Emotional blackmail from parents

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I come from a Chinese background where my parents are really traditional. However, my family background hasn’t been the greatest due to my parents beating me physically and even verbally and emotionally when I make mistakes. For example, I had overdrawn my checking account and my mom punched me in the face, which caused her to knock out one of my contacts. My dad has called me several names when he was angry about something I said or did. But, when they aren’t mad; everything is fine. I feel a lot of psychological issues have been burnt into my mind because of their behavior.

For example my mom is racist so I don’t have many friend s because I don’t want her making judgments or asking me questions on why I am hanging out with a certain person. She also judges on how the person looks.

My main issue is that I recently moved out of my parents to have a life of my own where my parents aren’t controlling who I hang out with, when and where I go, and other things they have controlled me on. My boyfriend who they never met stated I move in with him and that I would be away from the abuse. My parents do not like him at all and want nothing to do with him. Even when he tries to be polite and say hi. My mom will say that he’s not her friend and she has no reason to say hi.

They want me to move back home and they think I’m replacing them, which isn’t the case. They’ll use a lot of emotional blackmail and the “traditional Chinese culture lecture”. I just want to be happy, but my parents keep trying to guilt me into moving back by saying how they’re dying everyday and how much I’ve hurt them.

Even when they managed to meet my boyfriend’s mom, they told her they had nothing against her or her son and that they just want me home. His mom has told me she thinks of me as her own daughter and to have her son talk to my parents and that they’ll accept it in time. But that conversation or meeting will not go well.

Now my parents are making me choose between them or my boyfriend/his family. And I don’t feel it is fair. They keep trying to “buy” me back.

A: What your parents are doing didn’t worked for you in the past, isn’t working now, and won’t work for you in the future. It is time for you to find your own identity and deal with the consequences of parents who are not honoring your needs. You describe your parents as controlling, racist and abusive. This doesn’t sound like a family anyone would want to embrace. When you say things are ‘fine’ when they aren’t that way you are defending against the truth of who your parents are. Things aren’t fine. A mother who punches a daughter in the face when her 21-year-old daughter overdraws her checkbook isn’t “fine.”

This is your life. At some point you will have to accept the reality of who your parents are, and carve out a life for yourself. This isn’t about cultural integrity as much as it is about control, racism, and abuse.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Jan 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). Emotional blackmail from parents. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/01/10/emotional-blackmail-from-parents/

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