We often hear about boyfriends or girlfriends gaslighting their significant others by saying things and denying their feelings in a way that actually begins making them question their own sanity. But the young men and women who gaslight often become the same dads and moms who use this effective and disastrous form of psychological torture to maintain the control and power they so desperately associate with their worth.
Parents who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder, many of whom remain clueless that they even have a sense of entitlement and feed off of attention and drama as ways to feel important, are often the same folks who put their kids through gaslighting hell. At the root of it all, they’ll do almost anything to be right, maintain their influence over the people in their home and to ensure they are the center of their kids’ universes.
No matter how much it may not seem like it at times, kids listen when their parents speak. One of a gaslighter’s most potent weapons is her words — and these eight classic phrases are often used by a parent in an attempt to gaslight her child so that she feels better about herself:
1. “You’re just being sensitive”: Because the narcissistic parent has a lot of trouble empathizing with her child, it’s a lot easier to label her kid “sensitive” and call it a day than to actually have to address the fact that her little one may be reacting for a perfectly logical reason — that perfect reason being that she feels an emotion and has a right to it. Period.
2. “You owe me an apology”: It makes no difference if the parent started an insane fight over something small and then exploded and called her child a name. At the end of the day, a parent who gaslights insists on her kid apologizing for all grievances, because she’s the parent, and it’s her way or the highway.
3. “That never happened, and you’re making it up”: Selective memory, anyone? The gaslighting parent has no problem dictating to her child, verbatim, what he said to her that was so hurtful, but if her child insists on telling his version of things, she’ll simply deny it ever happened and possibly accuse him of lying.
4. “I don’t want to hear this anymore”: The parent who gaslights always has the honor of deciding when a conversation has ended and when her child’s thoughts and feelings are no longer welcome.
5. “Are you seriously angry about that?”: As if there is no rational reason her child should be mad that Mom decided at the last minute to not take her to the park as promised. A kid who constantly hears this from a parent grows up doubting his right to assert himself.
6. “You’re not really going to wear that, are you?”: You disapprove of your child’s wardrobe and wish she would stop wearing peasant blouses or dyeing her hair orange. Instead of accepting her for her choices, you leave that little question lingering in her head to make her feel like she’s crazy for wanting to wear something so obviously hideous or so unflattering on her.
7. “Stop crying”: Other ways parents stifle their kids include telling them to wipe that pout off their face and to toughen up — usually not because they want them to become strong individuals, but because they can’t handle their kids’ emotions or the feeling that they have somehow failed them.
8. “It’s not always about you“: Nope, it isn’t. And that’s because 99 percent of the time, it’s always about the parent who gaslights, leaving no room for the child and his emotions to exist.