People who grew up with overbearing parents often display these 5 behaviors

It seems that nowadays, parents are more and more involved in their children’s lives well into adulthood. 

In a survey among college students, a staggering 38% of freshmen and 29% of seniors disclosed that their parents frequently stepped in to tackle issues on their behalf. 

It sounds a bit surprising. I mean, college seniors are grown adults. 

But when we really think about it, it makes sense; most parents want the best for their children, and it’s tempting to try to protect them in every way they can. 

The trouble with this is these well-meaning parents can easily cross the line into overbearing territory or, as it’s often put, helicopter parenting. As pointed out by Choosing Therapy, such an upbringing “ can inhibit children from making decisions, solving problems, and learning to cope with emotions and change.” 

Put simply, while intentions may be good, overbearing parenting can follow children into adulthood, shaping their behaviors and usually not in a good way. 

Today, we will uncover five signs that this is the case.

Let’s dive in.

1) They have difficulty with decision-making 

Do you know someone who gets bogged down in the minutiae, unable to decide without dissecting every possible angle? 

It’s a glaring indicator of a lack of confidence in their own judgment. The roots of this behavior can often be traced back to childhood, specifically to those who grew up under the constant scrutiny of overbearing parents

Choosing Therapy highlights that such parenting can sow seeds of self-doubt, leaving individuals questioning their every move. 

Clinical psychologist Wendy Mogel also pointed out in a Huffington Post piece that a telltale sign of having helicopter parents is the compulsion to consult them before making any decisions, big or small.

Adding to this, a survey by, involving more than 12,000 participants, unveiled that 80% of those grappling with self-doubt are caught in the web of over-analysis.

This “paralysis by analysis” is a testament to the fear instilled by the prospect of erring, transforming even the simplest choices into Herculean tasks. 

So, how do you extend a helping hand to someone trapped in this cycle? 

Psychologist Mark Travers lays out a roadmap: steer clear of procrastination, simplify choices, and anchor decisions to personal values. 

These strategies are lifelines for those drowning in indecision. 

If this behavior rings a bell, keep an eye out, as it often coexists with the following trait.

2) They show high levels of anxiety

While anxiety can sprout from a myriad of sources, studies have established a link between controlling parenting styles and the escalation of anxiety symptoms.

This might well be due to the relentless pressure and unrealistic expectations often imposed by overbearing parents. Their incessant need for control and perfection sets an unattainable benchmark for children, embedding a deep-seated fear of failure and disapproval. 

As these children transition into adulthood, the ghosts of these past experiences linger, often resulting in heightened anxiety.

For someone molded by a controlling upbringing, choosing a career path, entering a new relationship, or even navigating social situations might be fraught with anxiety triggers. 

The mere thought of making a decision without the explicit approval of a parent can send them into a spiral of panic.

3) They exhibit depressive symptoms

It’s not easy to talk about, but it can’t be ignored that studies have uncovered a direct link between helicopter parenting and the emergence of depressive symptoms. 

The reality is as clear as it is unsettling.

But, then again, it’s hardly surprising. The link between anxiety and depression is well-documented, with figures like Johann Hari, author of Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression, delving deep into their intertwined nature. 

Put simply, the jump from anxiety, often a byproduct of overbearing parenting, to depression isn’t just a possibility; it’s a well-paved path.

So, what are the telltale signs of depression to be on the lookout for? 

The NHS provides a comprehensive list, but here’s a snapshot of symptoms that might be more apparent:

  • Sadness that refuses to lift.
  • An absence of joy in activities that once sparked enthusiasm.
  • A low sex drive.
  • Persistent low energy. 
  • A retreat from hobbies and interests that were once loved.

Of course, depression is complicated. It’s crucial to understand that depressive symptoms can indeed stem from a variety of sources. Overbearing parenting is just one. 

You need to watch out for the other signs on this list, too…like this next one. 

4) They count their parents as their “best friends”

We all know someone who constantly refers to their mom or dad as their “best friend.” 

While at first glance, this might seem endearing, it can be a red flag signaling a deeper issue, as highlighted by clinical psychologist Wendy Mogel.

Having our parents in the role of best friends can blur the essential boundaries needed for healthy individual development. Instead of seeking out peers for companionship and support, relying too heavily on parents for these roles can stunt emotional growth and social skills. 

It keeps individuals tethered to their family’s influence, making it challenging to form independent thoughts, opinions, and relationships outside that circle.

While a close relationship with one’s parents is undoubtedly valuable, a parent being a best friend suggests a level of dependency that might not be conducive to forging one’s path in life. 

5) They always strive for perfection 

Do you know someone who never settles for “good enough” and pushes themselves to the limit in every task, no matter how small? 

This relentless drive for perfection could stem from their upbringing. Research has shown that helicopter parenting can significantly amplify a child’s tendencies toward perfectionism. 

Interestingly, studies also reveal perfectionists are more likely to become helicopter parents themselves, creating a cycle that perpetuates these high-strung behaviors.

The root of this perfectionism often lies in the sky-high expectations set by parents. 

Growing up under the watchful eye of overly involved parents, children learn to equate their worth with their achievements. Every task, then, becomes a high-stakes game, not just a chance to excel but a necessity to avoid criticism or disappointment.

But it’s not all bad. As you probably know, perfectionism is a double-edged sword. 

On one side, it drives individuals to strive for excellence, pushing them to achieve great things.

On the flip side, it’s often tied to a crippling fear of failure, where the mere possibility of falling short can be paralyzing. 

The bottom line 

Growing up with overbearing parents can shape behaviors in ways that last well into adulthood. 

From struggling to make decisions to battling anxiety, perfectionism, and more, the impact is real. 

But awareness is the first step towards change. Let’s break the cycle.

As always, I hope you found this post valuable. 

Until next time. 

Picture of Mal James

Mal James

Originally from Ireland, Mal is a content writer, entrepreneur, and teacher with a passion for self-development, productivity, relationships, and business. As an avid reader, Mal delves into a diverse range of genres, expanding his knowledge and honing his writing skills to empower readers to embark on their own transformative journeys. In his downtime, Mal can be found on the golf course or exploring the beautiful landscapes and diverse culture of Vietnam, where he is now based.

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