We all want to think that our parents are infallible. In our youth, we believe they can do no wrong and might not be able to see that they’re really not doing their best for us. And of course, every family can have its ups and downs and be a little dysfunctional at times, that’s just human nature. However, when manipulation occurs, it’s something that can have long-lasting effects on our psyche and leave those who’re subjected to it having to heal a whole lot of trauma adulthood.
Let’s take a look at 6 signs you were raised by manipulative parents:
1. They Try to Invalidate Your Feeling
This is often used in a selfish manner to get to either go along with what they want you to do or to get you to come around their way of thinking. It’s essentially a kind of stonewalling that will see you coming up against deafening ignorance.
Some red flags you might want to look at for are
- Not having a chance to share your feelings
- Being interrupted or talked over
- Having your concerns dismissed
- Punishing you for showing emotion
- Telling you how you should feel
For example, let’s say you’re going to a family gathering and you know you’re going to see an uncle who always gives you a hard time and verbal abuses you. You tell your mother who doesn’t even let you finish your sentence because she doesn’t want to hear an uncomfortable truth about a member of the family – her brother. You try to tell her again but all future attempts to make your point are met her saying, ‘it won’t be as bad you think.’
2. Emotional Blackmail
Emotional blackmail is a classic manipulation tactic. It’s used to turn your feelings against you in order to get you to agree to the user’s demands.
And it almost always follows the same basic pattern:
- They will make a demand of you.
- If and when you refuse, they will either try to butter you up and flatter you into giving in, or they pose thinly veiled threats to get you to meet their demands.
- If, and when you give in there might be a reward and some show of affection, but it will most likely be extremely shorted-lived
And now the precedent has been set, you open yourself up to further manipulation from manipulative parents.
Gaslighting is one the most insidious of all manipulation tactics as it can leave you genuinely questioning your sanity. It can leave you feeling confused, doubting your memory, and wondering what’s real and what’s imagined. If you’re subjected to this over the long term, it can have a severe effect on mental health and struggling with some serious trust issues.
If you’ve been gaslighted on in the past, you may have experienced one or more of the following:
They object to things you know are true (“I would never say that. How could you think that of me?)
- They might insist they told you an important piece of information that they’re now trying to guilt-trip and /or punish you for forgetting.
- They might pretend they forgot about an important commitment they made to you
- They will try to convince you that something never happened (i.e. “Your father never hit you. What are you talking about?)
- They outright say that delusional or lying.
4. Withholding Affection & The Silent Treatment
If you’ve ever had a parent that’s completely withdrawn you’ll know all about this one. They might show love only conditionally when they want to do something for them or something that meets their approval and matches their expectation of how you should behave. When you make a mistake or in their eyes don’t fulfil expectations, they might:
- Punish or criticise you for not ‘being any your best.’
- They might subtly infer that they don’t love you
- They blame you rather than looking for more plausible/external reasons why something went wrong.
But it’s not just the chief manipulator that will withhold affection. They may use isolation tactics, such as:
- Giving you the silent treatment
- Telling you how disappointed everyone is in you
- Threatening other families member if they break ranks and show affection for you
5. Shifting Goal Posts
Shifting goalposts is an extension of withholding affection. In fact, it often works in tandem and can be a one-two punch that can leave your self-esteem at rock bottom and totally inadequate. If you’ve never been able to gain your parent’s approval no matter how hard you try, and how closely your try and match their expectations this could be the reason why…
It’s not your fault. It’s that they keep on moving the goalposts further and further away from you. Let’s say you want to learn a musical instrument, you want to play the guitar. Your parents won’t pay the full cost but agree to pay half if you’ll do some housework for them for the next three months.
You hold up your end of the bargain, and when the day comes they say, bring up the fact your grades haven’t been the best recently and maybe the distraction of a guitar isn’t the best thing until you bring them back up.
6. Raising Your to Be Codependent
Some parents want to live the life they never got the chance to through their kids. They try to live vicariously through their child’s achievements. And to this, effectively over the long-term, they need to control every facet of your life from the subjects you take, the college you attend the friends you keep and so and so forth.
It’s ok for your parents to help you financially and provide emotional support when making decisions, but if this is preventing you from making any of your own choices, you’ll forever be stuck in their orbit unable to break free of their gravitational pull. If your parents are constantly overstepping your boundaries and taking on all of your problem-solving tasks, then you’ll never develop into a mature free-thinking adult.