16 Things Grown Children Say To Manipulate Their Parents

16 Things Grown Children Say To Manipulate Their Parents

So, sometimes grown children can say things that can come off as manipulative, even if they don’t mean it that way. Whether you’re a parent or the grown child, recognizing these phrases can help make family dynamics a lot smoother.

1. “Don’t You Love Me?”

Ah, this is a classic manipulative phrase that people use. Grown children trying to manipulate their parents into helping them with something might resort to asking, “Don’t you love me?” or stating, “You’d help me with this month’s rent if you loved me!” because they’re hoping to guilt their parents.

2. “You Help My Brother/Sister.”

Playing a game of comparing oneself to their sibling is a sneaky way for the manipulative adult child to try to get their parents’ support. By saying, “You always helped Tom when he needed a job!” or “Sharon’s always been your favorite child!” can cause the parents to give in so they don’t feel bad.

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4. “Sorry You Didn’t Get A Perfect Child.”

When confronted by their parent’s boundaries, the adult child might try to use parental expectations against them. An example is to say, “You always wanted a child who was perfect – sorry you didn’t get one.” Ouch. No parent wants to feel that their child isn’t accepted, so they might do what their adult child wants to prove that they are loved.

5. “You Made Me This Way.”

When an adult child asks their parent for money and the parent says “no” or tells their child that they should be more independent or responsible for their own life, the child might say something like, “You made me this way!” They might irrationally blame the parent for something they did to hurt them. Or, they could be telling the truth about the parent’s toxic ways that hurt them – but, instead of working through the pain, they’re using it to get what they want from their parent.

6. “You Don’t Think Of Anyone But Yourself!”

Some parents can be guilted by their kids for caring about themselves or making themselves a priority, which is BS! A manipulative grown child might use this to get their way, such as by saying, “You don’t think of anyone but yourself!” and mentioning things the parent has done for themselves, to further lay on the guilt. For example, if the adult child wants rent money but the parent recently went on vacation, they might use this against them.

7. “Fine, I’ll End Up On The Street!”

Using dramatics is an effective (yet childish) example of manipulation. The grown child might play the victim such as by saying, “Fine, if you don’t give me money, I’ll end up on the street/be homeless/starve to death.” Sometimes, the more dramatic the worst-case scenario, they more they think it’ll work.

8. “You Always Put Me Down.”

This phrase manipulative grown children use against their parents works because it drives their parent to feel guilty or like the bad guy in the situation, especially if the relationship between both parties is strained. So, if the adult child is upset that their parent doesn’t support their relationship, they might say, “You always put me down” or “You always make me feel unworthy” to hurt and manipulate them.

9. “But Dad Said It Was Okay.”

Pitting parents against each other is a classic way for kids to manipulate their parents, and grown children might also try it on for size. So, if they ask their mom for a favor and she gives them a firm “no,” they might lie that they asked their other parent who said “yes.” This muddies the waters and causes confusion, which a manipulative adult child can use to their advantage.

10. “You’ll Never See Me Again.”

If previous manipulation tactics haven’t worked, the adult child might resort to threatening to cut ties with their parent forever, such as by saying, “If you don’t help me with this, you’ll never see me again.” This can be hurtful to the parent, who wants to build a healthy relationship with their child. The sad truth is that manipulation is just going to make the relationship worse, not better.

11. “But You Were An Alcoholic!”

Using someone’s mistakes against them can be used by a manipulator to break down the person and let them feel bad enough to give in to the demands. So, an adult child might bring up their parent’s previous mistakes as though this is what has caused them to be in a bind, such as the parent’s issue with alcohol or failed relationships that caused them to be a single parent, which led to stressful situations for the child.

12. “My Friends’ Parents Help Them.”

Sometimes, it can help a manipulator to get their way by bringing other people into the situation. For example, when they always leave their baby with their mom so they can party, but their mom is expressing frustration, they might say, “My friend’s mom helps her with her kids – why can’t you do that for me?” SMH.

13. “You Don’t Care That I’m Struggling.”

An adult child who’s struggling with something, like trying to quit weed or find a job, might not see what they’re doing to enable their situation. Maybe they spend all their time with friends who smoke weed or they don’t send out any job applications. When their parent tries to alert them to this, they’ll make their parent feel bad by claiming that their parent isn’t helping them because they don’t care. It’s a cheap shot.

14. “How Can A Parent Not Support Their Kid?!”

If a parent keeps giving their adult child a concrete wall that won’t budge despite the child’s demands, the child might lose their cool and express shock or horror that their parent isn’t supporting them. What’s frustrating for the parent in this situation is that their grown child is forgetting all the times they did offer assistance. Their child is taking advantage of their kindness and throwing it back in their face.

15. “You’ve Never Supported Me.”

Throwing a tantrum about how they’re not acknowledged or feel like the black sheep of the family who was never supported by anyone can be a way for the manipulator to make others feel bad. They’re trying so hard to get their parent’s sympathy and they’re throwing their parent’s previous help under the bus. It’s never enough for them!

16. “I’ll Pay You Back, I Promise.”

If someone keeps asking their parent for money, they might promise to pay them back – but, obvs, this never happens. Ugh, it’s a frustrating cycle that never seems to end. The adult child almost feels like their parent’s obligated to help them no matter what, even if it burns through their bank account.

17. “But It’s An Emergency!”

Lying about an emergency situation or crisis to get a parent’s assistance is the oldest trick in the book. It requires a snap decision and quick behavior from the parent, who might not have time to think things through before offering their money or support to help their adult child. So, they get manipulated yet again. SMH.

Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.