People who were overparented as children often display these 8 behaviors as adults

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Ever wonder why some adults seem stuck in perpetual adolescence? Turns out, it might trace back to their childhoods. 

When parents go into overdrive, smothering their kids with too much attention and protection, it can have some surprising long-term effects. 

From trouble making decisions to struggling with relationships, the signs of overparenting linger well into adulthood. 

So, if you find yourself or someone you know still grappling with these issues, you might want to take a closer look at those early years of being overparented.

1) Difficulty with decision making

Overparented children are often not given the chance to make decisions on their own—everything from what to wear, what to eat, to what activities to pursue. As a result, they may struggle with decision-making in adulthood.

This difficulty in making decisions is not limited to major life choices like career or relationships. It can even extend to everyday decisions like what to order at a restaurant or which brand of toothpaste to buy. The constant second-guessing can lead to feelings of anxiety and self-doubt.

This struggle with decision-making is rooted in the fear of making mistakes and facing the consequences. Overparented children are often shielded from failure, so they never learn to handle it when they inevitably encounter it in adulthood.

2) Sensitivity to criticism

Adults who were overparented as kids often become hypersensitive to criticism. Shielded from mistakes and failure in childhood, they absorbed the idea that errors are unacceptable.

This sensitivity can show up in adulthood in different ways. They may get defensive, seeing feedback as a personal attack, or internalize criticism, feeling inadequate.

This sensitivity affects work relationships and personal growth. While constructive feedback is crucial for progress, misinterpretation can stall improvement.

3) Low self-esteem

Overparenting can breed low self-esteem later in life. Constant interference and control from parents can subtly convey to the child that they’re incapable, chipping away at their confidence.

As adults, they grapple with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, often comparing themselves unfavorably to others. This lack of self-esteem affects relationships, career advancement, and mental well-being.

Building self-esteem is vital, but for those overparented as kids, it demands intentional effort and perhaps professional support to break free from these confidence hurdles.

4) Dependency issues

Overparented kids often become adults struggling with dependency. Denied autonomy in childhood, they find it hard to act independently.

As adults, they rely heavily on others for decisions and validation. This dependence affects relationships, career, and self-esteem.

Dependency isn’t just behavior—it’s emotional baggage. Rooted in childhood, it breeds insecurity and fear, shaping their adult struggles.

5) Performance anxiety

Individuals who were overparented as children often develop performance anxiety as adults. This stems from the high expectations and constant need for approval they experienced during their upbringing.

They might constantly feel the need to excel in every aspect of their lives, from their career to personal relationships. Failing to meet these self-imposed or perceived expectations can lead to intense feelings of anxiety and stress.

This performance anxiety can be debilitating, affecting their ability to function effectively in various situations. It might manifest in the form of testing anxiety, social anxiety, or even relationship anxiety.

6) Perfectionist tendencies

Overparented adults often grapple with perfectionism, a byproduct of childhood pressure. Raised on high expectations, they develop an insatiable need for flawlessness.

In adulthood, they set impossibly high standards across the board, from work to relationships. Anything less than perfect is unacceptable, driving them to extreme measures to avoid mistakes.

This quest for flawlessness breeds stress, anxiety, and burnout. While aiming for excellence is admirable, relentless perfectionism takes a toll on mental health and overall wellness.

7) Challenges in interpersonal relationships

The effects of overparenting can often spill over into an individual’s interpersonal relationships. This is largely due to the issues with self-esteem, dependency, and perfectionism that these individuals often grapple with.

They might constantly seek approval from their partners or friends, mirroring the approval-seeking behavior from their childhood. This can lead to co-dependency in relationships and create an unhealthy dynamic where their self-worth is heavily tied to the opinions of others.

Furthermore, their perfectionist tendencies might make it difficult for them to accept flaws and imperfections in others. They might set unrealistically high expectations for their partners or friends, which can lead to frequent disappointments and conflicts.

8) Struggle with establishing personal boundaries

Overparented kids often struggle with setting boundaries. Their parents made decisions for them and invaded their personal space, blurring the lines for adulthood.

As adults, they find it hard to assert themselves or say no, fearing backlash. This leaves them feeling exploited and overwhelmed in relationships.

On the flip side, they may unintentionally overstep others’ boundaries, lacking the awareness to recognize and respect them. This causes friction and misunderstandings in their relationships.

Path to self-improvement and healing

Understanding these behaviors is the crucial first step in recognizing how overparenting has shaped your adult life. You’re not alone, and it’s never too late to learn, grow, and change.

Next, consciously address these behaviors. This may involve boosting self-esteem, refining decision-making skills, handling criticism constructively, and setting personal boundaries. Depending on the severity, seeking professional help like therapy may be beneficial.

Patience is key. Change takes time and consistent effort. Celebrate small victories and view setbacks as opportunities for growth.

Your upbringing doesn’t define you. You have the power to rewrite your story. Embrace this journey with kindness, patience, and resilience.

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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