Why You May Never Feel Adequate to Your Parents

Image courtesy: Hindustan Times

Growing up in dysfunctional households can often lead to a persistent feeling of inadequacy in relation to our parents. The absence of love, care, and affection in our formative years can deeply impact our self-esteem and make us believe that we are perpetually falling short of their expectations.

Therapist Morgan Pommells emphasizes that children of emotionally immature parents commonly grapple with a sense of never being “good enough” due to their parents‘ unrealistic demands, conditional love, emotional manipulation, and inconsistent validation. These experiences can have enduring effects on one’s emotional well-being and often spill over into future romantic relationships.

Several factors contribute to this ongoing feeling of inadequacy:

  1. Conditional Love Based on Achievements: Some parents attach their love to their child’s performance and achievements, implying that their affection hinges on how well their offspring do in life. This can instill a persistent belief of never measuring up.
  2. Unrealistic and Perfectionist Expectations: Parents with impossibly high expectations continually raise the bar, making it impossible for their child to ever meet their standards, leading to a perpetual sense of failure.
  3. Guilt and Manipulation Techniques: Parents may employ guilt and manipulation to maintain control, causing their child to internalize responsibility for their parents’ happiness and fostering feelings of guilt when they fall short.
  4. Inconsistency in Affection and Praise: The erratic oscillation between extreme affection and indifference can leave a child feeling unworthy of their parents’ love, as they struggle to predict and understand the source of this inconsistency.
  5. Comparison with Others: Constant comparisons with siblings, peers, or other children can divert focus onto shortcomings rather than abilities, further reinforcing feelings of inadequacy.

Re-reported from the article originally published in The Hindustan Times

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