Controlling Parents and How to Deal with Them

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 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 micro managers. 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.