8 Signs You May Have a Codependent Parent
The first thing that comes to mind when we hear the term “codependent” is usually an abusive boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. However, this is not always the case. Believe it or not, most codependent relationships are between a parent and child, not romantic partners. In a codependent parent-child relationship, the lines between overprotective and codependent, over-involved and engaged are often blurred beyond recognition. The caregiver-care receiver nature of a parent-child relationship makes codependency particularly difficult to detect. Here are a few signs to help you figure out whether your parent-child relationship is codependent.
The codependent parent is always plays the victim but is the one who is powerfully in control and victimises others.
1. The codependent parent has a victim mentality.
We all face obstacles in life, but the codependent parent believes that the other people in their life, particularly their children, owe them penance for the wrongs committed against them. Often this manifests in guilt-tripping behavior intended to garner sympathy from the child for negative experiences the parent has been through, with the end goal of altering the child’s behavior in a way that will set things right. This is where the problems begin. Rather than dealing with the traumas and difficulties in their own life through healthy and empowering means such as self-reflection and seeking out therapy, the codependent parent latches onto a child and demands compensation.
Compensation can take many forms. Many times a codependent parent will live vicariously through a child. For example, a mother who got pregnant in her teen years may demand repayment of the burden she faced by putting expectations on her daughter to seize advantages in life that she missed out on. A codependent father may demand that his son excel in sports to make up for his own lack of athleticism in childhood. If the child shows signs of taking their own path in life, the parent will use guilt to manipulate them into compliance.
2. The codependent parent is never wrong.
In normal relationships, one party is right some of the time but never all of the time. In a codependent parent-child relationship, the parent is always right. Even when the child is an adult, the parent will refuse to approach an argument or even a simple discussion with openness to the possibility of being wrong. Instead, they will seek to impose their own view of the situation and “correct” the adult child, as opposed to engaging in a discussion where neither party is presumed right by default.
No or insincere apologies
Even if it becomes apparent that the codependent parent is wrong, they will not apologize - or, if they do, it will come off as insincere. The codependent parent requires absolute dominance over the child, and any admission of wrongdoing on their part would be a sign of weakness and an invitation to challenge their dominance in the relationship.
3. The codependent parent is overly emotional.
People cry, yell and give the silent treatment during the course of life’s ups and downs, but the codependent parent has turned these acts into an art form. When they feel that they are losing control of a situation or the upper hand in an argument, they will resort to crying, screaming and other acts of intimidation to restore the balance in their favor. If called out on this manipulation tactic, the codependent parent will often accuse the child of being callous or insensitive, or feign ignorance altogether.
If the child cries, expresses hurt or anger, the codependent parent may get unusually angry and claim that the display, no matter how genuine, is insincere and being used to manipulate when, in reality, they are upset that their tactic is being turned around on them.
4. The codependent parent never truly listens.
Many children of codependent parents complain that speaking with their codependent parent is like “talking to a brick wall.” In fact, one doesn’t speak with a codependent parent as much as to them. No matter how valid the argument, the codependent parent will not be moved in their position. Instead, even when prevented with irrefutable facts that would cause a normal person to reconsider and re-evaluate their argument, the codependent parent will either refute the facts or move onto a different argument without addressing the point being made.
5. The codependent parent parrots words and phrases.
If the child claims that the parent is hurting their feelings, for example, the codependent parent will, perhaps seconds or even hours later, return with “You’re hurting my feelings!” Whatever concern the child expresses, the codependent parent will find a way to turn it around and regurgitate it as their own, thus reversing the defensive and offensive roles in the conversation. If called out on this behavior, the codependent parent will ignore it, become angry or act bewildered and confused.
6. The codependent parent has mood swings.
These can happen over a couple of minutes or a couple of days, but the codependent parent has the ability to rapidly shift from one mood to another. This is especially true when their manipulation tactics have succeeded in garnering the child’s acquiescence. The codependent parent may be yelling and screaming one moment, but once they get their way, they may be exuberant or, conversely, they may sulk in an effort to rebuff any guilt as a result of their power play.
For example, a mother screaming at her son for not calling often enough may eventually get him to give in and promise to call more. Once she attains what she wants, in an effort to keep her victory and her role as the victim, she may say something like, “No, never mind. I don’t want you to call. You’ll just be doing it because you have to.” Then, the son will not only have to call more, but ensure her that this is what he truly wants to do of his own free will, thus absolving her from any responsibility and guilt.
7. The codependent parent must maintain control at all costs.
Control is the end game of all codependent relationships, whether the means are love, money, attention or anything else. Most codependent parents expect a level of devotion and love from their children that is unhealthy and unnatural, intended to make up for that which they lack in other relationships. Often the codependent parent wishes to garner from their child the love and/or attention they failed to receive from their own parents. This creates a dramatic role reversal of the parent-child relationship and turns it into a vampiric dynamic rather than a mutually beneficial one.
Meltdown shows the true nature of what is in the co-dependents heart
Whatever it is that the codependent parent seeks to gain by controlling the adult child, when it becomes clear that they won’t succeed, a meltdown will often ensue. If the parent controls with guilt by appearing frail and playing the victim card, they may become uncharacteristically venomous and aggressive when the adult child refuses to give them what they want. A codependent parent who controls through subtle manipulation and passive-aggression may suddenly become dominant and plainspoken. It is important to remember that these dramatic shifts in the face of lost control are not a mood swing or an “episode.” Instead, the codependent parent is revealing their true nature as opposed to the façade they must maintain in order to keep things going their way. Once there is no hope of getting their way, this façade will become useless and be easily stripped away.
8. The codependent parent manipulates – subtly.
The most effective form of manipulation is the kind that you can never be called out for directly. Examples include the silent treatment, passive aggressive comments, denial of wrongdoing and projection, among others. The codependent parent will leave the child in a state of confusion, wondering who really is “the bad guy”.
Codependent are not always aware of their manipulation
In many cases, they will be genuinely unaware of their own manipulation. Many codependent parents truly believe that they are doing what’s in their child’s best interest and execute some of the most unsettling control tactics and manipulative power plays with simultaneous mastery and obliviousness. In fact, when called out on their manipulation with specific examples, the codependent parent will often be genuinely, deeply hurt and bewildered.
Codependents do not know how to relate to people they cannot control
In fact, the codependent parent does not usually manipulate because they want to; the codependent parent manipulates because they have to.They simply don’t know any other way to communicate with the adult child who is beyond their direct control. Thus, they will manipulate with finances, emotion, guilt and any other tool at their disposal to maintain the imbalance of the codependent relationship.
Codependent No More - Summary
This is not an exhaustive list but it does cover the basic signs and symptoms of codependency to watch out for. In my experience with my own codependent parent, many of these are hard to recognize but, on closer inspection, they deviate significantly from the norms of a healthy parent-child relationship.
There is no single, quick and easy way to deal with a codependent parent. In some cases, the only thing the adult child can do is sever ties with the codependent parent completely. In others, carefully imposed boundaries, discussion and family therapy can be used to maintain a healthy relationship for both parties. It depends on the individuals as well as the severity of the codependency within the relationship.
Information from: http://lanablackmoor.hubpages.com/hub/8-Signs-You-May-Have-a-Codependent-Parent