Growing up with highly demanding parents can be a challenging experience. It’s almost like living under a microscope, with your every move being scrutinized.
The impact of this upbringing doesn’t just disappear when you become an adult. It often manifests in certain behaviors that you may not even realize are a result of your childhood.
As an adult who was raised by highly demanding parents, I’ve come to recognize these behaviors in myself. Here are 9 of them that you might also relate to if you had a similar upbringing.
You see, when your every action was scrutinized and judged, you learned early on that making mistakes was not an option. The need for approval became ingrained in you, and now, as an adult, you find yourself striving for perfection in everything you do.
Perfectionism isn’t just about doing your best. It’s the nagging feeling that your best is never good enough. It’s the fear of making mistakes and the constant pressure you put on yourself to meet impossibly high standards.
We need to remember, though, that it’s okay not to be perfect. After all, we’re only human.
I remember when I was a kid, every decision, no matter how small, had to be well thought out and justified. My parents expected me to have a reason for everything I did. This pattern has followed me into adulthood.
Now, as an adult, I often find myself overanalyzing and second-guessing my decisions. Whether it’s about choosing a restaurant for dinner or making a career move, I can spend hours weighing the pros and cons, afraid of making the “wrong” choice.
This constant overthinking can be exhausting. But remembering where it comes from can help us start to break the cycle.
3) Difficulty saying no
When you’re raised by high-demand parents, there’s often a lot of emphasis on pleasing others. This can lead to a struggle with setting boundaries and saying no, even when it’s in your best interest.
Research has shown that people-pleasing tendencies are often linked to a fear of rejection or criticism, something many of us who grew up with demanding parents can relate to. When you’ve spent your childhood trying to meet high expectations, the idea of disappointing someone can feel unbearable.
Learning to say no is an essential part of self-care and establishing healthy relationships. It’s okay to prioritize your needs and wants. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
4) High stress levels
The constant pressure to meet high expectations can create a sense of anxiety that sticks with you long into adulthood.
Living under such stress often becomes our normal, so much so that we might not even recognize it. We might find ourselves constantly on edge, unable to relax, and feeling overwhelmed by the smallest of tasks.
Managing stress is crucial for our overall well-being. Meditation, exercise, and seeking support from trusted friends or a therapist can all be beneficial in reducing stress levels.
5) Fear of failure
When high expectations are the norm, failing can seem like the worst thing possible.
This fear doesn’t just disappear once we become adults. Instead, it can hold us back from taking risks and pursuing our dreams. We might find ourselves sticking to what we know, afraid to step out of our comfort zone.
Recognizing this fear is the first step towards overcoming it. Failure is a part of life and often leads to growth. It’s not a reflection of your worth, but rather an opportunity to learn and improve.
6) Constant self-doubt
When your every move was under scrutiny, you may have grown to question your abilities and decisions.
As adults, this self-doubt can manifest in various ways. It might be a voice in your head that tells you that you’re not good enough, or a lingering feeling of insecurity, even when you’ve achieved success.
Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. You are capable and deserving of success, don’t let the doubts tell you otherwise. Give yourself the same compassion and understanding that you would offer to others.
7) Struggling with relaxation
There’s always something more to be done, another goal to be achieved.
I often find myself feeling restless and guilty when I take time to relax. The idea of “wasting time” is so deeply ingrained in me that even during my downtime, I catch myself planning the next task or worrying about my to-do list.
Rest isn’t a waste of time. It’s a necessary part of maintaining our physical and mental health. So, take that break, read that book, watch that show. You’re not wasting time, you’re taking care of yourself.
If you grew up trying to meet the high expectations of demanding parents, you might find yourself going out of your way to please others as an adult.
This behavior often stems from a deep-seated need for approval that was cultivated during childhood. You might find yourself agreeing to things you don’t want to do, or suppressing your own needs and feelings to avoid conflict or disappointment.
While it’s natural to want to make those around us happy, it’s important to remember that your feelings and needs are valid too. It’s okay to put yourself first sometimes, and it’s crucial for maintaining healthy relationships.
9) High resilience
Despite all the pressure and expectations, you’ve learned how to adapt and survive. You’ve developed a strong work ethic, determination, and the ability to bounce back from setbacks. These are valuable traits that can serve you well in many aspects of life.
Give yourself credit for these strengths. You’ve come a long way and possess a resilience that’s truly commendable. Be proud of who you are and how far you’ve come.
In reflection: Your upbringing shaped you, but it doesn’t define you
The impact of being raised by highly demanding parents is far-reaching and can shape many aspects of your adult life. It’s a complex experience that might have left you with a host of behaviors, from perfectionism to people-pleasing, and from overthinking to struggling with relaxation.
These behaviors, while challenging, are not set in stone. They are not the sum total of who you are or who you can become. You have the power to acknowledge these habits, understand their roots, and work towards change.
Moreover, amidst the challenges, you’ve also cultivated strengths like resilience and a strong work ethic. These are attributes that can serve you well in many aspects of your life.
In the end, understanding our behaviors and where they stem from is a part of the journey towards self-awareness and personal growth. It’s okay to reflect on your past, but don’t let it hold you back. Your past shaped you, but your future is still yours to define.