15 Signs That You Have Controlling Parents and How to Deal with Them

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All parents want the best for their children. They want their young ones to turn out to be upstanding, knowledgeable adults who contribute to society.

Some parents, believing that their adult children are too inexperienced to make decisions, pull all stops to manage their lives.

They inadvertently become “monster parents”.  Many of them interfere with their children’s activities and relationships. Others become pushy and to an extent, narcissistic; they enforce unreasonable expectations on their kids.

If you have parents who step beyond their boundaries, you will need to push them back in gentle, inoffensive ways. Before you do, you will need to decide whether your parent is over controlling or simply being concerned.

Why parents become control freaks

Having controlling parents can wreck your nerves. You will find this especially true as an adult. Before you cut the apron strings, be aware of what causes their tendency to want to run your life. Telling them off may result in a big fight.

Rather than engaging in a conflict, take some time to analyze their behavior. It will allow you to approach them with empathy, and make them less defensive.

A difficult childhood is often the reason for a person’s erratic ways. Controlling parents may have manipulative parents or siblings themselves; they grew up believing that controlling others is a given behavior.

Parents with manipulative tendencies may have experienced hurt in the past. They may hold their children on tight leashes because of their insecurities. Having been in submissive positions before, managing their children is a way for them to be dominant.

Of course, some parents are narcissists. They become manipulative to defend their egos. Such parents feel that others should attune to their expectations, and refuse to consider any alternatives. To them, compromise is a weakness.

16 Signs that You Have a Controlling Parent

You may want to raise the subject of over-control with your parents but do not want to offend them. You may also be unsure if they are just concerned. How do you know if they are overly controlling, or just protective?

1. Being perfectionists

Parents who are control freaks tend to want “everything in its proper place.” They create rigid structures for you and often issue ultimatums if you do not follow instructions to their specifications.

2. Always knowing what is best.

And then, your pushy parents always assume that they know what is best for you. They refuse to consider alternative courses of action and do not give you the freedom to make decisions.

3. Unreasonable Expectations.

Being perfectionists, your controlling parents may set unrealistic goals for you. Their demands, such as getting perfect scores, are unreasonable and may cause you to feel that you are incapable of doing anything.

To make sure that you do things their way, they often offer constructive criticism. You may lack initiative, as you are too used to them making decisions for you.

4. Pushy parents want a say in their children’s relationships.

Your controlling parents may want a say in your relationships. They are always around when you invite your friends home and often eavesdrop on your conversations.

5. Controlling parents instill self-doubt.

As a means of getting you to do things their way, your manipulative parents may nitpick on everything you do. They may resort to fear-mongering or over-dramatizing the consequences of not following their actions.

6. Manipulative parents monopolize their child’s affection.

Your pushy parents may be selfish about your love. In an attempt to have you for themselves, they try to cut you off from your friends. They may even resort to force to get you to obey them. As time goes on, they may withdraw monetary support.

7. Manipulative parents communicate with people on their kid’s behalf.

Your pushy parents are probably micromanagers. They will do tasks on your behalf, fearing that you will make mistakes. Their actions make you feel as though you cannot be responsible for yourself.

8. Controlling parents make decisions without input from their children.

If your parents are control freaks, they will make decisions without consulting you.  It tells others that you are incapable of making them on your own.

9. Controlling parents always contact their children.

Your parents will bombard your phone with calls if they are pushy. They will want to know about your circle of friends and every detail about your workplace. They will interfere if you mix with the “wrong people.” Your parents may even cross the line and inquire about your sexual relationships.

10. These parents fight their children’s battles.

You may find your controlling parents always fighting your battles for you. Fearing that you will get hurt, they may not allow you to solve your problems. They are unaware that they cripple your ability to socialize by getting too involved in your activities.

11. Controlling parents burden their children with unnecessary responsibilities.

In an attempt to monopolize your time, your parents may overload you with responsibilities. The weight may make you feel as though you cannot have a life of your own.

12. Pushy parents are always around.

Pushy parents fail to understand the concept of “three is a crowd.” They always need to be around and fail to notice when their presence is not wanted.

13. Pushy parents are too involved in their children’s activities.

They become too involved in your social life and often give the details to their friends. They fail to understand that they need to let you make mistakes to grow.

14. Controlling parents are passive-aggressive.

Pushy parents are often passive-aggressive. They will withhold affection or communication until you fall in their line. Their “silent judgment” is a form of control.

15. Pushy parents are impatient.

Controlling parents are anxious parents. They do not spare the time to listen to your explanations for your actions. To them, your methods are a waste of time; their ways are always the best.

Dealing with a controlling parent

Your parents may display a few, or worse, all the above signs. Do not be discouraged; tapping on a few coping mechanisms will make it easier to adjust to their controlling behavior.

First, empower yourself.  You may have parents who try to keep you in an Alcatraz-like, emotional prison, but you are responsible for your actions. Develop a plan to set boundaries and gain control of your life.

Make the decision to stand up to them, and not get overly angry. Do not obsess over pleasing them; remember that you have your life to live.

You cannot change your parents; that is a fact you must accept. However, you can choose to distance yourself from them. Stand your ground, and do not get too defensive if they accuse you of neglecting them. You can say things like:

“I am sorry that you are angry, I can understand why.”

A little empathy will make them more malleable. Cut off financial ties, and refrain from asking for favors.

Remember that they are your parents, even if you disagree with their pushy ways. Resolve the past and let go of any misgivings for your sake, not theirs. Confront them with respect, and let them know how you feel.

Set your boundaries and let them know, again respectfully, if they have crossed lines. Consider seeing a therapist if they still try too hard to manage your life.

You can steer the relationship with your over-controlling parents if you set limits with a little tact.


By Michelle L.


Copyright © 2018 Life Advancer. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.
By | 2018-01-21T11:23:48+00:00 September 18th, 2016|Categories: Family & Parenting, Relationships & Social Life, Self-Improvement|Tags: , , , , |64 Comments


  1. TF December 19, 2017 at 3:59 am - Reply

    My mom is pretty controlling to the point where I’ve decided to leave the country (If I wasn’t so pissed off, I’d find this funny).

    My mother tends to say “I told you so” or “I knew it” quite often… generally she just knows everything! Most of the time I just leave her and let her have her way because it’s least painful in the short term. As a result my frustration builds up and I end up losinlosing it over small things (e.g. I’ve said things like “I know how to make my own hummus. I do it all the time. How often do you do It?”.)

    What pains me most of all is that I want to be a mom someday, but I’m so scared of being like her, that it’s beginning to affect my sex life with my fiancé.

    • Michelle L December 19, 2017 at 3:59 pm - Reply

      I believe your mum wants to maintain her position as the older person who knows more. She may just be afraid that you’d do things the wrong way.

      Have a good chat with her and explain that it’s necessary for you to make your mistakes and find your path in life. And no one’s right all the time.

  2. Krysten January 3, 2018 at 12:49 am - Reply

    Hello all,

    My name is Krysten and I run the first and only a group on Facebook called the Adult Children of Controlling Parents (ACCP), and it might comfort you to find that you are not alone. If you are interested in joining the group, there is a link that I will provide to you below.

    Thank you for your time!


  3. Tina smith January 5, 2018 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    I’m 23 dealing with this both my parents hold that they have helped me it or helping me bring up everything if isn’t wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have what I have and also I have a child they have helped me with and they use that against me they bought stuff without telling me about it or letting me and my sons father help or get it out selfs I’m so glade to have parents that help me but I think it’s for other reason I’ve tried to pay back what I’ve borrowed they say no I don’t want your money but we argue they start out with everything I’ve done for u I’ve bent over backwards and went broke to help u I’ve never asked them for the help but couple times but they say I know u didn’t but I love u that’s why I do it out of love I needed help a lot of times but never asked for a lot they giving me they just give me stuff say here or say I got something for u or got baby something she hates my son father who I’m engaged to which they hated everyone I’ve dated they say his done this and that why they don’t like him actually they act jealous of him and the fact that my son rather be with him then around them they hate they always say u don’t keep my grandson from me I’ve never kept him from them they will threaten to hit me or come at me they make me look like I’m crazy and the promblem and go and make my family think that to I haft to apologize or they make me miserable or threaten me make me feel guilty I want to leave get our own place now I got a job and everything she says go ahead keep insurance in my name and phone bill it’s away to control me I don’t want that I don’t want strings attached They think there opinions is what’s right I feel helpless and crazy and depressed idk what to do they say they will not come to my wedding or give me their blessing my sons father was young and dumb at first but has really grown up over past 5 years but because he wouldn’t do what my parents wanted him to do they hate him he don’t try to talk to them cause he feel uncomfortable and un welcome which I can see why they say they’ve tried to be nice to him or my mom does her fake nice act and my dad acts rude but they’ve never liked that fact that his in my life and I’m gonna marry him and that we got a child together my mom is always sick now all the time now I can’t go anywhere she won’t baby sit for me says she doesn’t feel good or something going on I’m starting to think maybe she’s doing something to make her self sick to have me feel bad so I won’t leave she flips out text me all day long when I don’t answer she says angry things or says why don’t u talk to me when u over there or do u hate me I’m sick of it I’m scared and don’t know what to do

    • Jean-Marie Hendricks May 21, 2018 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      Tina, hun, do we share the same parents?!?! I swear you just described my parents to a tee!! And I’m 45 years old, and they still do this crap to me!! I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this with your parents. My suggestion, as soon as you and your fiance can, move out. Yes, they all throw a fit, but what matters is your mental health. If you have friends or other family near by, see if they can watch your son, so you can get a job. Then save every dime you can, and get your own place, away from them and their controlling ways. It’s the only way you can take control of your life back from them. Believe me , it’s the only thing that worked with mine. You can go visit them, but make sure they come visit you too. The reason I say this, is because if they’re like my parents, they won’t feel as comfortable being controlling on your turf, as they are on their own turf. So when they start trying to get you to come to their house all the time, to visit, occassionally say sorry, but it’s gonna have to be at my house this time, cause I’ve got (enter your reason here) going on. Hopefully this will work for you, as it has with mine. Yes, initially, they all throw a fit, but stand your ground politely. And for God’s sake, make sure you don’t give them anything to hold over your head!! Don’t ask for money (if they offer, refuse it), don’t give them any personal information about your life, your son’s life, or your fiance. Keep your conversations about just general things. Good luck dear. I know how hard it is, but you’ve got to do what is best for you, and your family now.

  4. S January 8, 2018 at 5:53 am - Reply

    I am 38 years old and I live on my own and I lived with my mom while my husband and I were separated, Im just now learning to drive and my mom refuses to accept that she makes me feel guilty and tries to scare me by telling me that I will be in an accident and that if I am she will cuss my husband out.what should I do

  5. Amanda January 12, 2018 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Well i bet nobody has parents like mine I feel i have been put in prison for my whole life by my parents because if i don’t answer my phone I get guilt trips and a two hour lecture and my parents ruined on of my relationship when i was 19 year’s old and my dad resently inherited my grandpa’s ranch and my dad told me if i ever wanted to inherit the ranch that i have to leave my kids father the man i love and I’m 35 year’s old and my mom told me that my dad told her that he was going to have my cousin and his family live with me and my family in a three bedroom Ranch house I bearly know my cousin I mainly only know his name not that he’s a bad person or anything he seem to be a good person I just don’t really know him that well because my aunt didn’t allow us to hang out much I don’t even know much about my cousins sister but I know more about my aunt then i know about my cousins sad I know but it’s true!

  6. Claire January 20, 2018 at 5:58 am - Reply

    Hello, I actually have never talked about this with people who aren’t in my social circle so bare with me. I am a 23 year old woman and I have had controlling parents all my life. When I was younger it was more normal and even thought ohh all parents are like this. All parents are restricting and eventually, they will get over this once you grow up.. Well now I’m grown up and it still has not changed. Here is alittle bit of backstory… I currently live with both of my parents while I go to nursing school and I am almost done (thank God)! Things have gotten increasingly bad because of my new boyfriend is has a 6 year age difference. If I am honest, I have not had the best of luck when it comes to love/dating. I have had my heart broken multiple times and I am finally happy with this man and he has also helped me be my true self in all aspects. We plan on a future together after I graduate from nursing school. My parents have restricted the times I have been able to see him and it has only been 5 months. I have talked to both my parents about my feelings and they don’t really acknowledge them. I have been put down and made to feel like a failure for most of life and it has affected me in most aspects of my life. My boyfriend is very supportive of my career and my future and told he will stick by me with whatever decision. I have contemplated moving in with him but I feel that will only make the situation worse even know he has told me many times that if I don’t like his rules that I get the eff out. My parents are also cosigners to the loans I currently have with my school and they feel they can ALWAYS pull that card as a guilty trip or some type of blackmail. If I was younger (16 or 17), I could possibly see their reasoning and their tactics but because I am a grown woman is slowly trying to take control of my own life, it most definitely not fair.

    • KokonutGrove15 January 24, 2018 at 1:03 am - Reply

      Hi-five for earning a nursing degree, a certain path to economic and personal independence. Fist-bump for standing up for yourself and your relationship with your boyfriend. It’s important to establish autonomy from our parents and let them know we have the right to make our decisions and for them to respect them. Right now, the parents wrongly believe they have power to control you with money and feel they can put you in check since they co-signed personal loans. Let them know how this makes you feel because money issues break up many families. Have a discussion at the dinner table and remind them that you thank them for their support (financial and otherwise); yet this does not give them the right to use this as a means to control your life. Also, they feel that your new love interest is taking away their daughter who’s no longer their little girl whom they’ve always protected. Reassure them he’s not taking you away from them but he wants to be part of their lives, too. (Wedding bells, maybe?) Keep open the doors of communication 🙂

  7. M January 25, 2018 at 10:22 pm - Reply

    I’m 36 years old girl and my family try to control my life all the time they even try to distroy the relationships between me and the love of my life try to distroy all my dreams and give my younger the rights to insult me
    And if I don’t do what they want they insult me and always try to make me feel guilty that they keep tell me that I’m the resone that my mother sick and I don’t know what I do

  8. Altruist January 28, 2018 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Until they change they do not need respect or empathy from us, the children or adults. We do not need to explain them their behaivour more than couple of times, because this shows that they will never learn. The burden of proof is on them, because they will always try to manipulate us with logical fallacies.

  9. ElizabethCa March 3, 2018 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    I honestly wonder how “I see you’re angry, I understand why” or something actually works for the author. I know with my mother I learned never, ever to say something like that. If you “understand”, she will take that as proof that you implicitly agree with her. Since you agree with her, it means you much have some bad motive for why you’re not doing what she says. Helpfully, she’s there to help you work through your issues so you won’t be struggling so much with doing what she says!

  10. Scarlett April 6, 2018 at 8:37 am - Reply

    My parents are all of these. My mother mostly. When I try to point. out that they’re being too controlling and it’s not a good way to handle their only kid, they get angry and imply that I have no right to say that because they’re my parents. I also save money from my allowance so I can be able to afford things without asking money from them. However, my mother often borrows my money, promising that she’ll return it but gets angry when I ask for her payment. She constantly judges my friends and claim to know their personality–which is always bad, for her– even though she hasn’t been with them for longer than 5 minutes. She wants me to cut myself off of them and constantly wants to know my password on facebook. They always criticize me and not a day passes by where they mention a mistake and degrades me for it. I can barely breathe around them. They don’t allow me to go out and when they do, they get angry and suspicious about it, claiming that I do shady activities when I go out, which I don’t. They also always point out that they’re the only ones I can trust and that my aunts and uncles (whom I am close to) and friends doesn’t care about me/us because they have their own families. They also don’t listen to me and doesn’t regard my opinion just because they’re the parents and I’m the kid. All of these, and yet it’s not enough to describe the grief it caused me. I have fallen into depression and have engaged in self-harm, which they came to know. When I talked to my mother about it and told her that they were the reason why, she seems to be in denial. Afterwards, they just repeat the things I told them made me depressed. It’s like what I said didn’t even matter. I don’t know what to do anymore. There’s more actually, but I’m too tired to think about it. Sometimes it feels like death is better than this.

  11. Aishwarya April 22, 2018 at 11:45 am - Reply

    Some of the checklist is appliacable to me even. I am in college right now and am 22, still my parents want to know what time i leave college where i go,whom i meet. They never will allow me to see someone and always emotionally blackmaol me. They have not even allowed me to leave the campus and go visit the city. Nd always asking where i spend my money and upon what. Its frustrating. Calling at the randomest hours and if only i miss their call, they bombard my phone or worse call the admin to make sure even if i am in the college.

  12. Jake May 4, 2018 at 11:45 am - Reply

    You left out one thing. Parents who always talk down at their son like they’re still only 8 years old Guilt-trip shaming and the age old adage of “perfection is mandatory” aka “do it right the first time or don’t do it at all.” My parents were too involved in everything I do from homework to what kind of friends I could hang out with.

  13. Grace May 14, 2018 at 12:49 am - Reply

    My mother is all these points and it’s beyond frustrating. I’m 22 now and it seems she has just gotten worse. I cry myself to sleep every night because I feel I’m not good enough even though I do everything she asks. I’ve never forgotten to do one thing in my life. Her constant need to make me feel bad or call me mentally disabled(which I’m not) or point at the fact that just because I’m slightly behind in my studies, it’s most probably because I’m stupid. When I start dating, she criticizes everything I do and then blames it on the fact that I’m dating someone. I finally found someone who understands the crap I go through at home and I’m happy that he’s willing to stick with me through it all and still love me. I’ve resorted to self harm years ago and it lasted for a while. I don’t think I can go through that pain again of knowing that my suicide attempts just won’t work. I’m happy now and it’s not because of her. All I know is that once I move out, I’m cutting all ties with her permanently. I will not become the parent that she is. She treats me like a worthless human being. I take her feelings into consideration all the time cause I don’t want to hurt her. I can’t bear the thought of hurting someone but she’s making me become her by the way I’ve started to treat people that I care about, I don’t want to be like that. I can only hear how useless I am so many times. One thing I do know for sure, I am a complete and utter disappointment to her. And I’m tired.

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