If you’re the parent of a teen or adult, you might have experienced a guilt trip or two from them in order to convince you to do something you’re against; whether it’s lending them money, helping with something you’re uncomfortable with, or putting your own emotions and needs aside for the sake of theirs.

You don’t have to martyr yourself on the altar of the parent/child relationship just because you’re the parent. There’s a misconception that “I’d do anything for my kids” means always putting their needs before your own, but consider this: how can you effectively help them if you’re having trouble yourself?

The old saying about the oxygen mask (put yours on first before you try to help someone else) holds true. Just because you’re the parent, doesn’t mean you should allow guilt-tripping or any other form of emotional manipulation from your child.

Recognize A Guilt Trip

So, what is a guilt trip, exactly? Guilt-tripping is a form of manipulation, and nothing less. It’s often downplayed, but make no mistake; a person who uses guilt-tripping to get what they want won’t hesitate to employ more severe forms of manipulation in their arsenal.

First, guilt-tripping is not ok under any circumstances. Just because it’s your child doing it, doesn’t mean you should have to put up with, deal with, or accept it. Let’s look at a quick example of a guilt trip for some context:

Your son is away at college and is running out of money. You’ve already sent him money this month, and you’re working on a strict budget. There’s a chance you won’t be able to afford your rent if you keep giving away money. He calls you up to ask for more.

“Dad, I need some money. I don’t have any food.”

“Son, I don’t have any more to give. If I give you anything else, I won’t be able to pay my rent.”

“Oh. I guess you want me to starve then, right? What am I supposed to do? Since you don’t want to help me for some reason.”

Did you recognize the guilt trip there? I guess you want me to starve then, right? Since you don’t want to help me for some reason. The son is using his father’s guilt about not being able to send any more money to get his way, and it could work if the father isn’t aware he’s being guilt-tripped.

We tend to overlook this kind of behavior when it comes from people we love, but it’s often most effective as well when it’s from loved ones. Our loved ones know we care, and guilt-tripping means using that love to get their way. That’s unacceptable.

Don’t Fall Into The Guilt Trap

Guilt is a powerful motivator. It’s one of the few human emotions that can drive us to do incredible things, or, alternatively, self-destructive things. Take our father/son scenario, for example. The son’s guilt-tripping efforts could cause the father to send more money, which would make him miss his rent payment, which could jeopardize his living situation. All in the name of feeling guilty.

It’s ok to feel guilty about certain things. A father wants to help his son, and he might feel guilty if he can’t, and that’s fine. It only becomes a problem when the father falls into his son’s guilt trap. The emotional manipulation is complete once you fall into the guilt trap and give into it.

Love Is The Reason You Should Say No

For some parents, saying no to their child is nearly impossible, but it’s something that should absolutely be done. Many view saying no as a negative when it comes to parenting, but it’s very much the opposite. If you learn to say no to your child, you’re setting firm boundaries for yourself and simultaneously teaching your child realistic expectations from you.

Saying no is a powerful skill that can apply to all kinds of situations outside of parent/child interactions. Not to mention, when you set that boundary, you won’t be affected by guilt trips any longer, because you’ve already drawn the line in the sand.

It’s important to be consistent with those boundaries, however. The more consistent you are, the more effective your boundaries will be. A manipulator will find all kinds of ways through your boundaries, but you must stick to them.

It’s also crucial that you let your child know what they’re doing is upsetting you. Guilt-tripping might be a natural reaction to no getting their way, and the only way to stop it is to help them recognize that it’s toxic behavior.

The Bottom Line

Just because you’re the parent, doesn’t mean you have to accept manipulation from your child. Learn to say no, set effective boundaries, and not fall into the guilt trap. Remember that guilt-tripping is nothing less than emotional manipulation, and that’s hardly conducive to a healthy relationship.

Author's Bio: 

Rasel Khan Is An Internet Entrepreneur