused by a trauma that was unsuccessfully resolved.
A daughter may behave in a toxic manner if she struggles to deal with sexual pressure, and she may feel resentment toward those who she believes were supposed to support her. Her toxicity can expand into other areas of her life and even be directed toward other people too.
If someone comes from a family where toxic behavior was frequently tolerated or displayed, it can cause the children to grow up into toxic adults. Personality types like narcissists, psychopaths, and Machiavellian-type behavior may result in toxic behavior flourishing.
When your daughter has bad friends who are a negative influence, it can also cause her to become negative and toxic to be around. In this case, she becomes toxic because of the type of behavior that was nurtured into her by her peer group. She can also start to influence her other siblings in a negative way.
Mental health conditions like being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other personality disorders can trigger a mental break and toxic behavior.
Finally, learned behavior can lead to someone becoming toxic. If they throw tantrums and this results in attention, it will lead to positive reinforcement of negative behavior. The outcome is someone who’s been conditioned to be negative and toxic by the unintentional rewards of others.
17 Signs Your Daughter Has Become a Toxic Person
If you are unsure whether your daughter has become toxic or if she is simply depressed, you can look for these signs to better guide you.
Keep in mind that being toxic isn’t a once-off, and these signs need to be present repeatedly to really decide whether your daughter has become toxic or is developing toxic personality traits.
Sign #1. She Judges Everyone
While we all tend to form an opinion about the world around us, we don’t have the right to judge people around us. If your daughter suddenly starts displaying judgmental behavior, it could indicate she’s become toxic.
Judgmental behavior could include comparing herself to others and always breaking them down so she can feel better.
Other examples of this sign: She may start lying and stirring up drama to deflect attention or scrutiny away from her, classically manipulating people like a true narcissist.
Sign #2. Her Actions Show Her Neediness
Your toxic daughter can start becoming very needy. She will feign affection and try to get you to focus on her exclusively. Her goals are to dominate your thoughts and consume your feelings—a true energy vampire.
Other examples of this sign: Toxic daughters who are needy may trade on your empathy. Expect her to create drama so she can play the victim and get all of your sympathy. If you pay close attention, you will see that she never accepts responsibility for her actions or makes any positive move toward change.
Sign #3. Her Actions Are Mean Spirited
Toxic daughters can be truly vindictive and mean. If she has siblings, she will act out and try to shine, while bringing her siblings down.
When someone else has success, she will find some way to criticize that person, making light of their accomplishment and tearing the other person down.
You can expect scathing remarks if you’ve made an obvious effort to dress nicely, and she’ll be excessively sarcastic, believing everyone finds her funny—when she’s just rude.
Other examples of this sign: Her meanness will be so draining you will be exhausted when you’ve spent time near her. A toxic daughter who’s mean disrupts harmony wherever they can.
Sign #4. She Is Dishonest and False
A clear sign of a daughter having become toxic is a sudden increase in dishonesty and false behavior. Toxic daughters can become a familial version of a con artist.
Because of negativity and her own feelings of inadequacy, a toxic daughter feels like the world owes her, so she will take what she can from the world.
Other examples of this sign: You will feel like you need to help your toxic daughter, even though helping doesn’t bring any gratitude. It’s like you’re paying for a sin you didn’t commit, and you may even end up making excuses for her behavior with other people. She’s the one lying and engaging in false behavior, but you’re the one who tries to explain and cover up for her.
Sign #5. You Feel like You’re on Eggshells
When someone is toxic, you start to feel unsafe around them, which creates the proverbial walking-on-eggshells feeling. If your gut tells you to take precautions or care around your daughter, you need to ask yourself why. Could it be that she has become toxic?
Other examples of this sign: You feel upset when she comes over to visit, and if your daughter is still living at home, you may avoid spending too much time around her, usually finding other things that just “need” doing.
Sign #6. Drama Seems to Follow Her
Toxic people cause drama wherever they go. It’s usually because they have feelings of entitlement, which causes them to act rudely toward others.
This causes drama, and the result is usually elaborate issues and confrontations that smack of a daytime soap opera.
Other examples of this sign: Ever noticed that her life always seems filled with people who are just “out to get her” and that she’s such an innocent victim? She loves to play the victim because then she doesn’t need to take ownership of her drama.
Sign #7. “It’s Not My Fault”
These four words are your daughter’s favorite sayings, and she’ll tell you in extreme detail how everyone is against her and that she’s totally innocent of whatever people say about her.
She seems to believe wholeheartedly that she isn’t to blame for all the chaos that seems to follow after her.
Other examples of this sign: If you dare suggest that she needs to also look at her contribution to a situation, she will explode and accuse you of being disloyal to her and throwing her under the bus. Soon, you’ll feel so guilty, you’ll be the one who ends up apologizing.
Sign #8. She Doesn’t Respect Boundaries
Creating boundaries is a natural way for you to protect your personal spaces, but where other people may acknowledge those boundaries; your daughter is on a toxic trip and will simply skip over them to get what she wants.
Other examples of this sign: Ask yourself if you would accept this behavior and invasion of your boundaries from others. No? Then she has become toxic.
Sign #9. Your Worry Focuses on Fixing Her
When you find yourself constantly cleaning up her messes and trying to fix her issues, you need to ask yourself if this is normal or if your daughter suddenly became like this.
When did you become her personal fixer? How does she respond to your attempts to help her? If she explodes and blames you for each drama, you’re dealing with a narcissist and a toxic person.
Other examples of this sign: Because you fear for her, you spend more and more time thinking about her and what you can do to help her. She dominates your thoughts, which poisons you and cuts you off from your other important relationships in your life.
Sign #10. She Deflects and Projects
None of us like being pointed to our flaws. It’s human to want to become defensive. But most of us will at least consider what has been identified in our character or behavior. A toxic daughter will simply deflect any such evidence, claiming it’s somehow your entire fault.
Deflection, or redirection of any issues, you make her aware of will be twisted into making someone else the bad guy.
Other examples of this sign: When you try discussing her behavior, she’ll drown you with other past issues so you get distracted. Talking with a toxic person is like trying to catch an eel barehanded.
Sign #11. Her Final Resort Is Stonewalling You
When you do manage to back her into a corner about her behavior, she’ll resort to silence, locking you out, and refusing to continue the discussion or acknowledge your argument.
Other examples of this sign: She gives you the silent treatment, claiming that you are toxic or manipulative, and sulks like a child.
Sign #12. But Don’t Believe Her Love
Sadly, a mother just wants her daughter to love her as much as she loves her daughter. However, when a toxic daughter professes her love for you, it may be the prelude to a toxic invasion.
Sudden love-bombing or exuberance and claims of affection could be nothing more than manipulation with her.
Other examples of this sign: She may claim you are the one who doesn’t love her when you question her sudden love. Some toxic daughters will even go as far as accusing their mothers of being negative and judgmental—ouch!
Sign #13. You Feel Confused
Some mothers of toxic daughters have confessed they wondered if their child had been swapped in hospital or something, because they can’t believe their daughters share their genetics.
The interactions with toxic daughters are so confusing it’s hard to know what to feel, and it may seem the only way forward is to cut your daughter from your life.
Other examples of this sign: Interactions with your toxic daughter are so muddled you may not always even have the ability to recall all that was said, and you can start to suffer real signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Loud noises, sudden emotional vibes, and even her presence may be enough to cause physical signs such as heart palpitations and tremors.
Sign #14. No Matter What You Do, It’s never enough
With a toxic daughter, you will try so very hard to please her because you’ll never feel like you are enough, and she always has criticism ready to sink your hopes.
A toxic daughter is hypercritical of you and those around her. She has painful words that she uses to tell you exactly how you’re not good enough and how your efforts don’t meet her standards.
Other examples of this sign: Whatever you do, she’ll tell you that you’re silly, it’s too late, don’t you know her, and accuse you of trying to buy her love. Despite your good intentions, she’ll have you self-doubting in no time, and you’ll back off, leaving her to further build her victim complex.
Sign #15. She Reacts Loudly, Cutting Off All Discussion
Have you tried talking to your toxic daughter in public?
By now you’ve likely been trained not to even speak to her in public, as her go-to default setting is to raise her voice and yell at you. Yes, her aim is to embarrass you in public, so you will forget what it is you wanted to speak to her about or discuss with her.
A raised voice is her defense strategy to cut off discussions that she finds uncomfortable. If you want to ask her not to smoke, since she’s pregnant, she’ll loudly tell (yell at) you how it’s her life and she’ll do as she pleases. She may even accuse you of driving her to smoking with all the stress and drama you cause.
Other examples of this sign: With a toxic daughter, it’s like a teenage tantrum on steroids, except she may already be an adult. You’ll be left wondering how you are even related to her, as well as feeling guilty for raising her to be like this (aka “where did I go wrong?”).
Sign #16. She Becomes Passive Aggressive
When your toxic daughter gets pushed into a corner about her behavior, she becomes passive aggressive. She will slam doors, throw keys, or dump things on the ground. All that’s missing is foot stomping—though she may walk with heavy steps and kick doors.
If she’s run out of words, accusations, and projections, she will proceed to physically block you out. Hugging her is like hugging a wall.
Other examples of this sign: You may notice she’s always the one to end conversations, slam the phone down, or walk away. For her, there’s no option of listening to you, so she’ll physically remove herself from a conversation that makes her uncomfortable.
Sign #17. She Gets Your Hopes Up and then Dashes Them
Toxic daughters have adeptness at raising your hopes. She may get you to believe she’s changed or that you’ve gotten through to her with a conversation, but once things feel calm and content with her, she will ruthlessly dash your hopes and throw your kindness to the ground.
Typical of manipulators and gaslighters, a toxic daughter knows how to pull your strings, and she does it for entertainment. She sees nothing wrong with her behavior, and she believes she’s the one trying to help everyone. However, make no mistake, a toxic daughter does what she does for her own entertainment and power games.
Other examples of this sign: Your toxic daughter is likely to walk over everyone around her, though she will get herself involved in the lives and problems of people who are “weaker” than her.
She doesn’t really care, and her intentions aren’t noble or helpful. Instead, your toxic daughter has the intent of amusing herself with people’s pain and adding to it.
Still More Signs of a Toxic Daughter
There are other signs that can also reveal your daughter has become a toxic person. Often, it’s the little feelings you have when you’re around her that most tell you to beware and not take her at face value.
She may show jealousy of her siblings or she may make friends with people only to destroy their ambitions or relationships.
Confronting a Toxic Daughter
Seeing your daughter for what she has become is a painful experience for a mother, and it’s natural to feel denial.
You’re in a confused mental state, and it’s like your daughter is the enemy. Worst still, you love her, and you desperately want to reestablish a loving relationship with her, but how?
To confront a toxic daughter, try these steps:
STEP 1. Create a Record
Your daughter will make you question everything you think you know about her and about your relationship with her.
Keep a record of your relationship with your toxic daughter so you can keep track of feelings and events. This will help stop her twisting events.
STEP 2. Accept Your Blame
You probably think it’s all your fault. Own what you are to blame for—loving your daughter. But you're not the one who turned her into a toxic corpse bride. Sure, you’re not without blame, but you need to be realistic in what blame you self-assign and what’s her manipulation.
STEP 3. Set the Example
Sadly, many of us tend to tell people about the change we want to see, when we should show them. Model the behavior you want your daughter to embrace. If she is negative and judgmental, try being positive and accepting. Help your daughter to break down and grow.
STEP 4. Make Peace With Her
When your daughter disappoints you so severely by being toxic and bitter, it’s very easy to resent her and hold her flaws against her.
However, this kind of negativity can make you into what you hate—a toxic person. Let go, and accept that she has problems and that it’s not up to you to fix her.
STEP 5. Communicate Openly and From the Heart
Speak to your daughter if you can, but if the regular bridges of communication have been burned, all you can do is write a letter to try and change her mind.
A heartfelt letter can make a huge difference and it’s on paper, so there’s less risk of you saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.
Check out our article on how to write a letter to a rude and disrespectful daughter for ideas on how to write a letter to your toxic daughter. As a quick guide:
Final Thoughts on Confronting a Toxic Daughter
Confronting a toxic daughter can be heartbreaking. It’s never easy to discuss such negative behavior and drama-causing habits with someone you love.
Keep in mind you love her and want the best for her. You are not trying to change her, just help her be the best and happiest version of herself.
Perhaps you’ve discovered your own parental family has some skeletons in the emotional attachment closet, and you need to speak to someone else you feel is becoming toxic? Consider reading our guide on the differences between healthy and toxic relationships.
And if you're looking for more resources on toxicity, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 9 Toxic Person Tests to See if You're Hurting Others
- 14 Toxic Positivity Examples (And How to Stop Doing Them)
- 14 Steps to Deal (and Thrive) with a Toxic Mother