Some people just can’t help themselves. They need to control others in any and all situations.
That can be as nasty as it sounds or relatively harmless, depending on what type of behavior you’re controlling in others.
For instance, if you’re controlling where and when your (adult) family members can go, that’s obviously very bad.
But if you’re micromanaging and demanding, let’s say that all your t-shirts need to be washed at 90°F, I think we can agree that this isn’t so bad, right? As long as you don’t do it all the time.
So, let’s dive in deeper and see what behaviors show you’re the controlling one in your family.
1) You often make decisions for everyone without asking for their opinion
Making decisions for the whole family or single family members without asking for their opinion is highly controlling.
For example, choosing where to go on vacation, regularly deciding what the family should eat for dinner, or deciding how the household budget should be allocated.
You’re controlling because you don’t ask for input from other family members and tend to assume that your choices are best for everyone.
I mean, we even give our kid the option to choose between a couple of options, let alone grown adults.
So, yeah, this is a clear sign of controlling behavior.
2) It’s hard for you to compromise
This one ties into the previous behavior. You see, compromise is a crucial element in any healthy family dynamic.
That’s why another sign of controlling behavior is when you find it challenging to meet others halfway.
Instead, you rigidly stick to your own preferences and ideas, often disregarding the desires or needs of other family members.
What this ultimately leads to is feelings of frustration and resentment among your family. As does the following:
3) You frequently criticize or nitpick other’s choices
When you criticize or nitpick the choices and actions of family members, you create an atmosphere of tension and criticism within the family.
Whether it’s how someone dresses, their career decisions, or even their hobbies, you always find something to criticize rather than offering support or constructive feedback.
I’ve been battling with criticizing others, mainly my wife, for some time now. For some reason, I just can’t help myself, and I know how bad that behavior affects my wife.
Luckily, she’s so accustomed to it that she barely hears my quibbles anymore.
If you met my parents, you’d see where I got this annoying habit from. The point is, dig deep and see where your need for controlling behavior stems from.
That way, you can start fixing it and making your life, and that of others, much easier.
4) You regularly monitor and question others
Another controlling behavior is closely monitoring the activities of your family members, sometimes to the point of intrusion.
You frequently question what they’re doing, where they’re going, and who they’re with. Can you imagine someone doing this to you now that you’re an adult? It wouldn’t be fun, would it?
I have to mention that everything I’m writing here is about adults. When it comes to kids, of course, you should know where, what, who, etc.
Gone are the days when we could carelessly leave them outside the whole day doing God knows what with God knows who, right?
5) You struggle to trust others to handle tasks
Those who are controlling struggle to trust other family members to take on tasks or responsibilities.
Think about this: Do you often feel you’re the only one capable of handling important matters? If so, it’s leading to a lack of delegation and increased stress for yourself and others.
For instance, in your efforts to maintain control, you often micromanage household chores and tasks.
Instead of allowing family members to complete these responsibilities in their own way, you dictate how things should be done, which results in resentment and a lack of autonomy.
You have to let others do their part. It’s not like you’re solving complex mathematical equations or something.
Everything will be fine if you don’t do everything by yourself. Relax.
6) You expect family members to follow your rules without question
Rules are important, and all families should have a hierarchy and structure that’s easily understood and not brought up each time there’s an issue.
But if you expect that family members unquestioningly follow your rules and directives, you stifle open communication and discourage family members from expressing their own opinions or needs.
7) You become irritated when others disagree with you
Similarly, when family members express clashing opinions or push back against your ideas, you become irritated or dismissive.
For example, planning a family vacation is a hot topic in many families. Kids want one thing, one parent wants to chill by the pool all day, while the other parent wants to hike or explore.
If you can’t put yourself in their shoes and understand where they’re coming from, you get aggravated and unwilling to compromise.
This, in turn, deters open dialogue and discourages family members from sharing their thoughts, especially if you have a history of doing so.
8) You often interrupt or dominate conversations
During family discussions, you frequently interrupt others or dominate the conversation, making it challenging for anyone else to express their perspectives or even feel heard.
This results in frustration and a lack of effective communication within the family. Without good communication, a family is only a family on paper.
In reality, all that’s left are familial ties and no real connection.
9) You have a need to be in control of finances or major decisions
When you control others, you obviously want to make all major decisions yourself. You insist on maintaining control over financial matters without considering the input or preferences of other family members.
For example, you insist on being the only one responsible for managing all financial aspects of the family, including budgeting, bill payments, and investments.
You also frequently scrutinize and question every family member’s spending, demanding detailed explanations for their expenses.
This results in a lack of financial transparency and family members feeling excluded from important choices.
The next step for them might be distancing themselves altogether.
10) You guilt-trip or manipulate
If you’ve ever watched the TV show The Goldbergs (a great sitcom, I can’t recommend it enough), you remember how the mother would always guilt-trip others into doing what she wanted.
She loves her family to death, but most of her parenting tactics are highly questionable today. After all, the TV show is based on a real family living in the 80s.
So, if you resort to using guilt trips or manipulation tactics to achieve what you desire, you essentially create a toxic atmosphere of emotional manipulation and strained relationships.
Something we also clearly see in the TV show.
11) You can’t let go of past conflicts or mistakes
And lastly, another thing that’s challenging for you is letting go of past conflicts or mistakes. In fact, you often bring up these issues repeatedly in arguments or discussions.
I hope I don’t have to tell you how harmful and damaging this behavior is to your family. Above all, it impedes the healing process and moving forward within the family.
Just imagine someone reminding you over and over again of the thing you’re embarrassed about and want to forget more than anything.
How to stop the cycle
Stopping the cycle of control isn’t easy. Nevertheless, here are some of the steps you can take (besides seeking professional help, of course):
1) Self-reflection and awareness
Awareness is the first crucial step towards change. Acknowledge that you want to improve your relationships within the family.
2) Open and honest communication
Initiate open and honest conversations with your family members about your desire to change your controlling behavior. Encourage them to express their feelings and concerns about how your behavior has affected them.
After all, effective communication is vital for building understanding and trust.
3) Empathy and understanding
Practice empathy by trying to see situations from the perspective of your family members and recognize that their views are equally important.
Empathy is the best way to create a deeper connection and promote cooperation.
4) Set and respect boundaries
Setting clear boundaries between your responsibilities and those of your family members is the next step.
Avoid interfering in their decisions or tasks within their domain. For example, when it comes to your family member’s personal style, whether it’s clothing choices or decorating their room, respect their individual taste.
Boundaries are there for a reason. They provide space for autonomy and independence.
5) Continuous self-improvement
And lastly, commit to ongoing self-improvement and self-awareness. Monitor your progress in reducing controlling behaviors and regularly assess how you’re doing.
Above all, be patient with yourself and be open to seeking professional help if needed to support your journey of change.
I know firsthand how difficult it is to stop this cycle, but it’s easier when you know it’s for the greater good.
By following these five steps, you can gradually reduce your controlling behavior and create a more respectful and harmonious family environment.
Remember that change takes time, and the key is to maintain a proactive and empathetic approach when interacting with your family.