If You Still Long For Parental Approval In Your 30s And 40s, You Probably Suffered This Type Of Childhood

Photo: Monkey Business Images | Canva
woman with her parents while they meet her boyfriend for the first time

When you grow up, you're supposed to put your daddy or mommy issues behind you. You're supposed to know you're a worthwhile human being, even if you didn't receive the kind of love you wanted (or needed) as a kid.

And really, our parents love us just the way they can, to the best of their abilities as individuals. This may mean we end up lacking — certainly not because our parents didn't care, but perhaps because they weren't capable.

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There comes a time in which those issues, neglect or disapproval, need to fade away.

Did your parents want you to marry within the faith or race, and you didn't? Did your parents want you to become a doctor and you decided to open your own bakery or join an improv troupe?

Our parents make us grow up and away from them, becoming our own individuals with our unique belief systems and ways of living. Of course, our parents hope their values and viewpoints are reflected in what we do as adults later on in life, but the fact is: that there are no guarantees.

Many of us will grow up to have our own kids who will NOT do what we want but instead, what they want. And that's the whole point of having children: To raise unique beings who go out in the world to follow and carve their own paths.

Still, in many of us, deep inside whether we admit it or not, we long for our parents to approve and validate the choices we have made as adults and the choices we will continue to make as we go on with our lives.

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This isn't something that happens strictly to people who had issues with their parents growing up. This isn't just something that happens to people who have low self-esteem. Many of us want very much for our parents to have pride in us and what we have become. This feeling only intensifies if you grew up feeling like you were never enough for your parents in the first place.

In many ways, it's embarrassing to know that in our thirties we still long for our parents to say to us, "You make us proud. We are so very very proud of who you have become." We know we shouldn't need to hear this but deep inside, we do. Our heart aches when we feel as if our parents aren't supporting us on our journey as individuals.

When we see others posting photos on social media with their parents or chatting about the strong connection they have with a mom or dad, we can't help but feel a loss. We know we don't have what they do. And then, when we go on to have kids, our kids feel that lack in the grandparent relationship.

Many times, our parents do approve of us but perhaps they're not the demonstrative kind — they're the distant or self-involved types. We should understand and know this intimately already. After all, we are in our thirties and we know now what our parents are like as people.

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But still, the desire to hear, feel, and know that a parent loves you truly and is on your side is a feeling that never dies.

I don't care if you're forty, fifty, or sixty. I don't care if you have a happy family of your own and have moved on from the past. In your heart, there is a spot that needs occupancy. That occupant could be your mom, your dad, or both. It could be a stepparent.

It doesn't matter who you are missing or longing to be loved by — the pain of feeling like you are just not good enough, or not how your parent/parents wanted you to be, is a pain that resonates forever and never dies. Even if your parent was abusive and you know it. Even if your parent deserted you.

In our psyches, no age, situation or stage will make us exempt from wanting a parent's love. Knowing this now as a parent myself reminds me of how important I am to my child, and that this bond and connection — no matter what happens — will never, ever die.

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Alex Alexander is a pseudonym. The author of this article is known to YourTango but is choosing to remain anonymous.