People who lacked freedom as children often grow up to have these 7 traits

Let’s face it… 

Parenting can be a tough (but also rewarding) gig. 

And despite all the momfluencers, blogs, vlogs, books, and parenting fads out there, there’s no official user manual or “correct” way to do things. 

You have to work off instinct. 

In other words, make it up as you go along. 

But whatever route you choose, there’s no denying that the parenting decisions you make today (right or wrong) will affect your kids later in life. 

It’s scientifically proven!

And that goes double for the offspring of controlling parents. 

But how?

Well, those lacking freedom as a child often grow up with these seven traits.

Any of these sound familiar?

1) They are extremely shy

What’s the difference between authoritative and authoritarian parenting styles?

In one word, it’s independence. 

That’s right. 

Both parenting styles have strict rules and guidelines, but when it comes to discipline, authoritarian parenting leaves no wiggle room for autonomy (self-governance), freethinking, or error. 

In a nutshell, an opportunity for growth. 

Instead, they adopt a “my way or the highway” attitude with no explanation or reason given. 

Ultimately, there’s no support or connection there – just punishment and judgment. 

As a result, studies show that this lack of freedom during childhood can lead to low self-esteem (or shyness) in adulthood. 

In some cases, aggression. 

And despite what you’ve heard, experts claim “shyness” isn’t just something you’re born with. It’s a response to fear (fight-or-flight), which is largely down to the way you were brought up.

 As we all know, shyness can lead to social inadequacy. 

2) They have difficulty forming meaningful relationships

It’s safe to say that shyness and being a social butterfly don’t mix. And while many people confuse introvertism with shyness, there is a difference

For one, introverts can be social (in small doses). Shy individuals, on the other hand, often avoid social functions. 

It scares them. 

As you can imagine, this makes it difficult for them to make friends. 

But why?

Well, it’s different for everyone (of course), but the consensus is that their low self-esteem together with a fear of judgment and rejection (as a child) makes it difficult to trust others. Thus impacting their social skills as an adult. 

In other words, they’re self-conscious. 

What’s more…

Due to their rigid upbringing, they have a warped sense of self. Along with an urge to rebel against the norm later in life (including antisocial behavior). 

This culmination of fear and negative self-preoccupation leads them to engage in unrealistic social comparisons.

In turn…

3) They engage in approval-seeking behavior

In the age of smartphones and social media, it’s hard not to compare ourselves to others. 

We all do it!

In fact, research shows social comparison accounts for up to 12% of our daily thoughts. 

That’s no small percentage. There’s even a whole theory on it! 

But for people who had demanding (or controlling) parents, it goes much deeper than aesthetics or superficial vanity.

And the pressure of not living up to those high expectations in childhood can have a lasting impact late in life. 

Namely, approval-seeking behavior (or validation).

Think about it.

When your best is never good enough, it’s no surprise that your self-esteem (and ego) takes a major hit. 

You lose all sense of self-worth and value. 

As a consequence of this, people may be forced to seek outside validation to bolster their confidence and compensate for the lack of approval they got as a child. 

One way they do this is by being a people pleaser (AKA a door mat). 

Another is struggling to make decisions without first consulting others. All in an attempt to avoid conflict or disappointment. 

That’s why…

4) They constantly second-guess themselves

When you’re given little to no freedom as a child, you’re robbed of the chance to make your own decisions. 

Good or bad – big or small, it’s how we learn, grow, and develop into well-adjusted adults. 

And while parents may think that they’re doing the right thing (perhaps saving them from pressure or pain), it’s ultimately doing them a disservice. 

Simply put…

This lack of carte blanche (or free choice) leaves them ill-equipped to deal with the pressures of adulthood. Because let’s be real here, there won’t always be someone to tell them what to do. 

In fact, inflexible or over-parenting is said to do more harm than good when it comes to promoting independent thought.

The result is an indecisive adult who’s bereft of key problem-solving skills. 

5) They fear failure (and judgment)

Fear – it’s perfectly normal. 

But when it consumes your life to the point where it stops you from making progress, it becomes a problem.

And oftentimes, the reason comes down to childhood. Be it from trauma or a strict (freedomless) upbringing, experts say it’s a learned behavior.

Especially when mistakes lead to punishment.

That’s right!

Children who grew up with critical parents are more likely to suffer from a fear of failure.

There are studies on it. 

What’s more, this pressure to be “perfect,” together with low confidence can lead to “depression and anxiety,” according to Indiana University psychologist Chris Meno.

Something which brings us to the penultimate point on this list. 

6) They may exhibit depression (and other mood disorders)

Aggression, antisocial behavior, low self-esteem, and anxiety…

You name it.

These are just some of the issues associated with people who lacked freedom as a child. 

And according to this study (and several others), depression is at the top of that list. 

Especially when it comes to the authoritarian parenting style. 

Perhaps they were never given the freedom to make decisions on their own. Or maybe expressing emotions was forbidden – even punished. 

Eitherway, their restrictive childhood prevented them from discovering their limits – and in turn, the opportunity to learn to have confidence in their own abilities. 

7) Just call them “Peter Pan”

Ever heard of Adult Child Syndrome?

Also known as Peter Pan (or Wendy) syndrome, it’s exactly how it sounds.

But for the purposes of this article, it’s when someone lacks the emotional maturity to function as an adult.


We all know someone who refused to grow up.

By that I mean, refusing to make decisions, ignoring chores or responsibilities, spending beyond their means, or being emotionally unavailable. Not to mention, not having a plan or being able to stick to a schedule. 

You know, the people that claim “adulting is hard.”

And here’s the thing. 

It’s often due to someone being overparented as a child. 

That’s because they were never given the freedom (or responsibility) to forge their own path in life. And with it, the chance to learn that actions have consequences.




Leila El-Dean

Leila El-Dean

Leila is a passionate writer with a background in photography and art. She has over ten years of experience in branding, marketing, and building websites. She loves travelling and has lived in several countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Spain, and Malta. When she’s not writing (or ogling cats), Leila loves trying new food and drinking copious amounts of Earl Grey tea.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

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