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What is the Demanding Parent Mode?

The two dysfunctional parent modes are the Punitive Parent and the Demanding Parent. The Demanding Parent mode draws its strength from unrelenting standards. In Schema Therapy, this refers to the underlying belief that one must strive to meet very high internalized standards of behavior and performance, usually to avoid criticism (1). This mode is linked to the child modes, which we discuss in the next three sessions, by delivering a constant message of disapproval and criticism when these standards are not met.

The Demanding Parent expects and continuously strives for high status, to be efficient, to be recognized for valued qualities, and not to be vulnerable to showing emotions, or losing focus by acting spontaneously. Standards and rules are more important than their function. The Demanding Parent is an internalized voice that continually pushes and pressures to meet excessively high standards. It speaks of “shoulds” and sets rigid rules and standards.

Typical beliefs of the Demanding Parent Mode

Examples of schema beliefs of the demanding parent mode are:

  • I’m hard on myself.
  • I have to take care of the people around me.
  • I don’t let myself relax or have fun until I’ve finished everything I’m supposed to do.
  • I try to do my best at everything.
  • I’m under constant pressure to achieve and get things done.
  • I’m trying not to make mistakes; otherwise, I’ll get down on myself.
  • I sacrifice pleasure, health, or happiness to meet my own standards.
  • I know that there is a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’ way to do things; I try hard to do things the right way, or else I start criticizing myself.
  • My life right now revolves around getting things done and doing them ‘right’.
  • I’m pushing myself to be more responsible than most people are.

Maybe you recognize some of these beliefs in your makeup? Next, we give you guidelines how to deal with the strains that it can cause.

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