How to Live with Domineering Parents
Many kids of all ages are under the care of parents who are easy-going, encouraging and love them unconditionally. However, some children aren’t so lucky and can often have to deal with parents who domineer and control their lives, to a point where it leaves them mentally scarred.
Parents who demean their children could have been a victim of similar treatment, or they could be envious of their kids. Either way, it can be hard to live with overbearing parents, and you may be looking for a way out. As an experienced counsellor, I have worked closely with many families and have come to learn the best ways to get parents to recognise their unwanted behaviour and change it for the interest of their children. Read on for more information on why parents can be controlling and my best tips on how to overcome this.
You are an Extension of Them
Sometimes, parents feel like their children are an extension or double of themselves, which need to be controlled so that every aspect of their life is as they wish it to be. This can be as small as choosing outfits to something big like choosing romantic partners, careers or demanding that you end relationships that they don’t approve of. Because they see you as someone who is an extension of themselves, they control you as they would control their own lives and don’t see anything wrong with this behaviour.
This manipulative behaviour could have evolved from them feeling like you deserve better because of their own poor life choices, or it could be due to them merely wanting you all to themselves. In some cases, parents can behave this way just because they want you to be safe and happy, and they believe that your life must be a certain way for this to happen – even if the standards they set are their own and not yours. They could feel like the choices they are making for you are better than what you could do yourself, whether that regards education, jobs or relationships.
Envy and Jealousy
Domineering parents often don’t respect their child’s opinion or choices, and they can purposely go against life decisions which have made you happy because they envy you. They want you to be unhappy because they are not happy themselves. By controlling your life choices, they can prevent you from doing things or going places, that will make you content like attending University because they never got the opportunity to do these things themselves.
Envy is an emotion that everybody experiences in their lives, but to use it to the extent a parent like this does to prevent their child’s happiness is a sign that they need some help understanding and controlling their own emotions. They could be doing this because it is hard for them to see you flourish in relationships and jobs if they never had the opportunity to pursue these themselves. Often they are very unfulfilled in their own lives and need support addressing their own unhappiness.
Parent’s Past Experiences
Your parents may be treating you in this particular way because it was what they experienced themselves when they were growing up. With no adult to tell them that it was not healthy behaviour, this is what they know to be appropriate and have applied it to their parenting skills as they had children. Although this behaviour is still non-excusable and damaging, to your parents it may feel natural, healthy and the appropriate approach to raise their children. Psychologist Dockery explains this further, stating how “parents never stop worrying about their children…most times, they believe they’re helping when they’re making the situation worse.”
Address the Situation
Trying to take back control of your life when you live with your parents is not easy. They have an immense amount of control in what you do, where you sleep and how you live in the home. What you need to do first is address the situation at hand with your parents and try to make them see the wrong in their actions in a polite, respectful manner. Express how it makes you feel when they try to take control of your future or life choices, so they can hopefully work on their actions or stop them altogether. This approach may not work at first, but persevering and frequently reminding them may help them to see the error in their ways, especially if they can see the negative effect that it is having on you. Standing up to them and not allowing them to make decisions for you may put an end to their actions because they are now aware that you have the courage to refuse to succumb to their wishes and are confident enough to carve your own path in life.
Build Your Confidence
If the conversation doesn’t go well, you may need to show your parents that you are serious about taking back control of your life. Try learning to say ‘no’ more, or speak out against some of the decisions that they make for you that seem wrong. If they are trying to tell you what to study at University or what to wear and how to act, explain why you want to make choices for yourself and give them an insight into your outlook.
After living with their domineering ways for so many years, this may be hard to do at first. But, you can build your confidence by starting with small issues before working your way up to telling them about relationships, jobs or University choices that they may not approve of. Remind yourself that you deserve to be happy and that you are in control of your own life so that when the time comes to making an important life decision, you will be able to confidently make the choices you need to live the way you want to, and not just satisfy your parents’ demands.
Try Going to Family Therapy
If you are still struggling to find a common ground with your overbearing parents who don’t seem to be listening to you or changing their ways, then therapy could be the productive approach you need. Counselling allows you to express your feelings and find a solution so that you can all move forward. As a highly-experienced counsellor, I am fully aware of the effect an overbearing parent can have on their child, and I am also mindful of the benefits therapy can have on these toxic situations.
Talking to a third party will allow you to get to grips with your emotions and can enable you to gain the confidence you need to put in motion the steps above if you haven’t already done so. It provides you with a safe space to speak about your feelings where you won’t be controlled or oppressed by your parents.
If you think therapy is the only way your parents will change and you are desperate for some help, then contact me today to learn more about my services as a counsellor.