Nearly all controlling parents embody one or more of the eight "styles" of controlling parenting. These styles provide a "You Are Here" point on the map of unhealthy control. Identifying your parents styles can help you make sense of what didnt jibe in your family. Remember the series of lenses an eye doctor alternates before your eyes until you find ones that enable you to see most clearly? Recognizing your parents styles offers the right lens that brings into focus the underlying values and themes with which you were raised. The more clearly you view your familys themes, the more readily you can become your own person. You may find elements of one or more of these styles present in either or both of your parents:
Smothering Terrified of feeling alone, Smothering parents emotionally engulf their children. Their overbearing presence discourages independence and cultivates a tyranny of repetition in their childrens identities, thoughts and feelings.
Depriving Convinced they will never get enough of what they need, Depriving parents withhold attention and encouragement from their children. They love conditionally, giving affection when a child pleases them, withdrawing it when displeased.
Perfectionistic Paranoid about flaws, Perfectionistic parents drive their children to be the best and the brightest. These parents fixate on order, prestige, power and/or perfect appearances.
Cultlike Distressed by uncertainty, Cultlike parents have to be "in the know," and often gravitate to military, religious, social or corporate institutions or philosophies where they can feel special and certain. They raise their children according to rigid rules and roles.
Chaotic Caught up in an internal cyclone of instability and confusion, Chaotic parents tend toward mercurial moods, radically inconsistent discipline, and bewildering communication.
Using Determined never to lose or feel one-down, Using parents emotionally feed off their children. Hypersensitive and self-centered, Using parents see others gains as their loss, and consequently belittle their children.
Abusing Perched atop a volcano of resentment, Abusing parents verbally or emotionally bully or physically or sexually abuse their children. When theyre enraged, Abusing parents view their children as threats and treat them accordingly.
Childlike Feeling incapable or needy, Childlike parents offer their children little protection. Childlike parents, woefully uncomfortable with themselves, encourage their children to take care of them, thereby controlling through role-reversal.
From If You Had Controlling Parents: How to Make Peace With Your Past and Take Your Place in the World, published by HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright © Dan Neuharth, Ph.D.