Building Self-Esteem: Let Go of Your Childhood Hang-ups

“Inexperience can so often be our ondoing. I accepted bad behavior too often in my past relationships, and stayed too long. Now, when I see a red flag, I confront it.”
– Theresa, age 25

For daughters of divorce, childhood experiences run the gamut. Perhaps you grew up in a chaotic household with substance abuse or other addictive behavior. Perhaps domestic violence or infidelity tainted your childhood. Maybe a new stepfamily forever changed your life and the way you see the world. Or perhaps you experienced an inner conflict living between two worlds if your parents had joint custody. No matter your experience, you undoubtedly endured some degree of dysfunction, even if your parents coparented as well as they could. Regardless of the circumstances, one truth remains: The way you feel about the woman you are today is a direct result of how you felt about yourself as a child.

Your relationships, and the responses you receive from others, have helped create your self-esteem. This started very early on, within your family. Your divorce experience forever altered your sense of self-worth. As an adult, when you attempt to create romantic relationships of your own, you acquire a different sense of self-worth. In the Psychology of Romantic Love Nathaniel Branden indicates that you experience who you are in the context of your relationships. “When we encounter a new human being our personality contains, among other things, the consequences of many past encounters, many experiences, the internalization of many responses and instances of feedback from others,” he writes. Negative experiences in relationships can change who you are as an individual. They can change what you expect from the world and what you expect from your romantic partners.

I’d love to read your comments on this page. Be sure to order our new book “Daughters of Divorce: Overcome The Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship.”