Jul 162010
Coping With Controlling Parents Ways to Take Your Life Back

If your parents try to control you, you feel like you’re being swallowed by a shark!

Do you want to stop being manipulated by your mom and dad? Here are five tips on coping with parents who want to control you.

Here’s a surprising twist on living with controlling parents:

“Giving up hope is one of the healthiest, most life-affirming things you could do for yourself,” writes Dr Laura Schlessinger in Bad Childhood – Good Life: How to Blossom and Thrive in Spite of an Unhappy Childhood. “If, of course, you accept, and don’t pout.”

At first, “giving up hope” sounds negative and depressing — but after you read my explanation below, you may feel differently. Read Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You to learn how to give up up in healthy, positive ways.

Here are my five tips for coping with controlling parents…

Controlling Parents – How Do You Cope?

Let go of your need to please your parents

We grow up seeking approval, affirmation, and even love from our parents. Part of why it’s so difficult to confront our parents is we don’t want to disappoint or anger them. Even as grown children, we want them to keep loving us – even when we feel like we hate them! A tip for coping with controlling parents – or any toxic person in your life – is to recognize your need to please them, and let go of it. Or, at least learn how to live with it.

Cut your financial ties to parents who want to control

On How to Cope With Difficult Parents, a reader asked for help with her father. He’s making her life miserable – not to mention the effect he has on her husband and child! She mentioned that her father helped her get a mortgage loan, and he holds that over them. So…instead of staying financially beholden, she might find ways to free herself and take her life back. This might involve getting a bank loan and paying her dad back – even if the money was originally a gift. It’s not a “gift” if it’s taking an emotional toll. Or, if everyone agrees that money isn’t owed (the mortgage help or special baby food was a gift, for instance), then she might get him to sign something that states she doesn’t owe him money and he has no right to lord it over her. This black-and-white evidence might help them take money out of the father-daughter relationship.

Learn to recognize emotional blackmail (one of the best ways to take your life back)

If you have controlling parents, you may recognize that they disguise their criticism, try to make you feel guilty for past behavior, or constantly make you feel bad about your life. They don’t seem to want to let you live your life! Before confronting difficult parents, it’s important to recognize and learn to deal with emotional blackmail. Read books like the ones I featured, take a weekend workshop in assertiveness training, or talk to a counselor. Keep reminding yourself that you’re a grown adult – you’re not a child anymore, and you don’t have to succumb to emotional manipulations! A big part of this is learning to say “no” without feeling guilty.

Separate emotion from an action plan

Emotion says, “But I don’t want to confront my parents or move to a different city – I’m scared/tired/frustrated/miserable!” An action plan says, “I want a better life, better relationships. I don’t deserve to be treated like this. To stop this from happening, I need to (insert action plan here).” To confront your controlling parents, you’ll probably have to do something you don’t want to do: quit a job you love, move to a different city, set and stick to your boundaries, talk to a family counselor, get emotionally stronger, and stand up to other family members. It’s not an easy way to take your life back, but it’s effective.

If you’ve thought of getting counseling to help you cope with parents who control you, read How Psychotherapy Can Change Your Life – Beyond Talk Therapy.

Stop wishing your parents less controlling, or different

coping with controlling parents“Giving up hope is one of the healthiest, most life-affirming things you could do for yourself,” writes Dr Laura Schlessinger in Bad Childhood – Good Life: How to Blossom and Thrive in Spite of an Unhappy Childhood. “If, of course, you…accept, and don’t pout.”

Those controlling parents are yours, and if you’re still wishing they were different, you need to stop! You don’t need to give up hope for a better relationship with your parents – but you need to stop hoping they’ll change.  They’ll continue to be overbearing and difficult to take….but luckily, you’re a grown adult and you are free to distance yourself emotionally, physically, socially, and financially. You can choose to live your own life!

Another book to help you cope with controlling parents is Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life.

If you’re a caregiver, read Caring for Elderly Parents? A Bucket of Tips and Inspiration.

If you have any thoughts on coping with parents who try to control you, please comment below. I can’t offer advice on coping with controlling parents, but I can listen!

Article Name
How to Cope With Controlling Parents
Do you want to stop being manipulated by your mom and dad? Here are five tips on coping with parents who want to control you.

  127 Responses to “How to Cope With Controlling Parents”

  1. Hi Laurie,
    I am an only child and my mother is very manipulative, never satisfied, always sabotage things that make me happy, and she not a very good listener even when I trying to sit her down and talk to her. Because of her accomplishments in life, she doesn’t feel that she should listen to anyone even if they make sense. She just acts confused when I try to be logical. She feels that the way she thinks, should not be altered because she wouldn’t be as successful as she is if she had been any other way. I feel so helpless. She will go as far as harrassing me through text messaging just to manipulate me and make me do things the way she wants it. She constantly bad mouth my fiancé behind his back and through texting. But when she sees him she’s acts sweet. And sometimes she acts like nothing ever happened. I don’t know what to do. No one else in my family gives me useful advice. I’m at the point of suicide because it’s been going on since I started dating my fiancé. He’s such a great guy and is going through all this hell with me. He even convinced his parents to let us stay with them. But when I moved in with them, my mom moves all the way to California to give me a guilt trip. So of course I start to miss her and she buys tickets for me and my fiancé to come and visit her. As soon as we get there, halfway through the trip she starts manipulating and controlling me again. But now it’s much worse because we have no money to get back! She bought us one way tickets, and told us that things were going to be cool and that she has found peace and just wants us all to have fun. I feel very controlled. And I can’t just call her a liar. I don’t know how to make things work. Is something wrong with me?

  2. Hello Laurie

    I have a rocky relationship with my father ever since I was born (2nd oldest child of 5) He always put me down emotionally as a child as I got older over the years.. I honestly dont remember when he was there for me emotionally other then a few times. But my mom just claims that he has my best interest..im 23 years old now and its at a worst rate its ever been. He has said the most messed up things to me that made me feel like im a bad person. Im seriously considering cutting him out of my life when im established because I dont need any negative people in my life who dont believe in me. He has a better relationship with the rest of my brothers and sisters but not me- I have changed so much over the years and he refuses to see it. What do you do with people like that??? I tried to express myself many times to him and he claims I havent changed. He made me feel crazythis week. I have been depressed to the point I dont have the desire to eat and I rather be in my room alone than to be bothered with anyone. Ihave an amazing boyfriend and I truly feel like the only reason hes acting like that is because im actually happy. My mother won’t stand up to him for him idk what to do

  3. Ow so I’m not the only one. Thank God. I am not happy either. I found a teaching job earlier this year and had to move far away from home but my parents were against it. I moved anyway. Ever since I started earning I’ve never spent my salary the way I plan to. My father sends me texts to a point that I have decided to block him from all social networks where he can reach me. I have a younger brother, he’s my dad’s son but he has never treated him like his own and now that he has started earning he wants to know everything about him. He cares so much that he asks him when is he coming home and how much he misses him. We’re being used and made feel like we owe our parents for raising us. Last month I gave him my whole salary and he’s already got plans for my next payment. I wish I could get a comment from someone who has admitted to be a controlling parent.

  4. One of the most important things to remember when you’re coping with controlling parents is that you can’t change them, and you can’t change how other family members relate to your parents. The only person you can change is yourself – your reactions, actions, and thoughts.

    If you feel like your parents are so controlling and manipulative that you can’t cope with them, I encourage you to talk to someone in person. Get advice and support on your specific situation! I can’t offer personal advice, because family dynamics are incredibly complicated. You need to call or see someone in person, to talk through what’s happening in your family and your own head.

    Wishing you blessings and peace,

  5. Hi Laurie,

    My brother and I are dealing with parents who are overly controlling. They have always been controlling but recently in past two years either we respond back or ignore them and that is driving them crazy. My brother and I are both married and have our own families to look after. My brother and my parents stay together and he has been looking after them, however they still have complaints and constant arguments because my parents feel that he does not do enough for them. If he goes out with his wife they want to know all the details. They constantly taunt him and his wife, give some looks or if nothing else pick up fight. Once they have fight with him, then my mother calls me and complains about my brother …hours at a time and constantly keeps calling to tell me how bad he is. I try to explain in a calmer way but she blasts me on the phone and then gets very angry. It is very difficult to explain the reason for their misery or loss of mental peace it their own behaviour. I am really lost. I love them and my brother and don’t want to see it all breaking. Please help!

  6. My family never has praised me, whatever I did was never good enough or was wrong. I earned a Doctorate, but whenever they ask for advice, they interrupt, and say , oh I will ask a real doctor or my friends so and so, she’s an LPN! I went to national in bodybuilding after overcoming a severe orthopaedic disability, did they call me to wish me well, no! Did they say they were proud about all I overcame, no! and I am an only child. When I have received accolades and awards , even in my forties for humanitarian efforts working with children and animals, overseas and in the USA, they said , why don’t you take care of people in your own country and criticize me. I can never do anything right. I realize now, just please yourself, and do not try to live for them, they will never be happy, they never smile and seem truly miserable and have very few friends.

  7. Laurie, I do not know if my first comment on the matter has been deleted by accident, but I have mentioned that I’ve been having the worst time trying to find a job. Last week, I was turned down for a job that I was VERY qualified for, and I am having a hard time figuring out if I’m the one doing anything wrong or if it’s all the employer’s fault making it hard for anyone to get a job because of unrealistic qualifications. I’m trying hard to find one and I’ve even thought about finding jobs that WOULD give me an excuse to move away.

    I’m glad I have not had this desire when I was younger because I seriously would not have known what I was doing. I’ve been taking more time to research these things so I will not be in a bad situation.

    For the moment, I am trying to communicate better with my family, but they are too stubborn and refuse to see that I’m trying my hardest to get back on my feet. I’d rather they would respect my boundaries and not make me cave in to doing thing they want. Trying to get them to compromise is the hardest thing to do, but I’m trying to work on it.

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