photo credit: Glogster

Many of us have grown up with an overly critical parent; constantly wondering if anything will please her or why it always has to be “her way or the highway.” Children of overly critical parents feel as if that parent can never be satisfied, no matter what they do. Typically, this type of parent has the best intentions, but their need to control the outcome can backfire in a major way. Children of an overly critical parent often have long-term effects of this type of childhood. The voice of an overly critical parent becomes their child’s inner voice and these children can spend their adulthood trying to recover it. Below are some of the long-term effects of growing up with an overly critical parent. In part 2 of this article series, I will discuss how to avoid being an overly critical parent.


  1. Damages their relationship with you: Children of an overly critical parent will often grow up to resent you; spending much of their time trying to prove you wrong instead of make you proud.
  2. They wonder what’s wrong with them: These children will often spend most of their lives wondering what’s wrong with them and why they can’t seem to do anything right. Many times they become overly critical of themselves because they can’t seem to quiet the inner critic that you created. Much of their time is spent trying to live up to your idea of perfection even though they know it’s completely unattainable.
  3. Damages their sense of security: Even through their resentment of you, there is a larger portion that still tries to please you. Even as adult children of an overly critical parent, the belief is that they’ll lose your love if they don’t live up to your expectations and/or please you in some way. Additionally, they’ll spend their lives trying to please others hoping to fill the void that you’ve left in their hearts.
  4. Long-term mental health effects: An overly critical parent can create an anxious and/or depressed adult. The effects of an overly critical parent don’t stop at childhood. As a matter of fact, these effects often linger well on into adulthood and it takes therapy to re-record the damaging inner voice that you created. These adults spend their time either trying to be “perfect” while believing they never will be; trying to figure out what’s wrong with them; if anyone will ever love them the way they are; and wondering why you don’t love them. As you can imagine, wrestling with these types of feelings is bound to cause anxiety and/or depression. As a result, they can spend some of adulthood trying to recover from their childhood.

Parenting is a difficult job and many overly critical parents don’t want to hurt their children. As a matter of fact, they actually believe they are doing what’s best for them. However, their overly critical tactics can cause a host of long-term issues for their children. It’s important to provide unconditional love, guidance, support and most importantly, trust. You have to trust yourself and then trust that your child will apply the non-judgmental information you’ve given them. Contrary to what you may believe, it isn’t just your way or the highway. There is another way and it’s important to find that middle ground in order to raise emotionally healthy children who turn out to be emotionally healthy adults. Look out for part two of this series, How To Avoid Being An Overly Critical Parent. In part 3, I’ll discuss ways to recover from an overly critical parent.