There are many different reasons a parent may gaslight their child. In many cases, the behavior is a response to their own upbringing. If a parent was modeled gaslighting by their own mom or dad, Spinelli says they may not be aware of how manipulative or damaging their actions are.
Other parents (namely, the enmeshed kind) may just be overwhelmed and project their own inner wounds and past experiences onto their children. “This leaves their child feeling misunderstood, lonely, disconnected, and often angry,” Muñoz explains. “It may also erode a child’s sense of self/self-confidence.”
Those who tend to push their views onto a child, aka authoritarians, gaslight out of an attempt to maintain control, Muñoz adds. “This may have been how they were raised, or it may be that they have a low tolerance for anxiety.”
Narcissism, emotional immaturity, a need for attention, and deep-rooted shame, are all other potential root causes of gaslighting, Spinelli states.