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Controlling parents- the effect on their child

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

I'm not talking about "helicopter parents" that worry about the safety of their children. No, I'm talking about those parents that try to control every facet of your life's activities.

I recall, rather naively when turning 21 (1977), l told myself that next week l will turn 21yo and I'll finally be treated like an adult by my mother. I'd spent 3 years in the RAAF and travelled around. Little did l know that the control my mother had over me would last until 55yo when l broke contact permanently.

In my 20's l felt obligated to take a new girlfriend home for approval. At 27yo my new gf was not approved. My mothers response "if you dont break off with that girl I'll pack my bags and holiday in the country". But by that time I'd become aware of emotional blackmail a cruel method to use your love as their weapon. I told her I'd help her pack.

The need for control could be for several reasons. I believed (because she never had a diagnosis) was some level of Borderline Personality Disorder. I'm not demonising those with this disorder, just that her actions fit most of that disorder.

The effect on the victim of a controller is devastating. Such a parent might also have genuine nurturing of his/her child, making things worse because one is torn. You have the overwheling need to break contact and be free, like being in a straight jacket but when the mothering returns, she was just like the mother you always wanted. Then the cycle came around again.

In my case up until 1992 whenever l tried to break off l also lost my father.Controllers, narcissists, use whatever weapons are at their disposal. The other parent, a sibling maybe are their prize armaments.

With the passing of my father she lost her power. I held it now but it wasnt in my nature to use it.

What can you do about stopping a narcissistic parent from controlling your life? Not much. Their tendency to control is deeply a part of their disorder. They wont/cant change, they wont give up their need for you to remain one of their tentacles and they wont seek help. They will not self reflect. It will be all your fault and your problem.

I dont like encouraging severing ties but if your mental health is such that you are heavily effected, their might be no choice.

Since 2010 I've had an adopted mother. I chose her. Also my sister and l are never used against each other now. Divide and conquer is another tool

As children we dont choose to be owned. Breaking free takes courage and the reward comes..

5 Replies 5

Community Member

Dear W.K. I read your post with interest. I was a young teenager when my mother died and didn't know what the term "controlling parent" meant. I guess she was one though and what I write may horrify some . You may think I am mean, cruel, ungrateful, vicious but I can only call it like it is.

when we were told at the hospital that she had died....my immediate overwhelming emotion was, and remained "relief". I recall breathing out a huge sigh (of relief) leaning against a Minister's shoulder (he was standing beside me) feeling "relief". I never missed her or grieved for her from that moment.

At major events like marriage, childbirth, etc...I never gave her a thought or wished i "had a Mum to help me" never! If my mother had not died, I would not have been able to live. I began to live when she died. Until then she controlled me totally (or tried to). I was not allowed to be "me" She stifled every glimpse of "me" that emerged.

Adolescence began and the imprisonment became intolerable. If she hadn't died, I may have killed her myself. I definitely would have left home as soon as I could. I was slowly smothering to death!

I was a pretty child apparently, blonde whereas my sisters were mousy. when my hair got to a certain length, lovely and wavy and people commented on it.she would take me to an amateur hairdresser, a relative, who cut it all off and curled it within an inch of its life.so that I was nearly bald with an ugly "afro" type covering on my head - almost shaved. I was bullied terribly for it, at school. I recall one kid asking "Why does your mother do that to you?" I hated my mother for that! that is just one story this went on until I became old enough to outright refuse.

She was an expert at emotional blackmail "You;ll be sorry when I die" etc. She told me, a little girl, that when she died my father would not be able to look after me, would marry another lady who would not want me, and that they would "put me in an orphanage and forget all about me". This would happen if I did not do as she wanted."it would make her sick and die."

Dying was the best thing my mother ever did for me(sorry to be so morbid folks - just wanted to let W K know I realise a little, what he said. I don't harbour guilt, grief, or unresolved emotions about my mother, believe me.I feel absolutely NOTHING. No, I am not "in denial"

I relate that story with no emotion whatsoever like narrating a plot of a movie )

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Moon & Tony WK~

Moon: You are not alone in how you feel, my parents were most controlling until I was disinherited.

I wrote this about my mothers death - in another thread a while ago:

I'm not resentful, I'm not sad. She's gone, I am very sorry to say I'm glad.


As children we dont choose to be owned. Breaking free takes courage and the reward comes.

Absolutely spot-on! Best thing I could have done. Taught me responsibility and love.


white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Moonstruck

That myst have been hard to be so frank but l thankyou.

The one big, huge thing is, you grew up different to your mother. You grew insight and saw the bad.

I'm sure this thread will help a lot of people heal as they read it.

Hi Croix

l recall your story. There are many children of adult we can educate as to how wrong parents can be. Pity society dont have mandatory tuition to be one.

Tony WK

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Moon - wow, sending you big hugs. Thank you for sharing your story.

My parents were not controlling. My daughter's father is an i think his mother is. We haven't seen or heard from him for almost 3 months. I do wonder what he will be like if he is a big part of her life later on. It was an unexpected pregnancy, he didn't cope too well. He once told me that is she comes home one day and says she is pregnant he will tell her to forget about the relationship because relationships don't last. this makes me so worry. This tells me he would ruin her happiness just because he is not capable of being happy, taking responsibility and making commitments. He would force his negativity on her just as he does everyone else.


white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi all

I went to 55yo before l found out the problem my mother has. Im 61.

With no diagnosis, it has been an educated guess. Chronic BPD.

This is no way meant to be offensive to bpd sufferers though. There is a book called , "walking on eggshells" by dr Christine Lawson. You can also google this for a summary

Topic: emotional blackmail- likely extreme bpd- beyondblue

My sister and l knew our relationship with our mother was terminal. We truly tried everything in our power to make it work.

She denied us of our own personality, the freedom of choice of partner, a calm trouble free wedding, the love of our father...she would even, when she got my kids alone at 5 and 2 yo, demonize me and their mother.

With both my sister and l having bipolar 2, depression, dysthymia and a history of anxiety...we know the culprit. My mothers mother and 3 aunties were of similar Queenage....

My brother suicided at 27yo and both my sister and l made plans in the past for the same thing.

Of course...it was never her fault.!!

Tony WK