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Adulthood Consequences of being Raised by Harsh Parents


I’ve written previously about different parenting styles, but today I want to talk in more detail about the effect of “harsh” (i.e. authoritarian, tiger parent) parenting on children, and how this translates into adulthood.

Often these parenting styles are adopted out of a desire to see children exceed, however it can lead to children making more mistakes.This is because when children are worried about their parents’ reactions, it takes up space in their mind.This causes difficulties such as trouble focusing; forgetfulness; and poor attention to detail.This causes further anxiety, sending them into ‘survival mode’, and operating from their amygdala (emotion centre), rather than operating from their prefrontal cortex (executive function and logical thinking brain).Kids who grow up being parented under these styles often spend all their time worrying how their actions will be received, and thus aren’t able to spend their time thinking logically in a state of calm.


How does this follow us into adulthood? Children who have learned to fear a loved one’s reaction to their behaviour often grow into adults who are terrified of making (and admitting) mistakes. Why? Because it’s been ingrained in them that anything less than perfection is unacceptable. It has been their experience that making mistakes is dangerous, and they will spend significant time operating from their amygdala, mitigating every possible threat. Understandably this is exhausting, so it’s hardly surprising that these grownups do what they can to avoid mistakes. They may present as being people-pleasers; hyper-sensitive to perceived criticism; workaholics; engage in excessive reassurance-seeking; come across as highly defensive; and often experience burnout. It can also manifest in low self-esteem; negative self-concept and highly maladaptive core beliefs such as “I’m worthless”.


Our core beliefs are the lenses through which we see ourselves, those around us and the world in general, so if we have maladaptive ones, it can really impair our functioning.It increases the risk of developing anxiety disorders such as social phobia; and depression.Whilst it isn’t possible to un-ring a bell, it is possible to change future outcomes.To do that we need to first understand how we got to where we are; what is keeping us stuck; and where it is we want to be.Not only can our psychologists work with you to understand this, they can help you develop a roadmap to let you #bemorethanwhoyouare


If you are interested in discussing any of the points further, we would be more than happy to hear from you. Feel free to send an email to admin@youmatterpsychologists.com.au and we will answer any questions you may have.

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