7 problematic things parents do that can make their children insecure, withdrawn, drug-dependent, or otherwise worse off as they grow up
- Parenting behaviors — from being over-involved to constantly stressed out to emotionally abusive— can have lasting impacts from childhood all the way up to adulthood.
- Abusive parenting during childhood may lead to a greater likelihood of developing age-related diseases.
- Over-involved parenting also may lead to feelings of entitlement and less self-efficacy when you get older.
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For better or worse, how your parents behaved when you grew up has had — and likely will have — a lasting impact on who you are today.
Clinical and research psychologists have studied how adults suffered from poor parenting for decades. Whether your mom or dad was over-involved in your life or neglectful, there are negative consequences to certain types of parental behavior.
While young children emulate their parents early on, adolescents and adults who recognize negative behavior can manage the influence parents have on them, said Carl Pickhardt, a psychologist and the author of “Who Stole My Child?: Parenting through the Four Stages of Adolescence.”
“Parents are hugely influential for who [their children] are and how they act,” Pickhardt told Business Insider. “However, what mediates that effect is the decision by the child to want to decide to follow that example or to differentiate from that.”
Here are seven ways your parents’ behavior growing up may have had a negative impact on who you are today.
Growing up with alcohol or drug dependent parents can lead children to take on the caretaking role early in life, Mark Borg, Jr., a NYC-based clinical psychologist and a psychoanalyst, told Business Insider.
In turn, kids may lose out on a childhood to take care of their parents. As they themselves get older, this could lead to trouble having fun or letting their guard down, according to Portland Lifestyle Counseling.
If children recognize their parents are unhappy, they start performing in a way they know can cheer their mom or dad up, Borg said. Children grow up being used to taking care of their parents by performing behaviors they know will please them, but might not be what they want.
In adulthood, these children continue performing for other people instead of being vulnerable and open with their emotions.
“You’re basically preforming to make your parents feel better so they can be more active and parent you,” Borg said. “What they wind up doing inadvertently as adults is they wind up being unable to take in what other people have to offer. The caretaking works against being vulnerable.”
Researchers found that if parents emphasized control when their children grew up, young adults reported having lower levels of self-efficacy, yet greater feelings of entitlement.
When parents had open communication and adequately set rules, young adults felt higher levels of family satisfaction than those with controlling parents.
Stressed parents who lash out can scare their children. To cope, kids develop “defenses” against strong feelings of fear or sadness to adapt to their environment, according to Lisa Firestone, a psychologist and author of “Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice: A Revolutionary Program to Counter Negative Thoughts and Live Free from Imagined Limitations.”
While these defenses work as emotional barriers to feeling pain when you’re young, they can lead to trouble opening up emotionally with others — including your own kids — into adulthood.
“These early adaptations may have served us well when we were young, but they can hurt us as adults, particularly as parents,” Firestone wrote in Psychology Today.
While “snowplow parents,” or mothers and fathers who bulldoze obstacles out of their children’s path as they grow, may think they are helping their children avoid challenges, they are actually doing the opposite.
Unlike helicopter parents who hover, snowplow parents “smash down” obstacles usually by using their wealth, status, and sense of privilege, wrote Peter Gray, a research professor of psychology at Boston College, in a blog post on Psychology Today.
These parents place great value on the outward appearance of success, and, snowplow parenting, at it’s most extreme, comes at the price tag of tens of thousands of dollars, Gray wrote.
But snowplow parenting doesn’t adequately prepare kids for adulthood and could ultimately backfire by transmitting feelings of anxiety onto a child, Graham Davey, a professor of Psychology at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, wrote in a blog on Psychology Today.
“Given that genetic inheritance is not an overwhelming contributor to the variance in our anxiety levels, this strongly suggests that anxiety may somehow be socially ‘transmitted’ within the family,” Davey wrote, although the transmission may go both ways, also from child to parent.