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. I agree and feel for all of you. I am in the same situation myself. I have been married to my husband for 4 years, and we moved out a year ago, and due to some really bad things that happend to us, with loss of a child and other emotional strains I do not want to discuss, we both got laid off and were struggling, and my parents offered to help us by living with them for a bit until we step on our feet, and we are grateful for that, but the problem is is that my parents have been extremely critical and pushy since we got here, they dont give us any respect, and expect us to honor them. As us much as they helped us, we feel trapped and awful because of the way they treat us..like pets!! lol yes they feed us and help us out, but they cannot control every aspect of our lives as a married couple, we cant argue or disagree on anything like a couple and they are too involved in our private life, as well as any decision we make within our marriage, and I am constantly stuck in the middle of my parents and my husband, because he is fed up with the way he is treated by my father and I am stuck constantly making peace on both sides because they are my parents. I think that the best alternative is to move out as soon as possible and live our life the way we want because this situation is jeopardizing my relationship with my husband as a result. I feel your pain everyone.

  2. wow im 29 years old amd after readomg i feel better now because i felt like im the only one. i finally live on my own with my son who’s 6 years old. and my mom does what u mother does is decides for u or decides for my son well being like that her own baby. i guess over the years shes been doing this i just kidda giving up my dream to live my life and breath.
    my mom is still ruining my relationship with my boyfriend because i have no idea why. tonight i felt he gave up me because i am scared to loose my relationship that never have with my mom because i finally decided to date him. i have dated him for 6 years and it might end if i dont step up to her. it all started because i gave bith and the only thing she can hang on to is my son since i am grown and not realize my son is not hers she still likes to claim him and pretend to help me by finacilly supporting my son. that i can do my son. yet i am letting her oh my favorite just cause she claims that she is helping me she wants to take the liberity to claim my child in her taxes just until i get a real job of my own just because she helps by buying cloths that i easily do for him. my boyfriend gives me the money and i buy what I can. and no my boyfriend is not my son’s daddy but he wants to know where he stands. shich i love him for that. what should i do cause i know this will be ugly.
    for the taxes yeah im serious she has no right. right? my boyfriend will step out if i dont fight our relationship that is what i am affraid of too.

  3. I agree with most of this. My parents bought a car that I use basically for me to buy off them. With me being 17 soon to be 18 yet see me as not having a life. I remember my sister when she was my age had none of these silly rules yet they still use the car to their advantage. My room is messy. What 17 year old boy doesnt have a messy room. They take the car off me or my door. What use is taking my bedroom door off if my room is messy. I don’t care that it’s messy I can deal with it. Just close the fu@#ing door if u don’t want to look at it. Don’t come in my room and then complain about nearly braking ur ankle cause of sum cords that were on the floor

  4. Same situation. My daughter and I want to go back to India to live and my mother doesn’t want it one bit. She is trying to tell me to take a good job in Taipei and stay for three years. We are miserable here.

    I miss home and want to see them. My brother and mother gang up on me when I am home. I don’t want my daughter to see that. I have done so much process work on family issues. The only way I have been able to do it and blast through parent issues is to live literally half a world away. Family lives in Washington state. It’s hard, we have limited interactions and it’s great too; they don’t have to deal with me and we are all comfortable.

  5. I know… right?
    If a parent really loves their child, they should let them follow their lifepath. Feeding me and giving me a home is not enough. Am I a f**king dog? A mongrel that needs only food to survive? As long as you are earning your own money, your life should be yours to live. Any objection to that is emotional blackmail, or a parents own insecurities about what will happen. Im so sick of hearing all this “they do it because they care for you” bulls**t. If they really care, ask them to visit a senior home, and ask around to see what the number one regret is: not living the life that you want, as opposed to what people expect of you. Congrats parents, you’ve fed your child food, but starved his soul.

  6. Go back to the job in Alabama. Your parents have controlled you for 24 years and it’s time to break free of them. It won’t be easy for you, but you need to take a stand NOW. If you don’t they will control you the rest of your life and you will be miserable. Your parents need professional help. It only takes one person to make a family dysfunctional, from the little I’ve seen, it sounds like that person is your dad and your mother enables his behavior. Your father said you were selfish which is rediculous. It is HE who is selfish for not facing the fact that you are an adult now with a life of your own ahead of you. Believe me, when you are back in Alabama, and living you life as you see fit, you will have gained more confidence in yourself. You will be able to see the MANIPULATIVE tactics your parents use to control you and decide on ways to short circuit their tactics. The best thing you can do for yourself is put DISTANCE between yourself and them.
    That means ALABAMA and if they are too mean spirited in thier communications with you via letters, email, phone, you can refuse to get sucked into their games. Manipulative mothers love to use tears to get their way, so you’ll have to see those for what they are. It will be tough on you, I know from experience with my own controlling parents.
    I spent most of my adult life knuckling under to my parents in an effort to please them. Pleasing them only made me feel insecure and resentful of them. Your parents have to grow up and let you go live your own life to pursue your own dreams.

  7. Cameron,
    I understand where you are. I left home at 17 and a half. Never looked back, ended up with a wonderful relationship with my parents. They have passed on, but I was able to finally get respect from my mother. I spent time in the service, went back to school and ended up a school counselor. No matter what job that I had, my mother thought that I should get a better one. She finally liked the teaching position and the fact that I ended up a counselor and then a principal.

    But the one thing that I have learned in life is that you gotta be happy on the inside. Where you are at won’t make you happy. I live in western Kansas and am as happy as a lark being here. Alabama didn’t make you happy, your situation and a job that you liked made you happy. A sign at a friend of mine’s home explains it best for me. It had a picture of a pretty flower in a flower pot with the following caption: “Bloom where you are planted”!

  8. Wow, you have a great self awareness and are able to communicate it well!! Darling, I’m in my mid 40’s and am still struggling with the same issues. I have a very very controlling mother who like yours, have showered me financially my whole life and really do have alot of love. But like you said, the need to be yourself and trust who you are will only happen when we can emotionally stand tall and strong. You are NOT being irrational. Its only a possibility of being irrational because of the negative harsh critics that have been around you like me. We are not irrational. Maybe a little selfish but who isn’t?

    I”m a super free spirit, hippy chick who has type a parents, over achievers and I have to admit they do have a lot of qualities I love and hope to learn from, like their strength. So my need to be free is so very important to who I am and for my success and I know this, have always known this and didn’t follow it because i was scared. Fear. I am going through really really good therapy now. There is a book I would recommend, I just bought it, and its a life saver. Its called, “there is nothing wrong with me” by Cheri Huber.

    Follow your dreams darling. If you do, you will thrive. Everything will fall in place. If you don’t, you will see that not honouring your lifepath will result in depression, failure, and resentment. I went through this because I did not follow my heart. I blamed my parents all this time and now realize at some point I had to stop and take responsibility. My best friend and I were supposed to move to hawaii 15 years ago. She went and followed her heart and I didn’t. I guess I just want to share with you so you will follow your bliss. I’m finally doing what i need to do. I wish you much support and love…in the end, you have me myself and I to deal with. Peace and light.

  9. I feel bad for u im in the same position
    I work for my dad at his shop hes asking me to leave his house and work
    Because my brother is mixing stuff and he wants to take over me im very good to him
    And they gang up on me

  10. I’ve been crying as I’ve read these posts. I just turned 24-years-old and am utterly afraid of disappointing my parents. They hated where I lived in Alabama for my first job in journalism out of college. In one sense, it was flattering, they felt that what is admittedly a crappy little town was not good enough for me, their smart and ambitious eldest daughter.

    But I was happy there with my job, I felt like I was doing rewarding and meaningful journalism. Still, their lack of enthusiasm for my life and how I perceived they were disappointed spurred me to take a job in Montana (out west, like they love as soon-to-be South Dakota residents, in the beautiful mountains, and somewhere they can be proud to tell people I live). Partly, it was because I thought I’d be happier if I felt they were happy with me and partly because I knew they’d be happier. And the upside was I’d still get to write for a paper.

    Well, one week out here on the job out here and I’m more miserable than I’ve ever been in my life. The quality of the paper is worse, the news material is non-existent and I miss writing about a community I cared about. I dread getting out of bed, going to work, working out, eating … the only relief I’ve had since I’ve been here is when I talked to my boss in Alabama and he said they’d gladly have me back ASAP.

    I’ll admit right away: this was utterly my bad decision. I jumped the gun, made the decision for the wrong reasons and knew it after the first day of work. But if i have the opportunity to correct the mistake, its my choice to do it.

    I tried to discuss my feelings with my parents, how I wanted to move back, how if I have the opportunity to correct, I should do it, especially because I am in my 20s, single, and have gainful employment waiting on me that I know I enjoy. Especially if the paper in Alabama will eventually lead me up the in the industry, and faster.

    My mother was shrieky and upset and told me Alabama wasn’t right for me and that I couldn’t afford to move back across the country and they couldn’t afford to help. I wasn’t asking for their help; I don’t need it. My father told me I was a selfish, selfish person, that it would be good for me to do something I didn’t like doing, that I made my own bed and should lie in it, that I was all about instant gratification and that he and mother for years have done things they didn’t want to do to raise my sisters and me. I know they expect me to get over this “irrationality” and stay in Montana. I know that my dad will continue to dangle his hard work, my years spent as his child in his care over my head. He’d honestly rather me be miserable here than watch me change my situation. I’m scared that I will stay just to please them. I’m paralyzed with fear to tell them, “No, I’m not living my life for you. I love you, but this is my decision.”

    They have been so good to my younger sisters and me in so many ways — paid for wonderful educations, raised us to be conscientious and hard-working, given us beautiful vacations and a strong sisterly bond between the three of us.

    But as the oldest, it has been so difficult to grow up and become my own person, because my father is so controlling and my mother is so acquiescent to his commands. Nearly every large decision I have tried to make for myself — my career in journalism, who I want to date, where I wanted to work for my first job — has been rife with push-back and emotional blackmail and accusations of selfishness and guilt-tripping from my dad.

    I know that I can be a selfish person. But I know that I am good-hearted person. I chose the career I did because it allows me to use my talents as a force for good, because I can make my own difference in the world this way. Is it so bad to want to be happy while I do that?

    Am I being irrational? I have a way out of a bad situation. But I’m afraid I’ll lose the careful balance of parental approval that holds our family together like glue in the process. I wish I’d never moved out here in the first place. I wish I’d just stayed true to myself.

  11. I am a 28 year old lawyer. 8 years ago my dad moved in with me and my sister, as he was suffering from a illness. He’s still with us. And as much as I love him, he sims won’t let go of me and my sister and realize we are adults. For 8 years I’ve held down a job and done college, climbed up the promotions ladder, went back to college for a second degree and juggled two part time jobs and still he treats us like 15 years old.

    I gave up a safe career in law to become a film producer. I have a few interviews lined up next month and the first thing my dad said was that the pay wasn’t good and I’d be in a worse position then I am now. Hello! What could be worse then being on a student income? Nothing!!!! He has trouble accepting that in the film industry you are not gonna end up on a studio executive wage the moment you graduate from college. He always thinks he has to remind my sister and I to do things: like this morning we had a rainstorm. He rings up my sister to tell her to shut the windows. She said she already had. He got home and my sister asked him why did he think he felt he had the need to call her up and remind her? He had no answer. I don’t want to reminded of things like I’m a school girl.
    and then he will go and leave the tv on when he goes outside, leaves tissues in his pocket when the laundry gets washed and when I remind him not to do those things he’s gets real offended. Nine out of ten times he will be late if he has to meet me somewhere and then got so angry at me when I was 5 mins late the other day.

    He will turn up the tv way too loud. I’ve just been diagnosed with acute anxiety disorder and Trying to cope with him is driving me insane. When I have asked him repeatedly to not turn up the tv way too loud in my state he will turn it down but only for like 10mins. I feel he’s really disrespecting me, especially when he comes in and interrupts my meditation sessions. Sometimes I really really hate him. I need a friend now not a parent.

    My uncle (his brother) said to my dad today that the film job interviews sound really good and would be grat experience. My dad couldn’t think of a thing to say to that. He needs to let us go and exist in the house like a roommate now. My sister and I are constantly reminding him to let us go and treat us like adults. I know it is is common in single parent families, but the amount of absolute shit I’ve had to endure from him in the past in regards to other family stuff is lots and if I gave him what he has put my sister and I through he would never forgive us.

    He won’t change straight away and I can’t kick him out but he will have to learn.

  12. Another book I’d recommend is Leaving Home by David P Celani. Reading the case studies there and hearing about stories such as those in this blog brings me relief because I am also in my 30s and have an emotionally dependent mother.

    When I think about how for years I have been fueling her dependency I feel sick. I ran to her and my Dad whenever I had a problem. And now I am separating from them I feel pain. Real pain, guilt, anger and a feeling like I owe them something.

    My therapist says that being a parent is a sacrifice. A parent choses to have a child, a child doesn’t chose to be born. A parent choses to raise that child and then the child has to be set free. If you give the child sufficient nurturing the child will thrive in the outside world. Sadly those who have a deficit of nurturing and are either attacked or smothered tend to feel MORE attached to the abusive parents because they are seeking to make up that deficit! Children from emotionally abusive parents are more likely to stick close to home hoping one day to get what they didnt during childhood – unconditional love.

    That was the case for me. I have been hoping for my parents to truly validate and encourage me to become the best version of myself. A confident, separate adult. I feel disappointed that my mother looks at me as if I was a little china doll or a 7 year old child. Her perfect creation. Hers. Her little angel. I am none of those things. I am an individual. A separate individual. It makes me feel sad that she is not curious to get to know me but rather wants me to be an adoring daughter so she can feel comfortable.

    I am on a journey. Things have improved massively though. I told my parents some weeks ago that I needed to create psychological space in order to feel healthy (I’ve had emotional problems in the past) and so that I would be saying no a lot more. I also switched off my mobile and took no calls and told them to text or email in case of emergency. I told my mother I could talk to her twice a week and that was it. We picked the days together. I will be moving this to once a week over time.

    It was hard. They resisted. But its that or no contact. If they shout at me that’s OK. I don;t mind a separation at this stage. I have such a weak identity in any case. All of this had really brought to light how dependent I am on them and what a weak identity I have. So I just need to press on and continue setting boundaries. I pray to God there is a light at the end of the tunnel because right now all I feel is a bit despaired and afraid with glimpses of happiness and peace.

  13. Just reading through your comments and felt like i should contribute. You are right about giving up hope cause as soon as you do that you have accepted that things arent going to change and you have to rely on yourself.
    My story is long complex and in short this is it:
    My dad was a heavy drinker sobered up but i still resent him for ruining my childhood and taking my mums attention from me and purely on him acting a child. Hold big grudge but along the way mum would insult me call me fat and just be generally difficult. when i needed her she didnt help me. always been reclusive in my room avoiding their world. until i found drugs and raving and found a spark to stand upto her and live my life. Im not a junky and now 26 can reflect on what caused me to feel or act the way i do. My nan financially supports my older bro. She breaks promise telling me she going to put me through my driving lessons (i passed theory twice but expired due to her change of heart)very venomous and spiteful thru my childhood taking me on holiday for 2 weeks and really busting my balls for nothing when my cousin died week before, just feels she gets a kick out of it. sure she done good layed deposit down on my current rental house. But compared to my brother she has paid for 6 properties driving lessons he never took? each time he kept deposit. Opened a shop for him. Me? No driving lessons. I now realised last few months I deeply dislike her I have no bond with her as she has never tried with me when i was young. S o it cant be helped i feel cold towards her. but she will say comments “i got a grandchild that doesnt want to know me” YET she never took me out or even struck a convo which wasnt a down put. my mum fed her head a lot about me being rebellious etc. Especially watching her splash cash on another sibling and leaving me to struggle in countryside with no transport.
    Mother… well she got horrible attitude thru menopause and as ever wrapped up in their lives to care for me.
    Since moving out of town i feel better a little hateful BUT AS i realised they cant be bothered seeing me. S o i feel proud in myself not to ask them for anything. I rely on myself and I sure do have anger to em but best way to deal with that is avoid and leave em to it. I know that if i ever had a child of my own i sure as hell wont let them near it and il do a better job raising it then what them 3 have done to me…
    I get myself tattooed and i wear punk clothes which they hate and it makes me happy cause i know how much it pee them off. and im a true individual and strong enough not to care 2what them or the world thinks

  14. Speaking from experience, this is the best advice I can share with fellow sufferers. It’s up to you what you do with it. You don’t wanna end up 40, 50, or older still suffocating because of someone else’s wishes. Oprah has said it many times. And Maya Angelou has said it as well. This is not a direct quote but….

    People will treat you any way you allow. One phrased it like, ‘you teach people how to treat you'(from Maya and Oprah). I’m not talking about a 7 year old overpowered by abusers who are beating them. I am speaking to you adults. If your loved ones throw fits and attack you until you back down and compromise your position or decisions, their behavior is reinforced. They learn (from your giving in) that they are right. They learn how to control you (with guilt trips, crying, verbal attacks, threats, and even bribery).

    It never feels good to displease others, but you can teach yourself to grow thicker skin. It’s not like you get to live this life over again if doing it your parents’/siblings’ way made you miserable. And you will be miserable if you don’t stay on your own path. After a while, you’ll learn how to avoid ‘traps’ and ‘triggers’. If you roll out the red carpet for trouble, they will stalk you on Facebook, by phone, in person, by mail, and whatever way they can! Yes, they love you in their way, but Maya also said love doesn’t hurt! When a person forces their beliefs onto you, you’re gonna feel stress, conflict, and pain.

    The psych can give you a pill, the counselor can take your side and give you affirmations…but you have to take action and draw your lines/set your boundaries. You may have to move into your own place, out of your subdivision, city, state. I even know of some happier living in other countries. Other times, all it takes is saying “hey, we’re 2 different people and you will have to deal with your anger about my decisions. I can’t please everyone”.

    When I finally stood my ground about my mom trying to change our (non)religious choices for me and my sons, she learned. She doesn’t try to preach to me or sign my son up for vacation bible school or start debates with me. She will occasionally ask us to go, using Mother’s Day as an emotional bargaining chip. My 11 year old has been hip to manipulative behavior for many years. When he’s alone with my mom and she criticizes our choice in virtual public charter school (‘if you went to a REAL school, you’d get to do this or that’), he has no trouble ignoring her or even lancing through her ill logic! It’s been quite a while since she’s quipped any ignorant anti-gay remarks towards the telly as well. I also put my foot down about her comparing me to my sister (who has no children and lives in the city). I told her it’s wrong to treat us differently. I’m favored because I know the ‘pains’ of motherhood and I don’t ask for help.

    All that said, I still have a ways to go. My dad (who is divorced from her) doesn’t have the need to call me every day. He knows that I have little sleep, caring for a special needs son. He’s private and doesn’t like to intrude. He’s someone I would like to speak to more often because we can talk about everything without judgment or self righteous attitudes. I get calls from my mom almost every day, multiple times (especially when there’s no man in her life). I answer when I can. She shops a lot for the kids, and I say thank you, but encourage her to ask me if I actually need these things (hoarding tendencies in the family). My house is very small and any extra item looks like clutter. I’m finally realizing there are many ways my boundaries get stepped on. It’s a constant issue sometimes. It’s nowhere near as bad as some people’s families, but it is stressful.

    I’ve found peace 2 towns over, but will be moving back into the sub where most of my family is (which includes mom and a few addicts/alcoholics). But the house is the only deal like this. Already has a wheelchair ramp as well as enough bedrooms and a basement (plus a yard). This will be the true test. I’ve told certain family that I don’t like drop-ins (nothing like a relative on pills nodding off on your sofa while you’re busy). May have to hear myself saying NO a whole lot :-) My dad will get the spare key this time. No surprise of the door opening unexpectedly. Or questions about what car was in my driveway. My goal is to increase my income and live where I’d like (which of course will displease some!). I’ve read about and know some really awful people lately who will always equate love with obedience to them. I’m lucky because they DO know I love them.

    Good luck and inner strength to everyone here! :-)

  15. Dear Laurie,

    I am always second guessing myself because my boyfriend always has a reason for what his mother does. I’ve been with him for 3 years. His parents, usually his mom Is always looking for reasons to not let us do things. My boyfriend happens to be “a mommas boy”. I try to use that term with the most respect I can, but I’m not sure If it’s because he plain out loves his mom so much that she adores she attention or if it’s because he is afraid of disappointing her.
    Even when she is having a good day, (were both 18). And she is always controlling him, we’ve only been aloud to go to the movies once though we’ve asked about a thousand times. If it’s not planned it’s not allowed.( but that’s only toward me) it’s fine when he’s with his friends. He says he loves me, honestly we’ve been through alot. I feel like his mom Is trying to sabotage us on purpose. She dictates everything in our relationship, what is allowed when it’s aloud, what he’s aloud to open up to me about, how he should act when were in public, she’s afraid of losing him I think. But I get so irritated with her. He nevers stands up to her. She manipulates him. Well we had plans and we were talking about them, (we were gonna move into our own apartment) but then his mom said no. He said he wanted to but his mom won’t let him. Were 18, and his mom treats him like he’s five, she doesn’t want him to even talk to me on holidays “there only for family”. I’m literraly so angry I don’t know what to do, I’ve never been disrespectful (literally) even after she called me a “whore” 2 years ago I just I don’t know what to do it worries me. She and him joke about him living behind their home in a camper when he’s 30. She doesn’t ever want him to leave home. I’m sorry this is so long I just really need advice Laurie, I appreciate anything you have honestly. I love him and she knows that she doesn’t want him to love me (she’s said that) she’s constantly tried to pull us apart an it eats at him, because “he tries to make us both happy” but realizes he only hears her. We talk about it sometimes an he shuts down, I don’t know what to do..

  16. Hello, I’m almost 25 years old and my parents still treat me like I’m 15. They say no one leaves home at my age, yet all my cousins my age have and have kids. So they completely lie. We aren’t remotely religious or ethnic, yet they think you have to be married just to leave home. We are Caucasian and that is very unusual for us. I’ve never met any that has. If I talk to them all I get is screaming and verbal abuse. Yet I’m not allowed to verbally abuse them. I loathe their double standards. I’m sick and tired of being treated like shyte. If I never marry, what am I supposed to do? Live at home until I’m 35? I don’t think anyone will marry a 35 year old living at home. I’m not allowed to have a boyfriend sleep over, which is very odd these days. So why would I want to be stuck living at home? My father says he’s nothing like his own father, yet does everything” just because” his father did. Whenever I question anything all I get is screaming or “do as your told”. I tried seeing a counsellor but it didn’t work.

  17. My dad has been paranoid and controlling all my whole life. He doesn’t care about me or even my rights to choose; he just wants to control me and even my rights, all of my rights, to choose. He hates all of my choices and he refuses to see that I’m a grown woman and at my age I can make my own decisions! I’d love for him to really sit down and listen to me, which he refuses to do! I don’t know what to do! Any advice, guys?

  18. i lost my dad 17yrs ago and since than i have stopped to live for my self but today i am in love with a person but my mother and my sisters think i have done a crime,i am eldest in the family,is love a crime i am killing myself daily just to honour my mother and sisters,why don’t they see my pain

  19. My mom and I live with a family(mom sisters family) from my moms side, that is not my family. My dad died so my mom and i live with them from my childhood. They make my mom feel hostile and i can detect that because i notice my moms behavior change. They do every detail pathway the way they want to do it and they make me feel like “My way or the highway”. I am giving positive opinions and good thoughts for them and they override them as if i was not even there. I lived with them since i was an infant and now i am 25 years old. I love there two sons and they are my blood cousins. But sometimes deep deep down inside I know there is something something wrong because i feel it deep down in my stomach. I am a Male and they make me feel like everything they done I have to end up owing it to them. I am feelings like they are “bloodsuckers” and by there behaviors, communications, dealing with me and mom on a daily basis feels like they are false and i will not put no hope no more and sustain this no longer. Everyone, what do I do? Please do not hesitate to write any good input on this.

  20. I apologize for screwing your name up, LAURIE*. :)

  21. Hello Laura,

    I am a 34 yr old female who has never lived alone. My parents divorced when I was 20 and my mother, sister and myself moved out of state. When I was about 22 my mother started developing health issues. They progressed until she was finally deemed unable to work and is now disabled. Since then, I’ve become the bread winner. My sister is 12 years my junior, she’s 22 and has a wonderful job. She and I share the financial load, along with my mom who contributes her monthly ss$ earnings to household as well.

    I come from a good family. I love my parents, I was never abused in any way, and I have always been shown love and affection. I grew up very close to my mom. She’s always been a control freak, always wanting to know where her kids are, never wanting them to leave the nest. I’ve always told her that I would always help take care of her no matter what.

    Well, 1.5 years ago I met a guy and we fell in love. Early on, he told me he would have no problem with me taking care of my mom, etc. My mom has always had a problem with him. She thinks he isn’t good enough for me, has many opinions about him, etc. A month ago he lost his job and was forced to move in with us. Being that my bf and my mom are both very opinionated, they have no problem telling each other what time it is and argue often. My bf has finally told me that he can’t take it, that we are grown people and in order to be happy we need to move out on our own. I’ve explained to him that he can’t just expect me to up and leave my mom and sister in the situation they’re in, they simply can’t afford it. He asked me to talk to my mom, AGAIN, about her lack of respect for him. I tried; she won’t hear of it. I tell her that I need to move out, she gets angry and hurt and claims I am ‘choosing’ him over her and my sister. She can’t get it into her head that I’m a grown woman who is practically 5 years from 40! She says that if I leave, she will have nothing to do w/him ever again and says she won’t speak to me. It hurts b/c our relationship is not the same, but as far as I see it, it’s her doing. She can’t accept that I am not doing anything wrong – simply doing what normal people do. I am stressed to the max. I feel bad for leaving my sister behind, but at the same time, I am ready to live my life for ME. I even told her I planned to still assist financially, but that isn’t good enough.

  22. Hey guys well I need advice for my friend she turned 18 jan 9 and she came to move with me and her mom didnt let her take her belongings or social security so I buy her thnigs what can she do to get her belongings back asap

  23. I am 26 years old and a single mother of 1. I have been dating my boyfriend for a year now. He makes me so happy. He accepts my little one as his own. We plan on spending the rest of our lives together and hope to be married someday.
    After years of dealing with tough relationships finding someone like him was a breath of fresh air. But my family will not stop judging him due to my past relationships. They can’t look past my mistakes and expect him to pay for whatever every guy did to me.
    He lives in California and asked me and my son to move in with him after I lost my job. This of course added more fuel to the fire and my parents refuse to accept the idea of us leaving. They have made my life a living hell here at home since. They have cut me off from talking to him over the phone and he is not allowed to come by the house. I feel like a teenager again to say the least. I feel helpless to think that they could be so cruel and selfish.

  24. Hi
    I am 17 years old and my boyfriend and I have been dating for 6 months. Our relationship is hard because my mom always makes up excuses why i cant see him and sometimes forbids me to go out with him for no reason. I have honors classes and a gpa over a 4.0. i have always listend to my parents and have been a “goody goody” because i never wanted to upset them or get them mad. Now when I finally have a good relationship and have a guy which i fell in love with for the first time my mom makes everything difficult. Me and my boyfriend have been fighting a lot lately that once it got to the point where we did not speak for a few days. these fights are usually caused because my mom does not let me hangout with him a lot and he hates it when i cancel on him becuase he says that he loves me very much but its difficult to have a relationship with me. but he said that he wants to make this relationship work. no other guy would go through all of this to stay with a girl who he is dating in high school. He actually really cares about me like no other guy i have met and i do not know what to do. I sat my mom down and she never wants to listen. I told her that i am growing up now and that can she please try to understand me. but all she ever says is that she is the mother and i am the child and i am supposed to listen to what she says and w=not what i say. she always says that. I honestly just dont know what to do now. i really want to make this relationship work but how can i when she does not let me hangout with him? she says that she likes him but that i need to concentrate on school and that my relationship is not important. she only always thinks of herself and not me. she never cares what i think or how i feel. Please can u help me? what should i do? i do not know what to say to my mom anymore to make this relationship work.


  25. My husband and I are middle aged. over 3 years ago he lost his job in the bad economy. He has not found a job in his field (graphic design) despite constant trying (and I do mean constant, and everything). A couple years ago, he took the only job available—as an assistant teacher of special needs children. He makes an insulting apprx. $250. a week after taxes. We couldn’t live on this. His parents kindly offered help, talking to him and promising to send $700 the first of every month. This is what we have been trying to scrape by on, and our lives have been a living hell for all this time. I should say here that we do not live ‘high'; we have a small, paid off house, drive 12 and 13 year old ‘heaps’, have no credit cards, and do not go out for meals, or spend on ‘frill’. The help from his parents pays for dire necessities—heat, car insurance, electricity and phone/internet (so he can continue to job hunt). Despite the fact that with everything, it is still not enough, and we are under trememdous stress, all was relatively fine until recently. We were extremely grateful for their help, and have always let them know this. We were not in the habit of taking help, and had to because we had no other choice, and had exhausted every other possibility.
    They come up from Fla. every Christmas and stay with my husband’s sister. She is a self-centered, manipulative prima donna, and we have never had much to do with her, due to her inexplicable negativity toward me even though she had never met me.
    My husband’s mother by all accounts is controlling and manipulative, as well as very punitive, and regularly engages in guilt tripping or hostage holding tactics. My husband and I married in 2007, and I have always made every effort to get along with her.
    My husband and I also tried in small ways to at least have a cordial if not a warm relationship with his sister. She really didn’t reciprocate much.
    The real doozie of a blow up has just happened this Christmas. When his parents would call us they would say things like “We’re so glad we will finally all be together this year at A’s house”–(his sister). Because of this, we ASSUMED we were to be included, and so said things like “Oh yes, we’re really looking forward to this Christmas with everyone”!
    Well, time went on, and in mid Dec. we still had NOT been invited by his sister to come for Christmas. Prior to this, we bought small gifts for her 2 adopted children, (which no one ever bothered to tell us they recently adopted), and some food items to make a cheesecake to bring. We really had been planning and looking forward to it. When no invitation was forthcoming, my husband called his sister and decided to just see if she would say anything. She seemed startled to hear it was him, and was “aloof” on the phone. He said it seemed as if she could’t wait to get off. He mentioned Christmas, and she stammered and said that mom and dad and her in laws were coming. He got off the phone.
    Now, I apologize for the length of this letter, but we are in such trauma right now, and I really wanted some, well, vindication I guess.
    We immediately emailed my husband’s parents and told them we had NOT been invited for Christmas at their daughter’s home, and so would not be there, but that we would love it if they would drive over and have dinner with us at our home (about an hour away) ANY DAY they chose, while they were up here. We were just trying to make lemonade from lemons.
    It was at this point that all hell broke loose, and they ‘shot the messenger’! We got a nasty—really nasty email from his dad saying we ‘wanted to be alone’, that we just did a ‘bait and switch’, and that we ‘don’t need an invitation—just show up’ (!!!!!!!) In addition he said he ‘had had it’. He then called my husband at work to see if he had gotten the email!
    We were completely taken aback, shocked, and hurt, and angry too. As soon as we could, we wrote a very long, point by point email in response, detailing his sister’s behavior toward us for several years, reiterating that we had NOT been included in the plans for Christmas, etc., and also again asked them to do the next best thing and at least come see us one of the days they were here, at their convenience. They never responded. They did come up and stay with his sister, and they never once called us.
    Jan. 1st came, and no check arrived. My husband called his dad, now back at home. He asked if his dad had sent the check. (He had not), His dad again started to blame us for not being at A’s home on Christmas. My husband patiently and very calmly spent an hour on the phone trying to again explain things and and come to some understanding. We really did feel terrible that they had tried to punish us by not seeing us over the holiday. His dad said he would send the check—that was all. The check arrived on Friday. It was for HALF the amount! We were sick. We had just mailed out checks for the bills, and now had no way to cover them! He called his dad, who wouldn’t say anything except “You have to talk to your mother”. She finally got on the phone. She said she had decided NOT to send “her half” of the money unless my husband would contact his sister and do whatever in order to have a relationship with her! (She called this “tough love”!!! (Yes, I am speechless too).
    It was nasty emotional blackmail pure and simple.
    They certainly know that we now have no way to pay for these necessary living expenses.
    We had a terrible weekend. We both however, have had enough. We knew that this was the end. We had to have our self respect, and we couldn’t stand another minute of her destructive and manipulative behavior.

    My husband sat down yesterday (Sunday). He wrote a letter. Very short: You have broken your promise to me and thrown my family to the wolves. He wrote that he couldn’t and wouldn’t be held hostage. Mostly we are so angry at them that they have no heart, and could do this to a hard working son just trying to survive. After much soul searching and discussion, he wrote that he is cutting off all ties with them permanently. We will never contact or see them. It was a huge relief, which is sad…

    We have no idea how we are going to live, but the price and the toll we have had to pay was just not worth it.

    I guess I just need some hugs…

  26. Hi my name is maria and i am 17 years old . i was going out and living with my partner for 8 months . We were engaged and i am totally in love with him . There was an argument between my mum and him . His name is Peter . They hate each other and my mum kept causing problems between us . The relationship has now ended and he doesnt want me back because i don’t know how to stand up to my mum . Help Please . Any advice on how to do this

  27. hi, i am 16 so i cant really do anything like move out any time soon not even when i am 18 becasue i need their financial aid. my parenta tell me they love me but they are the most criticizing, controlling parents ever( well in my mind they are anyway). they always make everything seem my fault. it would just be hell for me if i ever got a not so good grade or did something not so perfect. i cant live my life! they control every peice of my life and criticize and mock me in every single word. like these days they keep telling me how im soo fat and how they laugh at me and how my older sister is just perfect. ( i am normal weight not skinny nor fat). im currently dieting but their pressure migh very well lead me to an eating disorder. moreover i was depresed last year and used to cut myself for how worthless i felt. when my mom found out she called me crazy and laughed at me. when I TOLD HER i think i need to get help she took me to a therapist but when this therapist told them it was their fault for being controlling and criticizing me they made me stop going but thank god i made myself stop with the help of my newly found and only good friend who they used to talk shit about. what should i do? i always feel like i can never trust anyone because of how they treat me and like i can never let anyone in. im helpless and feel guilty most of the time. pleaee answer. thanks.

  28. People, listen!!!

    as Maureen said, above:

    “You teach people how to treat you and if they can’t respect your feelings they should not be allowed in any part of your life. Life is bad enough when it tests you, but when it comes to people….I don’t take their s*** anymore. I am grateful for growing less tolerant to the cruel or ignorant, and I will never back down from what is justified or relevant. Today is a reminder that I am safe from yesterday, and prepares me to be strong enough for what’s to come tomorrow.”

    ABSOLUTELY!! :) :) :)

    live your own life! life is difficult… but it’s what YOU make it!

  29. Hi Laurie,

    I have a difficult situation. I met this guy when I was in college about 5 years ago; he was a maintenance worker on campus but very polite and we had a lot in common. Well, as time passed, i got pregnant, decided to have the child and move back home with my parents at age 29 because the guy and I weren’t married. My parents were very helpful with my son, as I was living there for three years. My parents only met the father once, while I had the baby in the hospital. No words were exchanged, other than “Hi” from both ends but I was still happy because he built up the courage to come see his baby son. I forewarned him that my parents were strict, judgemental and overbearing at times, so he was prepared for the worst. My mom and dad were unwelcoming and uptight towards the father and his side of the family for no reason.

    Moving forward, five years later, I was still close friends to the father of my child and found out I was pregnant again in Jan 2011. I decided to go along with the pregnancy, in despite of my parents rejection and the father was supportive with my decision because I believe that two wrongs don’t make a right and abortion was wrong (in my opinion). At that time, I was still living with my parents but moved out in April because I was much more financially stable and they were giving me hell. I could not be more happy about moving out and living on my own and taking my son with me as well. They gave me a choice and told me I could stay if I had an abortion. I did otherwise, moved out and never looked back til this day! The father and I were always close but not enough to get married, we just had a soul tie. Well, now we have two beautiful kids and he is being more supportive financially than ever.

    On August 30, I gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl and my parents were put to shame after they saw a new bundle of joy, with me being able to support BOTH of my kids on my own. I tell my parents about the fathers involvement now and support but they don’t say anything (which is cruel and disrepectful to the father). The father loves his kids and want to be involved in their lives and help raise them, we just need to work on both of our ends; however, my parents would go crazy if they found out we got married and he moved in with me but why? HE IS THE FATHER OF THESE CHILDREN and I love him and he loves us. We have been through a lot together and have grown and want to grow even closer together. I’m still in love with him. I don’t see why they would be so upset with a father who is finally coming around and wanting to be part of a family now. This drives me crazy about how my parents won’t humble themselves and let me make my own decisions. I’m not afraid of them, I just want peace. I need your advice on how I should conservatively handle this situation.

    BY the way, I am 35 now and he is 36 and I limit help from my parents if they ask because I don’t want no strings attached, when I’m ready to confront them about our new profound relationship but I told him we should get married first, without their approval.

    Thanks Laurie,

  30. HI Laurie
    I have recently confronted my Dad, and will confront my mother any day now. I have been seeing a psych for over 2 years, and only with her help and lots of self work have I been strong enough to do so. Dad denied any abuse, and told my mother I was obviousely derranged and mentally ill to make up such a lie. This hurts, a lot, but at the same time I am finally able to see him for who he is,not the changed man I want him to be. I’m finding things difficult, as I am still frightened of confronting my mother who witnessed and allowed the abuse ( physical not sexual), however I realise how importnant it is that I do so.

    My hubbie has been extremely supportive, and we are going to move house as we live on the same property as my parents. Its worth it, though. I encourage any of you out there to read TOxic parents, and also find a good psych to help you think things through. ALthough the journey has been hard, it is possible to free yourselves from the hurt.
    THanks so much for your blog,

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