There’s a lot on a parent’s plate when raising children. They have to be mindful of nearly all of their actions, especially when it comes to psychological control. Control of any type is tricky for parents because they can think they are doing the right thing but unknowingly make matters worse. A parent’s role is to guide their children from an “ordinary” childhood to young men and women who can transition into psychologically healthy adults later in life.
Parenting experts say psychological control can show up in many ways, such as bringing up their child’s past blunders to doing nothing to offer guidance when needed. Some parents are unable (or just don’t care) to let go of their high moral standards, and this plays a significant role in the manipulation and psychological control a child might experience.
“Emotional abuse is a form of psychological battering. Psychological battering includes all forms of abuse because victims cannot be physically or sexually violated without also being psychologically battered. Emotional violence is involved in all abuse and causes the neglect of developmental dependency needs,” wrote best-selling author John Bradshaw.
Research shows that poor parenting can have detrimental effects on a child as they transition into adulthood.
“These parents create a childhood atmosphere of emotional neglect. In a family headed by distant or self-absorbed parents, the most sensitive and perceptive child often takes on the family role of attending to other people’s problems and needs,” says author Lindsay C. Gibson in her book Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents.
“These children prematurely adopt adult sensibilities that can inhibit their natural childhood spontaneity. They also experience emotional loneliness and secretly feel unworthy of asking for attention,” said Gibson. She adds, “As adults, they continue to neglect the needs and instincts of their authentic self. They feel guiltily obliged to pay close attention to others but find little coming back to them. This leads to psychological exhaustion because they give up.”
In today’s generation, young adults might experience difficulties finding a clear direction in life, and their responsibility and accountability are not developed. And when combined with a parent’s psychological control and poor parenting styles, these factors often make it worse for the child.
Having a solid understanding of parenting styles is crucial when talking about psychological control.
Authoritarian Parents typically give the message that kids should be seen and not heard. Or it’s “my way or the highway.” And often more than not, they don’t take their child’s feelings into consideration.
Permissive Parents have difficulties setting rules and enforcing them. No matter how hard they try, these parents don’t give consequences often.
And while the uninvolved parent is a great provider, they typically don’t have the time to really get involved in their kids’ daily lives. They don’t ask their children about school or homework and have little clue about their child’s overall needs. And clearly, we can see how parenting styles might push some parents to rely on psychological control as a way to compensate.
So, what effects does psychological control have over a child in the long run?
1. It reduces the child’s decision-making ability
When parents make virtually all of the decisions and whatever smidgen of control their child attempts is frowned upon, this is detrimental. Mainly because the child will not stay with their parents forever, and at some point, the parents will die, and then the child is left to make life-changing decisions and can’t.
2. It affects their self-confidence
Self-confidence is something every young adult must have if they have any hope of functioning in society. Studies have shown that most children whose parents have too much control, those kids fail at almost everything thing they try as adults.
3. It might negatively impact their sense of self-worth
Although self-confidence and self-worth are in the same family of similarities, they are different, and when parents use too much psychological control or an ineffective parenting style, it’s a sure bet that the child will develop a poor sense of self-worth.
4. Increased pressure
What child wants to disappoint their parents? Logic says when a child is under pressure to give their parents the “wow” factor day in and day out, the pressure can be too much with psychological consequences later in life.
The bottom line is, a parent who uses psychological control is setting their children up for a host of issues down the road. And the best solution for a parent is to keep in mind that independence and more independence with hands-on guidance should be the final outcome.
And if the parent isn’t unable to let go of psychological control, hopefully, when the child struggles with failure to launch (50-years-old and still living at home with his parents), the parent can take a deep look at themselves for answers.