What Are the Signs of a Controlling Parent?

Controlled parenting: what is it?

Controlled parenting happens when one or both parents are always monitoring their children. Signs of controlling parenting are parents that are overly involved, critical, love conditionally, do not exhibit kindness or empathy and display other behaviors.
Controlled parenting happens when one or both parents are always monitoring their children. Signs of controlling parenting are parents that are overly involved, critical, love conditionally, do not exhibit kindness or empathy and display other behaviors.

‌Sometimes children wonder why their parents are so controlling. It’s normal for all parents to control their children in one way or another, but some parents go too far. One of the most common factors that contribute to a parent being controlling is anxiety

Normally, parents have knowledge and experience which may serve as a guide for their children. This makes children more aware and helps them prepare for the challenges they'll face as they grow up. However, fearful or anxious parents sometimes choose unhealthy ways to impart this knowledge to their children.

‌Controlled parenting happens when one or both parents are always monitoring their children. Some even attempt to control their children’s lives entirely. This is also referred to as authoritarian parenting. These parents are especially strict about enforcing rules. Controlling parents may detach from their children’s needs unknowingly, which is often a cause of emotional harm. Some parents grow out of this behavior when their children become adults, but others can never let go.

10 signs of a micromanaging parent

‌Some of the signs of a controlling parent include:

Always getting involved in their children's activities

As children get older, they need privacy and more space for themselves. Controlling parents want to get involved with everything their children do. However, this may change with some parents once their children become grown-ups. 

Learning to handle challenges independently is an essential part of growing up. It’s important to let your child do things on their own as they get older so they can prepare for adulthood.

Criticizing their children to unreasonable degrees

Controlling parents are not able to hold back when their children make decisions on their own. These parents believe they should make decisions for their children at all times. However, criticizing your child or constantly overriding their decisions can severely lower their self-esteem.

Love their children conditionally

Controlling parents often show love towards their children only when they do something good. This may force children into becoming perfectionists to meet their parents' expectations. This may negatively affect child-parent relationships.

Failing to demonstrate kindness and empathy

Parents who are controlling can be unkind and unempathetic towards their children. In addition to harming their children emotionally, this behavior stunts their children's ability to empathize with others.

Constantly exerting control

Parents who are controlling often try to overpower their children by rejecting their ideas. They also compel their children to do things against their wishes. Children brought up by domineering parents frequently experience more difficulty in adulthood than their peers.

Manipulating their children

Controlling parents can be manipulative, trying to establish psychological control over their children. Manipulative parents may also become physically abusive toward their children.

Dismissing their children's negative emotions

Controlling parents often dismiss a child’s negative feelings and emotional needs, which may lead to depression. This makes it difficult for children to express their needs. Also, it can be even more difficult for them to handle negativity as adults.

Deny their children privacy

You know your parent is controlling if they always invade your privacy. For example, if your parent monitors you on social media or goes through your emails and messages, it’s a sign that they are controlling. Privacy is just as important for children as it is for adults, and parents should respect this.

Managing their children's responsibilities

Is your parent always managing your responsibilities? That’s a sign they may be a controlling parent. Once a child has graduated to adulthood, they should be able to manage their responsibilities on their own. Parents should allow their children to handle some responsibilities by themselves, as this will prepare them to be fully autonomous as adults.

Having fixed or unreasonably negative opinions of their children

Controlling parents have a view of their children that is difficult to change. They don't respect the fact that their children have a right to speak for themselves. Most parents who are controlling often try to mold their children to become exactly like them. They may also want others to see their children as they see them.


American Academy of Pediatrics: "Next Stop Adulthood: Tips For Parents."

The Australian Parenting Website: "Privacy, monitoring, and trust: the teenage years."

Child Psychiatry & Human Development: "Maternal Overcontrol and Child Anxiety: The Mediating Role of Perceived Competence."

Lifehack: "13 Signs Of A Toxic Parent That Many People Don't Realize."

Making Caring Common: "5 Tips for Cultivating Empathy."

Mindbodygreen: "11 Signs Of Controlling Parents & How To Deal With It As An Adult."

The Nemours Foundation: "A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Teen Years."

The Nemours Foundation: "Your Child's Self-Esteem."

Psychology Today: "3 Common Tactics of Manipulative Parents."

Regents of the University of California: "Adult Life Tougher for Teens Who Had Controlling Parents: Study."

U.S. Department of Education: "Helping Your Child through Early Adolescence."

The William & Mary Educational Review: "How Parenting Style Influences Children: A Review of Controlling, Guiding, and Permitting Parenting Styles on Children's Behavior, RiskTaking, Mental Health, and Academic."