Manipulative Parents: How To Recognize Them

Manipulative parents use guilt, affection, or lying to control their children. Today we talk about some main aspects that distinguish them.
Manipulative parents: how to recognize them

The relationship with your parents has always been tense and unsatisfactory, but you can’t understand why? Do you often feel guilty? Do your parents’ actions, words and attitudes confuse you and do you feel limited and influenced by them even though you are now an adult? You may have had the misfortune of growing up with manipulative parents.

Anyone could happen to engage in emotional blackmail or lose their temper at any moment. However, manipulative parents employ a wide variety of strategies aimed at undermining their children’s self-esteem and exercising control over them. And they do it almost continuously.

Dealing with manipulative people is always unpleasant and harmful. Yet when parents do this, the damage is greater and the consequences are long-term.

After all, they are the reference points, as well as the main models for our personality. That’s why recognizing the signs of parental manipulation is imperative.

Distinctive traits of manipulative parents

Manipulative father.

Their mood pervades the context

Any family reunion revolves around the mood of the manipulative parent. When he is happy, he is open, welcoming and friendly, but when he experiences negative emotions the whole context suffers: there is tension and discomfort in the air.

Her emotions are the rule and are not handled as they should. Precisely for this reason others feel subordinate to the conditions that the person in question dictates.

They do not rejoice in their children’s successes and happy times

We find it hard to imagine a parent who does not express happiness for the successes or joys of his children. Yet manipulative parents can feel envy and resentment, be critical or cynical, and make positive news a source of embarrassment or guilt.

Holidays, a promotion at work, and even the birth of a grandchild lose that mantle of joy and become tinged with negativity after going through the filter of manipulation.

They try to keep their children away from those who love them

A father or mother would be expected to feel joy in the healthy and numerous friendships of their children, of interacting with other people who love them.

Yet a manipulative parent will tend to criticize the partner and the friendships of the children, to belittle the value of the bond and to highlight every negative aspect. This is just another way to try to be in control.

Affection becomes a tool of manipulation

“If you love me you will come and visit me every day”. “I don’t know how you can say these things after everything I’ve done for you.” Affection becomes the perfect tool for manipulation and control, but not only does it help to unleash the sense of guilt, it is also used in a positive way.

Hence, manipulative parents can use compliments and gifts to win the favor of their children, even when they are harming them with a series of harmful attitudes.

Other hallmarks of manipulative parents

The signals just described are among the most common, but there are many others that clearly demonstrate the presence of a toxic and manipulative parent. Let’s see some examples:

  • Adopt an attitude of victimhood rather than taking responsibility and accepting your mistakes.
  • He communicates in an unclear way, hides his true motives and shapes reality in his favor. For example, after insisting and relying on the sense of guilt for the children to accompany her somewhere, the mother may claim that she was accompanied because they wanted to and never asked for it.
  • His actions and reasoning are inconsistent. He may blame his children for never taking their grandchildren to visit him but when that happens, he may treat them badly or ignore them altogether.
Manipulative mother with adult daughter.

How to deal with manipulative parents?

The first and sometimes the most complicated step is to recognize and accept that parents are manipulators. On a social level, there is a widespread belief that a parent always wants the best for their children.

This leads many people to think that the difficulties, in such a situation, are produced by themselves. On top of that, manipulators can show different faces based on context and even based on the day, which can be quite confusing.

However, once you recognize the manipulative context in which you grew up, you will see that it will be easier to recognize and deal with it. Setting limits is essential to not allow them to continue to behave in this way. Finally, it is necessary to turn to a professional to work on the emotional consequences of this situation.

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