How to Be Good Enough for Your Parents (Maybe Not What You Think)

If you had to ask, “How do I become good enough for my parents?” then I got some bad news for you—you probably have toxic parents, which means you were emotionally invalidated, gaslighted, and manipulated to believe you had to be “perfect” all the time.

You probably didn’t want to hear that, but if your parents were good enough, they simply wouldn’t make, or at least let, you feel that way.

So I’m sticking to that—if you had to ask it, then you likely come from a dysfunctional family, and this post is for you.

On the other hand, if you’re a normal child, then I hope this post still helps.

This post is sort of a meta dive into that question, which I argue can simply be reduced to “How do I become good enough?” But this shorter question is a bit dubious, too, because you are good enough! And there would be no one you’d like to please but yourself.

I hope that as early as now you realize that even though small children are wired to please their parents, you shouldn’t, especially over the long haul.

Pleasing your parents should come from a position of giving, not dependence—you please them because you want to, not because you need to.

So be good enough for you.

Related: Why Am I Never Good Enough for My Parents?
how to be good enough for your parents

How to Be Good Enough for Your Parents a.k.a. How to Be Good Enough for Yourself

Note: The first three items are especially for when you’re still living with your parents.

1. Get all the help you can.

You do need help if you come from a dysfunctional home. The earlier you accept this, the better.

If you can’t afford professional help, you can seek guidance from authority figures you trust like a teacher, a school counselor, or a pastor.

The important thing is you have someone you can open up to and who can point you in the right direction considering the circumstances you’re caught in.

Things will get better but you have to have some direction and order in your formative years. Build the right habits and beliefs.

2. Lie low at home.

Don’t try to stir drama. Stay as invisible as you can. Be a “good kid.”

Having toxic parents can derail you from your dreams, to put it lightly.

Soon you’ll be out of there so you have to be strong and be able to not take things personally. Yes, living with toxic parents is a skill. The better you fare—or if things suck less at home—the more you can focus on what really matters. Which brings us to the next point.

3. Do good in college/university.

I cannot emphasize this enough.

Your future depends on it. The degree may not matter much. But the skills you develop and the network you build do.

Do good and be someone that people or companies would want to work with.

Listen—this is easier said than done. It might seem this is impossible to achieve because of your toxic parents’ influence on your life, but set your eyes on the prize.

Be wary of partying and people who are only in for a “good time.” Do well with the opportunity presented to you first. You can have “fun” later.

Related: Nothing I Do Is Good Enough for My Parents (What to Do)

4. Regular exercise.

You may feel lethargic in general, partly because of a sense of learned helplessness or hopelessness, but I can attest that regular exercise betters the mood, and therefore you can do daily tasks better and more efficiently.

If you’re feeling lazy, don’t believe it! Just make it dead easy for you to do some exercise that you just prep and go without thinking about it. For example, prepare your running (or walking) outfit so you’ll just mindlessly jump into it next time.

Don’t let yourself fall into the spiral of allowing immobility to rule and then feel worse because now you’re feeling lazier.

It may be better if you can do it with other people. Some physical activity with social interaction can be a great combo!

5. Be wary of “cool” stuff like cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs.

You may be feeling a sense of “abandon” and the way you’re coping is harmful—especially if they’re legal.

This comes from a place of both hopelessness and a YOLO urge—smoking or drinking or taking drugs or whatnot feels good at the moment. But in reality you’re only trying to mask the pain from having gone through a rough upbringing.

It can also lead to addiction or building bad habits at the least. Trust me, you can do much better than that. If you haven’t tried them, don’t even think about it!

Related: My Parents Make Me Feel Bad about Myself (10 Tips!)

6. Find your people.

Or person if you prefer just one. Or a couple. Your call.

Having real friends with whom you can be and tell anything can keep you grounded and in check, especially if you have similar aspirations.

Heck, you can even find them on the internet. Get yourself out there through online forums or whatnot.

It feels nice to know you are not alone and that there are people who can sympathize with you because they’re going through similar experiences.

7. Stop seeking validation from your parents.

Yes, by asking how to be good enough for your parents, you’re seeking validation. This has to stop.

Remember, you are now on a journey to becoming good enough for yourself, not for anyone else. You can learn just about anything these days, and you can identify how you’re faring—without your parents’ approval.

Seeking validation only slows you down—you’re wasting your energies on it instead of doing what can be your life’s work.

8. Be your own person.

You may somewhat agree on this, but what if you’ve grown to be nothing like your parents? What if everything you believed in is opposite to theirs?

That’s quite extreme and perhaps hypothetical, but in any case you should remind yourself, for whom are you striving to be good enough?

And if your parents abused or maltreated you, it makes no sense to be someone or something to their liking.

Related: Why Do I Feel Like a Failure to My Parents? (How to Stop It?)

9. Take on challenges.

Perhaps you’ve developed an attitude of giving up even before an enterprise begins. Or if you decide to tackle it, do just the minimum work. Or you allow yourself to get distracted because you are avoiding to do the work in the first place.

This is understandable, especially if you didn’t have parents that supported your development.

You may need a bit more effort to learn the discipline of solving problems or simply facing daily life, the mundane. But the skill of being there and being able to focus on a time-consuming undertaking is one of the best you can hone.

10. Celebrate your accomplishments and victories.

You’ve likely gotten used to no one giving you some credit for the hard work and effort you put into something you find meaningful. That may be contributing to your overall gloomy spirit.

Recognize how far you’ve gone. Recognize how much you’re progressing and how it allows you to know a bit more about yourself, day after day. This practice makes you a better person!

Trust me, the fact that you decided to start and stick to the work you believe in is itself worthy of celebration!

Related: My Parents Make Me Feel Worthless (14 Lessons to Contemplate)

11. The gift of self-studying.

I encourage you to make time to study on your own. Mainly because no one really taught you, perhaps even the most basic life skills.

You may want to start learning how to reparent yourself.

You can exploit the internet for this. Find a medium you enjoy:

  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • E-Books
  • Forums
  • Online courses

A lot of them you can get for free. The main factor here would be how willing you are to do it.

12. Let go of the idea that your parents are “perfect” (or even good enough).

For many years you believed this (and that’s normal). But at some point you’d start wondering where all the hostility and pain and confusion are coming from, and you’d discover that your parents are also people who likely suffered the fate you did, at the hands of their parents.

Letting this idea go is like letting go of a burden that’s unjustly given to you but you felt you were responsible to carry. You have to live your life.

13. Learn to accept yourself and your circumstances.

It is the way to move forward.

You discover things about yourself that you may like or dislike. But they are part of you and I would argue that you can use them to create or do good things, probably things that can help others.

Coming from a dysfunctional home, you became quite a unique person with a lot of things to say or express—use this to your advantage.

It may be hard, but like Viktor Frankl said, you can find meaning in suffering.

But acceptance isn’t all that bad. In accepting, you can also seek help based on your history and uniqueness.

I feel that acceptance is quite underrated. A lot of people go through life denying who and what they are, and then life becomes harder than it should be.

Photo by Lukas Bato on Unsplash

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