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When you hear the phrase ‘gaslighting’ it’s likely you may think of an abusive spouse, partner, or even parent, however, kids can gaslight their parents, too. Adult children, specifically, can abuse their parents just as easily as anyone else, it just isn’t discussed frequently enough.

First and foremost, let’s define what gaslighting is, and go ahead and get that out of the way. Gaslighting is the act of purposefully making someone else doubt their own version of reality, with the intention of making them doubt their own sanity. The intended overall outcome is to manipulate the other person or to make them look incompetent. This behavior is abuse, plain and simple.

If you are a parent who believes your adult child is gaslighting you and emotionally abusing you, it can be a very painful truth to face. Not only that, but it can be immensely difficult to communicate with someone who resorts to gaslighting. If your child is gaslighting you, and you believe it is likely because of something you did that emotionally harmed them, it might be time to apologize. Even if that is the case, though, you do not deserve the abuse and need to set a clear boundary immediately.

Here are 6 gaslighting phrases adult children use on their parents.

1. That’s not how it happened.

A gaslighting child is going to try to distort reality if they do not want to push a narrative that is backed by a truth that doesn’t align with their own agenda. They are likely to stop at nothing to make you look crazy or doubt yourself so that the truth goes unaccepted.

2. You ruined my life!

While there are cases in which parents might be partially to blame for their kid’s struggles, shifting blame can also be a manipulation tactic. Adult kids will use this, knowing that their parents are wired to accept at least some blame. At the end of the day, if there is a responsibility to be taken-own it. However, do not let that be a free card for your adult child to use any time they want to abuse you.

3. You make me treat you this way.

This one is another blame shift that is simply inexcusable. Basically, this is your child’s way of saying, “I know what I am doing is abusive. But, I am going to rationalize my toxic behavior by blaming you.” Do not allow this-set firm boundaries here.

4. Why are you always making such a big deal out of nothing?

People who gaslight love to minimize the obstacles of others. A way of doing this is by undermining your feelings and emotions. This phrase is invalidating. Meet this by saying, “My thoughts and feelings are valid. If you disagree, that is fine, but I would appreciate a little respect.”

5. Stop being so sensitive.

This is another minimizing tactic that should be dealt with the same way as the last.

6. I was just kidding! You take everything so seriously.

Gaslighting people tend to say and do the most toxic things, and when they get called out, they will do anything to cover their tracks. One way of doing this is to say they are ‘joking.’ And while jokes are fine and good- it’s okay to respond by saying, “I don’t really find it very funny that I am the punchline of cruel jokes.”