How To Stop Being A Controlling Mom


Let’s talk about the benefits of being a controlling mom.

(crickets)


Frankly, there are absolutely no benefits to being a controlling mom! If you are a controlling mom, it’s likely that your kids will avoid you. For many controlling people, being avoided can trigger your need to be in control, which creates a ongoing cycle of relationship frustration.

How To Stop Being A Controlling Mom

Truthfully Being A Controlling Mom Is Not Healthy For Your Family

Sometimes adult kids avoid sharing their lives in an effort to protect their independence. When controlling parents are minimized in family relationships, they feel judged and rejected. Round and round the wheel of dysfunction keeps on spinning until changes are made in the relationship.

If you’re an adult child who has found yourself in a strained relationship with your controlling mom, you may be feeling overwhelmed and confused about why. It’s important to understand the reasons why your mother might be exerting excessive control, so that you can work towards adjusting the relationship.

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Controlling People Can Make You Feel Stupid


Controlling people believe that they have the solutions to your problems. They think that if others took their advice, every problem would be solved, and bad things would be avoided. Anyone can be controlling, but it puts your relationships in danger if you are the parent of adult children.


When you have a controlling parent, it often feels like you can’t measure up
. They have an answer for every problem, and it can make you feel stupid at times. Often your choices and behaviors seem to be just short of the right solution. A “know it all” type of parent makes sure that you know they disagree with you and your choices.


Common Phrases Used By A Controlling Person


Here is a quick list of some common phrases or statements made by a mom struggling with a habit of controlling her family.

  • You probably didn’t know this…
  • What you didn’t know…
  • I knew that….
  • Of course, I knew that a time long ago….
  • Everybody knows that…
  • You didn’t know that?


See that pattern here? The word “know” is the centerpiece of every one of the above phrases. The controlling person will always find a way to make sure you know that THEY KNOW. The best way to effectively shorten a conversation with a controlling person is to start with “I bet you already know this but….” (Freakin’ brilliant, right? You’re welcome!)


Mom, Why Are You Such A Control Freak?


What causes people to become controlling? Is it hidden anger? Are they convinced of their own brilliance? Too many energy drinks?


Fear is what motivates controlling people. Read that again: controlling people are filled with fear.


FEAR. Yup, fear is the origin of control.


People who struggle with feeling fear often respond with control. Control is simply an overreaction to the unknown. That’s it.

Basic and simple: Fearful thoughts=Controlling behavior.

Most of us are caught in cycles of potentially negative behavior due to family history. I recommend this book if you feel like you are struggling with patterns that might have been passed down through your family. It is easy to read and has quick action steps to identify and change frustrating behaviors.

How To Stop Being An Overbearing Mother

Hidden Fear Is The Problem


People will often attempt to control their own lives based on hidden internal fears. We all have the desire to control, it is simply a core human experience. We all think that if something is exactly right, then the results will bring happiness, joy or contentment.


But the reality is control brings anger, shame and anxiety. Nothing healthy can every originate out of fear (unless the fear is physically self-protective).

A controlling mom can ruin her relationship with her adult kids.

Read that again: Nothing healthy can have fear at its core.


For controlling moms, the act of inserting themselves into their children’s lives in an attempt to silence the internal voice of fear. Fear for their kids, fear about being judged as a parent, fear over the growing independence of their kids. Fear of #allthingthings.

The Controlling Parent vs Rebellious Teenager Dynamic

My Own Experience


I grew up in a home with a mother who controlled out of fear. We had difficult uncontrollable circumstances in the home, and to soothe, she would control her children. As an adult, it makes total sense to me that she would use control to bring some stability into her world.

But as a teenager, I made the classic choice to rebel against the rules and expectations in an attempt to wrestle my identity as an individual away from her.


The worst thing for a controlling parent is a rebellious child. Her behavior fueled my behavior until I made some stupid choices. And then, as predicted, some of her worst fears had come true.

Control Can Make A Person Feel Emotionally and Mentally Trapped


I want to be totally clear; I love my mom. We have done a butt-ton of work on our relationship and as a happy result, things have finally shifted into a mostly healthy dynamic. But our family history was one of fear manifesting as control.

I hated feeling controlled. I felt like I had no choice but to throw up the middle finger of rebellion while trying to establish my young adult identity

If You Are A Controlling Mom, Please Read This Carefully


Control will always result in rebellion, passive, hidden rebellion or overt, active rebellion. At our core, humans were designed to be free.

The smothering weight of control will either ignite a rebellious, angry fire, or it will snuff the spark of life out of a maturing soul.


So, are you a controlling person? And if you are a mom, do you see patterns of trying to control your adult kids?


How Do I Stop Being A Controlling Parent?


Start With Controlling Your Fear


Just like Yoda said to Luke Skywalker: You must control your fear! Controlling moms need to work on identifying their fears and then creating methods to contain their negative emotions. When Mom’s operate from a space of fear, the lie we tell ourselves is that we are just trying to save our kids from mistakes or pain.


We must remember that mistakes and pain are life’s most effective teachers. I could fill a dump-truck with all of my painful but educational, lessons courtesy of my dumb choices along with the bullshit that life hands out regularly.

Painful, Personal Lessons Are The Best Teacher


Take a minute to think back over your life- I am certain that the most important lessons were often the most painful. I will never forget not being allowed to watch my favorite TV show in 6th grade because I failed my geography test. I skipped studying, lied to my parents, and then failed the test.

As a result, I will never forget the feeling of disappointment and anger resulting from those consequences. I have forgotten so many important things from my earlier life, but the pain of missing my weekly TV show remains crystal clear.


A Controlling Mom Can Make Her Kids Feel Oppressed


If we stand in the way of mistakes and pain, then we have become a type of god. In the worst sense, we unconsciously see ourselves as all knowing, all seeing and able to predict the future. Controlling, arranging choices and circumstances to create the life we think our children need.

Read that again: the life WE think our children need.


Most controlling moms have the same fears: children experiencing preventable pain, the fear of not being needed and their own life regrets. Controlling moms worry that if their adult children make poor choices, it reflects on their parenting.


When Controlling Moms Feel Judged


Every parent will have the uncomfortable experience of being embarrassed by their child. Tantrums, TikTok, and tattoos, there is always a new possibility of parental humiliation. But here’s the thing Mom, if we don’t allow our kids to stumble and full out fail, we are preventing them from maturing into healthy strong- shit- storm- handling adults.

Best Ways To Stop Controlling Adult Kids

It can be difficult to let go and let your adult children make their own decisions, but it is possible. Here are three steps you can take to help you find a balance between guiding your kids and letting them make their own decisions.

First, practice empathy. Try hard to understand where your adult child is coming from, what they need from you, and why they may not appreciate feeling micromanaged or smothered.

Second, allow yourself time to adjust. It may take some time for you to get used to the idea of not having complete control over your children’s lives; so don’t pressure yourself or get frustrated if the transition isn’t immediate.

Finally, give yourself permission to step back. It might seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes the best thing you can do for your adult children is not try to fix things or give advice every chance you get!

And lastly, be prepared to apologize when you have crossed boundaries. It can be incredibly difficult to apologize to our adult children, but when we do, we create a healthier more respectful relationship.


Controlling Moms Damage Their Children. Yup, They Do.


When we attempt to control our children, we are telling them that they can’t be trusted to make their own decisions. This is such a damaging message, and often as moms we are unaware what we are communicating. Teaching a child that they have what it takes to be successful and resourceful is the foundational message of parenting.


We love when they learn how to use the toilet, but we fear that same independence when they are old enough to choose a college. As a mom of married children, I get it!

The diaper days seem way easier than watching your children buy cars, houses and choose a spouse. But we must remember to embrace the natural process of releasing our children to choose their lives.

How To Be A Less Controlling Parent

Rules For Controlling Moms To Remember

If you are still in active parenting, here are some helpful tips for creating a supportive environment for your growing kids.

Remember the first step to breaking the pattern of controlling behavior is awareness. Recognize when you’re trying to control your child, and learn how to practice mindful parenting. Then, find healthy ways to take charge as a parent without being overly controlling.

Additionally, make sure to set clear boundaries and practice empathy with your child. Finally, give them positive reinforcement and allow them to take responsibility for their actions. With patience and determination, you can stop being a controlling mom and establish a healthier relationship with your child.

If you are able to focus on mindful parenting in the younger years, there is a good chance that you will have created a respectful foundation for the young adult years.

An Affirmation for Controlling Moms


So, when that feeling of needing to control your child rises up inside of you- try this affirmation. I wrote this for women who struggle with controlling their adult children.

Conclusion


Begin to break the cycle of control in your family. It is very common for families to have deeply ingrained generational patterns of control. As moms, we teach our children how to love others and how to trust themselves. If we do not remedy our controlling behavior, we might damage our relationship with our adult children.

Often we mistakenly continue dysfunctional behavior because we don’t see the destructive outcome. To quote Maya Angelou: Know better, do better.

Please make the choice to love, support and encourage your adult children as they create a life that brings them happiness.

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8 Comments

  1. Thank you,
    My daughter is struggling with my controlling and worries for her I need help to stop making her feel this way she is a adult and a great person.
    Kelly

    1. Thank you for being open about the struggle to let our kids grow up and make their own decisions! It can be difficult to let go and trust their journey, but it is worth it.

  2. I’m a controlling mum 🙁 reading this has really made me realise that :(( I feel so horrible all I thought I was doing was having genuine concern for my daughters well-being she’s had such a horrible life I though I was helping but really my behaviour has been hurting her and may effect her forever I am the one with the problem I feel like a failed mother 🙁 appreciate this page thank you for making me see what I was doing

    1. I am happy this post has helped you understand yourself a little better. All moms struggle with control, usually because we want the best for our kids. It can be confusing to let our children become adults, but it is worth the work! Take care and thanks for commenting.

      1. I was a very controlled child and I hated it. I have become a controlling parent and one of children doesn’t want to hug me. He has started to hate girls too. I believe this stems from me. He is rebelling like I did as an unruly teenager.
        I really want change but I dont know how to. I feel trapped and I know my love csn feeling sufficating, time bound and highly regulated.

        1. Thank you for your honesty about your childhood and your parenting. It is so hard to break cycles of controlling behavior, but you have taken the first step, you have acknowledged that you have a problem. Some simple suggestions for interacting with your son might be: asking permission to hug him, asking him if he would like to talk about some of the ways you have controlled his choices. Any type of honest and authentic communication will be beneficial, but it has the potential to be painful. I would also suggest that you consider working with someone to explore your early messages and begin to change those beliefs. Bless you for your honesty and best wishes for growth in your family dynamics.

  3. Thanks for writing this. I came across it searching the internet for help and guidance. Even though it may be for those with adult children…it rings true for me and my younger child.

    I am a divorced dad. So just inserting “dad” for “mom” sums me up. My 12 yr old daughter now struggles with social anxiety that I am sure I have exasperated due to my controlling nature. It has struck me that the harder I have tried to “educate” and teach the “right” way to do things, the worse her anxiety and self-esteem have become. Its all completely backfired.

    Now I need to figure out how to change, hoping that I can somehow repair the damage I have done to her psyche.

    1. Hi- thanks for letting me know that this post was helpful for you. I am sorry to hear that things feel really messed up right now with your daughter, that hurts. I believe that you are on the right track as you research for methods to help you have the positive parenting impact you desire. All people have built in resilience, including your daughter. Practice awareness when you feel the need to control, its a small start, but it can create a shift. Change can happen for both of you!

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