Table of Contents
What Are Some Examples of Gaslighting Parents?
Maybe you are the living example of having had a gaslighting parent, and all the damage they caused. Learn more about how parents can cause untold emotional damage to their kids by gaslighting them.
By now most people are familiar with the term, gaslighting. It is a form of emotional manipulation that keeps the other person second-guessing his or her own experience, memories, or beliefs. When adults use this type of psychological manipulation on each other it is bad enough. When parents use this tactic on their own children, though, it becomes a form of abuse. Sadly, it can result in deep-seated emotional damage for life.
What is Gaslighting?
Let’s explore the word gaslighting just a little further. To gaslight someone means that you are attempting, whether consciously or not, to undermine another person’s perception of reality. This technique is used to keep someone off-balance, to make them unsure of themselves or of their truth.
Gaslighting can be seen as a type of abuse, especially when a parent uses this tactic on their children. It is a form of passive-aggression, but more toxic. The child grows up with a lack of self-confidence, unsure if they can even trust their instincts. Adults that were raised by gaslighting parents second-guess themselves at work and in relationships.
Why Do Parents Gaslight their Kids?
The roots of parent gaslighting are complex. Some parents may foist this toxic power play on their child out of ill intentions. Other parents, however, maybe subconsciously acting out what their own parents modeled to them.
Some of the reasons that parents gaslight include:
- The parent themselves are deeply wounded emotionally and is allowing that to influence how they interact with their kids.
- The parent uses the tactic to control the child’s every thought or belief.
- The parent gaslights to cover something disappointing in their child. For example, “You were so great today on the field,” even though the child played poorly. The child knows they played poorly, so the parent’s praise confuses them.
- The parent is a narcissist and must feel superior to their child.
- The parent has deep-rooted shame.
- The parent has an inferiority complex.
5 Ways that Parents Gaslight their Kids
Here are some examples of gaslighting parents:
- Sowing doubt and confusion. This is the hallmark trait of gaslighters. The goal is to invalidate your own memories of events or facts and sow confusion and self-doubt.
- Using excessive criticism to demean the child. They use harsh and demeaning words to put down the child. When the child makes a mistake or doesn’t quite measure up to expectations, the parent will call them hurtful names.
- Exaggerating their own prowess. A sign of a narcissist parent that gaslights is when they exaggerate their own accomplishments or strengths, sending the message that they are superior to the child.
- Undermining the child’s friendships. Some gaslighters feel insecure or threatened by a child’s close friendships. They try to diminish the value of the friend by putting down the friend.
- They dictate what you will like. Gaslighting parents are all about control. They ignore their child’s tastes or preferences and impose their own upon them.
Effects of Parent Gaslighting
Kids naturally assume that their parents are loving and honest people. They place a great deal of trust in their parents’ motives. It never crosses a child’s mind that their mom or dad might be undermining their own mental health.
There is a bond of trust between parent and child. When the child receives messaging from the parent that makes them feel “off” it can have long-term effects. Some of those effects experienced in adulthood include:
- Trust issues. Adults who were gaslit by a parent have a hard time trusting anyone to be truthful with them. This can have a devastating impact on relationships.
- Low self-esteem. When your parent tells you basically everything you do or think is wrong or not as it truly is, you begin to think you can’t do anything right. This leaves the adult child with low self-esteem that impacts all areas of their life.
- Victimhood. Being gaslit by a parent who is overpowering and critical can cause the child to grow up into a passive, weak person who lives life in a state of victimhood.
- Depression. When you grow up feeling dismissed and invalidated, it can take a toll on the person’s mental health. One way is through acquiring a sense of hopelessness and despair, the features of depression.
How to Reverse the Damage of Parent Gaslighting
Gaslighting by a parent can have far-reaching consequences. Instead of growing up in a healthy family dynamic, the child is raised to suppress their thoughts, their opinions, and even their voice. The toll this can take on someone is immense, and that includes possible mental health and substance abuse issues in adulthood.
To overcome the effects of a gaslighting parent, it is essential that you seek out the expertise of a mental health professional. Healing will be a process that takes the guidance of a therapist and a lot of patience. It also requires letting go of the hope that the parent will ever see the errors of their ways.
Recovery means setting firm boundaries with a toxic parent. Draw an imaginary line of protection around yourself. Do the work needed with your therapist and allow them to lead you into a much healthier mindset.
If you recognize the examples of gaslighting parents and are struggling emotionally because of it, you will benefit from therapy. Reach out today for the help you need to reverse the damage of gaslighting parents.
The Treatment Specialist Online Resource for Mental Health Topics and Guidance
The Treatment Specialist is an online resource for informative articles on mental health conditions and treatment options for adults, teens, and families. If you suffer from the aftereffects of parent gaslighting, call our helpful team today at (866) 644-7911.