Parents who control their grown-up children

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Robert Maurer
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Parents who control their grown-up children

Parents who are control freaks don't stop being control freaks just because their children are now adults. Indeed, at this stage they tend to exercise more sophisticated control mechanisms, such as emotional blackmail or victimization. Let's analyze the situation in this space.

Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.

Last update: 24 March, 2022

Receiving unsolicited advice, being the victim of constant reproaches, of recommendations on how one should or should not act; make use of blackmail, that manipulative language that takes away motivation and even self-esteem ... The way parents control their grown-up children is often so cryptic that you could write a manual.



This manual would actually be a collection of intolerances and unspoken complaints. Reaching adulthood carrying on the shoulders the shadow of the father who supervises and criticizes or of the mother who uses a thousand tricks to have control over the child's life undermines dignity and makes these social dynamics invisible. 

We are talking about a society that continues to exalt the businesses of parents and that sees in the family that unconditional love that embraces and enriches everything. This is also true when parenting becomes a factory of unhappiness. A suffering that is injected from childhood and that very often persists into adulthood.

Why do some parents supervise their children? And again ... why do these children most of the time fail to escape from this flu? We're about to find out.

Parents supervising adult children

There are many parents who monitor their adult children closely and even remotely. It matters little if the son or daughter has left the nest and has a family of his own and an independent life. The umbilical cord does not come off and through it continues to feed that poisoned love that has only one goal: to keep the dependence on parents intact.


If you are wondering what lies behind the control craze, the answer is simple: those who seek to control are seeking relief from the feeling of emptiness caused by the independence of their children.

Parents, therefore, try to defend themselves from loneliness by convincing their children that they are still indispensable to them. Parental closeness (and dominance) makes the person believe that he is not independent and blinds him to the suffering triggered by this attitude.

Although the children are adults, the need for parental control is not lost. The techniques must be refined, this is true, but whoever has been a manipulator for a large part of their life or all their life will continue to find new ways and strategies. It does not matter if the child still lives in the childhood home or if he has gone away. The nets for manipulation expand and asphyxiate with great skill.

The fear of parents

The person with delusions of control is driven by lack, but also by fear. He is afraid that his son will go on with his life independently, in the name of maturity and freedom, away from home. Any attempt by the latter to take over the reins of his own existence is perceived as a wrong and immediately triggers deleterious emotions, such as anger, anger, anguish, etc.

Seeing your children make their own decisions about work or private life is seen almost as a threat. In addition to this, the parent will show that taking that step will be counterproductive, because ... "How can you go to another city leaving me alone?", "How do you think of getting engaged right now that I need you most?".


These parents build walls to prevent their children's lives from going on, so as to trap them day after day.

Parents who control adult children, how do they do it?

Parents who control their children do so in secret, indirectly and painfully. This is a highly insidious manipulation, which children cannot explain well when they resort to psychotherapy.

This web that traps and strangles freedom has actually always been there, and it engulfed them to the point of considering normal attitudes that weren't at all.

  • The parent is always there to "help out", but this seemingly disinterested help is meant to be in control. And so, any help is needed not only to control the children, but also to blackmail them and continue to exercise their authority.
  • These parents exercise a particular emotional manipulation by which they project on their children a perennial sense of guilt following any attempt to "abandon", "betray" or "hurt".
  • Control is also exercised with the word, through those councils that know orders and tell us that "I do it for your good, because I know what is best for you".

How to get out of parental prison with delusions of control?

Reflecting on the relationship we have with our parents is necessary to become aware of that bond that offers us well-being and suffering (regardless of our age). Some people, in fact, do not realize to what extent the shadow of the family interferes and deforms their life.


We need to be clear with our parents about the behaviors we are willing to accept or not. Setting limits is an exercise for our health. We must not fall into their net if they do not respect them, if they react badly and practice victimhood, telling us that we are abandoning them.

When a person defines precise boundaries, others have only two options: accept them or see how we drift further and further away. In both cases, it is advisable to speak assertively and clearly with the parents, explaining how we would like things to be, for the good of all.

Last but not least, you have to heal from all the wearying years of manipulation. These injuries tend to leave a mark of low self-esteem and even post-traumatic stress. Let's keep that in mind.

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