Growing up, having strict parents is not uncommon. Abiding by certain rules like curfew, maintaining a certain GPA, and listening to your parents are things many teenagers had to live with. But having a very critical set of parents means something almost entirely different.

Receiving constant criticism from your parents has lasting effects long past moving out of the house. When the two people in the world who are supposed to support and guide you are offering negative feedback at every turn, it is completely normal to develop a bit of trauma.

But what are the exact mental health side effects of such guardianship?

Immediate effects of critical parents

Going through your formative years as a teen with critical parents will have both immediate and more long-term effects. The immediate effects are more likely to be noticed as personality traits rather than actions. The following are a few of the more common effects of having critical parents.

  • Lack of motivation: If your parents are constantly criticizing your performance at school, home, or any other aspect of your life, it can stir up negative emotions surrounding the subject of their critiques. Having this pressure to perform at a certain level in combination with your disdain may lead to a lack of motivation.
  • Tendency to procrastinate: This is very similar as to why you may be facing a lack of motivation. It is not exciting to pursue activities that your parents so heavily criticize for, but outright refusal to participate, such as homework, is probably not an option. This is why procrastination is so common.
  • Behavioral issues in school: A child who has problems at home may have some sort of behavioral issue at school. If you are not receiving the care, attention, or desired results from your parents, it is natural to act out. Most of the time, this misbehavior occurs in a classroom setting.

Long-term effects

Having such a complex relationship with your parents as a child or adolescent can lead to mental health struggles down the line as well. These may appear earlier in adulthood or later in life. Additionally, these may all happen to some degree or not at all—everyone is different.

  • Poor self-image: Our parents are supposed to be role models for learning how to love and respect ourselves. If you grew up in a household in which your guardians were constantly berating you or simply not approving of you, you may develop a self-esteem complex. This may lead to a deflated sense of self or lack of a positive self-image.
  • Increase in depression and anxiety: Being anxious concerning your parent’s approval or depressed when you do not receive it is a natural reaction. The trauma caused by growing up in a critical household such as that may lead to increased levels of depression throughout your entire life.
  • Issues in future relationships: Much like your self-image, we are taught what romantic relationships should look like from our parents. If you have a distorted view of what love looks like, it is a natural assumption that you may struggle with relationships as an adult.

Although your relationship with your parents may have been rocky at best, it is important to note that this relationship does not define you. You can move onward and grow past the trauma this dynamic might have caused.

Try finding activities that bring you joy that you do not have to impress anyone else with. Find something low-pressure and fun, like coloring, yoga, or gardening.

Relationships with parents can be difficult, but therapy makes navigating these waters easier. Reach out today to get started with a mental health professional like myself.