People who grew up with controlling parents usually struggle with these 8 things in adulthood

Growing up with controlling parents can have a lasting impact on your life.

It’s not just about the rules and restrictions during childhood—it can also seep into adulthood in ways you might not expect.

You see, when parents are overly controlling, it often shapes the way their children interact with the world as adults.

The struggle with trust, decision-making, and self-confidence are common after-effects.

In this article, we’re going to delve into some of the challenges and struggles people who grew up with controlling parents often face in adulthood.

Keep in mind that this isn’t about blaming parents, but more about understanding the lasting influence they can have on their children.

So, let’s explore this together, shall we?

1) Difficulty with decision-making

One of the most common struggles for those who grew up with controlling parents is difficulty in decision-making.

When parents are always making decisions for their children, it can lead to a dependency on others to make decisions in adulthood. They may question their ability to choose wisely or feel overwhelmed by the responsibility that comes with making important decisions.

This isn’t just about deciding on big things like career choices or relationships. It can be as simple as picking out an outfit for the day or choosing a meal at a restaurant.

The pressure of making the “right” choice can be paralyzing.

It’s a struggle that often stems from a fear of making mistakes or disappointing others, which is a pattern that usually begins in a childhood dominated by control.

2) Struggling to develop self-confidence

Speaking from personal experience, a lack of self-confidence is another common struggle for those of us who grew up with controlling parents.

I know that my parents always had the best intentions. They wanted me to succeed, to be safe, and to avoid the mistakes they made.

But their controlling nature often left me feeling like I wasn’t capable or competent on my own.

The result?

A constant state of self-doubt, even in adulthood.

As an adult, I still find myself second-guessing my abilities and questioning my worth. Even when I achieved something significant, I often attributed it to luck rather than my own skills or hard work.

It took me years to realize that my self-confidence had taken a hit due to the controlling environment I grew up in.

It was a tough realization, but certainly an important one.

It set me on a path of self-discovery and helped me start rebuilding my self-esteem.

3) Perfectionism

Growing up with controlling parents can often lead to the development of perfectionism.

In an attempt to meet high standards or avoid criticism, children may start to believe that they need to be perfect in all areas of life.

In fact, research has shown that children who grow up with overly controlling parents often develop maladaptive perfectionism – a type of perfectionism where you constantly worry about making mistakes, leaving you feeling like you’re never good enough.

This can persist into adulthood, affecting your relationships, career, and overall mental health.

Moreover, this kind of perfectionism doesn’t make you strive for excellence—it makes you chase an unattainable ideal. This can lead to chronic stress, burnout, and even mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

4) Fear of confrontation

Fear of talking People who grew up with controlling parents usually struggle with these 8 things in adulthood

People who grow up with controlling parents may develop a fear of confrontation. They often learn at a young age to avoid conflict in order to keep the peace.

This is because any disagreement or pushback could have led to negative consequences in their home environment.

As adults, this fear can manifest in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Difficulty standing up for yourself
  • Having trouble expressing your needs and feelings
  • A tendency to avoid difficult conversations or conflict

And all of this can negatively impact your relationships and career advancement.

But remember, healthy confrontation and conflict resolution are important life skills. Learning to express your needs and standing up for yourself are crucial steps in overcoming this fear.

It may take time and practice, but don’t lose hope—it’s a hurdle that can be overcome.

5) Overdependency on others

Another common struggle for those who grew up with controlling parents is overdependency on others in adulthood.

This is because they’re often not given the chance to develop independence during their formative years.

In their adult lives, this may show up as a reliance on others to make decisions, a need for constant reassurance, or difficulty carrying out tasks without guidance.

This dependency can hinder personal growth and self-reliance.

Because while it’s okay to seek help from others, developing your own problem-solving skills and trusting in your capabilities are crucial.

6) Struggling with intimacy and trust

One of the more profound impacts of growing up with controlling parents is the struggle with intimacy and trust in adulthood. These struggles can be deeply personal and affect the most intimate areas of one’s life.

When children are constantly controlled, they often learn to guard their feelings and thoughts as a defense mechanism. As adults, this can translate into a fear of being vulnerable with others for fear of judgment or rejection.

This fear can create barriers to forming deep, meaningful relationships. It’s like always having a wall up, preventing you from fully opening up to others. 

If you feel this way, remember that it’s okay to let your guard down with the right people in your life.

7) Fear of failure

Growing up with controlling parents, failure was never an option. Every mistake can feel like the end of the world—a sign of not being good enough.

In my adulthood, this translated into a paralyzing fear of failure.

Whether it was at work, in relationships, or in personal pursuits, the thought of failing made me anxious. I would overthink and overanalyze everything, trying to ensure that I wouldn’t fail.

It took me time to realize that failure is a part of life. It’s not a reflection of my worth or capabilities, but a steppingstone towards learning and growth.

Embracing failure, rather than fearing it, has been a liberating experience.

If you’re dealing with a fear of failure too, remember that you’re not alone. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to fail. Each stumble is just another step forward on your journey.

8) Difficulty setting boundaries

People who grow up with controlling parents often find it difficult to set boundaries in their adult relationships.

They might have been taught that their needs and feelings were less important than those of others, leading to a pattern of self-sacrifice and over-accommodation.

As adults, this can result in feeling overwhelmed, taken advantage of, or even losing your sense of self in relationships. It can also lead to difficulty saying ‘no’ or expressing your own needs.

Setting boundaries is not only healthy but also necessary for maintaining balance and respect in relationships. It’s about understanding your limits and communicating them effectively to others.

Final thoughts: The journey towards healing

The dynamics of our upbringing can significantly shape our personality and behavior in adulthood, and this is especially true for those who grew up with controlling parents.

The struggles we face are real and often challenging, but it’s important to remember that they’re not insurmountable.

So if this is you, remember this:

Growing up with controlling parents can undoubtedly be challenging, but it also has the potential to fuel personal growth and resilience. It’s never too late to start healing and rewriting your story in a way that empowers you.

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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