Healed & Healthy Relationships

Determining Your Relationship’s Health

You are welcome to share Dr. Gloria Lee’s article:

Learn from Dr. Gloria Lee for FREE

Weekly relationship inspiration and tips delivered straight to your inbox.

Most of you grew up with parents who wanted the best for you. Some of you had caregivers who encouraged you, taught you life lessons, and modelled who they wanted you to become. You are the lucky minority who experienced an attachment based parenting style.

For the rest of you, you had parents who also wanted the best for you but imparted this message by setting expectations without encouragement, teaching, or modelling. Instead, you were expected to do well in life and know how to do this without instruction. Most of the feedback was through negative interactions after you messed up. This could include criticizing, yelling, shaming, lecturing, hitting, and withdrawing of love.

You were expected to do well in school, be a good kid, be well behaved, excel in your activities, and obey and respect your parents. If you didn’t reach these expectations, you would get in trouble in one of the various ways described above. This is considered a behavioral based parenting style.

Both types of parents (attachment based and behavioral based) meant well, but the former typically leads to children who grow up feeling emotionally stable and healthy, having higher self-esteem, and understanding how to have flourishing relationships. Their relationships are attachment based and their self-worth is dependent on who they and not how they’ve performed.

Whereas the latter type of parenting (behavioral based), typically leads to children who grow up as adults who don’t feel good enough. They lack self-confidence, have lower self-worth, and have unrealistic expectations on themselves (and often on others).

Interactions with others are more transactional, i.e., if I perform well to please you and meet your expectations, then you will like and accept me, but if I don’t perform well enough, then you will be displeased, and disapprove of and reject me. Thus, approval and acceptance are dependent on performance. Moreover, self-worth is based on other people’s evaluation of me.

In adult relationships, especially romantic ones, these two types of parenting styles show up automatically and consistently. Here’s how you can tell which type of parenting style you grew up with.

Ask yourself:

Do I like and accept the other person more when they meet my expectations (i.e., they performed well and thus are deemed good enough or worthy)?
Do I think the other person’s acceptance and approval of me is based on how well I performed or pleased them (i.e., I am good enough or worthy if…)?
Do arguments typically circle around how you or the other person failed in performance or behaviour (i.e., one person didn’t measure up to the other person’s expectations)?
Does your self-evaluation revolve around your performance or behaviour (I’m good enough if…)?  

Think about your interactions with others. Is it more transactional or relational? This will be very telling of the quality and health of your relationships.

Read More Relationship Insights