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What Is Emotional Blackmail? Breaking the Cycle of Emotional Blackmail in Your Family

Understanding Emotional Blackmail 



Table of contents:

    Emotional blackmail is defined as manipulative behavior that can be highly damaging in any type of relationship. In a family setting, it can be especially harmful to children, who are often the target of emotional blackmail from their parents. Emotional blackmail is a form of psychological abuse where the perpetrator uses fear, guilt, or obligation to control and manipulate the victim. It’s important to recognize emotional blackmail in parent-child relationships because it can lead to a cycle of abuse that is difficult to break. In this blog post, we will explore what emotional blackmail is, how it manifests in parent-child relationships, and ways to break the cycle of emotional blackmail in your family.


    What Is Emotional Blackmail?

    Emotional blackmail is a manipulative tactic used to control or manipulate someone else’s emotions, actions, or decisions through the use of fear, guilt, obligation, or other emotional pressures. It typically involves one person making unreasonable demands or threats, often implicitly or explicitly, to get another person to comply with their wishes.

    Emotional blackmailers use tactics like threats, criticism, and manipulation to get what they want, often at the expense of their victim’s emotional well-being. The perpetrators may threaten to withhold love or affection, criticize or belittle their victim, or use guilt-tripping to make their victim feel responsible for their emotional well-being. They may also use manipulation tactics like gaslighting or playing the victim to gain control over them.

    Emotional blackmail differs from healthy communication in that it’s manipulative and abusive. Healthy communication involves open and honest communication, where both parties are able to express their thoughts and feelings without fear of retaliation or manipulation. In contrast, emotional blackmailers use fear, guilt, or obligation to control and manipulate their victim, often leading to a cycle of abuse that is difficult to break.

    It’s essential to recognize the signs of emotional blackmail and seek help if you or someone you know is experiencing this type of abuse. Emotional blackmail can be highly damaging to any kind of relationship, but it’s especially harmful in parent-child relationships because children are often the target.


    What Is Emotional Blackmail From Children?

    Emotional blackmail in parent-child relationships can manifest itself in both children and parents. Some signs of being blackmailed may include manipulative behavior, using guilt or obligation to get what they want, and constantly making demands without considering others’ feelings or needs.

    It’s important to understand that children may use emotional blackmail as a way to get their needs met when they feel powerless or don’t have other ways to express themselves. If your child is using emotional blackmail, they may frequently use phrases like “If you loved me, you would do this for me” or “You love my brother/sister more than me”. They may also threaten to harm themselves or others if they don’t get their way.


    Emotional blackmail from parents is a form of psychological abuse where parents use fear, guilt, or obligation to control and manipulate their children.


    What Is Emotional Blackmail From Parents?

    Recognizing your own behavior in your relationship with your child can be challenging, but it’s an essential step in preventing emotional blackmail from becoming a pattern.

    What is emotional blackmail from parents? Signs that you may be using emotional blackmail with your child include manipulating them to do something by using guilt or obligation, threatening to withhold love or affection, or threatening to disown them if they don’t comply with your demands.

    Understanding why parents may use emotional blackmail can help prevent it from happening. Parents may use emotional blackmail as a way to control their child’s behavior out of fear or a sense of obligation.


    Emotional Blackmail Examples

    In this section, we’ll explore some common examples of emotional blackmail used by both children and parents. By recognizing these tactics, you can better understand what is considered emotional blackmail and develop healthier communication strategies.

    Examples of emotional blackmail by children:

    • Guilt Trips: Children may use phrases like “If you loved me, you would…” or constantly compare themselves to siblings, saying things like “You love them more than me” to manipulate their parents into giving them what they want.
    • Threats: This could involve threats of self-harm (“If I can’t go to the party, I’ll run away!”) or threats to damage relationships (“If you don’t let me stay up late, I won’t talk to you tomorrow”).
    • Emotional Withdrawal: A child might become withdrawn or sullen, refusing to talk or engage with their parent, in an attempt to make them feel responsible for the child’s unhappiness.

    Examples of emotional blackmail by parents:

    • Conditional Love: Parents may withhold affection or approval, making their love contingent on the child’s behavior or obedience (“If you get good grades, then I’ll be proud of you”).
    • Playing the Victim: Parents may manipulate their children by portraying themselves as the victim of the child’s actions (“You’re giving me a headache with all this arguing”).
    • Obligation Traps: Parents may guilt their children by reminding them of sacrifices they’ve made (“After all I’ve done for you, the least you can do is…” ).


    Emotional blackmail is a form of psychological abuse where the perpetrator uses fear, guilt, or obligation to control and manipulate the victim.

    Breaking the Cycle of Emotional Blackmail

    Breaking the cycle of emotional blackmail in parent-child relationships requires understanding the signs and reasons behind it. Parents should recognize when their child is using emotional blackmail, such as guilt-tripping, threatening to harm themselves, or withdrawing love and affection.

    Responding to emotional blackmail involves calmly setting boundaries and communicating the child’s feelings without giving in to their demands. Avoiding emotional blackmail in one’s own behavior consists of being self-aware, recognizing when one is using guilt or manipulation to get what one wants, and finding healthier communication strategies.

    Setting healthy boundaries in parent-child relationships is essential to prevent emotional blackmail from becoming a pattern. This involves being clear about expectations, values, and consequences, and promoting open and honest communication.


    How Can Safes Improve Your Parenting?

    Safes parental control app is a powerful tool that can help parents to improve their parenting skills. This app allows parents to monitor and control their child’s online activity, ensuring that they are safe and protected from harmful content. With Safes, parents can set limits on screen time, block inappropriate websites and apps, and track their child’s location.



    Children use a variety of smart devices with different operating systems. But you don’t need to worry because Safes can be installed on all smartphones, tablets, and computers powered by Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac.

    Also, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on setting up default parental controls across various devices. Whether you’re using Android, iPhone, Mac, or Windows, our step-by-step resources will empower you to create a safer digital environment for your family. Click on the links below to access tailored instructions for each device:



    In conclusion, emotional blackmail’s definition is a manipulative tactic used to control others through fear, obligation, and guilt. It can be difficult to recognize and break free from, especially in parent-child relationships. However, setting healthy boundaries and promoting open communication can help break the cycle. Additionally, the Safes parental control app can provide tools for monitoring and controlling online activity, promoting responsible internet usage, and reducing conflict. By utilizing these strategies and resources, parents can build trust with their children and promote healthy habits while avoiding emotional blackmail.



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    Download Safes Kids for Chrombook

    1. Install the Safes Kids app on your Chromebook from Google Play. 
    2. Pair Safes Kids with parent app. Follow the instructions in the app to pair your child’s device with your parent device.  
    3. Add the Safe Kids Chrome extension. Open Chrome and go to the Chrome Web Store. 
    4. Navigate to the Manage extensions page. Click the three dots in the top right corner of Chrome and select “Extensions”>”Manage Extensions”>”Details”
    5. Turn on “Allow in incognito mode” This will allow the Safe Kids extension to work in incognito mode, which is important if your child uses incognito mode to try to bypass the parental controls.
    6. Select Safes extension and follow on-screen instruction

    Download Safes Kids for Android

    Download the Android Kid’s app directly to get the full features!

    Download Safes Kids App on Play Store

    Download Safes Kids App on Play Store

    Safe Kids is available on the Google Play Store, but if you download it directly from our website, you will get access to Call and SMS monitoring feature, You can monitor the phone calls of your child’s device, as well as the contacts and messages they have sent and received, including those containing inappropriate content.