People who grew up with critical parents often display these 9 behaviors

Growing up with critical parents can leave an indelible mark on our lives.

The blaming, the finger-pointing…we didn’t understand it as children, but it’s these patterns that shaped us as adults.

In fact, the trauma from this over-criticism can translate into certain unhealthy behaviors in adulthood.

So what do these behaviors look like?

They can vary, but there are some common patterns. Regardless, recognizing them is the first step towards breaking the cycle.

And if you want to break yours, this article is for you.

In this article, we’re going to delve into some of the most common behaviors displayed by people who grew up with critical parents.

Ready for some self-reflection? If so, let’s get started!

1) Overthinking and self-doubt

Overthinking can often be a result of constant scrutiny in childhood. So if you grew up with critical parents, there’s a good chance you’re no stranger to it.

Because when your every move is criticized, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of second-guessing your decisions as an adult. You constantly question your abilities, even though everyone else can see that you’re fully capable.

To break this cycle, you need to acknowledge where your overthinking comes from. Know that even when you were overly criticized as a child, you always did your best anyway.

It’s okay to feel self-doubt from time to time, but not to the point where you’re paralyzed by it.

Remember, everyone makes mistakes. It’s all part of being human, so be a little easier on yourself, especially when you make mistakes.

If your parents weren’t able to provide you with the same care and compassion as a kid, you owe it to yourself now as an adult.

2) Perfectionism

I myself have had overly critical, strict parents.

Growing up, they always set high standards. They meant well, but their criticism often left me feeling like nothing I did was ever good enough.

It drove me to constantly strive for perfection in my adult life.

Whether it was my career, relationships, or even hobbies, I always felt the need to be the best. If I wasn’t doing it perfectly, I wasn’t doing enough.

I’ve since realized that this relentless pursuit of perfection is not healthy.

What changed my life is realizing that no one is perfect, and that’s okay!

What makes life worth living isn’t perfection—it’s the accidental mistakes you make along the way that somehow turn into something beautiful; it’s your flaws that make you uniquely you.

3) Difficulty accepting compliments

Ironically, for those of us who grew up with critical parents, receiving compliments can be uncomfortable.

Because when you’re accustomed to hearing about what you’re doing wrong, it can be hard to believe when someone tells you you’re doing something right.

And it makes sense, because receiving constant criticism in your formative years surely makes you struggle to accept positive feedback in your adult life.

Because when your brain is hardwired to anticipate negative remarks, it can be challenging to process praise.

But everyone deserves to get credit where it’s due. 

It’s okay to feel uncomfortable or to have difficulty accepting praise, but don’t ever think you don’t deserve it, because you do!

4) Fear of expressing emotions

Expressing how you feel can feel like treading on eggshells if you’ve grown up with critical parents. In many such households, showing emotions might have been seen as a sign of weakness or is actively discouraged.

As a result, many adults from these environments find it challenging to be vulnerable or express their feelings. They may choose to bottle up their emotions instead, making them stressed and anxious most of the time.

What they struggle to understand, as grown-ups, is that emotions are not weaknesses. They are a natural and healthy part of the human experience.

So even if you had a hard time practicing open communication and emotional honesty as a child, don’t worry—it’s never too late to foster deeper connections with others as an adult.

5) Overly critical of others

pic1831 People who grew up with critical parents often display these 9 behaviors

When criticism is a constant feature of your upbringing, it’s not uncommon to find yourself mirroring that behavior in adulthood.

You might even be overly critical of others, even for minor mistakes.

It’s not okay to be too hard on others, just like it’s not okay to be too hard on yourself. That’s why the key to practicing kindness and compassion toward the people around you is to do the same for yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should be ashamed of yourself for being overly critical; in fact, just the fact that you’re self-aware enough to reflect on your own behavior is enough for you to have the potential to be better.

Remember, everyone has their own journey and makes mistakes, just like us. The world could use more kindness, so why not give it when you can?

6) Difficulty with self-love

For those of us who grew up with critical parents, self-love can feel like an elusive concept. You might find it hard to believe in your worth or feel deserving of love and respect.

Please know that you are not alone in this struggle. Many others who’ve had similar experiences grapple with these feelings, too.

But self-love is not something that happens overnight. It’s a journey that requires patience and compassion towards yourself.

The key is to remember that you are deserving of love—not just from others, but from yourself, too.

You are unique, valuable, and irreplaceable. So be kind to yourself, acknowledge your achievements, and love yourself, flaws and all.

In the end, unconditional love is the most powerful thing you could give yourself.

7) Constant need for validation

There were times in my life when I felt an overwhelming need for validation.

Whether it was from friends, colleagues, or even strangers, I craved their approval to feel good about myself.

It was only recently that I realized that this was a direct result of my upbringing, where approval was hard to come by.

If this is you, too, know that you’re not alone—and this constant need for validation is not a life sentence.

So don’t blame yourself for it. You’re not too needy—it’s simply a symptom of past experiences, not a reflection of your worth.

You are enough, just as you are.

8) Avoidance of confrontation

If you grew up with critical parents, confrontation may be something you instinctively avoid. That’s why negative experiences from the past can sometimes make confrontation seem threatening or overwhelming.

You might not know how to stand up for your needs, or you might go to great lengths to avoid conflicts, even when they’re necessary.

But although it may feel uncomfortable, facing confrontation is part of having healthy relationships and personal growth. 

Instead of thinking about it as an argument that you need to win, think of it as an avenue that could help you express your feelings and stand your ground respectfully.

Remember, your feelings and needs are valid and deserve to be heard. It’s okay to speak up for yourself. It takes practice, but with time, it can become a lot less daunting.

9) The power to change lies within you

No matter your upbringing or past experiences, the most important thing to remember is this: 

The power to change lies within you.

You are not destined to repeat the patterns of your past. You have the power to choose a different path.

Every day brings a new opportunity for growth and change. It might not be easy, and it certainly takes time, but when you believe in your ability to evolve and in your strength and resilience, anything is possible.

Your past may have influenced you, but it does not define you.

You define you.

Final thoughts: Healing is a journey

Renowned psychologist Carl Rogers once said, “The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”

This statement holds profound truth when it comes to personal growth and healing.

That’s why being aware of these behaviors does not mean you’re destined to be bound by them. By recognizing them, you’re claiming your power to challenge them and carve out your own path.

Though healing is not an easy process, it is a rewarding one—and it’s definitely worth it.

Picture of Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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