The Most Damaging Parenting Technique Of All

From my own experience and those of the clients I work with, the most destructive, emotionally damaging parental technique is attempting to CONTROL all those around them. Nothing does more damage or creates more conflict and resentment than one person trying to control another. When a child is raised in an environment where there is no freedom of choice or no chance for their voice to be heard, the child either buys into it or eventually rebels against it.

Actually, there is no such thing as control or perfect, yet people chase it until it kills them or those around them. In youth most of time is spent seeking approval from parents and older siblings. The idea of the cruel skill of controlling and manipulating those most vulnerable is the hope that young ones will remain under control for a lifetime. Although most parents and siblings would deny or refute that.

“Do as I say not as I do” is one example of a control technique. Also the old adage of, “Men do as they want, women do as they’re told” continues to thrive to this day. This, thank God, is somewhat vanishing with the young women of this generation. Most disregard that type of control like the plague and those women realizing the absurdity of that are divorcing in droves.

Is there one parent or sibling who tried to control all those around them in your life? How did that impact you? These are topics to consider as we forge ahead with finding solutions to rising mental health and addiction problems overwhelming our nation today, every day.

If we were raised in an authoritarian household where one parent ruled with an iron fist, did we find ourselves doing the very same thing once we became parents? Some new parents vow to be the complete opposite parent than their own. Permissive versus controlling seems to be the pendulum swing with very few parents finding the balance in between.

Erik Erickson, a developmental psychologist, introduced, in the mid 1950’s, his eight stages of human growth and development. The first stage, ‘trust vs. mistrust’ is the most significant. A newborn investigates the conflict within themselves of both trusting those around him or her or not by their senses.

Infants look into the eyes of those around him or her, feeling the gentle or rough touch each time they are picked up or placed down. Human beings crave the aromas learned from early childhood. Are the smells pungent, sweet, gentle, or harsh? Tastes are adjusted to as well as sounds as the infant grows through birth to about 18 months.

Before one is verbal, how to adjust to the environment is formed and can be the pattern throughout one’s life.

The second most important stage of a person’s life is ‘separation and individuation’ throughout the years of adolescence. Do we adjust to the environment and the people around us without question? Are we aware that some things are not to our liking?

Awareness, education of other possibilities and connection with others outside of the family unit ensure the beginning ideas that one needs to question what is happening to them in their own homes, if questioning is allowed.

Let’s talk about it.

Debra Whittam is the author of “I'm I Going to be Ok?" For any media inquiries or questions please contact:

#controllingbehavior #controllingparents

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