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How To Cope With a Gaslighting Parent

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

In general, parent-child relationships are complicated. Consequently, it can be challenging to determine when family disputes cross into harmful, toxic territory.

How To Cope With a Gaslighting Parent

How to Cope With a Gaslighting Parent

It requires a lot of awareness to recognize the issue, particularly in the instance of gaslighting, which is a confusing and deceptive form of emotional abuse.

Here are warning indicators of gaslighting parents, common phrases they could use, and steps you can take to start healing.

What Is Gaslighting?

A common kind of manipulation in abusive relationships is gaslighting.

It is a covert form of emotional abuse in which the bully or abuser deceives the victim by fabricating a story and leading them to doubt their perceptions of reality.

In the end, the gaslighted victim begins to doubt their understanding of reality and may even begin to question their sanity.

Why Do Parents Gaslight?

There are numerous reasons why parents gaslight their children. The majority of the time, the behavior is a reaction to the person’s own upbringing.

If a parent has been gaslighted by their own mother or father, they might not be aware of how manipulative or harmful their behavior is.

Other parents might simply be feeling overburdened and project their own emotional scars and traumas onto their kids.

A child who experiences this could feel misunderstood, lonely, alienated, and often angry.

Other probable fundamental causes of gaslighting include narcissism, a need for control, emotional immaturity, a need for attention, and deep-seated shame.

Signs That Your Parent Is Gaslighting

Playing Victim

Gaslighters, psychopaths, and covert narcissists all tend to play the victim.

Gaslighting parents may avoid taking responsibility for their part in a situation and always act as though they were wronged in a parent-child relationship.

Making Their Child Feel Bad About Themselves

Gaslighting parents will make their child feel worse about whatever challenging circumstance they’re in, whether it’s a mistake, a failure, or a regular stressor, rather than provide emotional support.

Being Overly Controlling

When a parent has an authoritarian parenting style and views their child through the perspective of obedience, this is another indication of gaslighting.

To put it another way, the parent determines what their child should value, like, and believe.

As a result, the child develops indecision or struggles to comprehend their own thoughts, feelings, and needs or wants.

Ignoring Their Child’s Experiences

When a parent downplays their child’s personal experiences, that is one indication of gaslighting.

For instance, a person might recount a former event in which they were made to feel socially isolated by peers or were afraid of their parents’ reaction, and the latter’s answer was a denial of the event.

Even if the parent has a different memory of the incident, this gaslighting invalidates the person’s feelings, which can be dangerous.

A parent may be engaging in gaslighting if they frequently doubt their child’s reality.

Being Too Close To Their Child

When a parent is deeply involved with their child, they are more concerned with becoming the child’s friend than with establishing a healthy parent-child relationship.

They’ll try to protect the child from tough feelings like sadness, disappointment, and loneliness, meaning that the child won’t be able to feel or deal with those natural emotions.

How to Cope With a Gaslighting Parent

Common Gaslighting Phrases

  • You are so sensitive.
  • I criticize you because I love you.
  • I am not arguing; I am discussing this with you.
  • You are crazy.
  • You are making a big deal out of nothing.
  • You are being too emotional.
  • Stop being dramatic.

Telling Their Child What They Should Be Doing

  • You should have taken out the garbage.
  • You should have done your homework.
  • You should have put on your socks.
  • You should have listened to your mother.

Telling Their Child How They’re Feeling

  • You’re not cold.
  • You’re hungry.
  • You’re not upset about that, you’re just grouchy.
  • You’re tired; go to sleep.

Telling Their Child About Their Character

  • You’re a good kid.
  • You’re a bad kid.
  • You’re the kind of kid who shares their toys.
  • You’re a selfish kid.
  • You’re a good student.
  • You’re a bad student.

How To Cope With It

Become Aware

The first step is recognizing and comprehending that your mother or father is gaslighting you.

This phase might be easier if you work with a therapist and educate yourself on the warning signs of gaslighting. It may help you understand this behavior and its causes better.

Check The Facts

Give yourself a reality check because many gaslighting parents tend to invalidate or disregard their kids.

Refer back to the facts to remind yourself of what is true and not a distorted world created by the gaslighting parent.

You can also get a second opinion from a reliable witness who has confirmed your experience.

Set Boundaries

Recognizing your personal needs, including ending the relationship or outlining clear expectations, will help you keep your emotional stamina.

You can do this by reducing communication or by setting physical boundaries between you and the parent.

You can even cease all communication if that’s what you want.

You should be aware that you have the option to detach yourself if the relationship becomes too toxic. Your mental wellness comes first above all.

Final Thoughts

Gaslighting is destructive in any relationship, but it can have significantly longer-lasting impacts when it comes from a parent.

Healing begins with awareness of the problem and acceptance that you are never to blame for it.

You can also cope with the emotional turmoil you’ve experienced by asking for aid from dependable friends, family, and specialists.

Emergency Numbers

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)

988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.

911 Emergency

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma & Child Abuse Resource Center

Domestic Violence Shelters & Resources

Futures Without Violence

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Prevent Child Abuse America

Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640. Both services are available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgOr, just dial 988

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org

Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255

LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)

The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)

The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
1-877-330-6366 (Canada)

Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com

The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.

‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories


UK & Republic of Ireland

  • Emergency: 112 or 999
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
  • YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/

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