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3 Tips for Overcoming the Effects of Highly Critical Parents

Growing up in a home with a highly critical parent can increase your chances of developing a mental health condition later on.

They can also influence your ability to form healthy relationships, the likelihood of you developing substance use issues, and the chances that you’ll have a challenging relationship with yourself.

Understanding how to overcome the aftereffects of having highly critical parents can change the course of your adulthood. Here are three helpful tips:

1. Setting and Enforcing Healthy Boundaries

child being scolded by her motherWhen you are a child, you have to depend on your parents to get your basic needs met. You have to play the game to keep them happy and avoid any type of negative consequences.

When you are brought up by overly critical parents, it’s difficult to establish boundaries. It’s entirely possible that you don’t know how or where to start due to your circumstances.

By the time you reach adulthood, a lot of the damage has already been done. The beauty of adulthood is that you have the option to walk away and make alternative choices for yourself. You’re able to distance yourself from any type of abusive behavior stemming from your parents or similar instances.

In doing so, you can get yourself on a path to emotional well-being. Setting healthy boundaries and sticking to them is key.

Identify what you’re comfortable accepting and what you’re not. Practice how you will communicate these needs of yours. Practice an assertive way to enforce said boundaries. Finally, know you are in control of your needs and wants and you work around your schedule.

2. Learn and Practice Self-Compassion and Self-Care

Once you’ve started distancing yourself and setting your boundaries, you develop a chance to gain some mental clarity. As a child, you’ve been criticized and made to believe that your best isn’t often good enough.

It’s time to connect the dots between the way you were treated during your upbringing and any repercussions now. Negative self-talk is an easy byproduct of this treatment.

To reverse the negative effects, you can start practicing self-compassion. Acknowledge and accept your worth. Recognize your accomplishments over the years. Tell yourself — and listen — that the criticisms you’ve received as a child don’t have to define the present version of you.

It’s easy to give loved ones, or even complete strangers, the grace and kindness you should be giving yourself. Focus on your positive qualities and own them. Don’t be your own harsh critic.

3. Surround Yourself with Positive Influences

As previously mentioned, as a child, it’s necessary to have a parental influence for survival. Having highly critical parents teaches you that love is conditional and your parents are usually tied to your own happiness.

Stop seeking their approval and validation to realize your own worth. It keeps you in a weak position, but also subconsciously carries itself into other relationships and areas of your life.

Surrounding yourself with more supportive influences can work to balance out the negative effects you’ve been living with. Healthy and positive relationships will serve to uplift you, encourage you, and rebuild your self worth.

You can lean on friends, family, or other loved ones to provide support and offer constructive feedback over criticism if that’s what you desire. You can join a support group where you can meet individuals who have experienced similar upbringings. Connecting with someone who understands your history and the current effects you’re dealing with can offer new insight.

There’s also the option to seek professional guidance from a therapist who can offer help within a safe space. They can guide you along with processing any harbored emotions and learn coping strategies to move forward in a productive way.

If you grew up in a household with highly critical parents, you may need more assistance in navigating the current challenges. Contact us to learn more about family therapy.