In an ideal world, we would all have parents who love us unconditionally. Our parents would accept that we may take a path different from the one they wished for us, but they would support us nonetheless. They would listen to our aspirations with understanding and guide us into our adulthoods with care.
Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with supportive parents.
When you are in a household with a parent or guardian that belittles your self-worth and discourages any act of independence, it can be difficult to fend off the toll it takes on your well-being. Before you let yourself sink into their unfair criticisms, here are some reminders for yourself to reflect on.
1. Your self-worth is not determined by your parents.
We can tell ourselves to ignore their degrading complaints, but we can only brush off harsh words so much before it gets to us. It’s natural to feel lost when the people who should love you unconditionally criticize your entirety, but try to remember that parents are not mystical, all-knowing beings. They are human, meaning they can make poor and unfair judgements. Not everything they say is true, and sometimes their words come from a misplaced rage that becomes immaturely released on us. You are not worthless or stupid, so please don’t get swept up in any ungrounded critiques that say otherwise.
2. This is your life, so don’t feel guilty for focusing on your own happiness.
You will have interests and goals that do not align with your parents, but despite the hurtful criticisms they berate you with, have faith in your dreams. Trying to satisfy your unpleasable parents will only hurt and drain you in the end. While parents should push you to try your best, they should not enforce perfection. They should not continually degrade the choices you know you need to make in order to grow and be happy. Don’t let yourself fall under the pressure of trying to satisfy someone else your whole life. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, they may never give you the approval you seek, and you will end up drained in the process. You cannot control how others feel and act, but you can work towards your own happiness and self-satisfaction by following your passions.
3. Your parents have their own burdens and baggage.
This doesn’t justify or eliminate the pain they have caused you. Your feelings of hurt and anger are valid, but you can also acknowledge that harsh circumstances in their life probably made them the way they are today. Maybe they really are trying to parent the best they can, but they lack the compassion and understanding to realize what they’re doing is harmful. That is no fault of your own, but recognizing this about them will help with your own growth as you move on with your life.
4. If you’re not ready to forgive, that’s okay.
Maybe you won’t ever be ready to completely forgive your parents. Just because they’re family doesn’t mean they should be automatically forgiven for the toxicity they had on your life. You can recognize that your parents are simply human beings who made mistakes, but that doesn’t mean you need to welcome them back with an all-forgiving embrace. Focus on what you need even if that means moving forward with different people who do make you feel loved.
5. You are loved even in the moments you question it.
When you live with people that often put you down, it’s hard not to doubt yourself, but there are other people out there who believe in you. Stay connected with the friends and family that do make you feel supported, and remember that you are valued and deserving of happiness.