5 Signs Your Parents Are Actually Gaslighting You

Licensed therapist Lauren Consul describes the signs of parental gaslighting.

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While most children would prefer to maintain a strong relationship with their parents as they grow up and head off into adulthood, that may become challenging if you experience signs of gaslighting by parents, well-meaning or otherwise.

For some of us adult children, our parents might be narcissists or chronic gaslighter and learning how to navigate that kind of behavior isn't easy. Gaslighting is defined as manipulating someone into questioning their own perception of reality, so the very act of being gaslit can leave you unsure of what is happening to you. 


Lauren Consul, LMFT, CST, JD, shares her expertise on the actual signs of gaslighting parents to ensure you can catch this behavior as it is happening.  

The five signs a parent is gaslighting one of their adult children: 

1. They dismiss your subjective experience

There's no worse feeling than being dismissed by your parents, especially when talking about trauma. And likely, when you did bring up your own personal experiences, you've probably been met with the, "'That wasn't a big deal,' or, 'That's not what happened,'" phrase, says Consul. 


But, why do they do this? Chances are your parents don't want to feel as if they failed you. Which is why they get defensive and deny your experiences all together. But, whether they realize it or not this, can be extremely damaging to you.

Questioning your reality, you might find it harder and harder to trust yourself and your own inner voice. Which can be extremely dangerous later down the road. 

RELATED: 5 Signs Your Parents Frequently Gaslighted You As A Kid — And It's Still Happening Today

2. You set a healthy boundary and they say, "I guess I'm the worst parent ever." 

Have you ever set a boundary and been met with, "I guess I'm just the worst parent ever." If so, your parents may be gaslighting you. 


Even in healthy relationships, boundaries need to be set. There's nothing wrong with advocating for yourself and setting them. 

Don't feel comfortable with your parents showing up whenever they please? Tell them. Don't feel comfortable with them prying into your dating life? Set those boundaries and let them know..

signs parents gaslighting adult children list YourTango


3. They one up or try to compete with you

It can feel very challenging to deal with parents who try to one-up you or feel constantly competitive. Not only is it exhausting and immature, but it's hurtful as well. 

Our parents are supposed to be the people we go to in times of need. But not being able to depend on them emotionally can leave you feeling confused and alone. If you find yourself having to compete or share your spotlight with your parent there is a good chance they're a chronic gaslighter. 

"You talk about something difficult you're going through and they say, 'Well that's nothing compared to what I went through,'" says Consul about gaslighting parents.

RELATED: Dear Parents: Stop Gaslighting Your Kids


4. They put words in your mouth

Feeling misunderstood or having your words twisted is beyond disrespectful and frustrating. A gaslighter often twists the narrative to shift the blame to someone else. They prefer to be seen as a victim, while you appear as the villain.

Iif you find yourself in this position, always clarify what you said. If they don't listen simply walk away or excuse yourself from the conversation. 

Remember, you should never feel compelled to stay in an environment that makes you feel both unsafe and unwelcome. 

5. They don't get excited for you

People who truly love and support you will always be happy when amazing things happen to you. But if your parent is a gaslighter then you may feel the exact opposite.


A gaslighting parent might even try you to make you confused about what you really want. They may say something like "Is that really a good thing," to make you question your decisions. That kind of behavior puts them in a position of power and can make you feel dormant within your own life. 

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RELATED: I Overexplain As An Adult Because I Was Gaslighted As A Child

Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.