10 Ways To Manage Emotionally Manipulative Parents Or In-Laws
In This Article
While we all want to believe our parents have good intentions, manipulative parents can cause significant stress, and parental manipulation is a common problem.
No one wants to think ill of the person that raised them, and the idea that you have manipulative parents may seem far-fetched, but it is much more common than you would think.
Although many signs of manipulative parents are often present, in many cases, others will see the problem first.
Parental manipulation is often covert and well-hidden and can present in many forms. Since parental manipulation is often a continuous, long-term behavior, those who are the target may be oblivious to it.
An emotionally manipulative parent may play the victim, blame their children for issues in their own life, or withhold affection or attention until they get what they want.
These are only some of the many examples of parental manipulation. This article will outline more signs and examine the various types of emotional manipulation.
Identifying these manipulative examples can help you discover whether emotionally manipulative parents have raised you. This article will share many more emotional manipulation tactics and outline ways to deal with emotional manipulation.
Read on to find out if you have emotionally manipulative parents and learn how to deal with emotional manipulation effectively.
What does an emotionally manipulative parent look like?
Manipulation in itself is not a bad thing. Manipulation is a trait that is necessary for survival. For example, infants must manipulate their parents to meet their needs. Furthermore, teachers sometimes need to influence students to encourage learning and good behavior.
Even parents must sometimes manipulate children to ensure they are on the right path in life.
Much of the manipulation we encounter is innocent and beneficial to our growth and safety. Unfortunately, not all manipulation is as harmless, and there are times when manipulation is used maliciously.
What is emotional manipulation?
Not all manipulation is negative. A crying baby, for example, is not manipulative as they cannot care for themselves. However, some types of manipulation are malicious and harmful to your well-being.
Identifying when someone is emotionally manipulative and understanding the different types of emotional manipulation is essential to living a happy life.
Any attempt to affect a person’s emotions and get them to act in a specific way can be considered emotional manipulation.
Advertisers use emotional manipulation to make audiences think or feel a certain way, increasing their likelihood of purchasing products. Politicians also harness emotional manipulation to gain supporters and increase votes.
Every one of us utilizes manipulation in some way. However, the intent moves this from a natural human activity into the realm of abuse.
Thus, this article focuses on using manipulation to gain power or control over another person’s thoughts and actions. Whether an intentional act or not, this type of manipulation causes problems and is a form of abuse.
Types of emotional manipulation and emotional manipulation tactics
Using a relationship to control behavior
A manipulative example seen in the emotional manipulation tactics of manipulative parents is the use of an established relationship to control behavior. Disappointing one’s parents is a fear many people share, and some will do anything to avoid this outcome.
Utilizing insecurities to get your way
Another common emotional manipulation tactic used by manipulative parents is using insecurities to get something. As previously stated, no one wants to let their parents down, and this can be a powerful tool.
Using fear to achieve control
Fear is one of the most common parenting tactics in many family relationships. Fear can easily be used to control behavior, even when children are grown. Thus, fear is seen as an abusive emotional manipulation tactic.
Guilt-tripping, underlying messages, and other passive-aggressive acts are a significant part of the emotional manipulation toolkit.
In gaslighting, the abuser causes the victim to question their memory of an event and ultimately underminds their understanding of reality.
Recruitment of others for help in emotional manipulation
A common emotional manipulation tactic used by manipulative parents is the recruitment of others. For example, emotionally manipulative parents may turn siblings against one another or use one to sway the other.
These are merely a few of the many manipulative examples out there. Manipulative parents often use these emotional manipulation tactics to get what they want from their children,
Awareness of the signs of emotional manipulation can help you see the signs of manipulative parents.
While it would be impossible to list all the signs of manipulative parents, we can outline some common signs of emotional manipulation.
Use these examples to learn how to deal with manipulative parents.
5 signs you have emotionally manipulative parents
Although no one wants to believe their parents would do anything to harm them, the effects of manipulative parents can cause harm in many ways.
Emotional manipulation can have devastating consequences. Therefore, identifying the issue is critical to combatting the problem.
Here are some signs of manipulative parents:
1. They make you feel guilty
Emotionally manipulative parents often use guilt as a tool to control their children. They might make you feel guilty for not doing something they want or doing something they disapprove of.
Related Reading: 15 Cheating Guilt Signs You Need to Look for
2. They play the victim
Emotionally manipulative parents might make themselves out to be victims to gain sympathy and control over their children. For example, they might constantly complain about how hard their life is or how unfairly they have been treated. Alternatively, they may complain that they are lonely to gain attention from their children.
3. They use praise or rewards to control you
Emotionally manipulative parents often use praise or rewards to manipulate their children into doing what they want. For example, they might promise to take you on a trip or buy you a gift if you do well in school or follow their rules.
While this may seem like a common aspect of parenting, it can be a tool that manipulative parents use to get control.
4. They constantly criticize or judge you
Emotionally manipulative parents might use criticism and judgment to control their children. They might comment negatively about your appearance, choices, or ability to control your behavior.
5. They dismiss or invalidate your feelings
Emotionally manipulative parents might dismiss or invalidate your feelings, telling you that you’re being too sensitive or that your feelings don’t matter. This approach can make you feel like your emotions and experiences aren’t valid and can harm your self-esteem.
It’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes, including parents. However, if you think your parents are emotionally manipulative, it may be helpful to talk to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist to get support and guidance.
Emotionally manipulative parents or in-laws can significantly impact your life, including your relationship with your partner. Couples therapy can help you deal with parental manipulation and the detrimental effect of manipulative parents.
Related Reading: What is Emotional Validation and Why Is so Important for Couples in a Relationship
10 ways you can manage emotionally manipulative parents or in-laws
Managing the effects of manipulative parents starts with identifying that there is a problem in the first place. Identification is one of the most challenging aspects of this issue, as manipulative parenting can easily mimic concerned parenting.
If there is no doubt you are experiencing parental manipulation, there are things you can do to limit or prevent emotional manipulation tactics.
Below is some advice that may help you decide how to deal with manipulative parents or in-laws.
1. Set boundaries
You must establish healthy boundaries to control manipulative parents or in-laws. Outline unacceptable comments and behaviors, and clearly and firmly communicate these as boundaries.
2. Be assertive
Stand up for yourself and communicate your needs and wants assertively. Don’t let parental manipulation push you to do something you don’t want to do.
You have the right to make your own choices, regardless of the opinions of manipulative parents.
Related Reading: 15 Ways to Be Assertive in a Relationship
3. Don’t engage
Avoid getting drawn into arguments with emotionally manipulative parents or in-laws. Instead, calmly and respectfully state your point of view and stick to your boundaries.
4. Focus on the facts
When dealing with emotionally manipulative individuals, stay focused on the facts and avoid getting drawn into their emotional manipulations. Stick to what you know, and avoid getting sidetracked by their attempts to control the conversation.
5. Keep your emotions in check
Emotionally manipulative parents often try to stir up emotions to control you. Try to remain calm and avoid getting overly emotional.
6. Seek support
Surround yourself with supportive friends and family members who can provide a healthy outlet for your emotions.
7. Seek professional help
If the situation is exceptionally challenging, consider seeking the help of a therapist or counselor. Professionals can provide you with tools and strategies for effectively managing manipulative parents.
Related Reading: 15 Ways to Help Your Partner Understand How You’re Feeling
8. Limit contact
If necessary, consider limiting your contact with manipulative parents or in-laws. Limited contact can help reduce the impact manipulative parents have on your life and prevent them from having as much control over you.
9. Embrace humor
As ineffective as it sounds, humor can be a powerful tool in managing emotionally manipulative parents. Using humor to lighten the mood can help diffuse tension and prevent manipulative parents from taking control of the situation.
10. Maintain a healthy perspective
Remember, emotionally manipulative parents are not necessarily bad people. Instead, manipulative parents may have their own emotional insecurities and issues.
Frequently, emotional manipulation is a learned behavior. Understanding that an emotionally manipulative parent’s past may drive their behavior can help build empathy. Keeping this in mind can help you maintain your composure and avoid getting pulled into their manipulations.
Chances are, manipulative parents are not out to get you and are not intent on making your life miserable. Exercising empathy, not only to manipulative parents but to anyone you encounter, is imperative to living a happy, fulfilling life.
Once you understand that parental manipulation is often done unknowingly or with pure intentions, you may begin to view the issue more empathetically.
Related Reading: How Perspective Helps Your Relationship Grow
Watch therapist Julia Kristina explain how to build a healthy mindset in this video:
5 ways to handle emotionally manipulative parents
Emotional manipulation is a complex issue, and it becomes even more complicated when the source of the problem is manipulative parents.
Learning how to deal with manipulating parents can take time and effort. However, there are things that you can do to handle emotionally manipulative parents.
Here are five ways to handle emotionally manipulative parents:
1. Stick to your boundaries
It’s important to set clear boundaries with your parents and stick to them. As they did when you were a child, you must be consistent and not wavering.
2. Practice self-care
Taking care of your emotional and physical well-being is essential when dealing with emotionally manipulative parents. Self-care includes engaging in activities that bring joy, practicing relaxation techniques, and seeking support.
3. Stay calm
Emotionally manipulative parents may try to provoke you, so staying calm is essential to avoid getting into arguments.
4. Don’t argue
Arguing with emotionally manipulative parents is unlikely to resolve the issue and can only worsen the situation. Instead, calmly and respectfully state your point of view and stick to your boundaries.
Related Reading: How to Handle Relationship Arguments: 18 Effective Ways
5. Seek professional advice
A therapist or counselor can provide tools and strategies for managing emotionally manipulative parents and a safe space to process your emotions. It can also be helpful to have a trusted friend or family member to confide in when you need support.
Remember, you deserve to be treated with respect and have the right to protect your well-being.
Setting boundaries, practicing self-care, and seeking support, are essential if you want to handle emotionally manipulative parents in a healthy and empowering way.
Related Reading: 15 Best Websites for Online Relationship Advice
How do you tell if your parents are emotionally manipulative?
Parental manipulation can be difficult to recognize, as many aspects are accepted parenting practices within society. Still, some signs may indicate your parents are emotionally manipulative.
Here are some common signs of emotional manipulation:
- Your parents make you feel guilty for not doing what they want or for expressing your own feelings and opinions.
- Your parents may make themselves out to be the victim to gain your sympathy and control.
- Parents might make you doubt your perceptions and memories by denying that certain things happened or making you feel crazy.
- Parents may use threats to make you comply with their demands, such as threatening to take away your privileges or to hurt you.
- An emotionally manipulative parent may isolate you from your friends or other supportive people to increase their control over you.
- Parental manipulation may involve using your emotions to control you, such as playing on your fears, insecurities, or love for them.
Manipulation is not acceptable from anyone!
Remember, emotional manipulation is abuse, and abuse is never okay.
If you feel that your parents are emotionally manipulating you, seek support from someone you can trust or help from a professional.
Knowing what emotional manipulation looks like and learning how to deal with manipulative parents effectively is essential. Although your parents raised you, gaslighting, belittling, guilt-tripping, and other forms of emotional manipulation are still a form of abuse.
Understanding emotional manipulation tactics can help you combat this form of abuse so you can live the happy life you deserve. The effects of manipulative parents can be far-reaching and often run deep.
If you find that your experience with manipulative parents impacts your relationships, seek professional help. Often, couples therapy can help you sort through the long-term effects of manipulative parents and prevent these behaviors from repeating. Reach out for help and end the cycle of abuse today.
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