How to Deal With a Manipulative Parent

What it means to stand up for yourself with your parents

Have a difficult parent? Do you feel drained and confused after being around them? This could be a sign of manipulation.

It’s normal to get annoyed or frustrated with family members. After all, they’re the ones who know us best and get under our skin.

But manipulation is different. It’s a psychological method meant to control someone’s thoughts and behavior. You can pick up on it right away because being around someone who is manipulative makes you feel messy, disoriented, hurt, and heavy.

When this happens with your parent, it’s especially challenging. Parents are meant to be nurturing and loving. So when you’re caught in the middle of their manipulation, it makes the betrayal even worse.

What’s Going On When You’re Manipulated

Each month, I host a Live Coaching Call for The Carol Tuttle Healing Center. Members get to ask me questions and receive one-on-one support for the experiences they’re going through.

We just had the coaching call for July, which was the month our members were making their way through the Healing Plan for Childhood Wounding. Jenny, a determined Healing Center member, asked this question:

“My mom is very manipulative and paranoid, and we were physically abused growing up. She’s still very hard to deal with because every time I stick up for myself, she says I’m disrespectful. I have guilt and anxiety whenever I know we have to interact. She and my dad are divorced. She still talks badly about him. I feel like a lot of my unresolved physical and emotional issues stem from these things, but I don’t feel like I can cut my mom out of my life completely.”

When I asked Jenny how she handles this, she explained that she’ll ask her mom not to do this anymore. She’ll try to explain herself or correct what her mom is saying.

In most other situations, I would say this could work. Having a conversation between two rational adults is a healthy, positive way to heal misunderstandings.

But in this situation, it’s never going to work this way. Jenny is unknowingly trying to handle this from the state of a wounded inner child, and she’s expecting her mother to change as a result.

Here’s why that’s probably never going to happen.

(Watch the Coaching Call replay here by joining the Healing Center. We have recordings of all past coaching calls in the Healing Center so that you can return to them any time you need coaching!)

The Only Way to Deal With a Manipulative Parent

If you’re being manipulated as an adult, it’s clear you were manipulated as a child. One or both of your parents did not speak up for you, and you were left to handle situations on your own. This causes childhood wounding. You’re still stuck in that state of powerlessness, trying to manage your parent now.

That is why if you ask your parent to change, you’re going to be disappointed. They probably never will change. And this will put your healing on hold. You’ll be depending on them to do or say something different in order for you to feel well.

The only way to deal with a manipulative parent is to set clear boundaries.

This is not about them changing—this is about you changing!

Steps to Set Boundaries With Parents:

  1. State the boundary. “Mom, if you start to bash Dad, I’m going to end the phone call.” “Dad, I’m not going to participate in this conversation anymore if you are going to put me down.”
  2. Hold the boundary. Remember, the point is not to change their behavior, but to change your own. Walking away is the boundary. Leaving is the boundary. Hanging up the phone is the boundary. We often think “standing up for ourselves” is staying and having a conversation until we’re heard and understood. But in many cases, it’s getting ourselves out of there.
  3. Clear away negative emotions. These steps might not be easy for you. You’ll find the following clearing sessions supportive as you break patterns: Clearing Session for Anger and Clearing Session for Betrayal.

A Visualization to Heal Your Inner Child

On this call, I led a visualization to help you go back in time and release your inner child from managing your parents. You free your younger self from this role, from having to be the adult in the dynamic. You break free from the wounded child energy that is still hoping for a different outcome with your parents today. You take your power back, reparent yourself, and finally stand up for yourself.

(Want to participate in this powerful visualization? Make it easy on yourself! Join the Healing Center so you can watch the replay and let Carol’s voice guide you through it.)

Set your inner child free, so you can be a thriving adult.

In the Carol Tuttle Healing, I have a powerful resource called the Healing Plan for Childhood Wounding. In just 4 weeks, I guide you through deep energy sessions that heal old emotional wounds so you can become a calmer, more confident adult.

This plan is my most popular and most powerful. Come see why it changes lives.

Join the Healing Plan for Childhood Wounding

How did this call help you? Post about your insights and “aha” moments in the members-only Healing Center Facebook group.

Psst. This coaching call had giveaways exclusively for our live Zoom attendees that are now closed. As you watch the replay, if you feel a tug toward any of the resources mentioned, treat yourself to them! You’re being called to them for a reason.

Bless you,

Find out what’s keeping you stuck


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