There are a lot of things your parents can and should be doing for you, and making you feel bad about yourself certainly is not one of them.
Your parents may make you feel bad about yourself through a bunch of ways. One question you should ask yourself is, “Is this warranted?” I bet that 95% of the time, it’s likely not, though.
For example, your father might take everything as a competition and when he “loses,” he goes on a tirade. Or your mother insults you in an attempt to manipulate you so she’d “feel better.”
You know your parents make you feel bad—I don’t want to rationalize why that’s the case. You can discern the reality of it. It is what it is.
The big issue here, however, is that it’s probably taking a toll on your wellbeing.
In this post I’ll discuss a couple of reasons why they seem hell-bent to let you down, and ten things you can do about it.
I hope that after reading this article, you gain a deeper understanding about your toxic family dynamics and more importantly, make some sort of plan so you can live the life you want.
3 Reasons Your Parents Make You Feel Bad About Myself
1. Your parents grew up in a similar upbringing, too.
Your parents may simply not know how to raise you except for the one they’ve grown to know. Yes, parents’ influence on children is unimaginably huge like that.
Culture may play a role, too, regardless of how macro or micro that is. Any country can have a set of parenting standards. But a combination of, say, the religion and neighborhood and financial status they’re born into has had a major impact on the way they learned how to parent.
2. Your parents have an unresolved or untreated emotional or mental condition—and they refuse to get help.
They’ve likely gone through many years of childhood trauma and symptoms are evident.
Even if you’ve taken the time to research about it (because of your genuine willingness to help) and told them they may need professional help, they may only dismiss it because that’s one of the many ways they pull to make you feel bad in the first place.
Unfortunately, they’re unlikely to change their minds. Meanwhile, their unwillingness, and thus inability, to deal with their struggles, they take it out on you.
3. Your parents may mean well but they are unable to communicate or express it to you.
In this case you have a better chance of settling things out with them. This may take some more introspection, understanding, and patience on your part.
Your parents perhaps only lacked the tools they needed to become better parents, even if, say, they grew up in a good enough household.
Sometimes things don’t look that way on the surface. They may not be as bad as they seem.
What to Do if Your Parents Make You Feel Bad About Yourself
1. First of all, tell them.
You may assume you don’t have to do this, especially if the communication dynamic between you and your parents is terrible.
But this is more for proving you didn’t fall short in trying to fix this issue. If you’re not comfortable talking with them in person, you can send them a letter or an email (of which I’m a fan).
Besides, expressing what you feel is healthy for everyone (needless to say, you should do this properly and drama-free). You’d want them to know what you think and feel.
2. Understand that, at the end of the day, you don’t have to do anything about it.
Telling them is the best you could do, really. If, after telling them, they still carry out their campaign on making you feel bad about yourself, then that’s on them—it has always been.
Your parents are (or were) responsible for everything you are going to be, through raising you right within the first 18 years of your life. That’s just a fact. You have to accept this as soon as you can.
3. Focus on your studies and on becoming financially independent/self-sufficient.
In case you’re still living with your toxic parents, make this a top priority.
It’s sad to have parents that let you down. Treat this as a loss. Allow grief over the parents you wish you had.
However, the smartest thing you can do is to do the work right now so you can have a better future. Do well in school. Prove you can do good work so that employers or businesses will want to hire you.
Not only will you be free from your dysfunctional home, but you’ll also have higher chances of making a good living.
4. Distance yourself.
It’s never selfish to prioritize your wellbeing over others. In some cases, you can’t help others if you can’t help yourself first.
Don’t feel guilty distancing yourself from your toxic parents. (They might even guilt-trip you, actually.)
You’ve known them basically your whole life. You know you feel bad around them. You know the truth. Don’t second-guess yourself.
If you have to see your parents, a good trick is to bring a good friend with you. This will hopefully lessen your parents’ bad behavior. Your friend can also give you some advice after having interacted with both you and your family.
5. The times you get caught in conversation with your parents, take everything they say with a huge grain of salt.
I believe toxic people are still capable of saying the right things sometimes, even if they sting.
In case you get to talk with your parents, just wear your skeptic hat and think that most of what they’re spewing out are probably rubbish.
Why do this? Because it helps you to not take what they say personally. It puts you in a position where you’re simply watching from afar, but able to pick what can be remotely helpful for you.
6. The value of the people who support you.
Nurture the relationships that enrich your life. It doesn’t matter if you only have a few of them.
Maybe the way you see people has changed such that you’ve become distrustful. It may take work, but I still believe that people are for people. We have to connect somehow.
So find those people. They can be social groups that share the same interests or hobbies as yours. Or friends to whom you can show your vulnerability.
7. Learn something and be very good at it.
At this point you should realize that your parents don’t have the power to make you feel anything at all. How you feel about yourself is your responsibility—and that’s a good thing!
You can learn just about anything these days, and perhaps with the help of your people, you can master it! Commit to it and sooner or later your work will be noticed. You can even make good money off of it, especially if your mastered skill is quite rare.
How’s that for making yourself feel better?
8. Give yourself some slack.
There will be times you’ll go hard on yourself, because you grew up with parents who did exactly just that.
Take on challenges at your own pace. Celebrate small wins. The only person you’re trying to please is yourself.
Be mindful of the self-talk you’re constantly allowing. You come from a tough upbringing. Slowly change the words you tell yourself. You’ve learned a lot of wrong, hurtful, and unnecessary beliefs.
You can become a different and better person. But you have to enjoy the process. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
9. Take care of yourself.
Only you know what you need. Make time to rediscover yourself and practice self-care. This may be overlooked especially if you hail from a chronically tensed and hyper-focused background.
Remember the basics: Eat well. Sleep well. Have some form of physical exercise.
And then you can do some more: Read helpful books. Or podcasts or blogs or what have you. Choose your friends and associations. Do things you enjoy.
I know it might sound cliché but sometimes in our pursuit to become better, we ironically abuse ourselves.
10. In some extreme cases, you may consider cutting your parents off.
Some people may find this too much, but in reality parents can be unthinkably horrible to their children that it does not make sense to hold on to the relationship.
Take the time to think about it. Perhaps weigh the pros and cons first. And if the cons far outweigh the pros and staying in the relationship evokes self-destructive thoughts and feelings, then cutting them off may be justified.
There’s a lot more to life than putting up with toxic people, your parents included. Of course I don’t know your story. You decide for yourself. I only wish you nothing but to be in a better place—every time!
Photo by Caleb Salomons on Unsplash