controlling parents Archives - Childhood Trauma Recovery

Tag Archives: Controlling Parents

Dysfunctional Ways Parents May Seek To Over-Control Children

over controlling parents

Controlling Parents

I outline some of the most common ways in which parents may attempt to exert excessive control over their children below :

Emotional Enmeshment :

This occurs when a parent is intensely and overwhelmingly emotionally involved with his/her child so that, rather than seeing the child as an individual with his/her own thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes, views him/her as an extension of him/herself.

The parent who emotionally enmeshes the child may be over-dependent on him/her :

  • in relation to seeking advice that the child is not mature enough to give (e.g. a parent asking a ten year old for advice on romantic relationships),
  • for companionship,
  • for psychological counselling.

Such parents may also interfere inappropriately in the child’s life and fail to respect his/her boundaries.

Divorced / single parents may even expect their child to serve as a kind of ‘spouse substitute’ (most frequently in emotional terms).

You can read mt article on EMOTIONAL INCEST, which is closely related to the above, by clicking here.

Parentification :

Emotionally immature parents may expect their child to act as a kind of substitute parent – you can read my article about how parents may ‘parentify’ their child by clicking here.

 

Perfectionism :

Perfectionist parents may constantly insist upon laying down myriad petty, unnecessary and, perhaps, seemingly arbitrary rules and regulations (for example, my father used to be obsessed with making sure I held my cutlery in precisely the right way – apparently I would ‘mistakenly’ hold my knife ‘like a pen’ which would cause my father an absurdly disproportionate level of unnecessary angst more appropriate to me holding a live grenade in a way that would allow it imminently to detonate.

Living in such a household can put the child into a constant state of tension, or, even, hypervigilence, leading him/her constantly to anticipate the next shaming and disheartening criticism.

Perfectionist parents may also psychologically damage their children by expecting them to achieve in sports, academia, music etc in ways that are unreasonable and unrealistic. In relation to this, they may only offer their children love and approval when they excel, withholding such love and approval the rest of the time.

These types of parents may, too, strongly disapprove of their children expressing particular emotions such as anger or sadness, perhaps to the extent that they even ridicule their children for doing so.

Micromanagement :

The parent who micromanages their child may be unnecessarily and inappropriately involved in what a child eats or how a child dresses. Such parents may also interfere in superfluous and counter-productive ways with the child’s school life (e.g. visiting the school to complain to teachers about the child’s grades or about the child not making a particular school sport’s team). Or they may not respect their child’s privacy (e.g. constantly checking their child’s room for no good reason, looking through their diary or unnecessarily texting their child whilst s/he is at school to ‘check up’ on him/her in a way the child finds oppressive).

Such parenting is also sometimes referred to as ‘helicopter parenting’, a term originally coined by Dr. Haim Ginott in the late 1960s.

Coercive Control :

The term ‘coercive control’ was first coined by the Duluth Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP) but the concept can also be applicable to the parent-child relationship. The DAIP propose that coercive control can take many forms which include :

  • intimidation (including threatening body language and facial expressions)
  • humiliation
  • isolation
  • minimizing the level of abuse
  • denying any abuse has taken place
  • blaming the victim for the perpetrator’s abuse
  • homophobia
  • coercion and threats

Parents Who Use Their Child For ‘Narcissistic Supply’ :

The concept of narcissistic supply stems from psychoanalytic theory. A parent in need of narcissistic supply may emotionally exploit his/her children by overly depending upon them to express their admiration of the him/her (the parent), to emotionally support him/her and to bolster his/her self-esteem. To read my article about narcissistic parents, click here.

 

RESOURCE :

ASSERT YOURSELF HYPNOSIS PACK. CLICK HERE 

eBook

emotional abuse book

The above eBook is now available from Amazon for instant download. Click here for further information.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

The Manipulative Parent

There are many ways in which the manipulative parent may manipulate their offspring, including:

  • emotional blackmail
  • threats (explicit or implicit) / verbal aggression
  • deceit
  • use of the silent treatment’
  • control through money/material goods
  • positive reinforcement of a behavior which is damaging to the child
  • coercion
  • behaving in a passive-aggressive manner
  • projection
  • denial of obviously destructive behavior / gaslighting
  • 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 and ashamed 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
  • making the child feel s/he is ‘intrinsically bad’ for not always bending to the parent’s will
  • manipulative parents and money : some parents may manipulate their child using money for a who;e host of reasons, including – spoiling the child and then accusing him/her of ingratitude ;  as a tacit way of ‘keeping the child quiet’ about abuse ; to ‘compensate’ the child for emotional neglect and ameliorate feelings of guilt ; to make the child feel indebted ; to increase the child’s dependence ; to induce feelings of guilt in the child either explicitly or implicitly ; as a tool to regulate the child’s behavior ; as an expression of the parent’s ‘superiority’ and contempt for the child ; as a superficial way of acting ‘the good parent.’
  • making the child believe s/he is ‘uncaring’ for not fully meeting the parent’s needs

 

Such parents may also be very controlling ; if our parents were overly controlling the characteristics they may have displayed include the following :

 

  • Did not show respect for, or value, our reasonable ideas and opinions
  • Imposed over-exacting demands on us and refused to listen to even the most reasonable and considered objections
  • Were preoccupied with criticizing us, whilst minimizing or ignoring our good points
  • Were excessively concerned about our table manners (e.g. failing to hold a knife and fork ‘ correctly’)
  • Were excessively rigid about what we eat
  • Discouraged us from developing independence of thought,especially if it led to a mismatch between our opinions, views and values and those of the parent
  • Imposed excessive demands on us regarding household rules/duties/regulations which we were not permitted negotiate even if any reasonable person would regard them as inappropriate
  • The parent/s would never admit to being in the wrong, even in very clear-cut circumstances
  • Were excessively and unreasonably controlling regarding our appearance; not respecting our wishes to express our individuality (e.g choosing all our clothes without any interest in our opinion about them)
  • Did not respect our choice of career and made demands on us to reconsider and instead pursue a career the parent/s regarded as more ‘suitable’ even when this would make us very unhappy
  • Expected us to reach standards which were impossible to attain and berated us when we inevitably, in their eyes,’failed’.
  • Did not allow us to voice reasonable objections (e.g. about the family dynamics and how they caused us unhappiness)
  • Were unnecessarily rigid regarding who we ‘ought’ to associate with in a way that reflected prejudice and discrimination against individuals we wished to associate with
  • Tried to make us suppress perfectly normal emotions such as anger, fear and unhappiness
  • Violated our privacy (e.g. searched our bedroom for our personal diary without a good cause)
  • Tried to control us with emotional blackmail, psychological manipulation, intimidation and threats

Whilst some parental attempts to manipulate and control are fairly blatant, as can be seen from the above examples, some are far mote subtle. This means that 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 :

self-doubt

resentment/anger (which may sometimes serve, on an unconscious level, to sooth emotional pain).

shame/guilt

– a deep and painful sense of having been betrayed

 

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

developing strong assertiveness skills

– 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

RESOURCE : Recover from a Manipulative Relationship | Self Hypnosis Downloads

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Manipulative Parents: Techniques They May Use To Gain Power.

parents power

 

In this article, I want to look at five examples of psychological techniques a manipulative parent might make use of in order to gain power and control over his/ her offspring (there are many more than five of these techniques, but I will cover those in later articles).

Five Techniques That Manipulative Parents May Use:

1) Preventing the victim from expressing negative emotions:

With this technique, the parent maintains that it is not what they themselves have done that is the problem – according to them, the ‘real’ problem is the offspring’s reaction to what they have done.

For example, according to the manipulative parent, if the offspring is distressed and upset by what the parent has done then this is due to the ‘fact’ that the offspring is oversensitive.

 

Or, if the offspring is angry about how s/he has been treated by the parent, the parent may say that the offspring’s anger is caused by him/her being so unforgiving.

A final example: if the offspring feels a desperate need to express how hurt s/he is by the parent’s behaviour, and so keeps bringing the subject up in an attempt to understand and process what has happened, the parent may high-handedly dismiss the victim as ‘sounding like a broken record’.

In such cases, then, it can be seen that the manipulative parent can be skilfully adept at redirecting blame onto the victim and invalidating his/ her claims.

In this way, the offspring is forced to suppress powerful emotions at the expense of his/ her mental health – such suppression actually has the effect of intensifying the emotions, and, therefore, it is only a matter of time before they burst out again, their vigour redoubled. This process will frequently lead to the development of a vicious cycle.

2) Blaming the victim :

For example, a father who hits his son may claim that it was the son’s behaviour that ‘drove him to it’

Or a drunk parent may blame his/ her habitual drinking on the stress of bringing up the offspring.

In my own case, my mother threw me out of the home when I was thirteen. Due to my ‘behaviour’, apparently. And, whenever I cried (pretty much a daily occurrence around this age, admittedly), her favourite cutting, demeaning and belittling response (and the contemptuous tone in which it was delivered is still ringing in my ears, decades later) was that I should ‘turn off the waterworks.’

3) Inappropriate personal disclosure:

Prior to my forced eviction when I had only just become a teenager, my mother had essentially used me as her personal counsellor; indeed, she used to refer to me as her ‘Little Psychiatrist’. During these, for want of a better term, ‘counselling sessions’ she would very frequently discuss with me the problems she was invariably experiencing with the latest man she was seeing (particularly one who was highly unstable and frequently in and out of jail and lived with us for two years, but that’s another story).

She would also discuss her sex-life. She once told me, for example, that, despite the fact that she had been married to my father for about fifteen years (before they divorced when I was eight), she had only ever had sex with him twice. As she has two children (I have an older brother) this was highly unlikely (and subsequently transpired to be a falsehood). Manipulators often disclose such inappropriately intimate details to encourage the other person to feel close to them, which, in turn, makes the victim easier to take advantage of and exploit.

4) Empty words (talk is cheap):

Examples of this include:

I’d make any sacrifice for you.’

or

Your happiness is my number one priority.’

or

I think about you all the time.’

However, the manipulator’s actions fail to substantiate these claims time and time again. Indeed, the contrast between his/her words and actions is depressingly stark. Empty words, of course, cost the manipulative parent nothing but s/he knows that by using them s/he can gain great power and control over the offspring, even making the victim feel ungrateful and indebted to him/her. It can also cause mental illness in the victim by invalidating his/her own perceptions and making him/ her question his/her very sense of reality. Indeed, it places the victim in a double bind.

5) Minimising :

For example, I was always told I was overstating the negative effect my childhood had on my psychological well-being (I have since discovered, however, that I was dramatically understating it).

Minimisation, then, involves the manipulative parent telling the offspring that they are essentially ‘making mountains out of molehills’, even ( or, indeed, especially), when the accusation is grotesquely inaccurate.

RESOURCE : Recover from a Manipulative Relationship | Self Hypnosis Downloads

RELATED POST : THE MANIPULATIVE PARENT

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

[do_widget id=media_image-11] [do_widget id=media_image-11]