How to Deal with Controlling Parents as a Teenager

How to Deal with Controlling Parents as a Teenager

At What Age Should Your Parents Stop Controlling You?

Controlling parents are hard to be around, especially when they exert strict control over your adulthood. Here’s how to deal with controlling parents as a teenager.

Controlling parents employ a parenting style where they monitor their children’s activities and keep them under strict control. They often impose their own will onto their children, depriving them of developing their own identity and preventing authentic behavior.

Although some parents get over this behavior once their children grow into adults, some may continue their controlling behavior beyond that phase. Sometimes, the overbearing nature of controlling parents does not end even after their children grow up.

Adulthood is legally recognized as 18 years of age in most countries. However, some parents don’t seem to consider that fact, continuing their controlling ways even after their children have reached that age. Their interference prevents their children from developing the independence needed to successfully step into adulthood.

Why do parents become controlling?

Controlling parents come from various backgrounds. Some exert strict control due to past negative experiences, while others think it will ultimately lead to a positive outcome.

Other reasons parents become controlling include:

  • Believing they should raise a perfect child
  • Not wanting their children to make mistakes
  • Fearing losing their children as they grow up
  • Hoping their children can accomplish what they never could
  • Not wanting to lose their ego or superiority
  • Wanting to outdo other parents
  • Wanting to unlock their children’s potential
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What are the signs of controlling parents?

Controlling parents may exert their strict parenting style in several ways, resulting in the following signs:

  • Perfectionists: Controlling parents are often perfectionists with unnatural demands and expectations. Anything less than perfection is unacceptable.
  • Interfere in every aspect of their children’s life: Controlling parents may invade their children’s private space, interfere in their activities, and try to influence every decision.
  • Criticize their children’s decisions: Controlling parents speak negatively and instill doubt in their children’s choices, even micromanaging their eating, appearance, hobbies, or social life.
  • Unrealistic expectations: Controlling parents have high standards, which puts pressure on their children.
  • Conditional love: Controlling parents use love as a reward system and punishment, withholding affection and using it to gain loyalty.
  • Unrealistic and rigid rules: Controlling parents focus on discipline and forbid questioning or disagreement.
  • Lack of empathy, respect, and caring: Controlling parents disregard their children’s needs and think they know what’s best.
  • Unreasonably harsh punishment: Controlling parents inflict physical, verbal, or emotional abuse.
  • Lack of appreciation: Controlling parents criticize their children more than they praise them, not accepting them for who they are.
  • Role-reversal: Controlling parents burden their children with adult responsibilities, seeing them as objects to fulfill their needs.
  • Manipulation through gifts: Controlling parents use money or gifts to control their children’s decisions and behaviors.
  • Make them feel obligated: Controlling parents remind their children of everything they’ve done, using guilt and shame as manipulation.
  • Compete for attention: Controlling parents fear being replaced, rejecting their children’s desires for independence.
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What are the effects of controlling parents on adult children?

A strict and controlling parenting style can inflict more harm than good. The effects of controlling parents on children can last into adulthood and manifest in various ways:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Approval-seeking tendencies
  • Difficulty with decision-making
  • Difficulty expressing opinions
  • Extreme sensitivity to others’ opinions
  • Insecure attachment in relationships
  • Lack of creative thinking
  • Low self-esteem and self-worth
  • People-pleasing tendencies
  • Perfectionism
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Shame and doubt
  • Tendency to be dishonest

How to avoid controlling grown-up kids

Parents looking to shed their controlling ways can try the following parenting tips to break those patterns of control:

  • Let go of worry: Relax and let go of the fear that something will happen to your children.
  • Observe respectful boundaries: Understand that it’s not possible to orchestrate every moment of your child’s life.
  • Let go of giving advice: Give advice only when your children ask for it.
  • Treat older children with respect: Respect your children to gain their self-respect.
  • Teach skills: Teach time management and self-discipline so that they can be responsible for themselves.
  • Teach problem-solving: Encourage children to be assertive and fight their own battles.
  • Enhance decision-making skills: Give children independence to make their own decisions within boundaries.
  • Set ground rules for how to disagree: Respond neutrally and take time-outs when conflicts escalate.
  • Love unconditionally: Listen to their concerns, encourage their interests, and praise their accomplishments.
  • Make room for significant others: Embrace the people your grown-up children love.
  • Let go of guilt-tripping: Accept that your children have their own lives and give them space to grow.
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How to deal with controlling parents

Dealing with controlling parents may seem impossible, but there are things you can do to lift their hold over your life, such as:

  • Acknowledge the problem: Deal with the difficulty of having controlling parents and address your feelings of guilt and anger.
  • Determine the pattern of your parent’s behavior: Understand the reason behind your parent’s behavior instead of reacting to it.
  • Establish healthy boundaries: Set strong, firm, and consistent boundaries while being civil.
  • Get backup: Seek support from a trusted family member or friend whom your parents respect.
  • Create emotional space: Distance yourself emotionally if setting boundaries doesn’t work.
  • Understand that you can’t always please them: Seek love and approval from your parents, but accept that you may not always get the same result.

The consequences of controlling parents can be long-lasting. Too much involvement from parents may not always be acceptable to grown-up children. The challenge is to find common ground without overstepping comfortable boundaries.

The consequences of controlling parents can be long-lasting. Too much involvement from parents may not always be acceptable to grown-up children. The challenge is to find common ground without overstepping comfortable boundaries.


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