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How you parents may or may not have played a part in your Anxiety

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

The four main parenting styles and how they can lead to Anxiety

I have lived with social anxiety and anxiety for as long as I can remember. As a child, I did not have the vocabulary to describe what I was feeling. However, those around me made sure I knew it wasn't normal. People would say things like "you are so quiet" or "you don't talk much do you?"

Side note: How exactly do you respond to that? "Yeah, I'm really quiet, or maybe you are just loud?" Don't think that would go over too well...

I was not given the space and tools to grow and make my own mistakes. I did not know what it was like to try something, fail, and learn to pick myself up. My parents made me too afraid to try anything or everything was done for me.

Most parents shudder at the thought of their kid being labeled "shy“. Some will do almost anything in their power to force it out of them. However, with my parents, it was the complete opposite. A shy, quiet, people pleaser? I was the perfect child.

The Four Parenting Styles

According to an article published on, there are four main types of parenting styles:

  1. Permissive

  2. Uninvolved

  3. Authoritarian

  4. Authoritative

Permissive Parents are usually nurturing, warm and give their children room to roam very freely. They rarely set any rules or expectations. As a result, they are rarely disciplined. These types of parents see their kids as friends.

Uninvolved Parents are as the name suggests, uninvolved. These parents usually have no expectations for their children, and rarely communicate with, let alone discipline them. They may or may not fulfill their basic needs, but usually remain detached and neglectful.

Authoritarian Parents prefer that the child is "seen and not heard". These parents set the rules (usually very strict) and the child is to obey them without question. If the child breaks any of these rules, they are punished. They set extremely high standards and leave no wiggle room. They also tend to ignore their child's emotional needs and there is little nurturing.

Authoritative Parents see their children as autonomous human beings. They have clear expectations and guidelines in place. However, if a child breaks those rules they explain the reasoning behind any disciplinary action taken. They communicate openly with their children and allow them to have input when it comes to goals and expectations.

Photo from Made by Joshua Seong.

How this Can Lead to Anxiety

How does this relate to anxiety and social anxiety? Well, I am willing to bet that if you have generalized anxiety or social anxiety, your parents practiced either authoritarian parenting or an uninvolved parenting style. I understand this is a broad generalization, however, here is my reasoning.

Uninvolved parenting usually results in kids who are resilient and independent. However, there may be a lot of trauma and unresolved issues that come with that. These kids may have anxiety and PTSD from having to "fend for themselves". Moreover their inability, to maintain relationships with others could be a result of poor self-esteem or mistrust, which can lead to social anxiety in a more sensitive child. Especially if that parent was emotionally or physically abusive.

Okay, now how about authoritarian parents?According to "Children that grow up with authoritarian parents will usually be the most well-behaved in the room because of the consequences of misbehaving. Additionally, they are better able to adhere to the precise instructions required to reach a goal. Furthermore, this parenting style can result in children who have higher levels of aggression but may also be shy, socially inept, and unable to make their own decisions."

After reading that, I was very triggered. I am the child of two Muslim, Nigerian immigrants. The primary style of parenting in most African and Muslim cultures is authoritarian, and oh boy, authoritarians they were. I love my parents, and they provided my siblings and I with a great education, safety, security, and a sense of community growing up. However, our emotional and mental well beings were not given the same level of care and attention.

We were given a strict set of rules and expected to stick to it, or else we were punished. Emotional and physical (very mild) abuse were the norm in my home. However, many would say the punishments did not usually fit the crime. Any time I asked to go to a friend's house, it was always a struggle. It was like 40 questions, authoritarian parent style. "What do their parents do? Are you going to do drugs? What's their GPA?"

I was not given the space and tools to grow and make my own mistakes. I did not know what it was like to try something, fail, and learn to pick myself up. My parents made me too afraid to try anything or everything was done for me.

What can you do about it?

You may have had a similar experience growing up. Maybe you didn't and you had permissive or authoritative parents. In any case, it is important that you first do the work in understanding why you are the way you are. A lot of people call this inner child work. Some people, suppress those experiences very deep down in their subconsciousness, and revisiting them can be very painful and triggering. Depending on how traumatic your childhood was, you may or may not need to hire a therapist to help you do so.

I would not consider my childhood traumatic in any sense, but there are still things there worth digging into. Once you recognize where those emotions stem from, you can move forward. What does moving forward look like? The answer is different for everyone. However, it usually starts by understanding that you are not a victim of your circumstances. It‘s easy to blame your parents. You tell yourself that they're the reason you are the way you are and nothing can be done about it. This is a false belief.

Now, I realize that is easy for me to say. As I mentioned, I have not had any major traumatic experiences. However, if you continue to come from a place of "why me", "life sucks", and "I don't deserve this" then you will continue to attract the same thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It then becomes a vicious and self-serving cycle.

You have to believe deep down in your soul that you have the power and ability to pull yourself our of your circumstances. You have to learn to forgive your parents, and realize that they were just doing their best. They were perpetuating a cycle because they didn't know any better. They were not given the tools to recognize what they were doing. A lot of the time, your children are your greatest teachers. Instead of perpetuating that cycle, or being a victim, be grateful. You were placed in a time or circumstance where you have those tools. Now you can heal that generational trauma and possibly teach them something along the way.


#socialanxiety #anxiety #introvert #shy #parenting #parentingstyles

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Recognize. Embrace. Grow

I am a self-proclaimed awkward, introvert, with social anxiety. Those three things are mutually exclusive by the way, I just happen to be all three.  I have been labeled as "quiet" and "shy" for as long as I can remember, and when people call you things your whole life you eventually start to internalize them. However, in our culture there is often a negative stigma attached to these labels. As a kid this is cute, and people won't bother you much about it, but as you get older, being quiet and shy makes people uncomfortable…and I was a pro at it. However, I have recently realized that I'm not alone.


So, I decided to start this blog and podcast to help shine a light on people like myself. I plan to do that by talking about the unique issues we often face as a result of our "conditions". Then I will discuss valuable tools I have learned and that you can use to recognize negative thought patterns and reframe them in a positive way so you can learn to embrace your awkward!


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