Gaslighting is a term that we hear so many times in connection with romantic relationships but what does it mean in relation to parents who gaslight? The impact of parents who gaslight can be huge even for an adult child. In this blog I will explain what parents who gaslight means, and some gaslighting examples.
We hear about names such as Gaslighting, etc and it is so easy to read a few articles on the internet and label our parents as gaslighting. The truth is, just because a parent appears to do some of these things, does not necessarily mean they are gaslighting.
The objective here is for you to understand what could be going on so you could respond to things rather than just react as and when things happen. As an adult we have the ability to assess our parents and to judge them objectively looking at how their behaviour affects you and themselves.
Read through the following and check if you could recognise any of those points in your parent. These behaviours highlight here usually accompanies someone who gaslights others frequently. Generally speaking, the more they show of these points below, the bigger impact it would have on you.
Are my parents gaslighting me? Read on:
1. Do not express much empathy
A parent who can show empathy to their adult children means that they can walk in their children’s shoes to understand and feel what their children could be going through. Parents who gaslight will not show this trait or just show it in fleeting moments.
It is not about expecting your parents to agree with you and what you want to do with your life. It is about them showing some compassion and understanding despite varying life choices.
2. They don’t treat some other people well.
Your parent may pick and choose who they like or dislike, sometimes without any good reason. But that is their choice.
Some would call this scapegoating where they may dump their anger on either an individual or a particular group of people that they see as weaker than them.
What a gaslighting parent might do is that they would often show their dislike of the person by being rude and disrespectful to others especially when it is not necessary, exploits their friendships for their own ends. Just having friends for what they can do for them rather than mutual give and take.
3. Lacks self-reflection of their own behaviour
To not gaslight, because we may find that we all manipulate on some level. To not let this turn into gaslighting would require some self-reflection on your own behaviour.
We all can cause others harm if we go through life moving from one situation to the next without taking time out to evaluate your own behaviours, experiences etc. We all need to pause to think and analyse to find out what is going well and what is not working.
Not being able to self-reflect. your parent may be unwilling to admit to their mistakes, even the small ones they may struggle with.
What can make this sign clearer, is that they take time out to reflect on how others are treating them, and the mistakes of other people but not their own.
4. Attention and affection is lacking
The attention you get may appear to centre around what your parents need or want. Even around what they want for you. The only time you could get a modicom of attention is when you are really sick.
You may have noticed this more as a child.
5. Can be controlling
Your parents may demand that you say and do what they have in mind so you can achieve their goals for you. Unfortunately, a parent like this will not see you as an individual adult with your own thoughts and feelings.
If you do not behave how your parent wants, you to behave, you will know about it in either a passive or a more direct aggressive way. This is their way of nudging you into line.
6. Everything centres around what they want
You may find that your parents dominate yours other other’s time and energy.
They need to be at the centre of attention and whatever is said usually leads back to them.
7. Consistency of their behaviour
They are like this regularly. You see this behaviour to yourself and other people. Even if they act different to others.
Their behaviour seems a part of their personality even if they could be good to other people.
8. Passive Aggressive behaviour
Gaslighting is a passive-aggressive manipulation tool but there would be other ways passive-aggressiveness could manifest itself. For example, hurtful teasing disguised as joking, poor listening, giving you the silent treatment, deliberate withholding of positive feedback and appreciation. Even chronic lateness and poor follow through on commitments could be seen as passive aggressive.
9. How their behaviour can affect you
Gaslighting can affect your mental health bringing about low-self-esteem, depression and anxiety in the long-term.
In the moment or in the short-term, you may find yourself constantly second guessing your interactions with your parents, wondering what you have said, why you have upset them. Always thinking it is your fault. The key is that you always think it is your fault as somehow it is always your responsibility. There is no relationship where this happens. As adults, we are all responsible for how we behave and what we contribute to the relationship.
Being the victim of gaslighting is far intense than I could ever depict in this article. It is some important to explore this with another human to get a sense of what is happening to you and how it is affecting you. One of the main things I mentioned is that it leaves you with confusion. This mainly is because, they target those individual to bully or scapegoat and may appear quite civilised to others.
You would then end up feeling that it is your fault and somehow you have caused it.
Talk to someone about your feelings, preferably an experienced therapist who understands gaslighting.
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