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How to Deal With a Controlling Parent

by
author image Stacey Elkins
Stacey Elkins is a writer based in Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a Masters in social work from the University of Illinois in Chicago, where she specialized in mental health.
How to Deal With a Controlling Parent
A mother talking to her daughter on the couch. Photo Credit Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Having a controlling parent can leave you struggling to break free and gain your own independence. You may feel stuck between what you want and what your parent wants for you. If you find yourself dealing with a controlling parent, there are steps you can take to help you escape the grasp of their controlling ways.

Consider Her Behavior

Think through the reasons why your parent may be controlling. Consider if she could be lonely or grieving. As her child, she may feel that she can intrude on you more than others, says Marie Hartwell-Walker, a licensed psychologist and author of "Understanding and Managing Your Controlling Mother" on PsychCentral. Analyze the problem and consider what your mom may be dealing with in her life. If issues of control have been ongoing since your childhood, this is an indication of a more serious problem. If this is the case, work on giving up the guilt and anger and take action to try to help her, says Hartwell-Walker. It's important to consider options that might be beneficial, such as therapy.

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Separate Yourself Emotionally From Your Past

It's likely that you have had to deal with a controlling parent from the time you were a child. You aren't responsible for how your parent treated you as a child; however, you are responsible for how you allow your parent to treat you as an adult, says Dan Neuhard, a psychologist and author of "If You Had Controlling Parents: How to Make Peace With Your Past and Take Your Place in the World" on the website, Controlling Parents. It's important that, as an adult, you emotionally separate yourself from your parent by confronting your past. If you emotionally separate yourself from a controlling past, you will likely develop more positive values and a stronger sense of independence, says Neuhard.

Talk With Your Parent

Before confronting your parent, consider if his controlling behavior could be contributed to emotional sensitivity. It's common for a person who is emotionally sensitive to avoid discussions that may lead to conflict, resulting in making uninformed decisions, says Karyn Hall, a psychologist and author of "Effective Conversations About Difficult Issues" on the website, PsychCentral. Therefore, if your parent is very sensitive, his reaction may come across as controlling. Tread carefully when initiating a conversation with someone is emotionally sensitive. Start your conversation with the right intention and don't veer from that intention, says Hall. For instance, you want to discuss and resolve the controlling behavior, not point blame or argue about it. Show respect and approach the topic with calmness and honesty. Explain your reason for initiating the conversation, discuss your point of view and ask your parent for his point of view, suggests Hall.

Change Your Behavior

If your parent is particularly controlling and doesn't change his behavior after discussing it with him, you may have to change your behavior. You can take steps to minimize contact. For instance, if your parent calls you repeatedly throughout the day, tell him that you have to limit the frequency of calls, such as one call a day. If your parent continues to call repeatedly, stop answering every call and continue to reiterate that one call a day is enough. In drastic cases of controlling behavior, it may be in your best interest to cut off contact with your parent.

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