There are many ways in which the manipulative parent may manipulate their offspring, including:
- emotional blackmail
- threats (explicit or implicit) / verbal aggression
- use of ‘the silent treatment’
- control through money/material goods
- positive reinforcement of a behavior which is damaging to the child
- behaving in a passive-aggressive manner
- denial of obviously destructive behavior / gaslighting
- making their child feel guilty
Because parental manipulation, by the mother, father or both, can take on very subtle guises, when we were young we may not have been aware that we were being manipulated; we may only come to realize it, in retrospect, with the extra knowledge we have gained as adults.
POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF THE MANIPULATIVE PARENT:
If we have been significantly manipulated, it can give rise to various negative feelings such as :
– a deep and painful sense of having been betrayed
EXAMPLES OF PARENTAL MANIPULATION :
– causing the child to believe that s/he will only be loved by complying with the parent’s wishes at all times; in other words, there is an ABSENCE of unconditional love (indeed, some parents are emotionally ill-equipped to love their children).
– causing the child to feel excessive guilt for failing to live up to the parent’s expectations/demands
– with-holding love as a form of punishment to cause emotional distress
– direct or implied threats of physical punishment
– physical punishment
– making the child feel s/he is ‘intrinsically bad’ for not always bending to the parent’s will
– spoiling the child and then accusing him/her of ingratitude
– making the child believe s/he is ‘uncaring’ for not fully meeting the parent’s needs
WHY DO SOME PARENTS BEHAVE MANIPULATIVELY?
The reasons a parent manipulates his/her offspring are often subtle and complex. However, explanations may include
– the parent is narcissistic
– the parent has a grandiose self-view (often linked to above)
– the parent has low self-esteem/feelings of inadequacy and so abuses the power they do have as a form of overcompensation for own shortcomings
– failure of the parent to view the child as a separate, distinct and unique individual, but, rather, to view him/her as an ‘extension of themselves’ so that the child feels responsible for the parent and becomes ‘enmeshed’ in the relationship.
DEALING WITH A MANIPULATIVE MOTHER OR FATHER :
The effects of having been significantly manipulated by a parent in early life can have serious negative consequences in terms of our emotional development ; these consequences may be very long -lasting.
As adults, if we are still in contact with the parent, it is likely that the relationship remains problematic. We may have pointed out their propensity to manipulate, but to no avail – indeed, perhaps only making things worse.
So, what is the best way to cope with the manipulative relationship?
Essentially, we are less likely to be manipulated if we :
– develop good self-esteem
– develop a strong self-concept/sense of identity
– being confident enough to refuse to do what we don’t want to do
– being confident enough to ask for what we do want
– have the confidence to act according to our own values and convictions
Break the habit of reacting to that certain person and maintain your composure.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)