As we do not want to anger or disappoint our parents, confronting them becomes even more difficult, says Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, author of Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back. She explains “We want them to keep loving us – even when we feel like we hate them! The first tip on how to deal with controlling parents (or any toxic person in your life) is to recognize your need to please them. Accepting that you really want your parents’ approval and love will help you communicate with them better.”
“It is okay to seek love and approval from parents for things you do, but expecting the same every time may not be a good idea,” suggests Shikha Thakur, certified emergency care expert from the University of Colorado.
3. Detach from your emotions
As human beings, we are often flooded with emotions when experiencing different situations. So when you grow up with controlling parents, it is likely that your emotions will dominate you. However, letting your emotions guide you can be more damaging than you think. Negative feelings like sadness, anger, resentment and fear can prevent you from acting in the best possible way by clouding your judgement, says art director Catherine Winter. She adds “When you learn to cool your emotions and disconnect them from your thoughts and actions, you can respond to your parents’ behavior in ways that will improve the situation for you, rather than make it worse.”
“When you are not happy with the controlling nature of your parents, you should talk to them instead of being silent and building resentment,” explains Shikha. You also need to ensure that you don’t react in anger and say something hurtful. Keep in mind that they are your parents. They are not your enemies despite how evil they might seem to you.
4. Accept them as they are
You can expect them to change as much as you want, but it is highly likely that they will remain controlling all their lives. The more want them to change or to have a different family, the more you will feel frustrated with your situation. This will only lead to increased stress, anxiety and depression within you. So it’s better to accept them as they are. “You cannot change your parents; that is a fact you must accept. However, you can choose to distance yourself from them. Stand your ground, and do not get too defensive if they accuse you of neglecting them,” explains Michelle Liew.
Let go of your want to have better parents. Let go of your desire to be loved and appreciated by them. Accept the reality of your family and give yourself the love you seek from your parents. “This is your life, and the sooner you accept it, the happier you will be,” says Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen. She adds “You can still hope you’ll one day have a better, healthier relationship with your parents. But, you must stop hoping and wishing they’d change… You have control over your thoughts and feelings! You are free to choose to distance yourself emotionally, physically, socially, and financially.”
5. Seek help
If you feel like things are getting out of hand and it’s becoming unbearable for you, then it can be a good idea to speak with an adult you trust. It can be a relative, your neighbor, your teacher or coach. Speaking with someone can help you gain a different perspective and make you realize that there is nothing wrong with you. Going for family therapy can be another excellent coping mechanism. It can help to improve your family dynamics through effective communication.
Let go and focus on yourself
The strategies suggested above can help you in dealing with your controlling parents and improve your situation. But it is unlikely that your parents will change even after you do your best. So keep your expectation in check. You also need to remember that leaving your house or cutting all ties with your parents or other extreme measures might not be the best option for you, depending on your situation.