Is Your People Pleaser Personality Hurting Your Parenting Style?

If you’re both a people pleaser and a parent, then chances are you’re probably trying way too hard to “friend” your children. If you’re a millennial on top of all that – or just an avid social media fan – you’ve likely been conditioned to evaluate your actions in that awesome online thumbs-up better known as “likes”. But should you really be looking for validation from your kids when it comes to good parenting??

There just seems to be something inherently contradictory in constantly striving to please your kids rather than parent them. Face it; sometimes you’re going to be unpopular. Sometimes, you’re just not going to get that thumbs-up, good job pat on the back. But those may actually be the moments when you’re being the best parent of all.

Are You a People Pleaser?

At this point, you may be wondering if you fall into the people pleaser category. Sure, we all care about what other people think, sometimes. But how much of a motivating factor is validation for you? There are definite characteristics that can help you figure out if you also suffer from this people-pleasing syndrome; here’s a few:

Validation is number one. Whether you’re actually checking your “likes” online or you have constant text threads looking for support, if other people’s validation is an important factor in your decision-making, you’re likely a people pleaser.

“Yes” really means “no.” When you are a people pleaser, the word “no” is simply not in your vocabulary. You will do things that you really don’t want to just to avoid having to deal with someone else’s discontent – or your own sense of guilt.

You are forever apologizing. The classic sign of a people pleaser is someone who constantly apologizes. If you bump into someone, you say “sorry.” When someone bumps into you, you say “sorry” – and you feel bad about it.

Conflict does not equal resolution. People pleasers don’t see conflict or arguments as an opportunity for growth or resolution; they just see it as terrifying. If, instead of handling conflict head on, you go to your support group for those pats and likes, you’re seeking validation rather than resolving conflict.

You always feel guilty. In order to appease the never-ending feelings of guilt, the people pleaser feels the constant need to over-explain themselves. They won’t and can’t just leave it at a simple “I am sorry,” there is always a long-winded attempt to kind absolution – and it’s likely to your support group, once again looking for validation.

It's common for people pleasers to have been conditioned to please their parents since childhood, looking for praise and approval from an early age. Highly critical parents can make children feel like it's not ok to be themselves, causing them to bend over backwards to meet their expectations. Feeling loved only when conforming to their parents' desires and demands, people pleasers sacrifice their own needs in exchange for warmth and affection. 

Don’t You Like that I’m a People Pleaser?

Ok, so you’re a people pleaser… so what’s the problem? Making others happy is a good thing, right? Well, that depends on at what cost – especially when it comes to our kids. Parents that are people pleasers let their kids get away with murder –not because they’re bad parents who don’t care – but because they care too much. They feel anxious and uncomfortable when faced with confrontation and they don’t like it when people are angry with them. Personally, I hate when I have to play the “bad guy” with my kids. I wish that we could always sit around braiding each other’s hair and bonding, but that is not what parenting is about. Sometimes, no matter how much I hate it, I have to be the voice of reason that says “no” to them so that they can learn about boundaries and making good choices.

In spite of the obvious negatives of being a people pleaser, there are some redeeming qualities too. Parents that are people pleasers are usually exceptionally giving human beings who are excellent at loving and nurturing their children; they just need to have a partner who is good at enforcing rules and discipline – or better yet, learn how to balance the pros with the cons.

I am the first to admit that I am bad at sticking to enforcing punishment. I hate being the bad guy, basically because I want people to like me...ALL people, actually. Every single person in the world liking me would be just fine with me. Of course, that’s not how life works and I know that, but tell that to the part of me that doesn’t want people to NOT like me...especially if it happens to be my own kids.

People-Pleasing Parents

As parents, we owe it to our children to find a healthy balance between “buddy” and “dictator.” If we don’t establish these roles early on in our children’s lives, one day in the near future, we may be open for a rude awakening when they become teenagers who don’t have any respect for our authority. 

It’s hard enough being a parent, but when you’re a parent who is a people pleaser, you may not be parenting your children effectively. Having a constant need to be validated by everyone, including your children, is like living in a prison cell— forever a prisoner to low-self-esteem and a need to be liked and loved by everyone. The origin of how we learned our people-pleasing behavior is not nearly as important as the reality that this is not a legacy we want to pass down to our children.

We want them to have confidence in who they are, and to face conflict with curiosity and a desire to grow and evolve. We also want them to like themselves and to accept the reality that not everyone in the world is going to like them, and that’s perfectly okay. If we believe that we might be a people pleaser, then we owe it to our children to address the problem. A lifetime of self-sacrifice isn't something that can be healed overnight. But we owe it to ourselves and our children to heal our wounds. That's one kind of people pleasing that goes without saying.

Are you a people pleaser? What strategies have you used to make sure you’re also a good parent?

Tags : parenting   relationships   

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