Self-Worth does not Sprout from Families

Oct 5 , 2019
By Eden Sahle ( Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at )

At some time or another, we all find our lives burdened with the weight of families, based on what our parents have done or did not do. People evaluate individual values based on parents’ characters and personalities. Those who are disadvantaged growing up with irresponsible and abusive parents are made to inherit the blame, while those who grow up with good and responsible parents take credit for their parents.

There is a blind spot that is putting so much unnecessary pressure on so many people. There are a lot of people who blame issues in their lives on their parents. True, parents affect us profoundly when we are kids, but then we have the choice to leave the negative. How people grow up and with whom should not determine people’s values and identity. Our values and identity underlie everything we are. What is objectively true about our life is that we do not have to be judged by our parents' good or bad deeds and how they choose to live and value things.

The question should not be whether we evaluate ourselves against our parents. Instead, the question is by what standard do we measure ourselves?

Our life-defining metric should not be made in comparison to our families. Our individual values determine the metrics by which we measure ourselves and everyone else. When people measure themselves not by their behaviour, but by the good or bad status symbols they inherit from their families, then are they missing out on what they can do and are burying their potential.

The fact is people base their self-worth on their good supportive family, or abusive and ignorant families prevent themselves from discovering their unique destiny. They will lose the ability to take on new perspectives. They close themselves off from doing a whole lot of new things than their parents. We need to act individually to promote a constant state of learning and growth.

Family problems may be inevitable, but inheriting the bad is not. We get to control what we take from each ladder of life based on how we choose to lead our lives. Everything we believe and feel about ourselves ultimately comes back to how we understand our task. The point is to sit and nail down some ethical values and metrics and live up to it.

When I was doing volunteer work in the regional states, I met a medical doctor who became my good friend. She was very diligent and compassionate toward her patients, who were delighted to see her. She is an excellent professional and a good person. Once over lunch, she shared with me her life and how the society associates her with her parents, who made a name for themselves in her community with bad deeds. She grew up with a family who verbally and physically abused her and her siblings. The physical abuse she endured from her parents is something we hear from prison centres. It is heartbreaking how parents can treat their children like this, but they did. However, she did not become her parents. She became herself.

While marrying, she struggled to prove herself to so many that she is nothing like her parents. People and her in-laws put so many labels on her only because of her parents and her difficult upbringing. People assume that when people grow up in a difficult home, they are miserable and always repeat the situation. They ignore the difference between parents and children.

Sadly, she is not alone. Many are forced to prove themselves when they have complicated families.

On the other hand, people automatically assume someone is good just because they have great families. Evaluating people based on their family background undermines people. We should not criticise their performance based on prior strict family actions. We all know children who have great families but are involved in all sorts of bad behaviours and even criminal activities. Do we blame the family even when they have done everything they could?

The fact is, we are always choosing, whether we recognise it or not. A good life is the application of intentional good deeds and kindness, not family backgrounds. If our lives were supposed to be defined by our families, we would have probably been allowed to choose them as we do our friends.

Real, serious, lifelong, fulfilling character requires a lot of work and cannot be inherited. The same goes for bad characters. Great personalities of any kind grow out of the individual's extensive work and consistency. It does not just sprout out of families and upbringing.

What society needs to do is encourage and appreciate individuals who become good people irrespective of their family background as good things in life do not come easy. We should recognise the most stressful processes most people pass through to be where they are.  After all, it is only right to provide credit and leave blame where it belongs.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 05,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1014]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Put your comments here

N.B: A submit button will appear once you fill out all the required fields.

Editors' Pick


Fortune news