978-0-06-092932-9 / 9780060929329

If You Had Controlling Parents: How to Make Peace with Your Past and Take Your Place in the World


Publisher:Harper Perennial



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About the book:

As Edmund Burke said, "The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse." This is sometimes excruciatingly true with parents. There are the typically anxious ones who get a little uptight about letting their teenagers borrow the car, and then there are the rigid kinds who won't even let their kids leave the house when they want to--or even eat or go to the bathroom when they need to.

Written for the 14 million adult children who've survived an upbringing with the latter type of parents, If You Had Controlling Parents takes the classic Toxic Parents to a new level. Author Dan Neuharth, Ph.D., a family therapist, knows his subject thoroughly; he survived a childhood with a father who has the candor to refer to himself as "an S.O.B."

Neuharth says, "If your parents controlled you in unhealthy ways, they may have planted land mines in your psyche." Research shows that behaviors and traits exhibited by adult children of controlling parents include the following: depression, low self-esteem, distorted self-image, eating disorders and other addictions, stress-related health problems, inability to sustain an intimate relationship, and more. While this may seem like a heavy lot to handle, Neuharth maintains there's always hope of overcoming the past and changing yourself--even if it means making the drastic move of cutting off contact with one or both of your parents.

He gives a lengthy self-test to determine if your parents were controlling; gives profiles of eight typical styles of controlling parents to help you better recognize how you may be presently affected by your upbringing; and then delves into the process of understanding why your parents acted the way they did in order to start healing emotionally. This is especially important, he says, if you now have children of your own and want to stop the damaging cycle of parental control. He doesn't give a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all recovery plan, but rather suggests several "paths to healing" and exercises to help you, as he terms it, "emotionally leave home." The book's subtitle--"A Guide for Letting Go of Anxiety, Self-Blame and Perfectionism and Improving Assertiveness, Boundaries and Confidence"--says it all. This is self-help at its best.

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