22 thoughts on “6 Signs of Controlling Parenting and Why It Is Harmful

  • June 28, 2017 at 6:44 am

    You nailed this pernicious type of parenting on the head. Many people do not recognize this as a problem because it is so widespread.I was raised in a severe form of this parenting by my father. I am so grateful that I woke up and realized how damaging this is and freed my children from my attempts at “molding” them. Nothing good comes of this in the long run. Thanks again for your always enlightened voice Darius.

    • June 28, 2017 at 2:35 pm

      Thanks for sharing some of your experiences, Mary, and for breaking the cycle of abuse.

      All the best!

  • May 9, 2018 at 12:46 am

    I had a father who loved beer and cigarettes, abused them both, and abused my mother and us 3 kids. I got it the worst, being the eldest and to this day they treat me different because I’ve chosen to open my eyes to it fully and make changes in my life to free myself of it.

    Your article is extremely insightful and more confirmation to my childhood suspicions that something “was off…” in my family. I’m in the chrysalis stage of my transformation on my journey to being the butterfly.

    You put into words all the things I felt, emotionally -as a kid- but didn’t have the intelligence to put it into the appropriate words yet. I look forward to your educating blogs!

    • May 11, 2018 at 2:46 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Talejna. I’m glad to know that you found it valuable!


  • October 29, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    This is my entire life, sadly.

  • December 5, 2018 at 6:47 am

    I’m 50 and presently taking care of my mother who has cancer and who I can’t stand.
    I’m male, single, have had many relationships and I personally have been the one to ruin 90% of them. I avoid women these days and don’t date as I just don’t care for women’s company.
    I can remember growing up being shaken, hit with whatever object was at hand, and screamed at for the slightest transgression…..
    She went to hit me once with a wooden spoon at around age 13 or 14 and I reflexively put my arm up to defend myself. Her forearm contacted my raised arm and she starts yelling as I guess it hurt. Her first words when my dad got home were: “Your son hit me!” I hate her for that and that was the day I lost any respect I had for her.
    To anyone outside the house she was a doting mother. She baked, cooked etc. Nothing left wanting there.
    Everything was a power struggle with her. In my early teens I remember removing the doilies she put on my dresser in my room. Well, the fights didn’t stop about that as it was HER furniture and that was how she liked it. I always felt like an extension of her, like some sort of servant. She would always volunteer me for this or that to help her friends do something.
    I was about 9 or 10 and I had done something else wrong and was dragged screaming up to my room with the very real threat of being sent to boarding school. She started packing a suitcase in front of me and I remember crying so much I think I was starting to hyperventilate. I remember it was at this point that she realised what she was doing and started telling me she was only joking and unpacked the suitcase.
    She can’t take any form of criticism and acts like a child if called out on any of her shit (which thankfully I’ve avoided the last 10 years..I haven’t visited since dad died) and will try and turn it around and blame me for it.
    On the phone or in conversation with a friend, every single word out of her mouth is hyperbole. Everything gets embellished about 50% bigger, worse, harder, more painful, etc. than reality and it’s pathetic to listen to.
    I’ve always had an idea about why I am the way I am, but when I start to think about it I always feel guilty about the way I feel about her. Other family members don’t get along with her either. It’s only after a 10 year separation and seeing her exactly the same way and falling right back into the same arguments that I realise it’s NOT ME.
    I wish I wasn’t an only child. I’d be anywhere but here.

    • December 28, 2018 at 3:22 pm

      You should leave her

      • June 20, 2019 at 2:11 pm

        I wouldn’t be obligated to take care of anyone like that.. there are nursing homes.. why put yourself back in it.. your mental health comes first

    • January 18, 2019 at 6:45 am

      I feel like you just described my mom. I also feel guilty about what I feel about her. I remember getting a B- and I was beaten by her. So I started hiding my school reports. There were some that needed to be signed by her and I hated those because nothing I ever did was perfect for her, every 15 days I would get beaten, yelled at when she had to sign those reports. I hated it so much, I even started hating my school for forcing parents to see and sign those reports. Once she threatened me with a knife because I got a D in math, she corned me in the kitchen and repeatedly hit a chair with the knife while yelling at me about my grade. The chair was ruined, and I was so shaken, that is the worst memory I have of her. But she would also hold me against the wall while yelling at my face, just writing this makes me sick, she used to make a face while yelling at me that looked like a demon. Once I saw her walking around the house with her gun, she said she was putting it in a new safe place, she was so crazy that the thought that she could shoot me crossed my mind and made me apprehensive. She would play the victim after an argument, once she pretended she was having a heart attack and fell on the floor. I panicked and when I was about to call 911 she stood up and said she was only trying to scare me. All of my family knew about this because she would tell them, but for our neighbors and her friends she seemed like a normal mom. My family wasn’t surprised that when I turned 18 I moved as far away as I could from her. She visits me and still tries to control me. For my first apartment she wouldn’t let me choose any of the furniture, she paid for them but it didn’t matter if I liked the color or not, it had to be her way or she would make a scene. As an adult I had turbulent relationships, but since I was able to identify and treat the root of my problem with the help of therapists I have been able to rebuild myself, I feel liberated, free. The other day I mentioned to my mom over the phone that I needed new floors and she said she would travel over here to choose the flooring with me. I’m not gonna let her know when I’m gonna do the floors because she will end up choosing everything even if I don’t like it.

      • March 15, 2019 at 4:09 pm

        My mom was never really physically violent beyond spankings with spatulas and the occasional slap on the hand. However, like your mom, she was entirely controlling. I feel sick even recalling these memories. Like you, I moved far away when I had the ability to do so. Home was always a toxic place. My mom definitely presented with Munchausen syndrome and Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP). The latter presented as an attack on my little brother.

        Anyway, my story is thus:
        I learned at an early age that my mother could not be trusted with my empathy, so I crossed her out of my life, and in doing so crossed most anyone out of my life. My father was severely lacking in any ability to empathize and provide direct emotional support, and he always fell in line behind my mother to the point of breaking all promises to myself and my brother if it turned out the promises didn’t fit the picture my mother drew. On the outside, we looked like the picture-perfect, church-going family, but on the inside we were an insane cult driven by fear and disgust.

        When I learned by intuition, but not intellectually, that my mother made me feel bad and would hurt me if I opened myself up, I closed myself down, and began to pay attention to the gist of what she said and did such that I learned to put on a performance that would both delight and deflect her. Because of this, I became the family show-pony, but I also managed to keep myself out of the worst of it. My brother, on the other hand, got the worst. She crushed him just in order to raise him up again and proclaim herself savior. It ruined him early on. He quickly gained a criminal record and hatefully dependent emotional habits.

        As for me, I gained narcissistic and sociopathic tendencies to the point that I first see people as objects to be contended with instead of subjects likes me. When I finally moved out for good, I noticed that I had the tendency to make up narratives to excuse any kind of behavior I could be exhibiting, and I would offer the narratives on a whim, almost as an entertaining alternative to the truth. I enjoyed watching people trust what I said while I sat back inside my mind and enjoyed the “power” I held over them. It was a rare person that I ever would trust my true self to. I took that to mean that I was incredibly unique and had subtle needs that only few people in the world could understand.

        Years have passed since this realization along with many therapy sessions and traveling abroad. The time and experience have stimulated my empathy and convinced me that I am allowed to have feelings and to share them with people, and that I am allowed to stop a relationship with someone if I want to, whether it be platonic, intimate, or what have you. You see, I found that I lied all the time because I felt trapped by people, as if they would judge and hurt me if they saw the real me. I felt powerless in my capacity to have a relationship, so I found ways to control the people around me so I could just make it through the day. I haven’t totally conquered my emotional dysfunction, and probably never will, and I have bad weeks or months where I slip into old habits, but I know that I can be better.

        Anyway, Danny, I’m glad you found your way to emotional freedom. I hope many others will too. An I really appreciate this blog and the people who take the time to practice empathy and understanding!

      • June 20, 2019 at 2:13 pm

        Stop talking to her

    • July 28, 2019 at 10:48 am

      I have the same situation. My mom has cancer and is taking chemo. She is still active and goes golfing once or twice a week but at home she wants me to do everything for her. She tells me I’m the bad one but I’m taking care of her and giving her a better quality of life doing things for her. I’m alone and ruined

  • April 1, 2019 at 10:06 pm

    Yeah parents can be emotionally and mentally sick .. I distanced myself from my bipolar mentally disfinctionally emotionally deprived male parentanu years ago . He was a checked out parent offering no emotional support or mental or financial support.. he constantly threatened us kids with putting us in the training school if we didn’t confirm and he always threatened to kick my mother out of the house wifh nothing if she balked or didn’t aide with him.. he quit his job at age 38 for panic attacks and sat on his ass for three years trying to get social security disability and was turned down twice already and he kept dragging us kids and mama to the hearings to make himself look desperate .. he was scheduled to be turned down the third time but guess what we were all dragged there to make him look desperate and the SS adm granted h disability when he should have been turned down so he would have been forced fo deal with his mental issue with counseling .. but is kids and mama really suffered since then. My brother was. Two when father quit his job so my brother never knew a working father .. imagine what that was like . Me and my sister was 11 and 9… imagine what it was like for us young girls … I would never wish that on anyone .. I call fhat weak nerves .. ha would have never been able to live thru what I had to during my abusive marriage ..

  • May 13, 2019 at 11:44 am

    I can recognize most of the bulletpoints from the list. And it makes me so angry. I, and my surroundings to some extent, have blamed me for being indecisive, dependent, not being able to carry out my dreams. But it is not my fault. It is NOT my fault.
    This makes me so angry and sad.

  • June 10, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    I am number 6, from both parents but especially my father.

    now 28, male, “problems making their own decisions, creating respectful and fulfilling relationships, self-underestimation, over-attachement, approval seeking behavior, indecisiveness, and very weakly developed identity and individuality.” these are extremely accented in me. with approval seeking behaviour, and weak/no sense of identity/ individuality the most severe.

    how do I move from here ? I just realized this whole thing by the observation of another. how do I heal myself ? thanks

    • June 20, 2019 at 12:42 pm

      If you ever find answers, please let me know! I have had many counselors/therapists over the years…out of all, only 2 could actually “handle” me…the rest were not experienced or educated enough to help me. I was severely beaten by my father from age 6 until 15, when he last attempted to grab me by back of head. I got up, punched him in face and looked into his eyes to say “I’ll kill you if you ever touch me again”…i guess he could see i meant every word by the look in my eyes..He had, what i found out was called the “Madonna Complex”… Hit and abused his own flesh and blood when he really had deep anger/resentment towards my amphetamine and alcohol dependent mother…hated both.
      I took care of him when he got older for about 12 years and i felt some compassion until he claimed he didnt remember the times i passed out during his rage filled beatings, and how it wasn’t as bad as i told him. No? Then why did my so called mother always run in and stop him after she listened to my screaming and say “stop Al, you’ll kill her?” He had no answer. Selective amnesia? Yep
      I think so…i have a violent reaction to anyone who puts hands on me. I’ll fight and always have no matter who it was or how old i am. Words dont bother me. Blow them off with a middle finger and walk away. Big thanks to my father for teaching me rage, self loathing, and ability to wear any mask needed to avoid showing the real, messed up me…sorry i went on so long. Im searching for some kind, any kind, of peace…dont know how to get it and im 61 years old. Tortured old soul…don’t want pity, nust help and answers. Thank you for your time..

      • September 16, 2019 at 7:40 pm

        You’re not alone. I suffered beatings and humiliation by my alcoholic bully narcissist father. My mother was a coward, also moderately narcissistic, treating me mostly as an object, never acknowledging my observations and feelings. She never defended me. They’re dead, that’s where they belong. Now if only we could just erase them from our memories. I’m 60. My heart goes out to you. I listen to Eckhart Tolle and Tara Brach on youtube. It helps me a lot. Enjoy every peaceful and happy moment you can observe. I wish you peace.

  • July 29, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    My parents aren’t physically abusive. They would slap and spank me when I was younger, but they don’t really do that any more. However, they make me feel like a disappointment. They hold me to higher standards than any of my other siblings (I have 3) and they will constantly bash on me saying that I am not good enough. I need really clear instructions or am I confused, but my parents don’t understand this so I constantly get yelled at for messing up. They try to “coddle” me like I am ten instead of seventeen. I just recently got my license but I hate driving with them in the car, both my parents have different styles of driving and it’s impossible to please either. So they yell at me while I am driving. My dad will complain to my mother about me (I am super tom-boyish to the point that strangers call me a boy) and then she will yell at me. Or sometimes he just skips her and starts yelling at me. One time my little brother gave me a black eye, but I got in trouble instead of him. I have literally been counting down the years until I go to college and not live at home, but they don’t want me to leave, they want me to live at home. My sister (who is older) was allowed to apply to a college two hours away, but my parents only want me to apply for the university here in town. They are allowed to yell in arguments and will shut them down when they can’t think of a rebuttal. I try to esconce myself in my room because whenever they see me there is always something that I suddenly have to do or they have to talk to me about. Twice I have broke (my mother kept pressing me and even took me away from practice to get answers for why I was having a depressive episode [I am meds for it and many other things, but it doesn’t work 100% of the time]) and told my mother just a little bit of her actions that bothered me, and she got really upset and my father forced me to apologize to her. But she is invading my life and I can’t take it, I used to have sports as a way to get away from my family (even among my siblings I am the black sheep), but mother decided to be an assistant coach even though she literally knows nothing about track or cross country. My parents always tell me how lucky I am that I have a parent at my races, but I dread getting in the car because I know I didn’t meet their standards. My parents are so hypocritical too. If I am late because my stomach was upset (I have Colitis) then it’s horrible and I get yelled at, but if my mother had stomach issues because she ate something she shouldn’t and we’re late, it’s my fault. I am never allowed to do anything. I am pet-sitting a friend’s dog and since she is a high energy breed, I wanted to take her on a walk. I was told I couldn’t without my mother (which seemed ridiculous at the time because I didn’t have my license) because she is a big dog and an “alpha”, but whenever I asked my mother came up with some excuse. I am watching the dog again and have secretly walked or jogged with her twice without any problems. My mother exaggerates everything and my father always takes her side and does lots of things to try and make her happy but I don’t see her doing the same. We went on vacation because my sister graduated high school, and she spent the whole time complaining because the weather wasn’t the way she wanted it (it wasn’t HER vacation). She will always blame get mad at me and say my actions will cause dad to yell at her. But he always yells at me and tries to change me. He doesn’t like the way I am so he is forcing me to grow part of my hair out, but he still isn’t satisfied and demands more. He gets upset when I have it pulled back because the top is the perfect length to hit me in the eye (especially when I run, which is quite frequently). He even decided my career for me, every time I think something else might make me happy, he tells me no and that I wouldn’t be happy or I would be bad at it. He wants me to be an engineer like what he currently is, which doesn’t make much sense because he is always telling me that I am bad at math and every time some electronic isn’t working, he assumes I did something and it’s my fault. My grades and test scores are never good enough for him. I am considered bilingual by my state, but he doesn’t think I am and always nags me (in front of my siblings) that I didn’t speak Spanish to someone who I knew was a native speaker. One person in particular patronized me the last time my dad forced me to talk in Spanish with him. I am afraid to buy books for any reason other than school because my parents are so judgemental (Harry Potter is forbidden by my dad because of wizardy/witchcraft, but the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are excellent). My mother never puts up a fuss with my dad unless she doesn’t think his idea is plausible (no time, expensive, all of the above, etc…) but then she quickly turns from rage to being upset and crying and leaving the room. I have seen both of them yell their heads off and their faces turn red at me, then speak calmly to a sibling just seconds later. Both my parents have selective hearing (I honestly feel like they do that just to have reasons to yell and complain, but I start to raise my voice and it is inappropiate, just like they can interrupt me but I can’t do the same). I am always afraid about getting the next “lecture” or sheathed comment, which comes quite frequently. I feel like I am constantly walking on thin ice. When most of my family is gone, I will sit on the couch with the dogs, but when they get excited (meaning someone is coming home) and I know it is a parent, I hurry to my room.
    Sorry that I rambled, I just hate this so much. Every other comment that I have seen on here is from people that have gotten away, but since I am seventeen, I can’t.

  • October 13, 2019 at 6:32 pm

    I was stopped from achieving my huge ambition to be a veterinary nurse by my mum.
    At the time she stopped me from going to the College and I have regretted the decision I had to make not to go ever since. My mum is very forceful in her words and negative. She implies she is pittying you and trying to help when she is actually controlling. At the age of 22 she still thought she could tell me what to wear to a wedding reception. We have had blazing rows. My mum suffers with depression and has little social interaction outside the house. Fear parents like this when you are young and go against them no matter what. otherwise you will be the adult like me who has not achieved true career happiness or self esteem. When I have A child they will make their own decisions for their happiness providing they are not impossible or damaging to health or safety.

  • December 27, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    A mother that say’s…..’There’s something wrong with you!! – I’ll take you to the doctor’, in a demonic voice, when I hadn’t started my period at 15. Btw that’s the first time she’d even mentioned periods. So that was a lovely, warm, loving moment between mother and daughter, I have to recall.

    Ordering me home by 11, when I was 17/18, and when I returned at literally 5 past, found that she’d locked the door and left the key in it.
    In the morning, she then went through my phonebook, and called the friend that I’d returned to after she’d locked me out. She preceeded to call her a whore and a prostitute, and suggested that she should f – off back to Germany where she belonged.
    This behaviour on the back of her demanding of me….’Where are all your friends? You haven’t got any, have you!! They don’t want to know you, do they!’…when I was younger.
    Mmmm I wonder why?.
    Of course there are many more examples of love and empathy that were showered on us.
    No surprise, that I’ve been so messed up, all my life.

  • January 16, 2020 at 8:00 am

    I currently live in this situation but it is my partner who is controlling with my oldest son, I am at breaking point with this as I also have a younger son who does not get the constant moans and groans that my eldest does and my partner cannot see how this behavior is affecting the whole family and takes it as a personal dig that he is not appreciated in the household etc , He grew up in a very abusive household with various stepfathers and I get that the childhood has a lot to do with his lack of cognitive learning from a young age but has anyone got any advice on this as it is driving me and my eldest son to the point of breaking up the family unit which will then have effect on my youngest?

  • April 5, 2020 at 8:09 am

    My dad gets upset when I tell him I prefer to work in the private sector instead of working for the government. At 48 he opens my mail. My sister does the same thing with my mail. I was staying with my dad for a couple months to save money and help out. I could have gotten my own place. I have money. My sister sets me up to look like Im the bad guy to my dad. He falls for it everytime. She told him once I had an attutude towards her that upset her. He interupts my very very important phone call yelling at me as to why the attitude with her and I tell him she was doing my laundry pretending to help but, snooping in my pockets instead for the third time after telling her twice to please leave that to me. I yelled at her. She goes off and tells daddy. I tell him why and he realizes that I am in the right but, does not care and says “whatever” as its just a brother/sister squabble. Turns and leaves the room. No sorry about interupting ur call or telling my sister why the drama. He was very upset I told him I was going to stay in Tijuana for 3 weeks not in San Diego to avoid taxes as I was working overseas. Very upset. I bowed down and stayed in SD instead. Cost me $30,000 in taxes. My biggest life regret. That and not calling the postmaster on him and my sister for opening my mail so they.could be arrested and charged with felonies.I have a misdeamor record and they both like to bring it up now and then to remind me that Im a bad person. I missed an oportunity to be able to call them felons. I have very little self esteem, bleak outlook on the future and hate visiting my dad and sister. My mom loved me and stood up for me especially later in life. She passed 10 years ago and its been a very bad 10 years with my dad and sis. Im 51 now. Very limited contact with them and they throw it in my face all the time. Im a 12 year old servant/house boy that doesn’t know shit according to them.


Join the Conversation!

We invite you to share your thoughts and tell us what you think in this public forum. Before posting, please read our blog moderation guidelines. A first name or pseudonym is required and will be displayed with your comment. Your email address is also required, but will be kept private. (Please note that we use gravatars here, which are tied to your email address.) A website/blog/twitter address is optional.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *