When You Wish Your Parents Had Been Different

Do you wish your parents had been different? Perhaps a more understanding father or a more loving mother? This can scar you for life. What can you do about it? Read on to find out!
When You Wish Your Parents Had Been Different
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 08 November, 2022

Wishing that your parents were different can scar you for life. You feel that something’s always been lacking in your life. However, despite this fact, you probably still maintain contact with them. After all, you’re a part of them and they’re a part of you.

There are endless ways to be a good or bad mother or father. Nevertheless, the myth persists that motherhood or fatherhood automatically grants people good parenting skills. People also tend to assume that all children are loved and that their well-being is always their parents’ priority.

However, this isn’t always the case. The world’s both strange and unfair. Bad fathers and unloving mothers exist. Similarly, there are also children who don’t love them and are violent towards them.

A child with their parent.

Parents who don’t love their children

Certain types of parenting largely go unnoticed. They aren’t physically abusive, but they’re deficient in many ways that outsiders tend not to notice. However, these parenting types aren’t associated with traditional child neglect. As a matter of fact, you’ll often see these kinds of parents with their children in the park, at the zoo, or at the movies.

Nevertheless, certain behaviors are missing in these relationships. Furthermore, the children notice these deficits, regardless of how old they are. That’s because everyone comes into this world needing love, security, and attachment. If you lack this, it’ll affect your well-being, no matter your age.

In fact, these kinds of parents tend to be characterized by a number of very specific traits and behaviors. The most outstanding ones are disapproval, empty gestures, emotional coldness, and demands. Here are some of them.

They don’t give affection

Some parents don’t love their children. There are also those who don’t love them properly, since love for children should always be unconditional. There might be many reasons for this, and they’re often not easy to define. Sometimes, it might be because they didn’t actually want to be parents but still went ahead with it.

Other cases might be due to mental problems or they simply have other things they’re more interested in. Whatever the reason, few things can be so psychologically harmful. In fact, studies conducted at Columbia University suggest that your brain processes these kinds of experiences in the same way as physical pain.

Narcissistic parents

When you think of the parents you wish you’d had, those who offer their unconditional love probably come to mind. If you have narcissistic parents, they only think of themselves.

In these cases, it doesn’t matter what the child wants, as their needs are always secondary to those of their parents. All that matters is what the parents want.

Controlling parents

There are controlling families who don’t let their children grow up, choose what path they want to take, or even just be themselves. These authoritarian parents leave deep scars because they take away the child’s freedom and fill their minds with worries. Furthermore, this type of parenting affects the child’s progression into adulthood.

Showing preferential love

There are parents who show preferential love towards one particular child. In fact, their love for this “golden child” means the others get neglected and left in the background. These children don’t know what they’ve done wrong and don’t understand why their parents’ love is so conditional.

A boy looking upset.

Emotional scars

Wishing your parents had been different can leave you with a lasting wound. It’s a wound that signifies a lack of something, of not having had what you needed at a certain time. This disappointment, which is tinged with sadness and even anger, is always with you. How can you cope with these feelings?

Accept their faults

The first step in overcoming your injury is acceptance. You need to accept everything that’s happened. Understand that your parents weren’t perfect, that they didn’t do the right thing, and that you can’t change it because it’s in the past.

Acceptance doesn’t mean crying about it. It means validating your emotions, experiences, and disappointments and then moving on.

It isn’t your fault

Some people, even as adults, think they did something wrong to not deserve their mother or father’s love. However, it’s never a child’s fault that their parents didn’t love them the way they should. It’s always the parents’ responsibility.

You deserve love

It’s true that you’ll never get the parents you wish you’d had. You might not want to give them a second chance and the past isn’t easy to repair. However, one thing you must be clear about is that you deserve love and affection. Furthermore, you can get that love and affection from your friends, partners, siblings, and other family members.

Love always nourishes and enriches you. In fact, genuine affection can help you heal your wounds.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Yalom, I. (2012). Love’s Executioner & Other Takes of Psychotherapy. New York, NY: Basic Books
  • Sarah R. Brauner-Otto, William G. Axinn, Dirgha J. Ghimire. Parents’ Marital Quality and Children’s Transition to Adulthood. Demography, 2020; DOI: 10.1007/s13524-019-00851-w
  • Kross, Ethan, Marc G. Berman et al.  “Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain” (2011) PNAS, vol, 108, no.5, 6270-6275.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.