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

I’m going to be upfront—your parents are not supposed to make you feel worthless. If they are at least good enough, then they would make sure you get to talk about it, at the very least, and then try to sort things out.

That may be a bold statement, but parents who genuinely know why they became parents in the first place would never allow that to keep happening.

In this article I talk about 14 lessons that surround the reality of parents making their children feel worthless.

It doesn’t matter much whether you’re a young adult or an older one. These lessons are true across the board. Either way, I hope this post helps!

my parents make me feel worthless

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

1. Give your parents the benefit of the doubt.

No matter how rough life with them seems to be, I always advocate letting them know what you think or feel.

Yes, you may think they’re toxic and you may not have a satisfactory communication dynamic, but you don’t want to have regrets later down the road because you didn’t try. Even if your efforts turn out to be futile, you can be content knowing that at least you tried.

Proper communication is healthy anyway, so go tell them. Uncomfortable with in-person talks? Then email it away!

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

2. Somehow you’ll need to reach out for help.

Feeling worthless can be taken as a sign you need help.

I’m not denying that this can be hard especially if you have low self-esteem—having low self-esteem can make you erroneously think you’re alone and no outside help is available.

However, I believe help can be available. In some cases, all you have to do is reach out.

Your parents—the people who are supposed to love you and raise you right—have unfortunately let you down. This means they have instilled in you wrong and destructive beliefs.

Don’t believe it if you think or feel you’re worthless. Reach out to get help as soon as you can. There’s nothing wrong with seeking help.

3. You’ll also need some sort of support system.

Related to my previous point, you’ll need at least someone to be there for you when you need them.

I’m an introvert and I believe I’ve developed my own brand of antisocial traits.

But time and time again, I’m proving that we as humans simply thrive in tribes (rhyming not intended). Tribes even flourish online—we can easily find groups in which we feel safe and welcome.

However, I advocate a support system in real life—if you can, of course. Nothing beats sharing moments with IRL people. Evolution-wise, this is how our species survived.

It’s never too late. You can find people with whom you can share mutual love and respect.

Needless to say, take care of yourself. There are predators out there. It’s just that you shouldn’t deny yourself the gift of human touch and camaraderie—in the flesh.

Related: My Parents Make Me Feel Bad about Myself

4. Your parents owe you everything, but you owe them nothing.

Is that another bold claim?

Well, your parents—believe it or not, whether they embraced it or not—are responsible for everything you are or were going to be.

Providing you with the minimum (food, clothes, and shelter) is not enough. They are/were responsible for raising you right so that you could thrive in this brutal world on your own by the time you’re 18 (or so). And that doesn’t make you owe them anything at all—it was their responsibility, not a favor.

Of course you can love them, especially in their old age, but as the term suggests, it should all come from a place of love.

5. It’s okay to feel—or not feel—anything towards your parents.

Just to be clear, this also applies to good enough or healthy families. I would even argue that love simply is or is not there. It’s as if you couldn’t figure out a timeline in which love is or isn’t present.

So your parents make you feel worthless. It’s only natural to feel sad around them, or feel no connection with them. It’s even okay to not feel love for them!

The thing is, your parents are making you feel worthless because they’re trying to gain something from the relationship. They’re trying to manipulate you to get what they want.

Don’t ever feel guilty about evoked thoughts or feelings you think are inappropriate. Everything is likely how it should be. You just happen to have toxic parents.

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

6. Deliberate or not, your parents have influenced how you feel about yourself.

Your parents have created an environment at home—physically and emotionally—in which you were liable to absorb everything that went on.

Likely, a lot of projecting took place, too.

For example, your parents were always angry because they hadn’t properly learned how to handle mini-frustrations on the daily. Or they projected an image of incapability when confronted by some huge task.

The way they carried themselves out affected the way you perceived yourself. If they were always angry and unwilling to take on challenges, then who did you think you were?

Needless to say, parenting is a noble and hard job. A lot of people don’t embrace this fact.

7. You may have a unique approach to learning things.

Perhaps you believed that all sorts of standards were true. I’m talking about finishing first in a race, getting high grades in school, or any undertaking in which your “value” is based on standards set in antiquity.

No, I have no objections to that kind of system except when the methods of doing something are not working for you.

Maybe you’re a visual learner. Maybe you excel at creating some physical widget. Maybe the classroom setting bores you to death.

And not to mention, you have toxic parents, which itself may be a hindrance to your (undiscovered) love for learning.

Related: Nothing I Do Is Good Enough for My Parents

8. Self-medicating is easy and tempting.

Feeling worthless is like having a void in you that perhaps only a couple of things can genuinely fill.

On the other hand, it’s also easy to mistake some form of short-term indulgence for the proper treatment of low self-esteem.

This is where self-medicating enters—through alcohol, smoking, drugs, sex, and more. All of these make you feel “happy” at any moment but the truth is that you’re using that “happiness” as an escape from your demons.

I understand the “need” to succumb to self-medication, but I want to tell you that you’re much better than that.

9. Acknowledge your pain.

Don’t deny it. In fact, if you’re feeling unsure about anything at all, make the time to reflect on and investigate it. That’s not nothing. You have to know thyself.

For example, it’s easy to deny that you were abandoned (in any form) by your parents. Or deny childhood emotional neglect. Or deny trauma from straight-up physical abuse.

In your childhood you thought these versions of pain were normal. Then you’re noticing some signs only now that you’re a (young) adult.

Acknowledge your pain. Let it surface. By doing this you can learn how to deal with it and move in the right direction.

10. Self-compassion.

I would wager you’ve gone through a life of hell with your toxic parents. You were only trying to survive. You were clueless and helpless. You had virtually no one to guide you.

It’s only natural for you to develop some defense mechanisms that, on the outside, might make you look like a horrible person:

  • you’re quick to get mad
  • you seem uninterested to take on any hobby
  • you seem to dislike everybody
  • you tend to be sarcastic and condescending

And you probably believe you’re a bad person—stop this. It takes time, sure, but compassion goes a long way—compassion for your inner child who’s been robbed of a childhood.

Related: Why Am I Never Good Enough for My Parents? 

11. On acceptance and moving on.

There is power in accepting that your parents are simply the way they are. Accepting them without hurt or drama, without feeling anything.

Let’s take the case for blaming them for how your life is turning out. You are free to blame them, of course, because, really, why not? It may be justified after all.

However, choosing to blame them every day creates an invisible bond between you and them, which makes you feel stuck, unable to create the life you want.

In this case, stopping the blame would be a smart decision. You don’t forget how they’ve made you feel, but you choose to love yourself by doing things that are productive and make you happy instead.

12. Seek validation elsewhere.

Unfortunately the need for validation naturally persists in adulthood. The need is real there’s a study that tackles the relationship between adolescents’ perceived mattering to their families and violence.

But you don’t have to get violent. You don’t even need the drama. Take your energies with you elsewhere and channel them into relationships that can enrich your life.

In-Real-Life or online, you can find buddies, mentors, or parent figures that can make you feel that, hey, you’re doing alright.

You can choose to go through life alone, which might actually work for you. But as I previously pointed out, we are wired to share life with others.

13. On cutting your parents off.

Sometimes the pain of being made to feel worthless far outweighs any attempts to hold on to and fix the relationship.

It becomes putting up with your parents’ absence of love versus self-preservation. Of allowing hurtful memories and expectations into your daily routine versus loving yourself by pursuing a new life. Or simply, of evil versus good.

A lot of people will never understand the need to cut off toxic parents. How will they if they come from at least good enough families? It’s like the fish that asks, “What is water?”

Ultimately you make the decision. But whatever you choose, let go of the guilt, don’t mind what “normal” people say, and go after the life that makes you happy.

14. At the end of the day, only you have control over your feelings.

I’m still amazed by how much parents influence their children, whether for good or bad. So much influence that it may cost children their entire childhood believing whatever their parents show them.

That I have control over my mind, my feelings, is one lesson I didn’t really understand.

Growing up with toxic parents, you emulated how they handled everything—their temper, their reactions, their daily routine.

But then you realize there are whole different ways to live life besides being toxic. You can think and feel independently, unbothered by what’s happening around you.

You have a lot to unlearn from your toxic parents. And a lot of new stuff to learn, outside the relationship, on your own. You realize there’s a big world out there!

But no matter where you are, you can learn how to master yourself. Your parents are in the past now. You’re fully in control.


Photo by Alp Ancel on Unsplash

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3 thoughts on “My Parents Make Me Feel Worthless (14 Lessons to Contemplate)”

  1. Hi, I just wanna say thank you for writing this and making me feel valid for how much trauma my parents have caused me. I’m seeking therapy to help me work through it but seeing stuff like this really helps.

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