Signs Your Parents Don’t Respect You (And What You Can Do)

This post is for you especially if you’re an adult, or in your final teenage years, who thinks your parents are showing you some hostility in the form of disrespect.

In this article I explore this dynamic. What are the signs your parents disrespect you? What should you do? And a couple more questions that I think are crucial, especially if you have kids of your own, or plan to have them.

signs your parents don't respect you

5 Signs Your Parents Don’t Respect You

1. Your parents still treat you as if you were a clueless little kid.

They never treat you as an equal, especially if you’re in your 30s or up already. Not an adult deserving to be treated as one.

It’s like they want you to be that helpless kid again who couldn’t live without them.

As a result, they talk over you. They would take your words and give them a whole new meaning and interpretation through their narrative.

When you make huge decisions, your parents undermine them. They would talk and act as if you made the wrong decision, you don’t have what it takes to carry it out, or outright tell you it’s not worth it…simply because they don’t like it.

They also get offended when you voice opinions contradictory to theirs. Just like when you were a small kid when they got angry for asking “wrong” questions.

Related: How to Deal with Toxic Parents as a Teenager 

2. Boundaries still aren’t a thing.

Boundaries have always been tricky for me.

If you grew up without boundaries in place, it would feel like it’s impossible to learn how to enforce them. On the other hand, if you’re just imposing them, you might come off as this rigid person who’s angry at the world.

Because you’ve been used to it that being boundary-less seems second nature to you. Thanks to the upbringing, I guess?

Now that you’re an adult, your parents still won’t give it to you.

  • They come to your place unannounced.
  • They go on a toxic tirade about this or that, even when it’s glaringly obvious you just had an exhausting day.
  • They say only bad things about your significant other.
  • They employ their toxic parenting wisdom with your kids.
  • You tell them how something they’re doing is bothering you but they don’t care.
  • Privacy? What is that?

3. They talk behind your back.

Just to be clear: Your parents can be well-meaning and talk about you with their small circle of trusted friends and try to come up with legitimate ways to help—this is not “talking behind your back.” If you have parents like these, then they are probably good people. Give their piece of advice some thought, even if it stings.

However, if your parents constantly talk about you with almost everyone, at every remote chance they can get, as if talking about you is like a stress outlet or some sort, then that is a sign of disrespect.

Your parents don’t muster the courage to talk to you directly and settle what needs to be. You probably reach out to them but they refuse to sit down with you. Instead, they spread unnecessarily hurtful gossip about you because that’s way easier and “therapeutic.”

Related: Why Do I Feel No Connection with My Family? 

4. They don’t appropriately talk about important topics based on your age (or what stage you are in your life).

This should be easy.

Try to recall having any talk you think or wish you had when you were a kid. How did your parents talk about hitting or being hit by other kids? How about cursing? Religion?

In your adolescent years, what did they tell you about sex? How much did you know about managing your money? Did they tell you about your teenage hormones and how they could get you in trouble if you didn’t manage them?

In your adulthood, did they show concern about your career? Did they enthusiastically support it? How did they show concern about your relationships?

As you can see, it’s not only doing unpleasant stuff that comprises disrespectful. It also includes omitting things you may have needed as a developing human.

5. Your parents act like you’re an extension of themselves, or their property—because “they made you.”

This may be the worst sign of all. The be-all and end-all. Something you may want to help your parents with.

Because if they believe this, they think you must worship them, treating them as if they were some deity.

You are only a property, without which they could get along fine. And since you’re just a property, you could be a liability.

Therefore, you should be at their beck and call. You owe your life—or whatever—to them.

Related: Am I the Problem in My Family? (For Adult Children & Parents!)

What to do if your parents don’t respect you?

1. If you’re still living with your parents, aim for self-sufficiency.

Moving out can be hard and terrifying but it can be the most rewarding decision you’ll ever make.

You shouldn’t expect your parents to respect you—this is out of your control—but after you move out and prove you can be independent, you can ironically earn their respect. However, just to emphasize, this respect is just a byproduct and not the goal.

You aim for independence because in the long run, not having disrespectful parents around is better for your wellbeing.

2. Contemplate whether there’s truth (at least) to what they’re telling you.

Yes, your parents may be toxic, but amongst all the hurtful rubbish they say, there could be a tiny gold nugget in there. Somehow I believe that everyone can tell the truth sometimes. You should catch that in an emotionally detached way. Don’t take it personally.

Maybe you really are getting demotivated, which comes off as being lazy. Or you’re eating to excess. Or you’re onto something really weird that it’s quite disturbing to other people.

All I’m saying is you’re better than your toxic parents. In the rare moment they tell you something that could be helpful, embrace it.

Related: Should I Forgive My Toxic Parents? (Is There a Better Way?)

3. Give them a taste of their own medicine.

If you have toxic parents, it’s usually impossible to have a talk with them, especially about conflicts. This is the reason you can do to them what they do to you. It’s the Golden Rule at work!

If they are somehow reasonable, they will get it, even if you don’t go through that sit-down talk.

If they behave disrespectfully, do the same to them, and utter something like, “You taught me that!”

You don’t confirm whether the message gets through. You only get even with them, so to speak.

4. Accept that you just happen to have toxic, disrespecting parents.

It helps a lot to accept this. Since toxic parents comprise the minority, it’s like you won this lottery of “misfortune.” But you can choose to see it as neither good nor bad. It’s just what it is.

Because through acceptance, you can move on and rebuild the self-esteem and good habits and wisdom and what have you, that you lost in growing up with toxic parents.

Related: Do Toxic Parents Love You?

Do your parents have to respect you in the first place?

There can be a bunch of definitions of respect, but however you think it means, it’s probably right.

With regard to respecting you as an adult child, the better idea to contemplate is that your parents should respect you as a perpetually developing human being.

Respect must be given to the truth that at any stage of your life (including your childhood), you have skills and capabilities that can be learned and tested to the limits. If your parents respect that truth, then they could act accordingly and guide you through it all. After all, they are your parents—guiding you is their responsibility.

It’s not respect towards authority. And probably not the one you would earn. Would you want that kind of respect, anyway?

It’s simply nature taking its course—you receive respect for what you are at any stage in your life.

When should parents have that kind of respect for their children?

That may sound like a rhetorical question, but all of the child’s life, including when they were still inside the womb, deserves respect.

Abuse and maltreatment, of course, are extreme forms of disrespect. It is disrespect towards life and the beautiful progression of growing up and maturing into content and undisturbed human beings.

This idea of respect isn’t as pervasive as it should be. When we think respect, some kind of authority should be present. However, it’s not like that in the parent-child dynamic.

A child can be something when he grows up, someone loved, or someone respected by the community. He can become the happiest man out there. He can have an impact on people’s lives on a scale unimaginable. He can be all that and more. Those possibilities deserve respect.

Parents who know any better will invest in their child through each present moment. They will start now.

Image Credits: Photo by Jan Canty on Unsplash

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