Children of successful parents aren’t the only ones hiding behind their parents’ shadows. The experience is widespread, and the repercussions last well into adulthood.

When Ryan decided to pursue a teaching degree, he anticipated receiving his father’s displeasure. The American special education administrator from Maryland, age 25, wanted to make children’s lives better. He was persuaded to seek a profession in medicine by his successful father, a physician. Ryan’s father wanted his children to take advantage of the opportunities in the US that he had worked so hard to make attainable for them. Ryan had long thought that he would follow in his father’s footsteps. But when he started studying physics in college, he realized medicine wasn’t the right fit for him. It was challenging to break the news to his father. For instance, the children of certain well-known parents have expressed regret at having to spend their young years with them.

According to Alex Leff, a psychologist and relationship expert in New York City who works with many children of the famous or socially prominent, children who grow up in their parents’ shadows may have a variety of issues as adults. She’s observed that many of her clients turn to perfectionism, anxiety, and success as a way to cope with a pervasive sense of unhappiness in their lives.