How to Cope With Controlling Parents

Do you want to stop being manipulated by your mom and dad? These tips on how to cope with parents who are controlling and emotionally manipulative may help. You’ll see from the comments from adult children who have controlling parents that every parent is different, and controlling in his or her own way.

How to Cope With Controlling ParentsAre your parents toxic, and perhaps even destructive? Read Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your LifeDr. Susan Forward draws on case histories and the real-life voices of adult children of toxic parents to help you free yourself from the frustrating patterns of your relationship with your parents — and discover a new world of self-confidence, inner strength, and emotional independence.

Here’s a surprising twist on living with controlling parents: “Giving up hope is one of the healthiest, most life-affirming things you could do for yourself,” writes Dr Laura Schlessinger in Bad Childhood – Good Life: How to Blossom and Thrive in Spite of an Unhappy Childhood. “If, of course, you…accept, and don’t pout.”

Giving up hope may sound negative and depressing — but after you read my explanation and tips for coping with parents who try to control you, you may feel differently. Giving up your expectations may be the healthiest thing you ever do in life.

Controlling Parents – How Do You Cope?

My husband and I attended a marriage course last night (it’s the fifth of seven sessions), and it was all about coping with your childhood family relationships. I wrote a bit about it in How to Go on a Marriage Retreat Without Leaving Home – and I encourage you to deal with your parental issues, because it has a huge effect on your intimate relationships!

Let go of your need to please your parents

We grow up seeking approval, affirmation, and even love from our parents. Part of why it’s so difficult to confront our parents is we don’t want to disappoint or anger them. Even as grown children, we want them to keep loving us – even when we feel like we hate them! A tip for coping with controlling parents – or any toxic person in your life – is to recognize your need to please them, and let go of it. Or, at least learn how to live with it.





Cut your financial ties to parents who want to control

On How to Cope With Difficult Parents, a reader asked for help with her father. He’s making her life miserable – not to mention the effect he has on her husband and child! She mentioned that her father helped her get a mortgage loan, and he holds that over them. So…instead of staying financially beholden, she might find ways to free herself and take her life back. This might involve getting a bank loan and paying her dad back – even if the money was originally a gift. It’s not a “gift” if it’s taking an emotional toll. Or, if everyone agrees that money isn’t owed (the mortgage help or special baby food was a gift, for instance), then she might get him to sign something that states she doesn’t owe him money and he has no right to lord it over her. This black-and-white evidence might help them take money out of the father-daughter relationship.

Learn to recognize emotional blackmail

This is one of the best ways to take your life back! If you have controlling parents, you may recognize that they disguise their criticism, try to make you feel guilty for past behavior, or constantly make you feel bad about your life. They don’t seem to want to let you live your life! Before confronting difficult parents, it’s important to recognize and learn to deal with emotional blackmail.

How to Cope With Controlling Parents

How to Cope With Controlling Parents

Read books like the ones I featured, take a weekend workshop in assertiveness training, or talk to a counselor. Keep reminding yourself that you’re a grown adult – you’re not a child anymore, and you don’t have to succumb to emotional manipulations! A big part of this is learning to say “no” without feeling guilty.

If your parents are emotionally manipulative and controlling, read Surprising Examples of Verbal Abuse in Relationships. It may help if you learn how to recognize verbal abuse.

Separate emotion from an action plan

Emotion says, “But I don’t want to confront my parents or move to a different city – I’m scared/tired/frustrated/miserable!” An action plan says, “I want a better life, better relationships. I don’t deserve to be treated like this. To stop this from happening, I need to (insert action plan here).” To confront your controlling parents, you’ll probably have to do something you don’t want to do: quit a job you love, move to a different city, set and stick to your boundaries, talk to a family counselor, get emotionally stronger, and stand up to other family members. It’s not an easy way to take your life back, but it’s effective.

Stop wishing your parents less controlling, or different

coping with controlling parent

These controlling parents are yours, and if you’re still wishing they were different, you need to stop! You don’t need to give up hope for a better relationship with your parents – but you need to stop hoping they’ll change.  They’ll continue to be overbearing and difficult to take….but luckily, you’re a grown adult and you are free to distance yourself emotionally, physically, socially, and financially. You can choose to live your own life!

If you have any thoughts on coping with parents who try to control you, please comment below. I can’t offer advice on coping with controlling parents, but it may help you to share your experience coping with difficult parents.

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How to Cope With Controlling Parents
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Tips on how to cope with parents who are controlling and emotionally manipulative, to help adult children deal with controlling parents.

Before You Go...


Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen on twitterLaurie Pawlik-Kienlen on pinterestLaurie Pawlik-Kienlen on linkedinLaurie Pawlik-Kienlen on googleLaurie Pawlik-Kienlen on facebook
Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
I live in Vancouver, BC; my degrees are in Education, Psychology, and Social Work. Most importantly, I am a Christian! I love God, Jesus, Spirit. Your comments are welcome below, but I can't give advice. Are you lost, hurt, scared? Take a deep breath, and remember the reason you exist. "The eternal God is your refuge; His everlasting arms are under you." - Deut 33:27. Feel free to share your prayers and experiences here.

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34 Responses

  1. Laurie says:

    Hi Tara,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing your experience with your mom! She sounds like she’s causing you a great deal of stress and pain. Your experience will help other readers cope with their own controlling parents.

    Have you read any of the Boundaries books? It sounds like your mom is pushing you to do things you don’t want to do. When that happens, it’s an issue of boundaries. Your job – not just when you’re coping with controlling parents, but with every relationship in your life – is to learn what your boundaries are and how to protect them. Unhealthy parents don’t like when their healthy adult children have boundaries, so you need to learn how to be strong and assertive in your relationship.

    My prayer for you is that you find ways to cope with your mom, and deal with the grief and pain that she is causing. It hurts so much when our parents don’t behave like they should (loving, supportive, nurturing, giving, helpful!!). It’s hard. We need our parents to be supportive and loving, no matter how old we are. I pray that you find ways to resolve the pain and confusion about your mom’s actions, and that you gain wisdom and clarity as you consider your options. May you find wise people to talk to in person, and may you and your fiancé support each other in healthy ways. I pray for your upcoming marriage, that it’s full of positive experiences and healthy boundaries. Amen.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  2. Tara says:

    Hi Laurie,
    I could really use some help right about now. I am having some really serious issues with my mom… She has had increasingly worse behavior in the last few months, jealousy of my mother-in-law, straight up belittling me, making me feel like a child, but this escalated to a point that I no longer know how to deal with. Last night she told me that she would no longer be paying a life insurance policy that she had on me, and that I would need to take over the payments if I wanted the policy, I let her know I was not interested (I’m in my 20’s I don’t really think I need it. I should also note she is an insurance agent, so she makes bonuses for selling life insurance). At that point she said fine and got off the phone. She later sent me a text asking if I died tomorrow who would be financially responsible for my funeral. When I told her my fiance would be she told me she would not cancel the policy unless I wrote a letter stating that she would not be financially responsible for my funeral, signed by both my fiance and myself. When I told her I would not do that she said that I will now be responsible for the payments as she won’t cancel it. But what is most concerning to me is that I know she has a loan against this policy, in theory I could be responsible for that… I have no idea of what to do, the argument got very heated and we are no longer speaking, there is really nothing stopping her from leaving me with her mess.

  3. Laurie says:

    My prayer for all adults who are coping with controlling parents is for peace and wisdom. May you find the best ways to deal with your parents, while maintaining a sense of love, joy, and serenity in your relationship. I pray you find healthy ways to set boundaries with parents who want to control you, and that you know when to stand firm and when to let your guard down a little.

    I pray for energy, healing, and strength. May you recognize when your parents are trying to be controlling, and when they’re just being themselves. May you stay strong and compassionate, loving and gentle. May you connect with other adult children who are coping with controlling parents, and may you find support and wisdom in their company. Amen.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  4. Tiffany says:

    I dont even know where to start. Im 23 and I own my own house with my boyfriend my parents are always busy doing their own thing. But then once in a while they start texting me that they don’t see me enough and I need to spend more time with them. I understand that I need to see them but I moved out at 19 for a reason. I was tired of asking permission to go places and getting 50 questions before leaving. I couldn’t study without them needing me to take care of one thing or another before going to work. I almost failed my first semester of college because I couldn’t get enough study time in. When I moved out they were mad but eventually got over it. They never came over that often and when my boyfriend moved in they started wanting me around more again. We then bought a house and we tried to include my parents but then of course things came up with other family members and we had to wait even though they promised to be their to help, so I got over it because they are adults can make their own decisions. We still asked them over but I work nights they work day I’m still trying to get through college and then there breathing down my back again about family time and not talking enough but I work 10 1/2 hours a day then sleep and school the only time I have is friday and saturday. This past saturday we asked them over to help because my mom said when we had the time she’d make curtains for the living room, my dad comes in and starts yelling for me to come look at this and do that and my boyfriend doesn’t like when he starts talking to me like that so he told him that we asked my mom over and not him and that we would take my mom home, they both left of course. Now this wasn’t the best way to handle the situation we both know that. But now my dad is going on about me pushing away my family, and how I never talk to him or my brother but they don’t talk to my either its a two way road. Now he tells me how we need more family time and I only come home every few months. Personally I like staying at my home, I don’t feel the need to go over and sit on the couch and listen to them talk about guns. I’ve never purposely pushed away from them I just started doing my own thing and enjoyed being young for once without having them talk down about it because I have more fun at a baseball game than at the gun range.

  5. Dr. Clare Albright, Psy.D. says:

    I just ended a session with a 14 year old male client who is in a similar situation with controlling parents. This is a great article that hits the bulls eye.

  6. Brittany says:

    I am so happy to have found this site. I am a 34 y.o. only child to a narcissist, controlling, and dependent mother. My mother has never been married and has no friends because she annihilates people. She has always tried to control me. When I was dating my now husband she acted a complete fool. She has her good days but her bad days definitely outweigh them. She feels everyone has a problem with or is jealous of her.
    She doesn’t live in reality and makes questionable financial and life decisions that ALWAYS have an impact on me because she has no one else to call on. She becomes very defensive with any suggestions on how she can improve or avoid things that I can see as a train wreck but she refuses to until she is at the crossroads of the wreck. For example it was suggested to my mother that she move into my grandmas mortgage free home. My grandma is in a nursing home so no one was occupying the home. I could see that she could no longer afford her home however she became very defensive and said everyone was trying to run her life. To make a long story short our opportunity to move her with ample assistance passed and finally when the house was foreclosed on (and she waited until the last possible day to move) it was me packing up her home because she was in denial about the move. I had to rent the Uhaul trucks to move her all the while I was working 12 hour shifts, going to school, and tending to my own home. Just yesterday she spent 350 dollars on her hair to call me this morning at 7:00 AM in a frustrated and defensive tone telling me how she hated it and it doesn’t matter that I like it. She kept going on about her not sleeping all night because of her hair and that she hates that it blows in her face. I just wanted to scream shut the F up. I want peace in my life. I work as an ER Nurse and some day’s after a long day there I am not up for the additional stress.

  7. Laurie says:

    Anonymous,

    Your parents love you so much! I envy you, and I don’t think they’re controlling parents. I think they’re supporting you financially and in other ways, and thus it’s their right to tell you what they think they should expect from you. Your parents love you so much, and one day you’ll see how lucky you are.

    Truly “controlling parents” are emotionally manipulative. They don’t care about you or your relationship with them. They only care about themselves. Your parents want the best for you – I can see that through your comments, without even hearing from them.

    The way I see it, the only thing your parents did wrong was protect you for too long. That’s why you’re scared to move out, and that’s why you commute for 3.5 hours to university. You haven’t been challenged enough.

    You’ve been given the world, and you expect to have both freedom and protection from risk. Alas, you can’t have both. Either you choose to live with your parents the way they are, or you take a leap of faith and move out.

    Can you do it? Can you be an adult and live separately from them? That’s how you cope with controlling parents: you grow up and be independent.

    xo
    Laurie

  8. Anonymous says:

    Laurie,

    I don’t really know where to start. I think I have a problem, but wasn’t sure until reading your article and the posted comments and situations from others.

    I am 20 years old and go to a university 3.5 hours from home. My parents get upset when I spend weekends not seeing them. They get especially upset when I go to see my boyfriend of 2 years (3 hours away) and don’t go the extra hour drive from his house to see them. But it’s not even that they want to see me, if I don’t give them the entire weekend then it becomes a huge episode. They are upset that I don’t text or call them “as often as I should”. When I got my nose pierced at 19, my mom ignored me for the weekend I was home because of it. They told me I and my boyfriend are too immature to get married, I am not ready to move out, and that I just cry any time someone disagrees with me or says something I don’t like. Some people are bad at self-evaluation, but I promise that I hardly ever cry.

    I believe that I am financially capable of moving out, but I am really really scared. Any advice on how to prepare for the conversation?

    Thanks!!!

  9. Ran Pham says:

    My parent has always tried to control me, thinking this is the best for me and it’s for my sake. They even try to abuse me, both verbally and physically, to make me do what they want. Throughout my life I feel so numb, like I don’t even have a voice in this world. Saying, “I’m doing this for you” “You’re just too stupid to realized that this is this for your sake” “You’re too young and too inexperience to understand you stupid idiot” and then turn around saying, “You have to make a choice, if you don’t then you’re stupid” How can I make a choice if they never let me make one? But I believed them, because I loved my parent and I couldn’t bear hurting them. Because I was too stupidly obedient. I don’t have any friends or anyone to talk to, don’t even have a voice to talk or reach out for help. The only place I can vent out to is my journal that I keep with me and the Internet. This is just too intense and overwhelming for me. They’re both controlling me, and I don’t have a choice but to fall in their trap. I feel like I could be erase from existence. My whole family, aunts, uncles, and cousins are all doctors. Since my parent was being called by rude and cruel names and violently abused, my mom and dad want us to prove to them that they’re wrong and we’re right. The only way for us to help our parent and win this game is to become a better doctor than them. If not, then I have to become a lawyer. But is it wrong to want to become a person who follow her dreams? I want to help them, but I want to do what I want to do. It’s impossible to do both, because my dream is basically a career that would let my aunts and uncles to laugh at my parent for giving birth to me. I’m confused, should I be myself and live my best and brightest full with resentment and abuses, or should I just stay trapped and be a puppet to help my parent? I just wished that I was born wanting to become a doctor, not an impossible dream that seems too difficult to reach. Many people that I know try to tell me to give up, saying that my family’s situation is too complicated, or they’ll just say that they can’t help me. I’m forced to do this alone, in fact, this is the first time I get to vent out, to be someone that have a voice. I don’t mind if no one has a solution for my problem as long as I get to vent out.

    • Matthew Coury says:

      yeah that is my parents….they have tried to physically threaten me, financially, threatened me with physical and emotional abandonment….i have even called them bitches and bastards to their faces….i have even been in fistfights with my dad and even had physical confrontations with my mother who for some reason has thought since i was a teenager she has a right to slap me..i taught her otherwise……my situation is unique in that my parents tried to control my life not only through a homeschool cult which is also what the highschool i went to was, it was a church where the teenagers took classes and went to highschool a few days out of the week and it was rough…..got picked on all the time and made fun of…and my dad didnt make it any better cause he has always tried to control my life since i was a teenager by making me work for him and he has used that to control me financially and to keep me from making an average salary…he doesnt want me to be happy and experience life with a pretty wife because it would make him jealous and more miserable to see me as an average guy with a beautiful wife enjoying my life…it’s just sick

  10. dee says:

    Hi. I am 30 years old and always had and still do have a very difficult relationship with my dad. Sometimes I am not sure if he was/is controlling or if its me.
    When I was a teenager he would critisize my choice in friends, he would in an arguments critisize everything about me even the way I walked, he would follow me, he would go through my bags, he would put the phone on loudspeaker while I was talking to my friends, he would interfer the decisions I made and still does eg my friend asked me to be her bridesmaids about 4 years ago but he straight got in there and was telling me that I can’t really do that as I am too busy, he would make fun about my writing(I love to write), he would constantly compare me to other ppl, if he realised I had found a new hobby he would say oh so you are copying one of your friends then etc etc etc
    I was very very unhappy as a teenager I always felt like I wasn’t good enough and that even though my father loved me he could never like me as a person. I often felt that life I lived was fake that I wasn’t real. The worst is that his behaviour drove me to lie and constantly live a fabricated life when he was in it and unfortunately I have learned to live that way and still do so.
    When I was 23 I moved to London to study and live with my boyfriend. He doesn’t know about the boyfriend as he does not approve of him due to cultural diffetrences . I’ve done a bsc and a MSC but in order to carry on leaving in London I lied and said I was studying med. I did try to do that but have not been successful but he doesn’t know that. Now I feel very guilty and being in London has made me realise how unhealthy my life has been.
    And today is new years and for the first time I am not going home but instead I am celebrating with my friends. My father called me yesterday and made me feel guilty for doing that by saying why are u not coming home, if u go some where be careful cause we live in desperate countries and ppl will shame us if u do something wrong, we get worried black black black and then he proceeded to tell me that the phone rings differently sometimes when he calls me and he wanted me to explain why.
    I am going back home in two days but other mere thought of being there turns my stomach.
    I am sorry for this being so long but I really don’t know what to do. How do I get out of this net of lies?how do I learnt to be comfortable with my parents?how does our relationship become one of openness, respect and love?

  11. Liz says:

    I so appreciate what you posted about giving up hope. That is going to make my Christmas a whole lot better because I will let go of what will never be. Thank you Laurie.

  12. Laurie says:

    Dear Travis,

    I don’t have advice on how to cope with controlling parents – or how to solve your problems with your stepfather and mom. If I were you, I’d think about finding roommates and moving out. There are lots of rooms to let or basement suites to live in, even for students. That would be what I’d try — I’d get my own place and a job, so I wouldn’t have to deal with my parent’s rules and rigidity.

    Wishing you all the best as you consider your future….
    Laurie

  13. Laurie says:

    Dear Cheryl,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing how you’re struggling to cope with your controlling mom. It sounds like you’ve come such a long way! You are recognizing how your mom has tried to control you, and you are aware of how your childhood has affected who you are today. You’re also very aware of how your marriage and other relationships are affected by your past…and you want to be emotionally healthy and independent. That’s great! Good for you, for being open and honest about your insights and hope for the future.

    My prayer for you is that you find the right resources, to help you be free of your mom’s control and manipulation. May you consider all the options available to you: counseling, reading books about coping with controlling parents, volunteering with organizations that help others so you can see how important you are, joining different groups to help you learn more about yourself, trying new activities, taking healthy risks in your life. I pray you continue to develop your identity as a strong, healthy woman…and that you find ways to express your true self without fear of judgment. I pray you connect with God, who is the only source of strength, power, love, and unlimited security! May you find peace and freedom in His arms – and may you accept yourself for who you are while continuing to grow and flourish as a beautiful, happy woman. Amen.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  14. Travis says:

    18, live nine happy years with mother alone. Step father comes into the picture, and from my point if view, seems to take over the household very tediously and slowly, until now he’s abusing his power, and mom convinced he’s always right, whom once stuck up for me now looks down, and has me caught in quite the corner. Partially is my fair I’ll admit, as the hammer continued repeatedly to come down I began refraining and rebelling. Their solution? More rules, and less ability for me to voice my opinions. “You live in our household, you don’t get an opinion, you don’t get to get angry, your live under us, because were the parents, and what we say goes.” (Sadly, these are direct quotations). I’m now the silent, furtive type of character who does what I want behind their back, hates them everytime they yell, hates father everytime he speaks to me period, worries about my younger brother whom I’m scared for might turn out like them, and ultimately have seeked advice from other sources, such as being calm, trying to explain, “I” messages not “You”, and yet nothing works.
    Christmas time is coming, and soon I’ll be 19. Most kids are wishing for a new bike, or their two front teeth at this time. Me? I’m wishing for a new life, different name, and my parents realization that for once in their life, it wasn’t always my fault.
    Ho ho Ho and… Stuff. Oh well. One year and half left I suppose. Wish i could salvage something from this but, I really don’t see any hope with my parents future and me.
    Any advice?

  15. Cheryl says:

    H Lauriei,
    I am somewhat happy to find this site where i can write my feeling. I don’t know how to start. So I’ll just write from my childhood till my married life now. I am 28 years old now.
    So, when I was a child. My mom always complained that I didn’t have good grade and was a bad girl at school. She will yell at me whenever she has to meet the teacher at parents meeting day. Also, I was bullied at school, but when i told her she simply say it’s because I was a bad girl that I will get bullied. I was bullied because I was too quiet and shy at school. Those I thought was my friend bullied Me.
    During my high school, I went to a bad school, which luckily closed down because of its bad reputation, so I was transferred to a better high school. To tell you how bad it was, my somewhat “friend” stole my gel pens that I was collecting when I was little. They stole it in front of me and didn’t want to give back to me. During art class, a student asked the teacher how to draw a dragon. At that time, I happen to wear a dragon t-shirt. The teacher told the student to look at my teacher. I felt intimidated since the student, a guy, was looking non-stop at my breast to draw a dragon. I told my mom later, she replied he was only looking at the dragon. Don’t over think.
    At Cegep, I helped my mom at her restaurant part-time. However, at University, i wanted to stop since it was too hard for my psychology program. I was barely passing at school. At the end, i could never reach neither master nor doctorate degree, but managed to graduate from my bachelor degree which a fair average grade. But to do that, I had to study part-time, and continued on during summer vacation. I took me more years to graduate. If I didn’t help her, she would kick me out of the house.
    My mom never really wanted to go to any of my graduations. During high school, my parent went because I told her I wish she was there. In cegep, i didn’t bother asking her to come. During my university graduation, my husband back then boy friend asked my mom to come since he knew I really wanted her presence. He was going to propose to me on that day, but my mom had to ruin it. I knew he was going to propose to me because she told me your boy friend asked my permission to propose to you. I accepted, be a good girl and dont make him mad, he will propose to you on your graduation. I suspected he was going to propose because my little sister told me to dress prettily for your graduation day. My mom really like my boyfriend(husband now) before.
    Later on, i change to study as paralegal, i managed to have good grade, always in between 80% to 100%. But whenever, i told her she never congratulated me. If it was not 100%, it was not a good grade. Therefore, not worth complimenting. After that, i never told her my grade whether it was 100% or not.
    During my adulthood, when I wanted to get married to my bf(husband). She has to do a whole scene, commotion to stop me from being with him because he wasn’t the ideal guy. He tried to help me by telling how I felt about my mom and told her to show more affection toward me. She took it as a offence and from that day on, he hate my bf.
    Previously, to my wedding day, I was crying. She never helped me during the planning but only complained. She didn’t accept him nor my wedding but wants to be honoured as my mother during the ceremony. It was my friend and cousin who helped me for my wedding. Prior to my wedding, i was really stuck in between my mom and my fiancee. I was really confused wanting to please my mom but without arguing with my fiancee. it was almost unbearable.
    After 3 years, i still cry for my bad wedding. I would be envious when i see a mother,family helping her daughter preparing for her wedding happily. I feel guilty for this, being happy but yet jealous.
    Now being married and finding my job as paralegal, I finally start to find my own sense of identity. But yet she always has to complain about how i dress too “office”. I work at a law firm!! Whenever I buy new clothes, I am afraid to show her. When I got a unexpected raise by my boss, i didn’t want to tell her. Feeling it would not be enough, i didn’t not ear the 25$/hour as a new paralegal.
    I find my self-identity, i started to develop my own view of things and I am more open. I only found this while I am away from her. I start to notice that I could get mad at people at times, i could tell them that I don’t share their view. I could tell people they made a mistake without being reprimanded. I started to be more open toward people and my friend. My mom and friends said i changed. My friends say i am more open, talk more. My mom said she like the way I was, I changedShe always complain how i look fat, but im wearing small. I do gym everyday and like my body. I wish she could stop. Now I am so tired, that I don’t really want to meets her. I only go because i want to meet my sister and she is the only one of the family who understands and accepts me.. I only use my sister as I way to say I go visit her. Now my life is only my sister and my husband.
    However, I noticed that since I was deprived of motherly love as a childhood, now I am clinging a bit too much on my husband. I placed on the affection I lacked on him. I always ask for his attention ,like a attention freak. I have become dependent of him because I was really tired before I married. I always have to put on a fake persona. I have the feeling he is the only one who love me and ,at the same time, that I can lay on when tired. I fear this character of mine with burden him too much.
    Recently, i gathered enough courage to tell my mom how I felt about her while chatting with her but she said it was for my own good. She said it was the way she was trained and she is proud of it. It was this way she has become who she is now and which she is proud

    Could you please help me, if possible, I dont want to live in the past.l I dont want to be burdened by my mom and be her puppet. Nor do I want to burden my husband that love me so much. I want to live my own life the way i want to be come independant.
    Nevertheless, thank you for reading my long story. It is much appreciated it.

  16. Laurie says:

    Dear Ella,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing how you’re coping with controlling parents. It sounds like your dad has some emotional issues that affect how he parents you…..and the bad news is that there’s nothing you can do to change him. His personality and moods are what they are, and the more you fight against it, the worse it’ll be for you.

    I know you won’t like my advice — which is why I don’t like to give advice on how to cope with controlling parents! — but my advice is to accept your dad for who he is. I don’t know much about your situation, but I am almost certain that you can’t change your dad. Arguing doesn’t help you or him, and it just destroys your relationship. Work around his rules. The more you learn to accept him and flow, the easier your life will be.

    It doesn’t seem like it, but your freedom is just around the corner! Start figuring out how to save money and live on your own after you graduate from high school, so you can make your own rules and plans! Do you have a job? If not, it’s time to get one. Focus on the things you have control over, and let go of the things you can’t control.

    My prayer for you is that you become filled with peace, patience, and wisdom. May you learn to see the best in your dad, and accept his rules because you can’t change them. May you and he develop a healthy new relationship, based on acceptance and trust. And my you learn that while you can’t change him, you can change yourself….and you may have more control than you think. Amen.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  17. Gloria says:

    I’m not going to let my parents stop me from living the life I want to live anymore.

  18. Ella says:

    Hi my name is Ella and although this article seems to be directed towards adults, I just wanted to ask for a little bit of help for my type of situation. I am 14 years old and my parents are divorced. I split my time between the parents and find if very difficult. I always feel as if I need to please both of my parents and my step parents as well as my step siblings. I am okay with being with my mom and step dad because they give me a good amount of freedom that I feel I deserve. I have never done anything bad or disobeyed my parents and they understand that. My full dad in the other hand is not at all lenient with my freedoms. He suffers from bipolar disorder and can say things that he dosent mean sometimes especially when it comes to me doing things with my friends. Sometimes I just feel so trapped and helpless. I am a very independent teenager but there is nothing I can do about him. Everytime I need to ask him to do something with my friends on a night that I am supposed to be with him he argues with me. it’s gotten to the point where I don’t even what to ask him anymore and it frustrates me. I just can’t deal with the arguing anymore. When I ask him to do something and he says yes, he needs to talk to all of the parents of the people I’m going to be involved with and it’s become a huge issue for me. I don’t understand why he lacks so much trust in me. My mom says that I should just let him do and say what he needs to do but it hurts me emotionally when he dosent trust me and I don’t know why. I really wish he could just loosen up a little. i need some advice though on how to cope with my situation. it’s so hard for me to be able to do things only half of the nights of the week when I’m with my mom because my dad dosent let me do anything at all. I wish he would understand that image needs to let me do things without being so controlling and all knowing about who I’m going to be talking to and being with. He frustrates me so badly and I seriously don’t know what to do anymore. it’s so difficult for me and I really need some advice. thank you for your help.

  19. Melissa says:

    I’m 22 years old. I have a very overbearing mother who just won’t leave me alone. I’m an only child and my dad lives far away and my parents are divorced. Every time I want to go see my boyfriend or go to his house she always complains that I’m always going over there, even though it’s because I want to because I can’t stand her. I told her I just want to be left alone and I like being over there and she said I didn’t have my head screwed on properly. I’m the type of person who enjoys being on my own but can’t be because she’s always bothering me and complaining that I don’t spend time with her, because when I do we always get into a fight because our personalities are just totally different. She complains when I spend time on the computer or playing video games and yet has no problem if I wanna spend hours watching TV (she believes that computers/video games are worse for your health than watching TV). I almost never play video games anymore because if she sees me playing them she’ll just whine and complain.

    She always complains that she has to do my laundry even though I have a basket in my room where I put my clothes and wait for it to fill up before washing them, except that it never fills up because she always washes them without me having asked her to, and then complains about it. She’s so obsessed with cleaning.

    She doesn’t have a job so she’s home all the time and right now I’m on summer break and only work evenings so I have to see her every day (and she complains I’m never home) and she only has 1 or 2 friends that she sees very rarely and hasn’t had a boyfriend in 10 years. I’m basically her whole life and I can’t bloody wait until I’m done school and have a job so I can move out and do whatever the hell I want without her constant whining and bitching.

  20. laura says:

    I have been living with controlling parents for a while now, I’m turning 23 soon and I’m only starting to accept i need to move on with my life and hopefully have some of the normal stuff people my age have such as relationships a sense of freedom without having to live under there 12pm curfew.
    (and the torrents of messages and calls every time i leave the house)

    I guess i have been a bit oblivious over the past few years, as i have been focusing on my education till now and getting through that has been my main commitment.
    (They have seamed supportive in this even helping me find a masters to study)
    This seamed like a good idea at the time but now I can’t help feel it was another way to keep me grounded with them.
    as they wouldn’t let me enrol or study anywhere that would be far enough for me to need too move out. for this reason inspite of being a student for over 5yrs i have never lived in halls had flatmates or even had a actual boyfriend.

    it has become more apparent that experiences of my pears and other people my own age. Im more fragile and nieve childish in there eyes and others see me as pathetic as i never rebelled.
    (This is probably another reason why I’m still single)

    But this is where it does get difficult I want to move on with my life but its difficult to know how.
    My father is very controlling and despite of offering to pay of my degree course he has taken out a loan under my name and now saying I must pay it all back.

    He also used this as a way to gain full control of my bank account (which I’m not sure how to get out of) only feeding me small amounts of cash to get through
    An constantly belittle’s my work skills and says I’m incapable an useless in doing any job.
    everyday mostly results in a huge row as he enjoys insulting me and winding me up till i snap back.

    My mother well is smothering to say the least given she won’t give me 5 minutes in peace to write this out without walking into a room at least 8 times wanting to chat. She sees me as almost her doll dictating what i can and can’t wear outside and never lets me cook or drive anywhere which are basic life skills i should know now.

    My parents are both 50+ retired so there always in the house with me so I’m constantly being watched an monitored makes it difficult to take any actual steps in starting out my own life.
    I don’t know what to do to get out and actually start living my life before i lose the courage to do so can anyone who has been in a similar situation advise me?

    • Helen says:

      Hi Laura,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your controlling parents. I too have controlling parents. When I was young, family friends and friends parents have always commented on how controlling they are. I never really understood until I got older in my teens and wanted to hang out with friends.

      I’m now 32, live in a different country, have a very independent lifestyle with a promising career. I speak with my folks once a fortnight at most and texts sometimes. I can choose not to take their calls and if they chose to do so at an inappropriate time such as when I’m at work and wanting to chat, I sternly tell them that I’m at work and I do not want to talk. During holidays, I travel a lot going to places I want to visit. I don’t tell them as they’ll just call me when I’m abroad knowing I’m on holiday.

      It’s sad and I wish it could change. But reality is that they’re too old and in my tradition bring Chinese, they don’t change. My visit to them in their country grows less and less. When I do go back home to visit, they’re too overbearing. They never let me go out by myself, and forces me to see the doctors for something I think is extremely trivial. Whatever I do like swimming/running, they’ll follow me.

      So my suggestion is depending on your situation, try and enrol in a gap year abroad where you can gain some real life experiences away from them and earn some money if you can. In that way, when you come home you’ll be in a better position to live independently or share a flat with friends. Other suggestions:

      Find a relative who lives far/abroad and stay with them for a period.
      Involve in more after school or uni activities, so spend less time at home.
      Hit the gym and vent whilst getting fitter each day.
      Encourage your folks to do more outside home, so they won’t have time to fuss over you.
      Write down every time they’ve done something controlling and decide on a course of actions later when you’re calm.
      Get someone independent who they respect to be there with you if you choose to confront them.
      Start looking for a job far away from them.

      Whatever you choose to do, be sure that you’re already a mature young lady because you’ve realised their actions are making you unhappy and resentful. Be sure to make a concrete decision. You may need to go outside of your comfort zone, but it’s what required to get what you want. I’m really happy with my independent life and I have control over how much I want my folks in my life, so can you.

      Best wishes, Helen

  21. Laurie says:

    Dear nthabi,

    I think you stop your mom from trying to control you by simply saying no. Tell her you need to put your fiance’s needs and commitments before hers, and you have to attend the wedding with him.

    It’s important to remember that she will keep fighting for control of your life. You have to set new boundaries with her, and stay firm as you defend them. This won’t happen overnight – coping with controlling parents isn’t easy! If you haven’t read the Boundaries books, I encourage you to do so right away. You need to learn where your boundaries are, and prepare to stand up for yourself.

    I wish you all the best in your future marriage, and in your relationship with your mom.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  22. nthabi says:

    I am 26,engaged,my mum is soo controlling i cant take it anymore,for instance now i have to attend a wedding with my hubby to be,its his friend’s wedding but she doesnt want me to go coz she want me to atte.d a wedding of her ex colleague,i dont want to go there.i hate it to be controlled even when m engaged,she had that controlling right while i was single now she should stop,how do i tell her?

  23. Laurie says:

    I think the only way to cope with controlling parents is to accept two things: 1) you will hurt your parents and possibly damage your relationship with them; and 2) you need outside guidance to help you navigate your boundaries, and how to stick to them. I can’t give you the guidance you need – I really believe that childhood and parent issues are very complicated. Working through your relationship with them, and standing up to controlling parents, takes support and effort.

    What is one thing you can do to start taking control of your relationship with your parents?

  24. Rebecca says:

    I’m at my wits end I really don’t know what to do. I love my mum, but she is so clingy, and possessive and controlling. Its doing my head in,I have my license, but have hardly driven since I got it because she tosses a tantrum if I even attempt to drive, whenever I go somewhere she has to come to, she includes me in everything she does, even if I don’t want to do it, I have casual employment but am looking for more permanent and half of what id apply for isn’t good enough for her, I cant go out with friends unless I want to start ww3. I hadn’t even stayed away from home for a night until last year and she still hates it. She also expects me to buy a house between us when I’m working fulltime. I’m starting to feel really depressed because of this, and if I try and talk to her I’m made to feel like I’m the one in the wrong, and a part of me is starting to despise her but I love my mum and I don’t want to hurt her.
    My Mum has had a relatively tough life and I’m her only child so I cop all of her neurosis. My dad cheated on her and she moved back home to her parents where she was actually controlled herself (history repeating itself here) She is seeing a counsellor finally about different issues in the family. However she wont do anything she doesn’t want to, and she doesn’t want to lose control of me. She also doesn’t like driving by herself or going anywhere by herself so Guess who gets dragged along with her.
    How do I take my life back, without hurting her too badly

  25. Dakota says:

    Hi there

    I’m 23 and I have just completed my studies and was lucky enough to find a job. My parents have always been controlling and over bearing. I never hear the end of what they have done for me, their way of making me feel guilty and obligated towards them.

    Part of my income is given to them towards household expenses, and I contribute towards my student loan. However this doesn’t seem to be enough. They now want to control the way that I spend my money. My boyfriend and I go out once a month and they feel if I can go to all these ‘expensive’ places then I can contribute over and above what I am currently giving.

    its just impossible to speak to them and get my point across as it always end up in a screaming match. If I earned well enough, then it wouldn’t be a problem to give them more money, but I don’t…

    I’ve only been working for 3 months now and they expect me to be able to furnish their house. Its just become unbearable living with them, and moving out isn’t an option. Not only is it expensive but they would cut all ties with me.

    This has happened to my brother, who moved out because of their controlling nature at 19, and didn’t speak to them for 10 years.

    They feel because they have done so much for me, they have a right to control me. I have no life, I still have to ask permission if I want to go anywhere and they don’t approve of me visiting my boyfriends family.

    How do I move forward and take control of my life?

  26. Laurie says:

    Hello Bob,

    It sounds like you really care about Liz, and you want to help her break free from her mom. You think that’s the best thing for her, and that will make her happy.

    What does Liz want? Is she ready to stop letting her mom control her? If she’s not ready, then you can’t force her to “see the light.” You can’t want her happiness or emotional freedom more than she wants it, and you can’t help her more than she wants to be helped.

    Have you read the book “Boundaries”, by Cloud and Townsend? I believe you need to create your own healthy boundaries, so you can role model healthy boundaries for her.

    You might also talk to a counsellor, so you can figure out how to help her without trying to rescue her. It’s important that you don’t fall into the trap of trying to save her…because the only person who can save her is herself. Or God, if you believe in Him!

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  27. Bob says:

    Hi Laurie
    I have been talking to this Lady for a long while. We started dating and everything was going great.
    About her: Liz is the youngest kid ( 22 ) and the last that lives with her mom. Her Mom is divorced and from the outside looking in I can see she is very controlling.
    When her mom found out we were dating she started controlling Liz so that we couldn’t be together any more. Liz’s Mom doesn’t want me in Liz’s life as anything more than a friend ( might not even want that ). Mom acts normal when I’m or others are around but she will manipulate Liz to avoid me. It got real bad since I ask Liz to Marry me. Her mom has been giving her the guilt trip and caused Liz to hardly communicate with me. This got me worked up and I told Liz we needed more communication. It got better for 3-4 days then dropped off again. When I mentioned it to her again she decide that we needed take a break so she could think.
    So as of right now Liz needs time to think. isn’t talking to me unless I push her to talk. When I see her face to face I can see the Love in her eyes, but can tell something else is controlling her.
    I know her mom controls her because at the age of 22 she has to ask her mom to spend the night some where else. Her mom can’t survive with out money from Liz.
    I had ask her Mom if I could Marry Liz, and the very next day her mom started wanting to spend more time with her. And it keeps getting worse. I want to Talk to Liz and tell her face to face what I see is going on. I am not sure what would be the best way to do this without causing her more issues at home. Liz is a VERY nice lady and I’m afraid her mom is going to destroy her mentally if this controlling isn’t stopped. I’m not worried if we have a future together or not. My main goal is to get Liz to open her eyes and to stop letting her mom control her every move. I want Liz to be Happy no matter if it is with me or not. I Love her that much!!! I know she does a lot of things just to keep her mom Happy and to get her approval.
    How do I go about getting Liz to open her eyes to break this control? I have wrote a letter that I want to read to Liz in person, but I don’t know if It would hurt or help her.
    I know most people would walk or run away from what I am dealing with. But I really care about LIz and am willing to fight for her Happiness. No matter if we are together or not. It’s not so much about US anymore, it’s about Liz. And I want to help her. I’m very worried about Liz.
    I really need some good advice on how to help her break the grip her mom has on her.
    Thanks in advance!!

  28. haylee says:

    So the past year I have had a lot of issues. I am 22 and my father is paying all of my bills due to my husband and I seperating. I also have two small children. I moved out of state because that is what my father wanted. So I’m out here alone. And I mean alone, no family, no friends, not even my dad who only comes here 4 or 5 times a year. Needless to say I want to go back to the state I moved from.
    Since he is footing the bill for my children and I, I feel like he has a right to control a lot of what I do. However I want to move forward with my life, go to school, get a job and start becoming independent. This is a very difficult process to begin because ANY idea I throw to my dad he shoots down, weather its working at a gas station or shooting for the stars and working to become a pharmacist, and anything in between. Any aspirations I have in life that differs from his are “ignorant”, or “I sound like my mother”, or “I don’t know about you but that’s not something I’d like to do”. So for the past year and a half I feel like I’m stuck. I love my dad and there’s no question that he has helped me tremendously, however I feel like he wants me to stay in this situation.
    I very much need personal advice, serious tips to help me in my situation. Thank you, its well appreciated

  29. Kerensa says:

    How do you stop my parents controlling in my life

  30. Laurie says:

    Dear Lynn,

    It sounds like you and your mom are caught up in a pattern of relating to one another, and you’re not enjoying it. But, it is serving a purpose in your life. What is that purpose? The answer is in you. I don’t know why you’re caught up in this pattern. I don’t know what you are getting out of it. But, something keeps pulling you back into it.

    Have you talked to a counselor about how you relate to your mom? You can’t change our mom — and you can’t sit her down and talk her out of her behavior.

    The only person you can change is YOU. You have to take ownership and responsibility of your actions, and of your reactions to your mom. You need to learn and practice healthy ways of related to her, and responding to her attempts to control and manipulate you.

    It’s not about your mom being controlling…it’s about you letting yourself get caught up in the dance.

    What do you think?

    In peace and passion,
    Laurie

  31. Lynn Simmons says:

    Hi Laurie,

    I am an only child and my mother is very manipulative, never satisfied, always sabotage things that make me happy, and she not a very good listener even when I trying to sit her down and talk to her. Because of her accomplishments in life, she doesn’t feel that she should listen to anyone even if they make sense. She just acts confused when I try to be logical. She feels that the way she thinks, should not be altered because she wouldn’t be as successful as she is if she had been any other way.

    I feel so helpless. She will go as far as harrassing me through text messaging just to manipulate me and make me do things the way she wants it. She constantly bad mouth my fiancé behind his back and through texting. But when she sees him she’s acts sweet. And sometimes she acts like nothing ever happened.

    I don’t know what to do. No one else in my family gives me useful advice. I’m at the point of suicide because it’s been going on since I started dating my fiancé. He’s such a great guy and is going through all this hell with me. He even convinced his parents to let us stay with them. But when I moved in with them, my mom moves all the way to California to give me a guilt trip. So of course I start to miss her and she buys tickets for me and my fiancé to come and visit her. As soon as we get there, halfway through the trip she starts manipulating and controlling me again. But now it’s much worse because we have no money to get back! She bought us one way tickets, and told us that things were going to be cool and that she has found peace and just wants us all to have fun. I feel very controlled. And I can’t just call her a liar.

    I don’t know how to make things work. Is something wrong with me?

    • laura says:

      There’s nothing wrong with you, Lynn.Proof:you have good relationships with everyone else but your mother.That proves she is the problem, not you.My situation is similar to yours.All my childhood, my mother called me mentally ill, although she was the one acting crazy, yelling and hitting me. What hurts me most is that, as a child,i believed her.How could i not believe my own mother?
      Be strong and don’t fall into her trap.I’d like to keep contact with you on this site, if you agree.I’m also lonely and maybe we can encourage each other.

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