People who lacked good role models growing up often display these 6 behaviors 

We all know that role models are meant to be positive influences that we look up to as children.

But what happens when you don’t have anyone to guide and inspire you as you mature? 

You wouldn’t be wrong to assume that some people who don’t have mentors as children end up with a huge chip on their shoulders, while others become dysfunctional adults. It’s a sad but true reality. 

Role models can be our parents, grandparents, teachers, or influential people who provide us with guidance and who teach us essential skills that we use in adulthood. 

But when we grow up without good role models, we develop behaviors such as an inability to problem-solve, handle conflict, or work on our self-esteem. 

Maybe you didn’t have the perfect role model when you were young and feel like you got the raw end of the deal. It’s left you slightly bitter, resentful, or sad that you didn’t have the same support and opportunities as others. 

But remember, just because you weren’t dealt the right cards doesn’t mean that you can’t make the necessary changes you want for yourself today. 

In this guide, people who lacked good role models growing up often display these 6 behaviors that I explore in a lot more detail below. 

1) They lack motivation. 

Role models are people we see in a positive light, and as children, we’re influenced by those we wish to emulate. 

As kids and young adults, we pay attention to the way the people we admire handle conflict, deal with everyday life, and communicate with others. We also look to them for guidance and learn about the attributes that we’d like to incorporate as we get older. 

These observations and interactions help us develop a positive perspective and attitude. It helps us build our self-esteem because we not only see good in other people but also in ourselves. 

Growing up with this perspective creates a sense of purpose and builds an inner motivation to succeed and move forward. 

Think about it this way… 

As an adult, when you’re going through something challenging, you can rely on the ways or characteristics of your mentor to help you manage your own difficulties. 

But when you don’t have someone to look up to, admire, and learn from, how can you possibly develop purpose and the motivation to do better? 

If I think about who’s been a true role model in my life, and this might sound typical, it’s got to be my mom.

I just remember whether, through family losses or unforeseen conflict, my mother always adopted a steadfast attitude and the belief that we could overcome anything.  I can’t imagine not having learned this as a child. 

Children and young adults miss out on developing resilience and an inner motivation to pursue their dreams and goals when they lack good role models. 

2) They don’t trust easily. 

When you have someone you can depend on in your life, it helps you understand what trust is.

You know the phrase, “Trust is earned.” Well, as a child or an adolescent, we learn to trust other people based on our experiences with them. 

If someone’s experience of a role model is deception and mistrust because they never kept their promises, it’s incredibly hard to look at people in a trustworthy light. 

Because all you’ve really experienced is disappointment, you eventually tell yourself that you can’t rely on most people

What’s worse is if your trust’s been broken more than once as a child. You find yourself holding onto those memories even as an adult. 

In romantic relationships, hurt and mistrust appear in the form of jealousy. 

Without healthy role models, children grow up questioning others’ intentions and motives.

They don’t open up easily and they may struggle to be vulnerable around those closest to them. This can seriously hinder their ability to form lasting connections. 

3) They struggle to deal with problems. 

When you don’t have a strong leader or guide in your life, you have to figure things out on your own.

As children, our parents and grandparents are usually there to teach us how to deal with problems, and we take these lessons into adulthood.

While many of us have to navigate through new and unfamiliar challenges without anyone to hold our hands, we already have the foundation to cope with change because of positive guides from our past. 

These guides help us develop moral integrity and a no-give-up attitude so we don’t become stuck or overwhelmed by issues that come our way.

But when they’re absent, you have to teach yourself how to manage overwhelming situations. 

Negative role models can influence our perceptions and thought processes, and create self-doubt.

Take an example where a parent constantly turns to alcohol when times get tough. Many young people end up relying on substances themselves because this is what they witnessed growing up

There’s a higher likelihood of substance abuse in youth and adults who’ve had poor role models in their lives when they try to deal with problems. 

if someone displays these behaviors their self esteem is quite fragile People who lacked good role models growing up often display these 6 behaviors 

4) They have low self-esteem. 

We build self-esteem through our interactions with others, and a large part of this is our ability to identify with the people we admire. 

But if you don’t have that person who serves as a positive influence and someone you can respect, it compromises healthy self-esteem

People who grew up with bad role models tend to emulate the negative behaviors of these individuals.

Because self-esteem is built on likeness to the people they consider role models, when they witness bad choices or poor behavior, they may justify it.  They end up trying to make sense of their world negatively and find themselves struggling with insecurity.

When things don’t work out, they question their worth and doubt their ability to overcome difficult situations. 

I think that we can agree that the absence of a role model certainly has a profound impact on one’s self-worth and personal growth. 

5) They’re self-reliant to a degree. 

People who don’t have worthy mentors as children tend to develop their own sense of independence. They have to rely on themselves to problem-solve, make decisions, and take care of themselves. 

This can go one of two ways. 

They can mature into adults who become strong and independent individuals who adopt a no-nonsense attitude because they know what it means to be their biggest support. 

On the other hand, the absence of nurturing and guidance can make them so headstrong that their “self-reliance” hurts their relationships with others, including their ability to open up and connect with others. 

They may be apprehensive around strangers, and if they are in a relationship, they want to take control. 

While you could admire someone with such a strong sense of determination, when things do fall apart in their lives, they don’t know how to deal with it.

With an attitude of not needing anyone else but themselves, they become devastated and find it hard to maintain their independence. 

That’s because they’ve never had anyone tell them that it’s okay to fall sometimes. 

The absence of strong mentors means that they look to themselves for answers, but when life throws a curveball their way, their entire structure and sense of self come crashing down. 

6) They are their biggest critics. 

We all have moments where we think to ourselves, “How could I have made that decision?” We can be critical of ourselves, but to a point, because we know that failure is just part of life and that it’s okay to make mistakes. 

The reason for this mindset is that we’ve been blessed with people who taught us not to be too hard on ourselves and to get back on our feet and carry on.

But if you haven’t had that person in your corner to tell you that everything will be fine when you feel like you’ve failed, you become very critical of yourself.

I understand that people who’ve lacked supportive and positive leaders as children tend to rely on themselves. 

They believe that they are their only means of support because there’s never really been anyone else to depend on. Even when it feels like everything is going wrong, they don’t give themselves any slack for what they’ve achieved or overcome and only focus on the negatives. 

So when failure happens, they’re extremely critical of themselves and find it hard to move on. 

You can’t deny that having a role model in your life can help you learn the behaviors and traits that you need to be healthy, happy, and successful.

But even if you had a difficult childhood growing up, you can still make decisions that can positively shape your present and future. 

Remember that no matter what you’re going through, you’re not broken. 

Even as adults, we can still look up to good people who inspire us and will continue to help us achieve our goals and much, much more. 

If you see the behaviors of people who lacked good role models growing up in yourself or someone close to you, it might be scary, but it’s never too late to make a change. 

Picture of Marcel Deer

Marcel Deer

Marcel is a journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur. When not obsessing over his man cave or the latest tech, he’s failing helplessly at training his obnoxious rescue dog ‘Boogies’.

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