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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.

Table of Contents

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.

If you need a crisis hotline or want to learn more about therapy, please see below:

For more information on mental health, please see:

If You Need A Crisis Hotline Or Want To Learn More About Therapy, Please See Below:

  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) – 1-800-656-4673
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-7233
  • NAMI Helpline (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – 1-800-950-6264

For More Information On Mental Health, Please See:

  • SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) SAMHSA Facebook, SAMHSA Twitter, SAMHSA LinkedIn, SAMHSA Youtube
  • Mental Health America, MHA Twitter, MHA Facebook, MHA Instagram, MHA Pinterest, MHA Youtube
  • WebMD, WebMD Facebook, WebMD Twitter, WebMD Instagram, WebMD Pinterest
  • NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), NIMH Instagram, NIMH Facebook, NIMH Twitter, NIMH YouTube
  • APA (American Psychiatric Association), APA Twitter, APA Facebook, APA LinkedIN, APA Instagram

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