One thing I’d like to make clear is that I’m not saying the world is split into ‘good’ children and ‘bad’ children. There are any number of other epitaphs we adopt as children – the quiet one, the charming one, the talented one, etc. And it’s not like there can only be one ‘good’ kid in the family. You could have all been ‘good’ kids or maybe none of you were.
But more likely than not there was one title you could fall under and the thing is, these categories aren’t just for show. They continue to affect us until we’re old and grey. They shape the way we make choices and the attitudes we adopt. This is why it’s good to understand just what it means to have been the ‘good’ child.
First, let’s talk about what it was like: It was always following the rules, meeting expectations, maybe even taking responsibility of your siblings. It was being polite to even your most annoying tita, coming home with good grades, and doing your chores before your parents had to ask. It can manifest in any number of ways but the core of being the ‘good’ child were actions which you thought would make your parents happy.
And usually, it was all in the vain hopes of lessening your parents’ problems. Maybe it was so that they would have one less thing to fight about, or one less child to stay up worrying over. This might not be true for all but generally, I think a part of being that ‘good’ child was to show your parents: see? I’m not a burden.
You’ve internalized it to the point that it continues to affect all your other relationships. You take that moniker and carry it into adulthood, always feeling you have to be the ‘good’ one in different parts of your life. In class, you are that helpful student; in the office, you are the hard worker who is loathed to make a mistake; in relationships, you martyr yourself so you never have to be a hassle.
Because being the ‘good’ child means swallowing your feelings in order to do what needs to be done or to do what’s expected of you. It’s deprioritizing yourself for the sake of someone else. It’s being unable to deal with your emotions and express them because you’d never had the luxury of doing so before.
That desire to please everyone will stay and become a need. It’s compulsive, almost, the tendency to make sure you’re not disappointing anyone. Because of this, accepting criticism and holding confrontations becomes harder and harder. Any critical comment will feel like a direct attack, a sign you are failing the model image you aim to project. While confrontations cripple you just by the thought of calling out or being called out.
It’s important to realize these things when you still have time to change them.
It’s hard to break the molds we set for ourselves, but sometimes we need to. Not everything about being the ‘good’ child is bad but there are mistakes and experiences you have to let yourself make. You restrict yourself with the baggage you carry from this which is why there is a fundamental need to understand it.
Do you agree with this? Let us know why or why not in the comments!