You’re scared silly when it comes to having Sunday Dinner with your overbearing parents, and dread the off-the-cuff, critical remarks they make. You’re not alone.
You shouldn’t fear your parents since you’re an adult. But it’s hard to deal with their tight control, even after decades. If you’re uncomfortable with how yours relate to you, you’ll find this article useful.
Why Are Some Parents Overbearing?
All of us are familiar with helicopter parents who micromanage their children, even after they’ve grown. But what makes them tick?
Some parents are overbearing because they grew up in a highly-controlled environment themselves. Helicopter parents may have experienced the pain of being overly-managed themselves.
Others are narcissists who manipulate their children just because they have the authority to do so. They believe in the “My Way or the Highway’ philosophy and expect everyone, including their kids, to subscribe to it.
7 Signs of Overbearing Parents
You may not realize that you have overbearing parents if you’re used to them. But here are the signs they have crossed your boundary.
1. Unrealistic Expectations
Tiger parents often expect their children to meet unreasonable demands and standards. These parents have high expectations of their kids but don’t explain the way to fulfill them. Furthermore, they often become unsettled if their children fail to meet them. Knowingly or otherwise, they set their children up for failure.
Indeed, helicopter parents are perfectionists. They are rigid and issue unreasonable ultimatums should you not do what they want.
2. No Affirmation
Some parents believe that tough love is the way to prepare their children for a rough future. If your parents gave you such love, you might think that their harsh treatment benefited you.
All is well if it builds resilience, but the opposite may occur. A lack of affirmation may cause self-blame and breakdowns.
3. Pushy Parents Want a Say in Everything
Pushy parents want a say in every aspect of their children’s lives – their careers, finances, and even relationships. They will contact you all the time lest you mix with the ‘wrong crowd’ and put you on guilt trips for not complying.
Also, these parents will guard your love selfishly. They will prevent you from meeting your friends and may even use force to gain your obedience. They will also restrict financial help should you need it.
You’ll also find them communicating with others on your behalf, making it seem as though you cannot make decisions yourself.
4. Controlling Parents Overburden Their Children
Parents who have too much say in their children’s lives tend to burden them with too many responsibilities. It can seem as though the children’s lives aren’t their own.
5. Overbearing Parents Are Omnipresent
Pushy parents will not understand that you sometimes need to be alone with your friends or significant other. They typically insist on being around when they are not supposed to be. Don’t be surprised to find these parents at the restaurant where you’re having dinner with your friends.
6. Parents Who Control Too Much Are Passive- Aggressive
Passive-aggressiveness involves displays of subtle yet hurtful behaviors. For example, pushy parents will refuse to speak with you if you associate with friends that have not earned their stamp of approval.
7. Pushy Parents Have Little Patience
Also, they wouldn’t have much time for small talk or explanations for how you do things. You’ll never do things as well as they want you to.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Having Pushy Parents
Having a parent who hovers over you all the time can feel as though you are wearing an ankle monitor. But it can have some advantages.
- You can learn from your mistakes because you’ll have the benefit of their experience. Their advice is often harsh but may have rings of truth.
- Your parents may be overbearing, but you’ll probably be able to count on them when you need help. Their ways may be pushy, but you have their love.
- Are you indecisive? If you spend excessive time trying to answer this question, you probably are. Unfortunately, your pushy parents may be to blame for this trait. Children of pushy parents find it hard to make decisions because they always need their parents’ approval.
- Adult children of parents who overshadow them often lack self-confidence. You may be afraid of dealing with situations yourself.
- You may also lack problem-solving skills because your parents plan each of your moves.
- You may have a sense of entitlement because your overbearing parents have always done everything for you.
- Your parents may be living vicariously through you. You may be helping them to fulfill their dreams, though none of you may admit it. Unfortunately, you may not get to fulfill your own dreams because your parents’ feelings limit you.
- No one likes having another person tell them what to do; pushiness creates conflict. At some point, you’ve probably rebelled against your parents because of their overbearing ways.
- Pushiness is also limiting. You may become angry because your parents have controlled you too much.
How to Deal with Overbearing Parents When You Are an Adult
It isn’t easy to tell your parents that they push too hard. You may not be able to get them to change their ways, but there are a few things you can do to make your life easier.
1. Realize That You Don’t Have to Please Your Parents All the Time
We grow up seeking approval, affirmation, and even love from our parents. Your parents have earned the credit for making you the incredible person you are. Of course, their approval and love are one of your topmost priorities.
That said, always pandering to their feelings can prevent you from making sensible decisions yourself. Do realize that you don’t need them to affirm you all the time. Recognizing that you have an irrational need to please them will help you to relate to them.
2. Assert Yourself
Just being angry with your parents will not serve you well. The anger stops you from moving forward and drains your energy. Tell them that they have crossed your boundaries, using words that are not too harsh.
3. Cut Financial Ties
A sad reality is that money puts people in positions of authority. Adult children often seek their parents’ help for housing, student, or business loans. Parents use these to maintain their holds over them. Try not to depend on your parents for financial support if they are manipulative.
4. Identify Emotional Blackmail
Overbearing or manipulative parents often put their adult children on guilt trips to get them to toe their line. They make their grown kids feel ashamed of past behaviors.
Recognize when they are resorting to emotional blackmail. On that note, try not to share too many details of your life with them, lest they use your secrets against you.
5. Arm Yourself
Get the skills necessary to deal with your overbearing parents. A workshop on assertiveness training may be in order if you find it difficult to be appropriately assertive to them. Remind yourself that you are an adult, and look for examples of how to respond to verbal abuse.
6. Develop an Action Plan
Abusive behaviors always trigger emotional responses. They’re understandable but hardly help relationships to progress.
Commit to reading books or articles on dealing with controlling parents. You may also discuss your situation with a trusted counselor. At some point, you may even want to sit your parents down for a friendly talk.
7. Accept Your Parents
The Universe gave you your parents for a reason, and overbearing as they are, they helped make the beautiful person that you are. Acknowledging this contribution will allow you to accept them, your situation, and yourself.
Difficult as it is, you can set boundaries for your overbearing parents and regain control of your life. It takes a conscious effort but will liberate you.