Why Do Parents Emotionally Blackmail Their Kids?

On Quora, someone asked:

“Why do parents emotionally blackmail their kids? What should one do when faced with such behaviour?”

This is how I responded:

Your parents sound like my grandma. My grandma has the comparison method built into her. She sees a grandson of a friend of hers going to a great college, so why can’t I do the same? She sees her friend’s grandson having a stable career? Why is mine so volatile? All there is are complaints after complaints.

Quite frankly, for me, it felt like she wanted me to “Keep up with the Jones’s”. The funny thing is, when I used to make six figures a year, I had zero praise. When I was in love with a woman and introduced her to my grandma, she didn’t really care. It’s like whatever I did just wasn’t good enough.

Oh, did I mention that when I was 16, she disowned me? I took her car out one day and crashed it, so she sent me off to live with my mother. Months prior, my grandfather died, and instead of taking me to therapy or talking to me about it, I suppose she was grieving as well. So I just became this person who had all these bottled up emotions, didn’t know how to handle them, ad was dismissed like the trash we set out on the side of the street for garbage day, just waiting to be shipped off to some far off dump where no one has to think of me again.

Then, after constantly succeeding and failing, one day I just gave up on it all. I couldn’t pick myself back up and I just forfeited my hand. I was like okay, I’m ready. I’ll lose the loft, the Lexus, my manlihood, I’m ready. Ready to live under a bridge for the rest of my life.

I called my mom and I told her that I gave up on life. She called my grandma. Then, for the first time in TEN WHOLE YEARS, she decided to open up and finally accept me. She took me in and took care of me. After having me think she hated me for ten whole years of my life, after feeling that family was nothing but a scam, she finally showed me love. Ten whole years of my life of making decisions just to try to be loved!

So, after I moved in, she let me just do whatever I wanted, until a few months later when she really saw I did give up, she made me get a job. So I did. Then after about eight months of living there I recovered my confidence and moved out. Now, she actually shows me genuine love and tells me how much she loves me. She helps me when I need it, and shows me the genuine love I once had from my family.

So, why do parents do this? That’s a good question. I’m going to have to say that they do it because they feel that you’re a direct reflection of themselves. They’re scared of what their friends might think of them, especially since society judges everything. Much like how we’re scared of how the world will judge us for the predicaments we’re in personally, so we hide under posting questions anonymously, your parents are also afraid of what their friends think of them.

The sad thing is they’ll always be like that and they won’t ever change, unless something drastic happens in their life. Or worse yet, something drastic happens to your life where you will have to end up moving back in with them. That’s their worst nightmare, yet for some reason, it changes everything. Usually for the better, or at least it did in my situation.

Deep down though, they really love you. They just are disappointed you can’t be like the children of their friends.

Originally posted on Quora.

Leonard Kim consults startups and writes books like The Etiquette of Social Media: How to Connect and Respond to Others in the World of Social Media

2 thoughts on “Why Do Parents Emotionally Blackmail Their Kids?”

  1. “You’re a direct reflection of themselves”. Hit home so hard. I have been in a constant whirlwind of doubts wondering if it’s emotional blackmail or an act of desperation to prevent me from hurting myself by being me.
    That line gave me all the explanation I ever needed. Thank you so very much.


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