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The relationship between parent and child is a difficult one that can be difficult to navigate. No matter how frustrating our parents can be, we often overlook their darkness out of love. However, there is a fine line that should not be crossed.

One major boundary that should be present in all parent-child relationships is any boundary that protects your emotional and mental well-being. And while we often think of gaslighting in terms of romantic relationships, your parents are capable of gaslighting you as well.

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation used to make someone doubt their reality by making them feel crazy. When this is done over a long period, it not only makes the person being gaslit feel incompetent, it can also make you lose your sanity. In short, it’s a covert form of psychological torture that has long-term effects.

With that being said, recognizing the abuse is the first step toward setting a boundary and protecting your peace. If you are wondering whether or not you are being gaslit by your parents, here are 12 signs.

1. They undermine your experiences.

There may be times in which you aren’t remembering something correctly, however, when a parent is always undermining their child’s experiences, this is a sign of gaslighting. For example, you may recount a story from your childhood, only to have your parent step in and say, “That’s not what happened, you are remembering it wrong.” And when you try to hold them accountable for something they’ve done wrong, they won’t admit what they have done.

2. They never own up to their bad behavior.

A gaslighting parent will refuse to own up to their bad behavior. Instead, they will call their child crazy, or simply refuse to acknowledge what they have done.

3. They assume your emotions.

Another covert sign of gaslighting is when your parent is always re-assigning your emotions. As an example, you may talk about how something upset you, only to be met with, “That didn’t upset you, you had a great time!”

4. They project their behaviors onto you

While your parent isn’t likely to own up to their bad behaviors, they are quick to project these behaviors onto you. As an example, they may tend to lie, so they always accuse you of lying. Or when you try to express your emotions to them, rather than listening to how you feel, they assume how you feel.

5. They make you feel incompetent.

Your parent is always trying to make you feel less than. When you try to do something on your own, they say you aren’t ready or that you aren’t smart enough, or that you are too lazy. They never believe you can do anything, and never give you the chance.

6. They are always playing the victim.

No matter what the circumstance is, your parent is always playing the victim. Even when they are the ones that have done you wrong, they act as though they are the ones who have been wronged.

7. They tell you what you do and don’t like.

This may seem harmless, but when it comes down to it, it is not. It is an attempt to control your mindset. As an example, you may turn on a song on the radio, only to be met with, “Here let me change that, you don’t like listening to that sort of music, do you?” Or, when you are outside they say, “You are cold and need to put on a jacket.” The main theme here is that you cannot think for yourself.

8. They invalidate your emotions.

When you express how you feel, your parent undermines your emotions and invalidates them. If you are upset they tell you that you are too sensitive or making a big deal out of nothing. Or, they may just ignore you altogether.

9. They are always talking about your ‘wild’ imagination.

Any time you tell a story from your point of view, your parent goes out of their way to make you look crazy or untrustworthy by chalking your experiences up to a “wild imagination.” What they are saying is that you like to make things up, so nothing that you say about them could be true.

10. They twist the facts to suit their interests.

Your parent is always distorting the truth to manipulate you and others. They may recount a story about you and twist it around to make you appear like a bad person. Or they may recount a story and make themselves look like the hero.

11. Your parent acts as though they know you better than you know yourself.

Your parent is always acting as though you do not understand yourself. They say things like, “I know you better than you know yourself,” or “Here let me handle that, I know what you need,” or “You don’t like things like that and you never have.”

12. They are completely enmeshed in your life.

Whenever you try to break free and maintain your own identity, your parent steps in and tries to take back control. There are no boundaries, and you are beginning to feel like an extension of your parent rather than your person.

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