It’s not uncommon for parents to feel like their teenage or adult children are trying to control them. As children grow into adulthood and develop their own identities, the power dynamic in the parent-child relationship often shifts. While it’s important to maintain boundaries as a parent, trying to understand the underlying reasons behind your daughter’s behavior can help improve your relationship.
Common Reasons Daughters Try to Control Their Parents
There are a few common reasons why daughters may try to assert control over their parents:
She’s Developing Her Independence
As children grow into teenagers and young adults, one of their primary developmental tasks is establishing independence from their parents. Your daughter’s attempts to control you or resist your authority may be her way of showing she’s her own person now. Testing boundaries and saying “no” is a natural part of this process.
She Feels Insecure About the Changing Relationship
Your daughter may also be feeling insecure about where she stands with you as your relationship evolves. If she is used to being taken care of by you as a child, she may try to maintain control of the relationship as a way to feel secure. This doesn’t mean she wants to be treated like a child; she just needs reassurance that your bond is still strong.
She’s Dealing With Her Own Problems
Your daughter may also be trying to exert control over you as a way of compensating for a lack of control in other areas of her life. For example, if she is struggling in school, with friends, or with self-esteem, she may try to control her home life to create a sense of mastery and stability. Pay attention to how she’s doing in other parts of her life.
She Feels You Don’t Listen Enough
Daughters often complain that their dads don’t listen to them enough, especially in the teenage years. If your daughter feels like you brush off her opinions or make decisions without her input, she may resort to controlling behaviors to try to force you to hear her out. Make sure you are taking time to have open conversations and involving her in family decisions.
She’s Modeling Your or Society’s Behavior
Daughters pick up on more than we realize. If you have a controlling parenting style or she sees women exerting control in society, she may mimic that behavior, thinking it’s normal. Be mindful of the dynamics you model at home and discuss healthy ways to gain influence with others.
Setting Boundaries While Preserving the Relationship
The teen and young adult years can be challenging for parents and children alike as the dynamics shift. Here are some tips for setting boundaries with your daughter while keeping your relationship intact:
Listen to Understand, Not to Respond
When your daughter comes to you with a problem, complaint or opinion, try to listen without getting defensive. The goal is to understand where she is coming from, not to launch into reasons she’s wrong. Reflect her feelings back to her so she knows you’ve heard her perspective.
Make Requests, Not Demands
Rather than barking orders at your daughter or laying down the law, try framing your concerns as requests. For example, “I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know when you’ll be home late” is gentler than “You have to be home by 11 every night, no exceptions!” This gives her some autonomy.
Compromise Where Possible
Look for areas where you can give a little or meet in the middle if you and your daughter disagree. Maybe she really wants a later curfew and you agree to extend it by 30 minutes as long as she texts to check in. Compromising shows respect.
Explain Your Reasoning
When you ask your daughter to do something, take the time to explain your reasons, whether it’s for safety, financial reasons or to maintain order in the household. Don’t just play the “because I’m the parent” card if you want her to respect your rules.
Make Time to Connect
Regular one-on-one time where you can talk or do an activity you both enjoy will help strengthen your bond with your daughter so power struggles don’t dominate your relationship. Go for a walk together, grab coffee, or watch a show you both like.
Apologize When Needed
If you lose your cool or make a mistake, own up to it sincerely. Apologizing to your daughter when warranted shows her you’re human too and you respect her. It sets a good example for conflict resolution.
Give Her Some Autonomy
While it’s age-appropriate to set boundaries for safety and responsibility, allow your teen or young adult daughter to make some of her own choices whenever possible. Let her pick her clothes, friends, hobbies, college major, etc. to foster independence.
Seek Professional Help if Needed
If your daughter’s controlling behavior becomes abusive, obsessive or disruptive to your family functioning, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help. A therapist can offer outside guidance on setting healthy boundaries.
Coping Strategies for Parents
Having a daughter try to control you can be stressful and frustrating as a parent. Here are some strategies to take care of yourself:
Vent to a Trusted Friend or Partner
Bottling up your feelings just breeds resentment. Turn to your spouse, a close friend or a support group to vent now and then. Make sure to avoid badmouthing your daughter.
Take Time for Yourself
Carve out time every day for an activity you enjoy, whether it’s reading, hitting the gym or meeting up with friends. Take a break from the power struggle to decompress.
Politely but firmly let your daughter know how her controlling behavior makes you feel. Use “I” statements like “I feel dismissed when you ignore my requests.” She may not realize her impact on you.
If communicating directly with your daughter doesn’t help, propose family therapy. An objective third party can identify unhealthy patterns and teach new ways to relate.
Limit Time Together If Needed
If tensions are running high, limit your contact to reduce conflicts. Keep interactions brief and neutral until things cool off.
Practice Stress Relievers
Try yoga, deep breathing, meditation or mindfulness to relax when you start to feel overwhelmed by clashes with your daughter. Getting centered can prevent blow ups.
Remember It’s Temporary
The peak of teen rebellion and power struggles doesn’t last forever. Stay calm and consistent, and know this phase will pass. Your daughter still needs her dad.
Navigating control issues with your daughter can be challenging, but understanding where her behavior is coming from and responding in a calm, firm way is key. Listen to her perspective, compromise when reasonable, and enforce boundaries respectfully. Make sure to take care of your own needs too. If both of you can communicate openly and carve out some autonomy, you have a much better chance of preserving a solid father-daughter relationship, even when those teenage years hit the rockiest of roads. With time and mutual effort, you can get back to enjoying the special bond fathers and daughters are meant to share.