When you’re a kid, you want to believe that your parents are superheroes. For some people, it’s true. If they work a demanding career but still manage to find balance and spend time teaching you new skills or just being silly, they’re doing it right. But unfortunately, not all of us grow up with healthy parents. The ugly truth is that some people are better parents than others, and it’s not some special parent gene we win like the lottery, it’s the constant work and the choices they make that make all the difference.
If you grew up with a toxic parent, know that it’s not your fault and your future is not a product of your past but the actions you are taking right now in the present. Here are 10 signs of parents manipulating their kids.
1. They compare you to your other siblings, relatives or friends. Parents who manipulate their kids will often try to turn everything into a competition. Even if you’re someone who gets along well with your siblings or relatives, they will try to drive a wedge between all of you; your brother gets an A on his math test when you just got a B on your science report or maybe your cousin Suzy just started taking dance lessons and your parents accuse you of being lazy, all because you’d rather watch movies and take some downtime. Don’t give in to their tactics, instead, stand your ground firmly and assure them you’re doing just fine.
2. They raise you to be codependent. Does your parent try to do everything for you? It’s one thing to provide financial and emotional support, but it’s a whole different story if they try to stop you from being independent or worse, using this as a leverage to make decisions for you.
Manipulative parents will often butt in and do the problem-solving for their kids. Consequently, this makes the child feel as though they’re unprepared to handle obstacles and setbacks on their own as they become young adults.
3. They constantly guilt trip you. Parents are supposed to teach their kids that it’s okay to say “yes” to new opportunities and “no” if the situation compromises their health, but if you’ve grown fearful of saying “no” each and every time, then they’ve been emotionally abusive towards you. Do they blow things out of proportion?
Quickly jump to conclusions or skip the subject altogether? Look through their guilt shaming techniques and realize that you’re being taken advantage of.
4. They set unrealistic expectations. Are your parents highly demanding people? It’s good to never settle for Less in life, but if they are frequently being unreasonably strict, this can take a major toll on your emotional and physical well-being. Whether it means pushing you to take on more extracurricular activities than you can handle, signing up for honor classes that you don’t have a passion for or pursuing a career you’re uncertain of, tell them to back off, you grow at your own pace and no one else’s.
5. They make everything about them. This is a classic case of the narcissistic parent. If they constantly play the victim card and never take any blame for the times they’ve hurt you, then they want to turn the tables so all eyes can be on them again. They will trivialize your needs until you feel as though you have no choice but to give in. Don’t let them have the upper hand, instead, call them out on their behavior. If it makes you feel safer, you can get your school counselor to supervise or a friend or someone you can trust.
6. They intimidate you with cruel punishments. Manipulative parents might seem all polished, put together and wonderful people out in public, but behind closed doors, they may act the complete opposite. Instead of being nurturing individuals, they might resort to cruel tactics and instill fear in you. They might say things like “why are you making me do this, you gave me no other choice” or “it hurts me to do this as much as it’s hurting you”. Realize that this isn’t a healthy form of discipline and don’t be afraid to tell someone if it worsens over time.
7. They treat you more like a trophy than a human being. A good parent allows the creative freedom for their child to embrace who they want to grow into. But if all your life they’ve only tried to shape and mold you into what they want you to be, it’s not necessarily because they know what’s best for you. Instead, they may create these restrictions for their own benefit of dolling you up and showing you off to the world.
8. They gaslight you. Gas-lighting is a serious form of abuse, it’s when the individual tries to make you feel like you’re the one going insane when in reality, they’re the ones taking advantage of you. They’ll make you second-guess what you know and try to brainwash you with memories that aren’t true. Beware of this. If you feel like you can’t remember your life events without the help of your parents, chances are they’re gaslighting you.
9. They don’t respect your boundaries. Everyone needs a certain amount of space to live happily, but if they’re constantly going into your room without your permission or nosy about all the details of your life, it can get overwhelming, frustrating and just be downright rude. Tell them you want some time to yourself and if they continue disrespecting you, tell a teacher, administrator or counselor. You’d be surprised what measures can be taken when you receive outside help.
10. They fail to provide you with unconditional love. You never know which side of them you will experience; will they be friendly and flexible or ruthless and selfish. This keeps you walking on eggshells, afraid of setting off the next bomb. So you do everything you can to be good, but a parent is supposed to support you through your mistakes and offer unconditional love.
You should never feel as though you have to earn their support. We hope wherever you are that one day you can move out of your toxic environment because you deserve so much more. Do you think you’re being manipulated by your parents? Let us know in the comment section down below. For more helpful content, please be sure to also subscribe to our channel. Thanks for watching!