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.

References:

By Michelle L.

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By | 2017-11-18T12:51:08+00:00 September 18th, 2016|Categories: Family & Parenting, Relationships & Social Life, Self-Improvement|Tags: , , , , |28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. A April 2, 2017 at 10:33 am - Reply

    My parents do every one f these except fighting my battles, I rarely have them with people other than them and if I do, I feel like they sit back with popcorn to watch while critiquing.

    • Panagiotis K. April 2, 2017 at 12:01 pm - Reply

      A lot of people feel like this, with their parents. But that doesn’t mean also we need to give up. 🙂

  2. Sarah Lee June 1, 2017 at 10:42 am - Reply

    I am going to be 40 this year and this completely describes my mom and dad. If I don’t do things their way, they aren’t happy with me. It is awful. I am with someone they approve of, otherwise I wouldn’t be “allowed” to live with anyone else together in one of their crappy rental properties. It is a selfish and sick twisted existence, and everyone in this situation feels like they are in prison. They manipulate to get me to live how they want. Forget everyone else, it is always about them. It just really sad. I struggle with depression. I feel like a prisoner in my own life. This has been literally going on for Years.

    • Michelle L June 1, 2017 at 11:15 am - Reply

      Hi Sarah,

      I’m sorry to hear this. One of the keys to maintaining a relationship with controlling parents is to maintain a respectful distance….while you value them, you should set firm boundaries.

    • CB June 3, 2017 at 10:50 am - Reply

      Sarah, it looks like you are doing this to your self. My suggestion… move out of their rental.
      Live your life away from them. Be kind and respectful to them but get out of there.
      Even if you have to get a side job to pay for a place not owned by them.

      • Panagiotis K. June 4, 2017 at 12:36 pm - Reply

        As CB stated, this is the first move you can do. I agree 100% ;). Move out from your parent’s house and try to build your own life.

    • Kimberlyn Shutzer August 12, 2017 at 4:39 pm - Reply

      I can’t emphasize more how I can relate to you. I think there should be a law that all kids after 16 should be separated from their parents, good or bad, I don’t care. I think parents are a waste of time and life and as we get older they get to be a nuisance and burden, especially control freak mothers.

    • Cathy October 13, 2017 at 5:31 am - Reply

      Hi Sarah, sorry to hear this. Move out now and get your own place.

    • Curran Padake October 15, 2017 at 12:16 am - Reply

      It’s unfortunate that some fathers perceive a successful son as someone who is married and settled with 3 kids. They will go as far as constantly shaming you when you don’t live up to their expectations.

  3. Andrea June 9, 2017 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Im 45 and my mother still thinks she can tell me what to do? Shes never liked any of my exs. Not even my current partner. Whom she hates!
    Ive had to resort moving overseas permanetly. so that l can live a peaceful life.
    I dont even have children of my own, because of her. I dont want to bring kids up &_have them subjected to what l went through ‘growing up’.
    I was sexually molested when l was 12. I told her,(my parents) and they didnt believe me. They called me a lier.

    Ive accepted the fact shes the problem,and she will never change. Shes suffers depression but l think shes bi polar.
    Shes even influnced my brother, l dont have a close relationship with him either.
    So moving away is the best decision lve ever done.

    • Michelle L June 12, 2017 at 9:38 am - Reply

      Thanks for sharing, Andrea. It’s difficult indeed, and we manage in the best way we can. It takes unending patience.

    • Andria August 31, 2017 at 7:52 pm - Reply

      Hello Andrea,
      I read your post, and I thought your life is so similar to mine. I am also 45 years old and I have no spouse and children. Neither does my brother. When my brother showed a romantic interest towards someone, my mother would run interfere. She still continues to do this with both of us. I have only introduced her to one male in my life, who I was engaged to. I went through hell. She gossiped to the family about me. She told me that I shamed the family and God was mad at me. Her goal is for me to stay single and live with her to take care of her. When I make a decision that she doesn’t agree with, she stops taking her blood pressure medication and end up in the hospital. My family blames me. I am very depressed and have anxiety throughout my life.

  4. Krysten July 26, 2017 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Hi, guys! My name is Krysten. If any of you are interested and happen to read this, I established a closed Facebook group called the Adult Children of Controlling Parents (ACCP), where more adults are undergoing the same situation. This is a support group where you can write about your own frustrations, read and respond to others’ posts, and offer advice to those in need. The link is provided below for those who are interested!

    • Michelle L July 30, 2017 at 7:16 pm - Reply

      Hi Kristen! I’d be interested in this group myself. I’ll be visiting shortly!

  5. Emily Rist July 31, 2017 at 7:00 am - Reply

    My grandmother is this and more, I lived with her for 2 years and ran away. My grandmother takes care of my disables brothers who are shut ins. The one that’s not autistic waits for her on hand and foot, as well as waiting for grandpa and guests, and never has hung out with friends, had electronics for more than a few hours and no connection to the outside world. Another thing is, abusive parents like her who manipulate their self-image to avoid child abuse social workers and instead put me in mental health care. The system has no way to get around her and that’s why I’ve determined myself to go into a good career and take them away from the hurt because our government would over look manipulation and make the matters worse.

  6. Connie September 2, 2017 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    I’m 34, and my parents match everything that’s on the checklist. I joined the navy just to get away from them; I told them the reason why I would run away but they won’t listen. Even after 13 years later, they still trying to ruin my life — they hate my husband because we are not the same race, causing my kids to hate each other because they favor the 1st born, talking shit to me because we are not as wealthy as they are… they blamed me of losing a ton of money in real estate investment because of the location of my college (fact is I got accepted in a different city but I was restricted to go… I was too young to refuse because they were going to cut off the money) Trying to “restrict” me to come back to my hometown for attending my best friend’s wedding because they don’t think friendship exists, (oh yeah so I ended up getting a hotel room myself, and flew in without telling them, since they always told me that they won’t let me come inside the house), calling me fat everyday since I’m not skinny like those Asian women in Asia, etc. There are so many more things that I could go on in that list.

    Anyways, I’m Chinese…. all those years I thought that’s just the Asian thing. Now I realize that those control freaks are everywhere. I’m just glad that my husband is always there to support me. I’m trying every effort to get rid off those unacceptable behaviors that I might passively pass that on my kids. By separating my kids from my parents, I intentionally teach them zero Chinese languages. (I spoke 5 languages, a government-graded interpreter) I know that I have wasted that talent, but I really have no choice.

    They have already ruined my life… I cannot have them ruined my kids. Period.

    • Michelle L September 8, 2017 at 4:59 am - Reply

      I am sorry to hear this, Connie and I fully understand. Controlling parents try to mold their kids to fit their ideals, and as we know, it never works. I’m glad that your husband’s there for you.

  7. Tiffany September 29, 2017 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    Sarah Lee- you describe my situation exactly and I’m in my mid 40s. It’s been like this from day one and my parents don’t even live in the same state. My mother had some pretty rotten things happen to her in life so I will never stand up to her and make her already tragic life worse. Know that you are not alone. If there is any silver lining it’s that I recognize her behavior as abnormal and so I’m not making the same mistakes with my children. Wish I could find a local support group for people in our shoes. Take care.

  8. Ms. Desperada October 4, 2017 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    I thought I was the only one, I’m an only child and my father passed away three years ago. I turned 33 in June. graduated college, landed a great job and also I have my own business. I live with my mother because I feel awful moving out since I’m the only child. I have been with my boyfriend for five years. we took a break because my mother does not approve of me sleeping over or going on vacation with my boyfriend or any of exes. She hided my passport to prevent me going on vacation with my ex. Supposedly he was not good enough for me. I ended breaking up with him. Then I met my current boyfriend and even though we have been together for five years she treats him bad and does not lose a chance to insult him. my boyfriend has a great job as well and he put up with everything without saying a word because he loves me and knows how important my mother is to me. She does not have too many friends and the ones she had stopped talking to her. My boyfriend and I spoke to her about me moving with him. she told him that the only reason she let him step into the apartment was because of me, that we were old and we didn’t need her approval that she didn’t care and many other hurtful things. since that day she has been very dismissal with me and hardly speaks to me and said I didn’t defend her when he said that the reason he wanted her approval was that I love her and I was very attached to her. I really don’t know what to do I love my boyfriend and my mother as well. P.S she doesn’t need me to pay for bills when I leave because I already made sure her full rent is pay from my business.

  9. Elizabeth October 6, 2017 at 12:02 am - Reply

    Hey guys. I’m 18 years old and my name is Elizabeth. I turned 18 in may. Anyways it was fine living at home at 1st after I turned 18 but now it’s toxic. I put my car in a ditch and my dad still hasn’t let it go. I also ran over a curb and made my tire fall off of the rim but didn’t pop it. They were $2,000 somethin in debt with me when I was working and going to school so I decided to buy the car off of them. But it’s not in my name so anytime we fight they hold that against me. Also they take my phone bc I don’t pay the bills but they won’t let me get my OWN phone bc they can’t go through it. I feel like I’m being suffocated. I’m on my senior year of highschool and can’t even focus in school because I’m so stressed out about living here. I want to move out but the only place I have to go is my friend Koris house. She’s like a sister to me. But idk how to move out without starting a HUGE fight. They won’t listen to me even if I try to say it nicely. I need help😔

    • Panagiotis K. October 6, 2017 at 12:36 pm - Reply

      At the age of 18, I was also had big problems with my parents. Parents will always see their children as children. I would suggest you chill out. I know it is difficult but believe me, any other option like leaving your house will definitely bring new problems to your life. Try to stop fighting with them and give some time to your relationship, so both of you will calm down.

      What you need right now I think is time and patience. Hope you find your way Elizabeth!! 🙂

  10. Love Martinez October 7, 2017 at 10:14 pm - Reply

    I’m 14 and I live with my grandparents. My grandpa is really nice, but my grandma is very controling. She always talks crap about me on the phone, and she always makes me feel like I can’t do anything right. When I try to ignore her she gets even angrier and ((since her first language is Spanish) tells me insults Spanish. I get depressed and lonely, I try to be happy, but she puts back into the same depression.I’m lucky though because I have my grandpa who defends me when she’s being like that, and my pets who can comfort me. When I get older I want move away, but for now I’m just going to try and keep my distance.

  11. Anonymous October 17, 2017 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    My father forced me into marrying a girl from India. Know one helped me he was controlling he use to read all my letter. I once ‘re wives a personal letter from a girl and he read it. He told me not to write to girls and just get married.

    I had a loving sister who left the family I don’t blame her ! Because of my father.

    Next I got falsely accused of something I didn’t do the whole world turned against me….noone listened. I suffered fro. Mental disorders I hate my father

    • Shweta Mg November 9, 2017 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      That is exactly how the family dynamics worked for my ex husband. Indian parents preach about how religion and traditions, Sanskrit I are valuable but I feel they don’t acknowledge their children have inherited their traits, have different psychological profiles and autonomy to state their preferences. That is where we say all races are the same, no one is different and that you should tell them to read a few psychology articles, not to mention Indian marital laws. If they are willing to be grand to a stranger then why shouldn’t they treat you better too ?
      Give them a realistic insight read blogs and tell them it’s not all honey and roses what they propose, but real problems exist and they shouldn’t be saying deal with shit later.

  12. Tiffy October 24, 2017 at 5:55 am - Reply

    I am 26 years old and my parents are very controlling. I feel like I can’t breathe or speak to them if I want to make my own life decisions. I have been dating my boyfriend since I was 18 and my father told him to get out of his house this year. I want to get married and start my own family but they make it seem like it’s such a disgraceful act. Also when I tell them that I am an adult they use terms like “if I know how I became an adult?” And with this, it’s like I owe them my life.

    I feel like I’m never living for me but for them. I am also judged if I go out late (not very often) and I am constantly called. I have my own job and a proper education. I just feel like I am not good enough or ungrateful for wanting to live my life for me.

  13. Kim October 28, 2017 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    Ugh. My mother is under the impression that since she is my mother, she needs to know everything. What medication I’m on, if I’m making appointments for this or that, if I’m doing what she thinks I should be doing, “it’s my right to know these things” is her mantra, I believe. She reminds me daily that I have to do this or that, or she goes around me and makes decisions for me that I didn’t agree to or approve of. She tells her friends and acquaintances my personal medical information (like a surgery I was having done—she was my driver). She nags the crap out of me if I’m not doing things fast enough or making decisions quick enough for her liking. She does all of this under the guise of “I’m just trying to help you”. She has no regard for my privacy at all. She calls privacy “secrecy”. She does not respect my boundaries at all. She noses through my medication in my office and inquires about them. She reads my facebook page and comments personal information. I finally had to block her. She blows her own horn an awful lot. “I did this before anyone else” or “I got praise from this person or from doing that”. I’m now in my late 40s and this is still going on. I’m so tired of the constant nagging that I’m beginning to hate her. I did move away and it just got worse. She doesn’t treat my brothers like this. She gets all mad when I try to stand my grand and it becomes a yelling match. I am so over this. Manipulation is her favourite form of control. She has shamed me to my friends and to my doctor and with her friends. People tell me I should be grateful I still have my mother, but at this point, I’m not convinced.

  14. Shweta Mg November 9, 2017 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    Each of these checklist points apply to me, also from a wealthy family. If I express a legitimate point, there are massive threatening fights. I fight back I hurt them with curses to go die or that I will throw them into a facility if they expect me to look after them later on.
    I fight hurtfully I often jeer them and laugh at their stupidity and criticize their obvious mistakes. Then tell them a few sympathetic words and then manage a few ego slamming comments on how they think or feel, point the problem back at them and keep your parents second guessing about their own frame of mind or choices.
    Next because of their meddling in my marriage and claiming to have protected me, though they won’t admit; it’s their fault in arranging a marriage to a guy who is more like them and came into the marriage for the money they boasted to invest. My ex didn’t get it and decided to leave me high and dry two days after bringing a baby home. Alright you can say I didn’t see the signs, actually I did and because I was mentally strong to hold a one man game, after all I learnt this being in constant opposition to my parents always.

    My son adores me more than he loves my ex, his father and thinks it a big punishment to go see him. That is court orders, if I had my way which is going to take some time, I’m a foreign trained doctor, and need to really get through admissions hopefully this coming year. There is yet another exam, I will study for to get where I should have without the impediments and obstacles set by my parents for me.

    I think motivation is a silent force and anyone planning to get away from destructive parents should pretend to be sweetsy, playing a gas lighting game to advance your gains. Constantly place doubt but do creative things to offer to them. That’s what I’m doing but don’t listen to insults, do fight or point out examples of their stupidity you should, you need to bask in some glory to strive.
    Emotional stress sabotages all of us facing this and we might then always be in our parents homes facing crap even in rearing our own children, then parents may over take your role and start acting like young parents to your children, ruling us out. I’m facing this and I constantly put them in place about the smallest things, convincing them they are aging and are too emotionally immature and unstable or unhealthy to admit this .:)

    Reduce their self worth it’s a slow process until you work on yourself. It is taxing in every way but you will gain some control over them through their fears and insecurities.
    We all are humans why is this stupid concept of giving respect to elders present? It doesn’t matter nor does it make sense , we all have the same internal structure just incidentally at a different point in time. That doesn’t guarantee your feelings and image are less valid than someone older than you.
    At least you have a fresh enthusiasm and hope hold on to that do not allow yourself to fall into the ditch of eternal hopelessness . That takes more stamina and resources to get out of, something your controlling family will be happy you fell into .
    Don’t give them too much of those pleasures, give a few take back yourself silently and then pull away .

    I am Hindu and Brahmin, I was brought up pretty modern and allowed to eat what I want as did my parents too. Suddenly at marriage time one is supposed to become a family oriented vegetarian cooking and always doing chores because we are girls. If you are a boy and didn’t have kids, they will start calling that boy gay or impotent, demeaning young adults, because these elders have been roughshod too much and want us to be embittered too.
    I don’t have any gods in my home, traditional behavior ended when my parents ex left me on stupid grounds stating I do not meet their ideals of being a typical Brahmin wife .
    Screw that and well the gods are sitting in a rubbish bag in the shoe storage place where it belongs. There is only us and only our fears or conscience keeping the human race going on, that and renewed hope for a creative constructive world.
    For that today’s youth need to pretend to play in alignment until you are strong enough to discard those holding you back: the toxic waste dump that are our own malignant families tying us down .
    Take time but let’s aim for a better tomorrow:)

  15. Zach November 21, 2017 at 11:47 pm - Reply

    My parents fit this list perfectly. More-so my father. He’s also a very sensitive man who I’m nothing like, and he hates it. At 33 years old, I have a decent job, have my own house, pay my bills and work really hard for what I have. I only spend money on things I actually “need” rather than something I “want”. All this and he still thinks I’m not doing anything right. They’ll still treat me like a child and tell me that I’m not living up to their expectations. I’ve tried talking with them without getting angry, I’ve tried sticking up for myself and letting them know I’m doing great, but that only makes them resent me more. They’ll call me everyday and if I don’t answer, they’ll think something terribly wrong has happened. My dad is very manipulative and will make me feel guilty with everything I do. He’ll never admit his faults and will twist things around to make it sound like it’s my problem. When confronted, he’ll either shut down and say nothing or not talk to me for weeks. He’ll say things like “This is what I want” or “You don’t know what you’re doing”

    Mostly, the both of them expect me to drop everything, and make time for weekly visits. (I work 75+ hours a week). And If I don’t, I’m disrespecting them. I’ve tried everything except talking to a therapist, which I think I’m ready to do.

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