Do you sometimes feel as if you are living your life to please others? Do you give other people the benefit of the doubt but second-guess yourself? Do you struggle with perfectionism, anxiety, lack of confidence, emotional emptiness, or eating disorders? In your intimate relationships, have you found it difficult to get close without losing your sense of self?
If so, you may be among the fifteen million adults in the United States who were raised with unhealthy parental control. In this groundbreaking bestseller by accomplished family therapist Dan Neuharth, Ph.D., you'll discover whether your parents controlled eating, appearance, speech, decisions, feelings, social life, and other aspects of your childhood--and whether that control may underlie problems you still struggle with in adulthood. Packed with inspiring case studies and dozens of practical suggestions, this book shows you how to leave home emotionally so you can improve assertiveness, boundaries, and confidence, quiet you "inner critics," and bring more balance to your moods and relationships. Offering compassion, not blame, Dr. Neuharth helps you make peace with your past and avoid overcontrolling your children and other loved ones.
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1 . Excellent guide to start understanding and healing
Posted March 14, 2009 by simyluis , buenos airesI haven't read many self-help books and the ones that I have read tend to be either sappily sentimental, simplistic, accusatory and lecturing or don't speak to my specific experiences. This book was a wonderful and startling surprise. Stunningly accurate, I read most of the this book gasping at the spot-on descriptions of the parental types, the situations and feelings that I experienced and the problems that still linger with me even today many years later. Just to have my experiences acknowledged and validated was a huge relief, but the thing that I really liked about the book is its optimism and truly valid and doable suggestions to begin the healing process. The calm and even tone of this book combined with the author's non-judgmentalism and lucid observations and suggestions are invaluable. I highly recommend this book to anyone who suffered from childhood emotional abuse, especially if you come from a chaotic, confusing, verbally abusive situation. There are many books available that address childhood sexual or physical abuse, but very few speak to just emotional abuse, which can often be even more insidious and damaging in the long-term than physical abuse, as the deep injury often goes unrecognized and the scars seldom heal.
September 30, 1999
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Excerpt from If You Had Controlling Parents by Dan Neuharth
Healthier Parenting Versus Controlling Parenting
If you bungle raising your children, nothing else matters much in life.
--Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Healthy parenting is simple: Raise children well and set them free.
Being a healthy child is also simple: Play, learn, grow up, and leave home.
But while both job descriptions are simple, neither is easy. The primary difference between healthier families and controlling families is that the parents in healthier families allow their children to grow up as persons in their own right.
Controlling parents fail to protect and nurture, robbing their children of playtime by using harsh or erratic discipline. They model unhealthy habits and hamstring their sons' and daughters' efforts to individuate. That's why people who grow up controlled sometimes struggle to emotionally leave home well into their thirties, forties, or fifties.
The following chart shows eight major differences between healthier families and controlling families. You might notice which side of the chart most closely parallels your childhood experience.
Characteristics of Healthier Vs. Controlling Families
Healthier FamiliesControlling Families
*Parental love is relatively
*Children get affection,
attention, and nurturing
*Children are told they
are wanted and loved
*Children are seen and
valued for who they are
*Children's choices are
thought is valued more
than saying something a
*Questioning and dissent
*It's okay to feel sadness,
fear, anger and joy
*Feelings are accepted as
Healthier FamiliesControlling Families
*Children's potentials are
*Children are praised
when they succeed and
given compassion when
*Parents set appropriate,
*Parents see their role as
*Parents allow children
reasonable control over
their own bodies and
7.Encouragement of an Inner
their values but allow
children to develop their
*Learning, humor, growth
and play are present
*Connections with others
*Parents pass on a broader
vision of responsibility to
others and to society
The Consequences of Unhealthy Parenting
Healthier parents try, often intuitively and within whatever limits they face, to provide nurturing love, respect, communication, emotional freedom, consistency, encouragement of an inner life, and social connections. By and large they succeed--not all the time, perhaps not even most of the time, but often enough to compensate for normal parental mistakes and difficulties.
Overcontrol, in contrast, throws young lives out of balance: Conditional love, disrespect, stifled speech, emotional intolerance, ridicule, dogmatic parenting, denial of an inner life, and social dysfunction take a cumulative toll.
Controlling families are particularly difficult for sensitive children, who experience emotional blows and limits on their freedom especially acutely. Sensitive children also tend to blame themselves for family problems.
The more your experience mirrored the "Controlling Families" side of the preceding chart, the greater your risk of inheriting distorted views. You might note whether one or more of the following five distortions causes problems in your present life:
1.Distortions of Power and Size
If one or both parents demanded absolute control and dependence or treated you in ways that made you feel small, you may have inherited distortions of power and size. You may automatically view yourself as less capable than others or, alternatively, as so big and powerful that you have to protect others from yourself.