People who grew up with indifferent parents usually display these 8 behaviors as adults

Growing up with indifferent parents can leave lasting impressions that are often reflected in our behaviors as adults.

Such parents, preoccupied with their own lives or indifferent towards their children’s emotional needs, inadvertently sow seeds of behavioral patterns that manifest later in life.

In my years of experience as a child development expert, I’ve observed a set of 8 common behaviors frequently displayed by adults who were raised by indifferent parents.

These behaviors are not definitive, but indicative of the emotional baggage carried over from a childhood lacking in warmth and nurturing.

These behaviors often serve as coping mechanisms, developed subconsciously to navigate the emotional vacuum left by such parents. They range from issues with self-esteem and trust to difficulties in forming intimate relationships.

1) Struggle with self-worth

A common behavior observed in adults who grew up with indifferent parents is a profound struggle with self-worth. This struggle stems from the basic need for parental affirmation and validation that was unmet during childhood.

When parents are indifferent, they tend to neglect their children’s emotional needs. They might not express love, appreciation, or pride towards their child, leading the child to question their worthiness of such emotions.

This can have a lasting impact, causing them to carry these doubts into adulthood.

As adults, these individuals might constantly seek approval from others to compensate for the lack of validation they received as children. They may also downplay their achievements or find it hard to accept compliments, seeing them as undeserved or insincere.

This struggle with self-worth can also manifest as perfectionism. The individual might strive for perfection in an attempt to win approval or avoid criticism. However, this can lead to burnout and stress, as they set unrealistically high standards for themselves.

2) Difficulty in forming intimate relationships

Another behavior commonly seen in adults who were raised by indifferent parents is difficulty in forming intimate relationships. This stems from their childhood experiences, where emotional connection and warmth may have been lacking.

Growing up, they may have learned to suppress their emotions or needs to avoid disappointment or rejection from their parents.

This can translate into difficulties in expressing emotions or needs in their adult relationships. They may fear vulnerability, seeing it as a potential invitation for rejection.

Moreover, these individuals might struggle with trust issues. The indifference of their parents could lead them to believe that they cannot rely on others for emotional support. Consequently, they may find it hard to trust their partners, fearing they might be let down.

This difficulty in forming intimate relationships isn’t limited to romantic partnerships but can extend to friendships as well. They may keep people at arm’s length, preferring superficial connections over deeper, more emotionally taxing ones.

3) Tendency towards people-pleasing

A tendency towards people-pleasing is another behavior that often manifests in adults who grew up with indifferent parents. This behavior is rooted in the child’s desperate attempts to gain their parent’s attention, affection, or approval.

Growing up in an emotionally barren environment, these individuals may have learned to go to great lengths to please their parents, hoping that their efforts would eventually earn them the love and attention they craved.

In their minds, pleasing others became synonymous with their worth and acceptability.

Carrying this mindset into adulthood, these individuals often find themselves bending over backward to please others, even at their own expense. They might struggle with setting boundaries and could easily be taken advantage of due to their eagerness to please and avoid conflict.

The fear of rejection or disappointment that often underlies this behavior can result in them suppressing their own needs and wants.

They may habitually agree with others or go along with plans they’re not comfortable with to keep the peace and maintain relationships.

4) High level of self-reliance

Another behavior commonly exhibited by adults who grew up with indifferent parents is a high degree of self-reliance. This trait often develops as a survival mechanism in response to the emotional neglect experienced during their formative years.

Children in such environments quickly learn that they cannot depend on their parents for emotional support or assistance. They are forced to become self-reliant, developing skills and strategies to cope with challenges on their own.

While being self-reliant can be a positive trait, extreme self-reliance can lead to problems in adulthood.

These individuals may find it difficult to ask for help even when they need it, viewing it as a sign of weakness or fearing rejection. They might also struggle to work in teams or delegate tasks, believing they can only rely on themselves.

This high level of self-reliance can also contribute to feelings of isolation and loneliness, as these individuals may unknowingly push others away by appearing too independent or unapproachable.

5) Difficulty in expressing emotions

you probably had a pretty tough childhood People who grew up with indifferent parents usually display these 8 behaviors as adults

Adults who grew up with indifferent parents often struggle with expressing their emotions. This difficulty originates from their childhood experiences, where showing emotions might have been met with dismissal or indifference.

Growing up, they may have learned to suppress their feelings to avoid further emotional neglect from their parents. Over time, this suppression becomes a habit, making it challenging for them to express their emotions effectively in adulthood.

This inability to express emotions can lead to difficulties in personal relationships. They might come across as detached or unemotional, leading to misunderstandings or conflicts with their partners, friends, or colleagues.

Moreover, suppressing emotions can also impact mental health, leading to stress, anxiety, or even depression over time. Emotional expression is an essential aspect of mental well-being, and when suppressed, it can lead to a host of psychological issues.

6) Habit of self-blaming

The habit of self-blaming is another common behavior noticed in adults who grew up with indifferent parents. This tendency to blame oneself often arises from an attempt to rationalize their parents’ indifference during their childhood.

Children naturally look up to their parents and seek their approval. When parents are indifferent or dismissive, children may conclude that they themselves are the problem. They might believe that they are not good enough or that they did something wrong to deserve such treatment.

Carrying this belief into adulthood, these individuals often blame themselves when things go wrong. They might take responsibility for situations beyond their control, carrying unnecessary guilt and shame.

This habit of self-blaming can lead to low self-esteem and a negative self-image. It can also result in avoidance behaviors, where the individual avoids taking risks or pursuing opportunities for fear of failure or rejection.

7) Deep-seated fear of rejection

Another behavior prevalent among adults who were raised by indifferent parents is a deep-seated fear of rejection. This fear often stems from the repeated experiences of emotional rejection they faced in their formative years.

Children who grow up with indifferent parents may constantly feel rejected due to the lack of emotional connection and warmth. This repeated rejection can lead them to develop a strong fear of experiencing similar emotional pain in their adult life.

This fear can manifest in various ways. It might make them avoid situations where there’s a possibility of rejection, limiting their opportunities and experiences. They may also put up walls or keep people at a distance to protect themselves from potential emotional harm.

Moreover, this fear of rejection can lead to anxiety and stress, affecting their mental health and overall well-being. It can also impact their relationships, as they might struggle with vulnerability or intimacy due to the fear of being rejected.

8) Strong desire for control

The final behavior we’ll discuss that is typically displayed by adults raised by indifferent parents is a strong desire for control. This desire often originates from the unpredictability and emotional instability of their childhood environment.

Growing up, they may have felt helpless and at the mercy of their parents’ indifference. The lack of control over their emotional well-being could lead them to develop a strong need for control in other aspects of their life, as a way to compensate and feel safe.

This could manifest as micromanaging in work settings or obsessive planning in their personal life. They might also struggle with spontaneity or changes in plans, as it threatens their sense of control.

While having control can provide a sense of security, excessive control-seeking behavior can lead to stress and anxiety. It can also strain relationships, as it might make others feel suffocated or controlled.

Path to healing and personal growth

Recognizing these behaviors is the first step toward healing and personal growth. If you find yourself relating to them, know that you’re not alone, and it’s never too late to embark on a journey towards healing.

Growing up with indifferent parents can present challenges, but it doesn’t have to dictate your future. Understanding how your upbringing has shaped your behaviors offers valuable insights, empowering you to make conscious changes.

Seeking professional support, such as therapy or counseling, can be instrumental in navigating this journey. Therapists offer tools and strategies to manage and overcome these behaviors, promoting emotional well-being.

Additionally, practicing self-care through activities like meditation, journaling, or exercise can enhance emotional stability and resilience. These practices facilitate reconnecting with your emotions, fostering self-love, and building healthier relationships.

Remember, healing is a process, not an endpoint. It requires patience and self-compassion. Regardless of your past, you deserve love and happiness. Your journey towards healing reflects your strength and resilience.

Picture of Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang blends Eastern and Western perspectives in her approach to self-improvement. Her writing explores the intersection of cultural identity and personal growth. Mia encourages readers to embrace their unique backgrounds as a source of strength and inspiration in their life journeys.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.