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The Effects of "Control Freak" Parents

author image Kristine Tucker
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.
The Effects of "Control Freak" Parents
Children of controlling parents often feel resentment. Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

Controlling parenting techniques range from unfair authoritative discipline to extreme neediness. Both extremes can be frustrating for a child, resulting in a warped sense of independence and self-assurance. Control-freak parents don't always intentionally control and manipulate their children, but the long-term effects are still harmful. Honest, open discussions between parents and children might not resolve all the issues, but they can open doors to improved family interactions.


Control-freak parents often make every decision for their children and refuse to let them take on age-appropriate responsibilities. As a result, children despise their parent's unfair and domineering behavior, feeling like they have no room to spread their wings. According to Kansas State University counseling services, children of controlling parents frequently feel resentful, inadequate and powerless. Controlling parents might feel like they're protecting and sheltering their kids, but children often see it as intrusive and over-bearing -- eventually leading to anger and bitterness.


A serious effect of control-freak parenting is delinquent behavior. According to research conducted by the University of New Hampshire, an authoritarian parent with an “it’s my way or the highway” mindset was more likely to raise disrespectful, delinquent children than a parent who gained her children's respect and trust. Children need authority, so they learn to follow rules and understand consequences for misconduct. However, authoritarian parents who dominate, manipulate and dole out harsh punishments have difficulty gaining their children's respect. On the other hand, the New Hampshire study showed that authoritative, controlling parents who balanced their behavior with warm and receptive responses to their children's needs -- welcoming open communication -- had self-reliant, content children.

Difficulty Transitioning to Adulthood

Children of controlling parents have trouble making the leap from childhood to adulthood. Kansas State University reports that transitions into adult roles are difficult for children who've grown up with controlling parents because they have trouble making decisions for themselves. You can't expect a child who's never experienced independence to suddenly have the maturity and problem-solving skills to make all the right choices. Control-freak parents often produce children who feel guilty and disloyal when they make independent decisions, fearing they'll disappoint their over-bearing parents. Controlling parenting techniques hinder growth and often create unhealthy patterns of co-dependency.


Insecurity is a harmful by-product of controlling parents. Children who grow up without independent thought, decision-making responsibilities and problem-solving skills flounder in the real world. Once they leave their authoritarian, overly-protective environment, they aren't quite sure how to behave. Some children lack confidence, experience low self-esteem and respond apprehensively to the world around them. Others may lash out in anger and rebel against societal norms. Insecurity often results in unhappiness, leading to unhealthy relationships in and out of the home.

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