8 Ways To Control Emotional Blackmail When It Creeps Into Your Most Loving Relationship…


‘You are so dear to me’, says a mother to her child.

‘You are the light and glory of our family.’

‘You will grow up to be my savior!’

‘I love you with all my heart.’ In fact one poet has glorified a son like this: ‘my moon, my sun, the star of my eyes… I feel alive when I look at you.’

There is no doubt all mothers have those sublime thoughts and attachment with their children sons.

All mothers feel elated when they look at the face of their child, the emotions which are associated with the birth of a son or the only child are slightly different from having a house full of children.

Only till they grow up! The words of endearment, which they had heard in their childhood inflate their ego. They feel all important, they want all their wishes fulfilled, their expectations are extremely high and their tantrums uncontrollable.

More so if the mother happens to be a single parent:

Here is one such son. He thinks the world revolves around him. He thinks he can control everything…the desires, the dreams and aspirations of even his siblings. He wants all the members of the family to dance to his tunes. He should be esteemed; he should be appreciated, he should have all the money to spend wherever he wants. He has no concern about the worries and meager financial resources at the disposal of his mother. The loneliness of his mother doesn’t even occur to him.

He knows the weaknesses of his mother. He exploits her emotions to his benefit all the time. He manipulates, he plays with her emotions and throws a tantrum of ending his life if he is denied money.

The mother is too naïve to see through his tricks. She tries to find happiness in her son, who seems to be her only hope. Probably it is the influence of her culture. She dutifully obliges what he says. She suffers alone but knows her son loves her! She hopes that he will understand her feelings one day.

She doesn’t know it is ‘Emotional Blackmail.’ She can never associate this word with her own children.

While all relationships are mired in some kind of manipulation, playing with the emotions is the most common form of control.

Much has been written about the why and how of emotional blackmail and the above story illustrates it quite well.

I would like to focus on the ways to deal with this human frailty, which is often accepted as a part of life.

People get so much carried away by emotions that they let them prevail above their self-respect. They feel absolutely feeble.

Can emotional blackmailing be controlled?Emotional Blackmail

Yes! Get up and face it!

Only you can control it.

You possess the power to shake it off.

  1. Much depends on the upbringing of your children. It is important to shower all your love and provide them with the best of opportunities but there is always a limit. When you don’t set that limit, when you let them misbehave, when you give in to their wishes out of love, they get the message that such a behavior is acceptable. Instead of learning life skills to solve their problems, they develop a defense mechanism to pass on the blame.
  2. Never cross those boundaries, which you must lay down. If they were not laid down at the right time, it is never too late to do so. Talk to your child about them when both of you are calm and emphasize on the need to respect them.
  3. Never base your relationship, even with your children above your own dignity. This has to begin at the early stages of their development. If you have not paid any attention at the right time and have pampered them too much, now is the only time to be candid.
  4. Never give in to their unreasonable demands. Just refuse politely, lovingly and be firm. That new dress for each party, that hanging out with friends every single day, that new smart phone or flashy car can wait for the right time. Let them sulk; let them think why they have been ignored, let them learn to handle their emotions.
  5. Avoid arguing with teenagers, it does not serve any purpose. It may send a wrong message and make them rebellious. I know this is the time when we feel like pulling our hair, when none of our strategies seem to work, when we wait for self awakening, which is controlled more by the peer group.
  6. Learn to control your emotions and reactions. Emotional resilience can be cultivated by being ‘Mindful.’
  7. Learn to ignore their threats. You can never prevent what they decide to do. However serious issues may require professional help. A counselor or a psychologist might help to sort out the turbulent relationships.
  8. Learn to detach yourself from them. Give them some space but never give in to their arbitrary demands.

Can you can change them – NO!

Can you change yourself and your attitude towards the capricious pleas and favors they seek – YES! That is the only way to handle such sons and daughters who become too self-centered and obsessed with their own aspirations.

It may seem incredible but their own objectives are more important than your love, attachment or emotions. Once they cross 14, they can go to any extent to get their own desires fulfilled.

Don’t blame yourself for failing to raise them according to your wishes. Peer group exerts the biggest influence at this stage. Once they find a partner, they change further and stop paying any attention to parents and their emotions. Prepare yourself for that stage and LET GO!

Have you been a victim of emotional blackmail by your own children? How did you handle it? I would love to hear your views.

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Thank you for your support. Please add your valuable comments, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

Image credit: rlv.zcache.com/emotional_blackmail




28 thoughts on “8 Ways To Control Emotional Blackmail When It Creeps Into Your Most Loving Relationship…

  1. You did it again Balroop, taking a good exemple and showing us how we can handle such difficult situation.
    My son is still very young but I try my best to set the limits already, not allowing him to have every single thing he wants and saying no. It’s very important I think, even thought it can be a bit tricky some days.
    We need to think about us too.

    I’ll keep your great advice in mind. In the meantime, stay well and in peace.

    1. Thank you Marie, I am glad this article resonated with you. I hope it helps all those mothers whose world revolves around their children and they tend to go overboard to nurture them.
      I think there is no age for enforcing discipline and also, if it can be done lovingly and firmly, it is more appropriate as the impressionable minds of children can be moulded better with affection. Lets not forget that the harsh words or treatment is never helpful in the long run.
      Thanks for sharing your view, much appreciated!

  2. I like how your post signifies the need for healthy boundaries. It’s so easy to forget that unless we take good care of ourselves, we are of little use to the people we care about. Good solid directions, Balroop!

    1. You are so right Amy. My experience with my own children as well as students has taught me that setting boundaries and remaining firm lies at the base of molding good personalities. Often we tend to cross them out of love but that does more harm than good to our own loving relationships.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective, I value it greatly.

  3. Great topic, Balroop! I myself haven’t been treated this way by my children. I also worked very hard at maintaining boundaries with them starting from toddlerhood. I wasn’t perfect by any means. Being a mother is one of the hardest jobs, if you’re trying to do your best. It’s easy to let your love for them overtake logic. Wonderful tips, too.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      I am so happy to note that you have been a balanced mother though it is one of the most delightful and responsible jobs but our love blinds us to the little flaws of our children. Yes, hardest too…at times you fail to understand which way to take when they threaten to take the highway!

      Thanks for the kind words, I hope these tips have the potential to help modern mothers who have a more challenging job than us, surrounded all the time by technology and gadgets that attract children so much!

  4. Like Lisa said, this a terrific topic and incredibly well written. Lordy the younger generation compared to mine of the same age so many years ago is two different worlds and societies. I often refer to myself as “old school” on many, but not all things. Yet, one of the things that I stand fast on is child rearing. Of course, I have to be careful because they are not my kids but I will offer my thoughts and opinions. I did raise two little boys many years ago. I always emphasize to my friends with younger kids the importance of imprinting. Some get it, some don’t. And they will see those results down the road in a few years. Again, what a good topic, Balroop 🙂

    1. Hi Mike,

      You are absolutely right…there is a world of difference between our upbringing and the children of today who are born with mobiles and iPads in their hands! That is why it is all the more challenging to raise emotionally balanced, loving and responsible children who can take care of themselves in this maze of distractions, just to mention only two.

      However modern the age may be, the basic instincts of children and parents remain the same. The upbringing may have become advanced but the human emotions can never change, they have stayed the same for times immemorial…the same love thrives in the hearts of parents even today, the same anxieties, the same hopes…

      Thanks for adding such a relevant point to the discussion.

  5. Hi Balroop.

    That was so well written and one post I can so well relate to, having kids of my own 🙂

    You bet! They know all the tricks or emotional blackmailing! But yes, that was more when they were younger, though now as they are growing and seeing us work and keep busy, they don’t exactly blackmail us emotionally, but do play with out emotions, which is bound to happen as they are in their teens!

    You are so right – you cannot change them and their thoughts, but you can change yourself and the way you react to them – there is no other way indeed. We try and do that and one also needs to give them their space and understand their view point and try putting ourselves into their shoes (easier said than done!) – but just to know what they go through and why they do what they do….lol….tough lots to manage!

    The training starts right from the time they are young, and that is the key – you mold them the way you want them to turn out. Although there are no guarantees, but at least we know they would be better than the rest, who aren’t taught anything.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

    1. Hi Harleena,

      Thanks for saying that it is well written, it comes straight from the heart of a doting mother who agrees it is really tough to manage some years of their growth. If they apply all those tricks, we have to invent new ones:)

      How true…there is no guarantee that they would turn out to be the way we want, that shows how much freedom we give to them to make their own choices and that is what I call good parenting.

      Thanks for an awesome and wholesome comment. Have a blessed week 🙂

  6. Love includes boundaries, as you pointed out so well here Balroop.
    I fell victim to my son’s manipulations far too long. But as you said, it’s never too late to change. He was old enough to have the discussion when I finally figured out my contribution to the situation. I told him I wasn’t helping him by ‘helping’ him and would be setting and enforcing boundaries. He got mad and things were tense for a long time, but now he thanks me. His life is much different because of the Tough Love I finally brought out. I wish I’d known to be that kind of parent earlier on.

    1. Hi Denise,

      I agree with you, when we fall a victim, we don’t realise it, we give in just out of love. We think they will appreciate what we are doing, we think they know how much we love them but they are too young to perceive that aspect. sometimes that can do more harm than good to their growing personality.

      I am glad that you could understand all this and act before it was too late. I like that term ‘tough love’! you are so right…we have to be tough at times for their sake and for ourselves too. Thanks for your insight, always appreciated.

  7. Hi Balroop! As you know I don’t have kids but I do believe that there is still a valuable lesson in here for all of us. We can never change others but have to realize that we are the only ones we CAN change. Plus we have to believe that we are worthy of respect and kindness no matter what–whether that comes from our children or anyone we know. Thanks for putting this message out to everyone who can hear it. It is very important. ~Kathy

    1. Thanks Kathy, for finding and highlighting the key message for all, in this post. It is easier to change yourself than living in the delusion of trying to change others, it could be even you own children. There comes a stage in their life when they no longer want you and your prudence.
      Thanks for standing by and adding your view to the discussion.

  8. Hi, this is really very informative. We love our children to a point that we ignore simple acts of manipulation from them, but learning how to control these emotional blackmail and setting limits into every situation would raise them to be better and more responsible person in the future. Thanks for sharing. Great post!

  9. Interesting post as always, Balroop. I learned how important it is to set boundaries with the people we love from this post. Although it might seem like a controlling tactic, it’s really a strategy to prevent yourself from getting manipulated. The intention behind the boundaries is what’s important. And another important take away for mainipulative people and life is that you can’t control the circumstances or others, but you can control your response to the situation. I’m glad you’re giving us strategies on how to deal with others – nothing we do can stop someone else’s behavior. We just have to have coping mechanisms to react and act from a place of genuine love. Thanks for this post!

    1. Hi Vishnu,

      Does it seem a controlling tactic? But I am sure you will agree that we get nowhere without using any tactics and in case of children, some amount of control is very essential to convey the values of respect and dignity, (to name just two) with all kinds of media influence and peer group, with the independence which is often misused…raising healthy and balanced children has become so challenging 🙂

      Thanks for understanding the positive tone of this article. My endeavour is just to highlight how to cope with the self-centred responses, which can be seen all around us in all relationships. The onus rests more with us than on those who think of manipulating us.

  10. Balroop – you have written a brilliant piece for all parents. Children only gain the upper hand when we give up our power and our sense of self to them. Boundaries are our responsibility to establish and enforce. I don’t see boundaries as controlling. I see them as necessary. Without them, we become doormats.

  11. Thanks Peggy! Welcome to my blog. I am so glad that you agree with my thoughts and I love that expression of ‘becoming doormats’! Some kind of control and boundaries establish that our self respect is equally important.

  12. Thankfully, I have not experiences emotional blackmail from my children nor from other family members although I can imagine what pain and difficulty one goes through. Because of your love for that person you are willing to give your whole self even if it pains you… Love and manipulation is dangerous. Thanks for sharing.

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