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What You Need to Know About a Gaslighting Parent

By Dr. Nicole Cain ND, MA

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may be a victim of gaslighting. Have you ever been told by your dad that you’re “too sensitive,” or by your mom that you’re a “drama queen”? Or have you had a conversation with your parents and then later they deny that it ever happened? Do your parents push your boundaries and compromise your privacy but tell you that your concerns are unfounded and invalid?

If you resonate with any of these, you’ve been the victim of gaslighting.

This article will talk about what you need to know, and what you need to do if your parents are gaslighting you.

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where the gaslighter manipulates and confuses the victim into questioning their own thoughts, memories, and perceptions of events. Whether intentional or strategic (which is a form of coercion), or unconsciously done by the perpetrator, the effects of gaslighting on the victim can be severe. In fact, gaslighting can become so severe that the sufferer may begin to question their own sanity.

Gaslighting can occur in many types of relationships: In the workplace between a boss and their employees, in families, and even in romantic relationships. In this article we are going to focus on PARENTS WHO GASLIGHT.

Am I being Gaslighted? Signs of Gaslighting.

Let’s start by clearing up whether or not you are a victim of gaslighting.

Sometimes it is extremely difficult to identify gaslighting because the very nature of gaslighting is that the perpetrator confuses the victim into questioning their own experience.

Here are 20 signs that you’re a victim of gaslighting:

Do you resonate with any of this?

Did you know that there are hundreds of thousands of victims of gaslighting each year? There’s help. Check out https://www.thehotline.org or if your devices are being monitored call this toll free phone number: 800.799.SAFE (7233).

To read more about gaslighting check out this article: https://www.thehotline.org/resources/what-is-gaslighting/

Examples of Gaslighting

The gaslighter may say things to you like:

If you heard these things coming from your parents, write it down in a safe place. If your technology is being monitored and your parents are going through your possessions, keeping your private notes in a secure location outside of the home is key. Maybe log your notes in a private journal that you keep in your locker at school, in a private email address, or in a notebook at a trusted friend’s house.

Gaslighting and Narcissistic Parents

While gaslighting may be done unintentionally or intentionally, the most common gaslighters are those with narcissistic personality traits.

Narcissism is a term that refers to a personality disorder where the person believes they are extremely important and that the world revolves around them. These individuals are self-absorbed, crave attention, and their priorities focus on whatever will offer them the most personal gain.

Tactics used by narcissists include gaslighting and coercion, both of which create patterns in relationships that cause an unequal power dynamic where the narcissist is the superior. There are 9 key signs that you are dealing with a narcissist:

9 Signs your Parent has Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

The strategies used by narcissists include gaslighting but extend beyond that. If you are a victim of an abusive narcissistic parent it is important to get help. There are free resources online including live chats, toll free hotlines (see end of this article for free resources). Additionally, try to find a local healthcare professional, like a counselor. If your parents will not let you go to counseling, speak privately with your primary care physician, or if this is not an option, talk with a trusted teacher, guidance counselor or another adult that you trust.

Gaslighting Tactics

Strategies for Shutting Down Gaslighting

A big part of how we feel is due to our Cast of Characters. These are the people around you that are involved in how your story is playing out. Identifying the antagonists in your story, learning their tactics, and then sending them back stage is POSSIBLE, and NECESSARY.

If you suspect another person is manipulating you in an attempt to control you, it is important to take action right away. The effects of gaslighting can be acute or even chronic and may include: Depression, anxiety, self-doubt, low self-esteem, codependency.

This is especially problematic when it comes to our parents or caretakers. Especially if you’re under 18 years of age, or if you depend on them.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

  1. Choose your response in advance: If the gaslighter in your life is open to conversation, boundaries, or counseling, directly discussing the issue with a neutral third party present may be extremely helpful. However, if you are dealing with a narcissistic gaslighter, arguing will cause more conflict and more suffering on your part. Remember, a key feature of narcissism is that the narcissist has fixed beliefs of grandiosity, entitlement, and they may use gaslighting and coercion without guilt and remorse. This means that if you try to fight back, that they may push back at you and make your life much more difficult. An example of a response to a narcissist is to simply let them have their say, acknowledge their perspective and move on. The change is in your INTERNAL experience. Which we will discuss in the remaining strategies.
  2. Fact-Checking: Remember. Gaslighting is confusing, tricky, and manipulative. You have to back away from the drama and identify the facts. These you can lean on, even when your antagonist is giving you their worst. Write down conversations and events and fact-check them. Identify where the conversation detoured away from reality and facts. Keeping a good record will help you lean on the truth and not give in to the tactics of the gaslighter. Remember, you’re being victimized, you’re NOT CRAZY. If possible, talk with a counselor, a close friend, or another person who can help you sort out fact from fiction. Be sure to protect yourself by keeping your notes in a safe place so that the gaslighter can not use them against you or victimize you with them.
  3. Personal Validation: Give yourself permission to feel your own feelings. An antidote to gaslighting is honoring your experience and not letting the perpetrator convince you that the lies they are telling are true. This is especially difficult if we’ve been beat-down and told that we’re wrong year after year after year. We have to see the gaslighter in their true colors, realize that it’s not your fault that they’re being abusive, and hold onto the truth that regardless of how much they may lash out, that you are still worthy of happiness and your feelings are valid.
  4. Return-To-Sender: Just because someone is sending you a package, does not mean you have to bring it into your house. When the gaslighter uses a tactic and says something to try to manipulate or coerce you, you can mentally choose to accept it, or tell yourself: “This is not my baggage, this is not my truth, I refuse to accept this package and I return it to sender.” Make a mantra. Write this down and remember it. Every time the gaslighter throws fire your way. Often it is not useful to say this TO the gaslighter, because they are already using tactics to psychologically manipulate you. This mantra is for you to remember while you strategize how and when you are going to get out of this abusive situation.
  5. Forcefield Strategies: A force-field is something that surrounds you and protects you. A cup that is already full does not have room for the garbage being handed out by your gaslighter. Find relationships that speak truth into your life, that nurture you, find a mentor, get involved in a spiritual community, volunteer at an animal shelter, join extra-curricular activities to keep you out of the house. Help your body and mind be strong by drinking lots of water, exercise, get outside daily, and meditate. You can learn more about Forcefield Strategies in the Anxiety Breakthrough Program.
  6. Don’t take things personally: Narcissism is a disease and the words that come out of the mouths of narcissists are poison. Often people gaslight in an attempt to protect themselves from guilt, shame, or to compensate for their own shortcomings and mistakes. While it is extremely upsetting to be emotionally abused, as difficult as it may be, do not take it personally. This is their drama, not yours. You can choose to send them back stage in your life, kick them out of your emotional house of boundaries and onto the curb, and focus on pursuing a life filled with people who see you for who you TRULY are and who deserve your caring.
  7. Get educated: The more you know about gaslighting, tactics gaslighters use, narcissism, signs of abuse, and strategies for freedom, the stronger you will be in your ability to heal from the wounds inflicted by your gaslighter.
  8. Get connected: You don’t have to do all of this alone. Get connected. Join our FREE and private Anxiety Freedom Group where you’ll receive our 1 Week Anxiety Freedom Challenge– this will include a beautiful book and 7 videos all including with 14 strategies to increase your confidence, calm your nervous system and help you start fact-checking your situation. Get connected here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/anxietyfreedomgroup

Do you resonate with any of this?

Did you know that there are hundreds of thousands of victims of gaslighting each year? There’s help. Check out https://www.thehotline.org or if your devices are being monitored call this toll free phone number: 800.799.SAFE (7233).

To read more about gaslighting check out this article: https://www.thehotline.org/resources/what-is-gaslighting/

There is a free and anonymous live-chat at this link: https://www.thehotline.org/resources/what-is-gaslighting/

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Whenever considering changing your protocol whether it includes a change of medications, supplements, diet or lifestyle, always speak with your primary care physician first. Dr. Nicole Cain consults with clients locally and internationally. Dr. Nicole Cain ND MA has helped countless people take back control of their lives, and she can help you. To set up a complimentary consultation, call our office or visit https://drnicolecain.com/getting-started to schedule online.
Dr. Nicole Cain is an advocate for empowering people around the world to help themselves via her educational video e-courses, books, and exclusive free Facebook group. You can receive the tools you need to find the root cause of your symptoms and feel healthy again.