top of page

Having a Critical Parent

By Dena Stewart

Growing up with a critical parent

Artwork: Stop and smell the flowers by Dena Stewart

The headline sparked my interest.
“Personality traits of adults
who grew up with a critical parent.”
It gave examples of researched results.

If your parent disapproved of you,
and said so as a fact.
Found fault with most things that you did
and showcased what you lacked.

Your reactions would be defensive.
Perfection would be your obsession ...
... though, not to take pride in your triumphs,
but to ward off judgmental aggression.

You’re unable to bounce back from errors,
finding yours a humiliation.
You apologize to everyone,
even those who lack qualification.

You don’t believe compliments offered.
Accomplishments feel like you’re cheating.
You question if those you know like you
or are being polite at a meeting.

Negative self-talk accepts full blame
for any social transgression.
You challenge your own input-value
thereby making you prone to depression.

You’re your own harsh inner critic
to justify judging another.
You grew up unable to trust yourself,
as your mind hears the voice of your mother.

So, think of the times you were criticized.
Name her hurtful words and actions
that shaped your personality
and caused you to have wrong reactions.

Know that you can change your bad traits,
and be cleansed of your daft mind-pollution.
Just retrain your brain to focus on good
with self-kindness your new resolution.

About the Poet:


New York Teacher, Editor, Corporate Exec. Though Dena advanced, the stress made her a wreck. “In what profession would you be content knowing, most days, that your time was well spent?”To be a painter as my occupation. To use art for engagement and education.” She moved to South Beach, took part in town action, and founded a nonprofit for creative interaction. She edits interviews for her video show, adding to her bio as newer ventures grow. Challenges force Dena to reach and to rise. Her eye is on serenity. Inner Peace, the valued prize.

Dena Stewart  | 786 269-3606 |

Comments (1)

May 23

This poem really nails the impact of having a critical parent. It touches on perfectionism, self-worth issues, and trust struggles in a way that's super relatable. Despite the heavy topic, it ends on a hopeful note about healing through self-kindness. It’s a great read that feels both validating and inspiring. Thanks, Dena!

bottom of page