We all face obstacles in life, but the codependent parent believes that the other people in their life, particularly their children, owe them penance for the wrongs committed against them. Often this manifests in guilt-tripping behavior intended to garner sympathy from the child for negative experiences the parent has been through, with the end goal of altering the child’s behavior in a way that will somehow set things right.
This is where the problems begin. Rather than dealing with the traumas and difficulties in their own life through healthy means such as self-reflection and therapy, the codependent parent latches onto a child and demands compensation.
Compensation can take many forms. Many times a codependent parent will live vicariously through a child. A codependent father may demand that his son excel in sports to make up for his own lack of athleticism in childhood. If the child shows signs of taking their own path in life, the parent will use guilt to manipulate them into compliance.