How to Deal With a Controlling Parent

Controlling parents can be a heavy burden to bear -- especially when you're an adult with children of your own 23. In the past, they might have violated your privacy, pressured you to be perfect, or even discouraged you from making your own decisions. Even worse, they might have even started imposing their controlling ways on your own children 3. In any case, you can begin the process of emerging from their controlling ways and living a full and independent life today 23.

Accept that you are not responsible for the damage that your controlling parent inflicted on you in the past 3. Realize that there is nothing that you have done to deserve such mistreatment justifiably. Avoid feelings of guilt and self-pity as much as possible; they are counterproductive.

Realize that you are responsible for the choices you make now. Though it may seem difficult at first, you are capable of making your own choices, even if your parents disagree with them. This also extends to your children. Not only are you capable of parenting them on your own, but you're also responsible for protecting them from the controlling ways of your own parents 23.

Create emotional -- and, if possible, some physical -- distance between you and your parents. Slowly begin to withdraw from them, keeping your choices and other personal issues to yourself.

Monitor your parents' interactions with your children for patterns of controlling behavior 23. If you notice that your parents are overstepping their boundaries -- or repeatedly undermining your authority -- privately confront them about it in as gentle a way as you can. If they don't change this behavior, consider reducing your children's exposure to them gradually.

Reassure your parents that you are not cutting yourself off from them completely, and that you will always love them and be their child. According to Kansas State University, controlling parents are often afraid that their children will someday not need them anymore and will sever all ties with them 23. Creating emotional distance or limiting how much they see your children might terrify them. Assuage this fear by continuously affirming their role and importance in your life.

Address your parents calmly and respectfully, especially if they become angry or hostile. This will help to diffuse any potential arguments and will calm them more than if you become angry or hostile as well.


Remember that the process of separating yourself from your controlling parents will take time and will happen slowly. Avoid becoming frustrated when the process becomes difficult or if you feel it is not happening fast enough.