Signs of a Manipulative Parent
There is a lot of similarity between a manipulative parent and a controlling parent. However, controlling parents are obvious in their actions and say things as they are. Manipulative parents on the other hand, are likely to twist words to elicit an action or a response from you. Some of the common traits of such parents include:
- Behaving like victimized individuals whose world only consists of misery
- Indirectly blaming their children for their condition
- Eliciting guilt via emotional blackmail
- Exploiting weaknesses in children to make them feel guilty
- Underlying aggressive personality, the traits of which are seen in the aforementioned manner
- Interfering with every aspect of a child's life so as to have some amount of control on her/him
- Forcing children to do things for them that they would not willingly do
- Discouraging children's endeavors by discarding them as impossible or wild
- Shirking personal responsibility in order to avoid accusations
- Discouraging discussion on facts that may indicate personal responsibility for their situation
Dealing with a Manipulative Parent
One thing you should know when dealing with manipulative parents is that what they do may be at a subconscious level. For their underlying needs to be satisfied, they subconsciously behave in a manner to elicit those kind of actions from their children. This, however, is no excuse to continue behaving in this manner that only sours the parent-child relationship further. Dealing with such a parent requires you to make some changes in your own behavior rather than that of your parent.
A manipulative person often fails to recognize that the problem may be with her/himself. As has been mentioned earlier, such individuals often veer conversation toward another topic when you try and discuss the problem with them. Even if you tell them that their behavior is affecting you and your life, they will treat it like an accusation and use it to make you feel guilty in the future. In short, a manipulative parent's behavior can not and should not be changed. Instead, the changes should be made in your behavior toward her/him.
- Work on your Self-Esteem: Children of manipulative parents often have poor self-esteem because of the behavior that has been meted out to them over the years. So, the first step toward facing manipulation is working on improving your self-image. You have to believe that you are worth more than what you have been made to believe, and that you are capable of surviving without your manipulative parent.
- Say 'No': Learn to say 'no' to your parent when her/his demand is beyond your capacity to give. It is definitely going to result in sending you off for long guilt trips. However, once your parent realizes that these tactics don't work with you she/he is going to stop behaving like that. Be prepared for other tactics though.
- Show the Change: Finally, let your parents know that you are aware of exactly what they are trying to do to you, and that such tactics are not going to work anymore. Again, they are likely to start getting emotional to blackmail you on this, but you have to be strong and understand that you are doing this for your peace of mind. Remind yourself that no one deserves to be manipulated to an extent where it becomes a chore and not something you would willingly do once in a while.