7 Common Traits Shared By People Who Grew Up In Dysfunctional Families



Before getting into the depth of this, let me make a confidential claim: everyone needs validation to an extent. The attention we seek from friends, the love we seek from partners, the acknowledgment we seek from colleagues – they are all rooted in validation of some kind.

Validation in itself isn’t wrong. However, when seeking is a result of crippling fear and feelings of inadequacy as it usually is among people who have origins in dysfunctional families, then that is an issue.

People who insistently and persistently seek validation typically have two fears:

That they are not worthy enough.

They will be jilted or abandoned if they are not up to the mark.

These latent fears mostly have their roots in a person’s childhood, during which they were supposed to be nurtured unconditionally.

Parents from a dysfunctional family will seldom express their emotions. These repressed emotions will act as a model before the child to also abandon their emotions leading to an insecure attachment with the parents and issues like low self-esteem.

Authoritarian style of parenting can also lead to lack of display of affection at appropriate situations like love that was a result of academic achievements or for fulfilling one or two of the conditions set by parents pass on the subliminal message that “If you please, then you are valued”

This insecurity becomes as profound as one learns that one’s value is temporal and conditional that he/she starts feeding her/his insecure self with constant validation.



People who had their early years with dysfunctional caregivers, often experience a sense of responsibility towards others at the cost of their own needs and wants. This is mostly a compensatory behavior towards what they lacked in childhood.

As children, they may have seen abuse, drug use, incessant fighting or neglect. And in a scenario, where the adults failed to show up with adequate assertive behavior, they made themselves available as proxy. Making themselves responsible for other people’s grief, happiness, discomfort, pleasure and every other feeling state possible.

As adults, the same people might find themselves struggling to make choices without consulting parents, friends, co-workers and the like.

They may experience a consistent disconnection from their own dreams and aspirations, because the latter would require them to give up their selflessness.



For a second, pause and imagine a child hiding from an angry parents screaming and I cite this from a film I had seen long back but can’t remember the name of. What it made me feel then, is exactly how it makes me feel now – fearful, terrified and extremely anxious.

Anxiety as defined by the Oxford Dictionary is “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.”

For anyone who grew up in a threatening atmosphere of uncertainty, anxiety is the most natural response. It is natural for a child to feel hapless in such an obnoxious situation. They were receiving a clear message – “The world is unsafe.”

When a person has not worked through these early experiences of extreme fear, they will invariably feel triggered by happenings even in the present.

From slightly loud noises, aggressive people, from a lack of information to loss of a job, anything could potentially fire them up to feel a heightened sense of impending doom.