Does One’s Childhood Determine One’s Adulthood ?

No advice in first person please, I’m asking for your opinions on the topic (in the title) … personal advise will (probably) be laughed at vigorously …

Childhood – some had great ones others had awful ones. Lucky for the lucky ones. But what of those who had a terrible time – bullied or abused, terrorised or a narcissist’s object, unloved or abandoned, and so on ? Is it possible to have a great adulthood, even with a terrible childhood ? And of course are all adults “happy” who had what would be considered “a great childhood” ?

Many widely accepted paradigms suggest that – what we do, how we feel and who we become in adulthood is directly related to our experiences as children. Obviously a paradigm isn’t “the truth”, it’s just a way of looking at things, an opinion. When the paradigm is widely accepted, and collectively believed, then it becomes a “widely accepted opinion”, again which not “the truth”. Within that, perhaps it’s true for the majority of people that quality of childhood equals quality of adulthood … many in the psychology field seem to believe this to be true.

Far be it for me to say, but – is that way of thinking perhaps just a convenient way to excuse being miserable, or a victim, or worse in adult life (a question, not a statement) ?

A more progressive paradigm might suggest that childhood has nothing to do with who we are in adulthood. Probably not a majority opinion, but that doesn’t make it “not true”.

It’s also possible that difficulties and challenges may build us into stronger, more capable and happier adults. This I believe is another widely accepted paradigm ?

Are we fated to serendipitously live into a predestined adulthood as a direct extrapolation of our childhoods, or do we have the free will to be who we want to be ?

For bottom feeders, the question is – does one’s childhood determine one’s adulthood, or not ?


Don Charisma

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35 thoughts on “Does One’s Childhood Determine One’s Adulthood ?

  1. It depends….I’ve read a book about resilience there are children who suffers loss and abandonment in their childhood but they succeeded later in life. In my case, I don’t fight back with force my style? I let my cup runs over to the brim when it did I will be like a roaring dragon breathing fire casing wreckage but I don’t do that because it will only worsen the problem. I have ways in solving problems intuitively. I deal every individual differently . It depends on their personality .

  2. In answer to your question….thank G*d not! I didn’t have a great childhood…although there were moments of greatness…and I have been blessed with a wonderful adult-life. The reason? I made a conscious decision that all the crazy things happening in my childhood would end there and not be a part of my children’s childhood. My mantra as a young 20-something was “the craziness ends with me”. Thankfully, with self-reflection, direction, and love, I’ve been able to marry a wonderful person and have a beautiful family. For sure there are moments in my adult life that I am not proud of, but there are many more that I am proud of. If my childhood “determined” anything it is this: that I wanted a better life when I got older. So…in essence…it helped direct it but it did not determine it. What an interesting question!

    1. 🙂 that’s awesome to hear, and makes sense that the crap stuff of yore can lead one to a goal of better for the future … and props for taking charge and finding the way !

  3. It may certainly effect but need not necessarily be “deterministic”. As you say, the are paradigms which need not be “truth”. Similiarly something that is not a paradigm may not necessarily be “not true”. A lot many other factors come into play…for example, what happened after the childhood! In any case there seems no one to one correlation.

  4. Yes and no. How helpful is that? 🙂

    I could have turned out to be an abusive narcissist like my mother. Instead I did the opposite of everything she did and have a 19-year-old son that I get along with (but am not ‘friends’ with; I am still mom).

    So, in a way it happened because I was determined to make sure nobody else had to feel like I did as a result of my behavior.

    M’s father on the other hand is just like his own father; has no relationship with this kids except occastional guilt trips to try to get in their good graces. Luckily M is strong enough to ignore it and tell him to get lost.

    1. I’ve had some experiences with abusive narcissists myself, so can entirely empathise with you on that … and props for deciding to take the right road …

      And yes, extremely helpful actually, decisive can be good, but stubborn fanatics are a tad boring and predictable !

      1. Is there anyway you can do a blog on this topic? I think my husband is a Narcassist and he is hurting me so much, I feel like he has no heart, it seems like he always knows how to hurt me the worst even when I leave I feel like I lose like I’m being punished, why does he always win and will this ever get better? Will I be the one to win once? I feel like there is no karma and I want to hate him but I don’t I wish he would change but he won’t! So all I ask is to be indifferent to him, but I can’t!

  5. Childhood does influence adulthood! Except in some cases we stay the same- Some people can be bullied and they continue to be a “Giver”, a kind helpful person. Other people let themselves be bullied and they don’t fight back. They become the ones who feel sorry for themselves, becoming depressed. Other people become fighters. My older sister used to bully me for many years as a child and teenager. She was always jealous of me I thought being I was 2 years younger. No matter what, I have forgiven her and she’s very sorry for what she did. WE get along fine now. We love each other.

    1. I think the youngest sibling usually gets the best deal, older siblings can be envious of that … can be that that manifests as bullying …

      BUT you’ve talked about it, dealt with it and put it behind you, which is all that really matters … so would support the popular belief that childhood experiences do influence adulthood. PLUS there’s the possibility of those experiences being resolved into some kind of catharsis, so that they no longer have much influence on us, by taking responsibility and addressing them …

      Thanks for sharing Lorraine 🙂

  6. That’s a good question. I think that our childhood has some influence on who we are as an adult, but I don’t think that one’s own way in life is completely dependant on one’s childhood. There are a million ways to influence us, both as children and as adults.
    That’s why I think that our childhood only partly influences us, it is not entirely who we are. Stating the opposite is like a prediction in my eyes which could be harmful for those who didn’t have a wonderful childhood.

    1. So potential for a self fulfilling prophecy, in saying “childhood experiences dictate how we are in adulthood” means that, you guessed it – “childhood experiences dictate how we are in adulthood” … did I read that correctly ?

      1. Yes, that’s what I mean. By showing my thoughts I hoped I might reach a person or two more than just by plainly saying it.
        I hope I didn’t express myself in a way that’s difficult to understand.

      2. Understood, if I read correctly then was easy to understand … English language can be ambiguous, and some people do also choose to make it more so, so best to ask for clarification when doubt surfaces 🙂

  7. I believe it a truth that your childhood plays a part in who you become as an adult. How can it not? It certainly is not the only factor, though.

    1. Well I think we can choose to dwell on aspects of it or not … and probably wouldn’t blame some who had very difficult childhood for dwelling on it, some awful stuff happens to kids …

      How can it not, well that’s the whole question 🙂

      And yes, definitely not the only factor ! … anything’s possible with Charisma, someone once said …

  8. Nice discussion on what is “the truth” or not. I believe that childhood does influence your adulthood. But for sure in the adulthood or even before there are a lot of factors or personal actions which can also contribute to “drive” your adulthood.

  9. Change is possible at any time. It doesn’t matter what our histories, our missteps or our stressors have been. We can move toward a healthier, happier future at any time.

  10. Some things we have control over to change, and other things not so much. I believe we are a “product” of the environment we are raised in. Part genetics, part environment.

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