Self-Love without Parental Love

This month, the month of love, can cause singles to feel left out and depressed. Since Adam and Eve, people believe they’re supposed to be part of a couple, but sometimes, being single is exactly what a person is supposed to be. There are people who are happily single by choice and those who want to be in a relationship but aren’t; within those two groups are people who are unwilling to settle for someone who isn’t good for them. However, there is a third kind of single person, and this is who I’m writing to today. These are the single people who long to be in a relationship and are willing to settle just to be part of one. They typically have low self-esteem, struggle with loving and valuing themselves, and aren’t clear about the kind of person they would like to be with.

As humans, we have been conditioned to look outside of ourselves for love. Initially, we look to our parents, because isn’t that the unspoken agreement? When a parent takes on the job of raising children, don’t they vow to love those children unconditionally for the rest of their lives? Some parents do, but unfortunately, many do not.

For 17 years, I worked for a specialized foster care agency and saw hundreds, if not thousands, of children placed in foster care because of parental physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. Their parents were doing the best they could, but it wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t what their children needed. Children can survive some horrendous situations, but when they believe their parents don’t love them, it creates unseen scars that, without proper intervention, can affect every other relationship they have.

It is extremely difficult for a child to learn they are worthy and deserving of love when the people who are supposed to love them unconditionally don’t. If you are an adult who grew up without knowing your parents loved you, here are some things that could help.

  1. Know that your parents did the best they could to get what they wanted. Sometimes, parents have other priorities than their children. It’s a parent’s job to prioritize their children, but some don’t know how. This could be because of a variety of reasons, like selfishness or addiction, or because they never knew the love of their own parents.
  2. Put the responsibility for this where it belongs. If you were deprived of parental love, it was never your fault. No child has ever been born who does not deserve the love of their parents, including you. Children are defenseless; only their parents or primary caregivers can give them what they need to survive and to flourish. If your parents were incapable, or worse, unwilling to provide these basics, the responsibility is theirs. If they were also victims of trauma, then their abusers share in that responsibility. It is never the child’s fault, without exception. No child has the power to cause their parents not to love them—not even you.
  3. Unconditionally trust your parents to be who they are instead of who you want them to be. I have heartbreakingly watched many children work so hard to get their parents to see them and to love them only to be ignored or hurt for their efforts. This doesn’t stop in childhood; it can play out for the rest of their life. If you are still waiting to receive the love of your parents so you finally feel worthy of love, for your own sake, please stop. Unless your parents are actively working to understand and improve their parenting, recognize they are unlikely to change. Most don’t even recognize there’s a problem with their behavior. Don’t villainize them, don’t hate them, but forgive them for not being the parents you needed. This forgiveness is for you, not for them. You can trust them unconditionally to be the broken people they are, unable or unwilling to truly love you. This is their shortcoming, not yours.
  4. Decide, right now, despite their inadequacies, that you were, and still are, worthy of love. You will likely never get that from them, but you can learn to give that to yourself.
  5. When you are ready, discover the GLOW. Not having loving parents may be one of the worst pains a child can bear. As an adult, if you want to, you can look for how this experience has benefitted you. With great pain comes great benefits because everything is equally balanced. What are the gifts, lessons, opportunities and wisdom you derived from having parents incapable of providing you the love you needed and deserved?


This is challenging work. It isn’t easy to forgive, to unconditionally trust and to find the GLOW. If you need some help, think about joining a Mental Freedom class. Once you break free, you will be able to learn to love yourself and allow that love to pour out to others. Most importantly, you’ll be able to break that cycle: If you have children of your own, you’ll be able to sign that contract to unconditionally love them.

Schedule a call with Kim to learn more.

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