6 Signs You Grew Up With Strict Parents (Side Effects)

Do you believe a good parent is a strict parent? And how strict is strict enough?

There are 2 types of strict parents. The ones who are strict, but loving (also known as authoritative), and the ones who are strict, controlling, cold and emotionless (also known as authoritarian). Those parents, strict and cold, focus on obedience and set high expectations.

Even if it seems like this kind of parenting is necessary to teach children discipline, research shows that it actually creates the complete opposite effects. Children who were raised by very strict parents grow up with all kinds of different problems, with their thoughts, emotions and behavior.

Was your childhood also ruined by strict parents? Do you suffer the side effects? If you’re not sure what the side effects are, here are 6 common ones.

This is a disclaimer that this article is for informative purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please reach out to a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional if you are struggling.

1. The inner critic

If you had strict parents, you’re probably used to all kinds of critique. You didn’t study enough! Your room is not clean enough! Does it sound familiar?

Growing up you might have felt like you never did anything right. Maybe you felt constant fear of being criticized, and felt like no matter what you do, you’d never be good enough. These feelings nurtured your inner critic and made it grow alongside you. So today, you might criticize yourself constantly. Maybe you keep bringing yourself down, apologizing for doing things wrong or warning everyone that you’ll probably do it wrong. You become quick to point out your flaws before anyone else.

This becomes a strategy to protect yourself from others. You may subconsciously think: “if I criticize myself, no one else can!” Unfortunately this can often backfire, because your own thoughts can be even more harsh than your parents were.

2. The bad person 

Do you feel like your self worth could be higher? Are you afraid to show your true self to others because you’re scared of rejection? The lack of self-esteem and self-confidence​ is another common side effect of strict parenting.

If your parents always had high expectations, you may have set those same expectations for yourself. And as the time went on, maybe you internalized those expectations as a part of you. Now, you may feel like your worth as a person depends completely on your results.

So if you fail to meet those high expectations, you may feel like you’re bad in nature. Some people who were raised in a strict home describe this as feeling like they’re fundamentally bad if they don’t succeed in following the rules or living up to unrealistic standards. 

3. The art of lying

While you were growing up, did your parents forbid you to do anything fun? Maybe you weren’t allowed to go out with friends, have sleepovers or hang out with the opposite sex. But did you follow the rules blindly, or maybe you sneaked out every now and then?

Strict parents often expect obedience and respect for authority. They believe they’re raising honest and respectful people. But most of the time, they are raising sneaky actors and excellent liars.

These children learn from an early age how to hide their secrets and tell a few white lies every now and then. They had to master the art of lying because they feared the possible punishment too much. So now, they are able to come up with a convincing lie in a matter of seconds.

4. The rules

If you were surrounded by rules all the time, maybe you often thought to yourself “I can’t wait until I get out of here! I can’t wait to live however I want, without any rules!”

But in some cases, those rules get so ingrained in you that you feel like you just can’t live without them anymore. Do you feel like you have a need for rules and structure? 

One example of this need could be functioning in social settings. For example, you may feel a bit more comfortable at work or school. That’s because you know the rules – you know how you’re supposed to behave and what’s expected of you. But when you’re at a party, you’re not so sure anymore… What do you talk about? How do you act? In these situations the rules and structure are not clear. For some adults that grew up with strict parents, this can become a challenge, and they might feel lost without the guidance.

5. The rebel

Did your parents excuse their controlling behavior by saying something like “I’m helping you get disciplined” or “I’ll make you into a well-behaved adult”? Strict parents often justify themselves by thinking their parenting methods would make you a polite and disciplined person.

But studies have shown that harsh parenting actually produces kids with behavioral problems. They might have learned to become more rebellious, angry​​, impulsive and aggressive when things don’t go their way​​. Also, they are more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as running away or experimenting with drugs. 

Do you sometimes feel tempted to do something risky? If you do, it might be because you want to compensate for the lost time. To some people, it may feel like finally being released to freedom after feeling like a prisoner their entire life.

6. The sadness

Unfortunately, strict parenting can have serious side effects on your mental health as well. Studies show that kids raised in a strict household tend to be unhappy​ and show more depressive symptoms​. Do you feel sad or anxious as a result of your upbringing? If you often feel hopeless, tired, bored and if you feel like you don’t enjoy things that you used to, you may be suffering from depression.

On top of increasing your chances of developing mental illness, strict parenting increases the risk of suicide. Research has shown that in some countries, such as Hong Kong​ and Australia​, kids raised in strict households are more prone to suicidal attempts or ideation.

Please remember: if you or someone you know shows signs of symptoms of suicidal ideation, please contact a mental health professional or visit this link for international suicide hotlines.

Closing thoughts

Growing up this way may have left you hurt and confused. And unfortunately, it takes some time to recover from the lack of love and abundance of harsh rules. The good way to start that journey would be to acknowledge that you shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed of anything. Try to accept yourself for who you are, even if you sometimes make mistakes. The mistakes are what makes you human, even if your parents never realized that. 

Do you relate to the points mentioned in the video? What are some other side effects of strict parenting that you noticed on yourself? Let us know!

Until next time!

References:

Bronte-Tinkew, J., Moore, K. A., & Carrano, J. (2006). The Father-Child Relationship, Parenting Styles, and Adolescent Risk Behaviors in Intact Families. Journal of Family Issues, 27(6), 850–881. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513×05285296

Bun, J. R., Louiselle, P. A., Misukanis, T. M., & Mueller, R. A. (1988). Effects of Parental Authoritarianism and Authoritativeness on Self-Esteem. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 14(2), 271–282. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167288142006

Chang, L., Schwartz, D., Dodge, K. A., & McBride-Chang, C. (2003). Harsh Parenting in Relation to Child Emotion Regulation and Aggression. Journal of Family Psychology, 17(4), 598–606. https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3200.17.4.598

Furnham, A., & Cheng, H. (2000). Lay Theories of Happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1(2), 227–246. https://doi.org/10.1023/a:1010027611587

Lai, K. W., & McBride-Chang, C. (2001). Suicidal ideation, parenting style, and family climate among Hong Kong adolescents. International Journal of Psychology, 36(2), 81–87. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207590042000065

Li, P. (2022, June 28). Strict Parents – 10 Signs & What’s Wrong With Them. Parenting For Brain. https://www.parentingforbrain.com/strict-parents/

Martin, G., & Waite, S. (1994). Parental bonding and vulnerability to adolescent suicide. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 89(4), 246–254. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0447.1994.tb01509.x

OpenCounseling. (2022, July 19). International Suicide Hotlines. https://blog.opencounseling.com/suicide-hotlines/

Strict parenting actually creates behavior problems in children. Here’s why. (n.d.). Aha! Parenting. https://www.ahaparenting.com/read/strict-parenting

Welch, S., & Andron, K. L. (n.d.). How to Recover From Authoritarian Parenting. PARENTGUIDE News. http://www.parentguidenews.com/Articles/HowtoRecoverFromAuthoritarianParenting

Zhou, Q., Eisenberg, N., Wang, Y., & Reiser, M. (2004). Chinese Children’s Effortful Control and Dispositional Anger/Frustration: Relations to Parenting Styles and Children’s Social Functioning. Developmental Psychology, 40(3), 352–366. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.40.3.352

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