The Lifelong Effects of Childhood Neglect By Parents

The-lifelong-effects-of-childhood-neglect-by-parents

Neglectful parenting is far from an ideal approach in raising a resilient, confident and emotionally healthy child.

If you were emotionally or physically neglected as a child, it can be a difficult journey to heal.

Neglect can be a hard thing to put your finger on, especially emotional neglect. Neglected children often don’t realize they are being neglected at the time, and can internalize the pain and loneliness and think it is their fault. They are often told they are “too sensitive” or “selfish” if they try to get their needs met.

Parents with little empathy often neglect their children and don’t even realize it, while there are also parents who don’t care. Either way, the child grows up wondering about their own self-worth and value.

Traumatic experiences like abuse and neglect have an adverse effect on children’s brain development.

As the child matures, the developing brain changes in response to the child’s environment.

Bruce Perry, an authority on brain development and children in crisis, has done pioneering research in this arena. His research shows that a child’s brain develops in sequence, just like other aspects of physical development. Perry says that the sensitive brain of an infant or young child is malleable. Powerful experiences alter the functioning of an adult brain, but for children, especially young children, traumatic events may change its very framework. Studies and clinical experience also show that childhood abuse and neglect can impact a child’s emotional development.

In my practice, I see adult clients who were neglected, and most have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and significant trauma to resolve. If there was a lack of emotional attachment in childhood, this also affects relationships later in life and can make it difficult to trust others. Fear is often expressed and felt without always understanding why.

Young children naturally have a playful and curious spirit about them. Sometimes it is fun to just watch them innocently explore the world around them. But if children are not properly attended to, validated, treasured, and loved, this spirit can be squashed and damaged.

Many times, parents who are neglectful also use shame and humiliation when the child attempts to get their love and approval. The child may eventually stop trying, and the loneliness that follows may actually be easier to deal with than shame, humiliation, or neglect.

The late Swiss psychologist Alice Miller made this important point when she said, “We don’t yet know, above all, what the world might be like if children were to grow up without being subjected to humiliation, if parents would respect them and take them seriously as people.”

We’ve all had the experience of seeing children mistreated in public. It’s hard to watch without wanting to interfere and protect. But now with social media and internet access, we are certainly seeing more shaming of children in the public eye. Facebook, YouTube, and other social media displays of treating children badly are seen far too often.

Using authoritarian parenting and shaming children into submission might be the easiest way to parent, but it’s also the most damaging. Ignoring or neglecting a child’s needs can create many symptoms and ultimately mental health problems, which then can affect the rest of his or her life.

How, for example, can a child grow up knowing how to provide empathy and nurturing if they were never taught?

If children are loved and treated well, they don’t grow up wanting to hurt others; they grow up wanting to help and respect others, and with the ability to provide empathy.

How an Unhealthy Father Daughter Relationship Damages a Daughter’s Adult Relationships

How an Unhealthy Father Daughter Relationship Damages a Daughter's Adult Relationships

A healthy father-daughter relationship acts as a scaffolding for building a beautiful future for the daughter.

The one that teaches you how the world functions. The one that sees you totter and fall and get back up again, offering unrelenting support. The one that set your idea of men when you couldn’t even speak your own truth.

The father is all of this and much more for his daughter.

Healthy father and daughter relationships tend to be the spine behind healthier societies and a healthier world.

A healthy father-daughter bond ensures healthy examples being set out, the ability to be strong yet compassionate and can often influence the way the daughter functions as a human being all through life.

Unfortunately, this ideal isn’t attained in every father-daughter relationship. The reasons are many, but what really holds is the impact such a relationship has on the child and later the grown-up.

The question is:

Can you tell if who you’ve become is partly because of the relationship you’ve shared with your father?

To get an idea, see if one of these patterns seem familiar to you.

 

4 Common Patterns in an Unhealthy Father Daughter Relationship

1. Absenteeism

When you recall the time you spent with your father during childhood, you recall a person who was hardly ever there.

And “hardly ever there” does not mean physically, which boils down to an extremely busy father who had too much work or would fail to show up for parent-teacher meetings.

Absenteeism is often more subtle than you think.

This could have been someone who sat at the same table with you, and yet you felt like he was somewhere else. You may have tried to convince yourself that he’s emotionally invested. The signs of holding and engaging though were entirely missing.

It is likely that you sensed his own behaviour wasn’t much different towards his own wife, who also happens to be your mother.

 

2. Abuse

Was your childhood peppered with scenes of rage and extreme anger, all of it coming from a father that the children were perpetually scared of?

Would you check in with yourself a hundred times before you spoke your truth to your father, fearing he might explode all over again?

Or was your home an out and out minefield every single day, where safety was a constant concern?

Abuse in a father-daughter relationship, overt or covert, can be a real cause of women finding it difficult to navigate their personal lives.

 

3. Escapism

This father-daughter relationship pattern has similarities with absenteeism, but there are differences too.

An escapist father often has addictions, engagements that don’t involve his current family and feels an overwhelming need to somehow stay detached from his living situation, while maintaining a semblance that he’s part of a “family”.

Alcoholism and drug use are common among escapist fathers, leaving daughters confused about where they stand in relationship with their fathers.

 

4. Co-dependence

You might already be familiar with co-dependency between partners.

But did you know co-dependency is as much a truth in father-daughter relationships?

If you experienced (and still perhaps experience) your father to be this person who treats you as an extension of himself, no matter the context or the stage of life, it’s likely that you’re dealing with co-dependency.

This is a state of fusion where a father feels so inextricably connected to his daughter, he can’t give up control over her life. This is is the case of a father that doesn’t invest – it’s one where the investment is so high, the daughter might feel a silent fear of speaking through her authenticity and taking her own decisions, for her own sake.

 

How the past might still be affecting you in your adulthood

The reason an unhealthy father-daughter relationship pattern can have a long-term impact is because this is a primary bond gone wrong.

As children grow up, they look to their caregivers for examples and support, in verbal and non-verbal ways. As a daughter you may not have consciously registered how your relationship with your father was leaving residues for you to resolve.

 

But here are a few signs you may need to look deeper :

1. You find it difficult to commit

Commitment is a sign that you’re ready to take any relationship to the next stage.

However, if you find that your relationships with men always border on doubt and unavailability, it might be a consequence of what you went through in your relationship with your father.

There is locked-up pain in such a situation, which can only be released once it has been explored.

 

2. You allow others to take control of your life

A co-dependent father can often make his daughter believe what he’s doing is for her life to work better than ever.

However, co-dependency realistically leads to daughters feeling like they are not able to get a hang of their own life. It could be about a career they want to pursue, a relationship they want to get into or even the kind of home they want to live in.

If you find yourself going back to paternal advice for every little thing, it might be a warning sign.

4 Steps to Recovery After Childhood Emotional Neglect

4 Steps to Recovery After Childhood Emotional Neglect

Childhood Emotional Neglect affects a child in a great many negative ways and the effects of it can be felt throughout his/her life.

However, the fact that the consequences are so far-reaching doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to recover. Healing from neglect and reconnecting with your emotions takes time, therapy, and a lot of work on your part, and so the sooner you start working on it the better.

How to Recover from Childhood Emotional Neglect: 4 Steps in the Right Direction

1. Start a journal

Keeping a journal is an effective practice which often features in the treatment of mental health (University of Rochester Medical Center).

It can help you recover from emotional neglect too, but you’ll need to do it right to achieve positive results.

Dedicate your journal to reconnecting with your emotions and changing your perspective on the events long past. One of the biggest issues with CEN is that the trauma itself occurs in childhood.

Therefore, you memorize it from the perspective of a child who is often incapable of grasping the complexities of human behavior.

Write your journal entries in the first person from the point of view of the adult you are. Begin with the first memory that you have of painful emotional experiences.

Were you punished by your parents for showing emotion?

What exactly happened? What led to the event?

What would you prefer to have happened instead? How did you perceive the experience at the time?

How did it affect you? Does it affect you still? How exactly does it influence your relationships with other people today?

Go through each and every painful memory in this way, thus gradually unraveling the tangle of your repressed emotions and reconnecting with them.

You should go over your journal entries to reassess them with your adult mind. Do this a few days after writing and focus on how your perception of the event has changed.

2. Treat depression first

CEN can cause depression, and if it has done so in your case you will need to seek treatment for both issues.

Luckily many of them correlate, so treating one should help your recovery from the other. For example, keeping a journal provides positive results in both cases.

However, suffering from a severe case of depression might make it impossible for you to even notice the impact of CEN upon your adult life, or diminish your motivation to recover from it.

Therefore depression treatment should take priority and you might require pharmaceutical intervention during this time.

In such a difficult situation you should see a mental health professional for assessment so they can develop a treatment plan which will address all of your issues.

3. Reach out to others for help

Everyone needs help sometimes and one of the greatest tragedies of CEN is that it often makes people unable to reach out for it.

Having your attempts turned down (and often belittled) in early childhood conditions you to avoid the action. But reaching out to other people and asking them for help directly is one of the most important steps for CEN recovery.

Start with something small, like asking friends or colleagues for assistance with a task. In some cases of course it might be easier, or just plain necessary, to reach out for help to professionals.

In such an instance a visit to a therapist can be your first step to learning how to ask for and accept help.

4. Improve your interpersonal skills through learning

Inability to connect with other people and maintain healthy relationships because you cannot manage your own emotions is a common consequence of emotional neglect in childhood.

To overcome it you will need to learn how to interact with people and to understand what healthy relationships actually are. Today it is possible to do this with the help of specialized books and articles available online.

There are also many seminars and workshops which focus on relationships and psychology. Attend these and explore better ways of expressing and accepting your emotions as you would any other subject.

Bear in mind that CEN is a major risk factor for developing psychopathology after the age of 15, especially if the parents in question are not only neglectful but also controlling.

This underlines the severity of the issue and should serve as a reminder to all care-givers to look out for the symptoms and to provide aid to the affected child.

Effects of Growing Up as an Unloved Child and How To Heal

Effects of Growing Up as an Unloved Child and How To Heal

Here are some adverse effects of growing up as an unloved child and ways to deal with it.

Childhood is a stage for growth not only physically but also emotionally. It is not a rare phenomenon for unloved children, battling with emotional and behavioral problems.

When we are born we have no sense of self. We can’t tell ourselves as being different from our mothers. As infants, our sense of self is totally enmeshed with our parents.

As we grow up, we gradually realize that we are a separate individual and it is around the age of two or three that we start developing a separate sense of self or “Ego”.

It is during these initial years (birth to six years) of our life that we start developing our ego/sense of self and our interaction with our parents during this time plays a pivotal role in the quality of ego/sense of self we develop.

If we receive consistent love and support during our childhood, we grow up with a feeling that we are valuable and loved; we have an increased ability to solve our problems, to form healthy and meaningful relationships and an overall sense of well being and security.

If we receive inconsistent love or face excessive humiliation or trauma during our childhood, we grow up with a poor sense of self, fear of failure, lack of trust and a tendency to enter into toxic relationships.

This is because as an infant we are totally helpless and dependent on our parents for sustenance, love, and care and abandonment by parents is as painful as death.

If a child notices that his parents do not have time for him or are inconsistent in their ways towards his needs, he develops a feeling that he must be worthless and good for nothing.

If the sense of self is distorted at this age, a person carries that into adulthood and it reflects into his behavior even as an adult.

 

Here are some of the behaviors of people who were unloved as children display as adults:

 1). Fear of abandonment, Unhealthy attachment styles and toxic relationships

A child who gets consistent love and support during his childhood grows up with a healthy attachment style.

He has a deep internal sense of his value and the deep sense of security.

He knows that he is worthy of being loved and cared for, relationships are stable and that this world is a safe place to explore and learn.

But if a child receives inconsistent love and support during his childhood, he grows up with an insecure attachment style.

They either become anxiously attached or totally avoidant in their relationships.

  • Anxious attachment style

If a child gets love and support that is inconsistent, sometimes there and sometimes not there, he will grow up with an anxious attachment style.

He will cling to people for attention and will be perennially scared that they will leave him sometime or the other.

 

  • Avoidant attachment style

If a child grows up with parents who are not there to take care of the child, he learns to take care of himself and grows with an avoidant attachment style.

He will try to be as self-reliant as possible and will evade any intensity in relationships and will avoid sharing himself at deeper and intimate levels in relationships to avoid possible hurt.

The basis of both anxious and avoidant attachment style is Fear of abandonment that stems from a lack of parental love in childhood.

The partners we choose in adult relationships are subconsciously a replica of our parents because we seek the familiar.

Also if we have a poor sense of self and fear of abandonment due to lack of parental love in childhood, we will either have an anxious or avoidant attachment style and we will unconsciously get into toxic relationships.

It is important to take out time to acknowledge our unhealthy patterns and understand where they stem from so that we can consciously work towards healing them and form healthy relationships instead of toxic ones.

 

2). Operating in extremes in emotional space

It is during childhood, that the child gets help from his parents to learn to recognize and express his emotions in a safe environment.

If the parents are not available during this time, the child will have a hard time recognizing his emotions and expressing them in an optimum manner.

As he becomes an adult, he will operate in extremes in emotional space, he will either shut himself off to his emotions completely or he will express them in an exaggerated and uncontrolled manner.

7 Behaviors Common Among Adults Who Went Through Trauma At A Young Age

7 Behaviors Common Among Adults Who Went Through Trauma At A Young Age

The intensity of a traumatic incident varies from person to person.

Childhood trauma can range from a crippling fear of abandonment to physical abuse and anything between the two.

Many adults are forced to deal with the trauma they experienced as children throughout their lives.

This article will hold true for whoever has had to face something traumatic as a child.

Sometimes, we just hide things because that’s easier than actually dealing with them. We even do this unconsciously in order to protect ourselves at the time. But it is important to deal with these issues so that we can finally be free of that burden.

7 characteristics shared by people who went through trauma at a young age

1.  Recurring panic attacks

Those who have had to deal with trauma early on in life often struggle with anxiety as they grow older.

They find it hard to process a lot of things in one go. Whatever they suffered as kids still influence them by making them extra jumpy. They’re always looking over their shoulders because they see the whole world as threatening. This is why they often get panicky even when they know that there really is no cause to panic in that situation. They have to suffer through panic attacks every time they deal with even the slightest bit of stress.

 

2.  Making do

Any traumatic experience as a child can completely transform the rest of your life. You’ll be anxious because you want to be sure that you’ll never be in a situation like that, or in a situation similar to that, ever again in your life. This makes you extra careful at all times and unwilling to take risks, even if you know they’re important. You like to stay where you are comfortable even if it means that you’re holding yourself back from realizing your full potential. You just complete all the tasks that are necessary to get by but you don’t push yourself to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

 

3.  Being overwhelmed by fear

Trauma can hurt you a hundred different ways, some of which you may not even realize till you’re much older. Part of this experience is the phobia you develop of certain things because your mind associates them with the pain you had to go through. It could be anything from the fear of a certain kind of alcohol to more crippling fears like that of being inside a moving vehicle and so on. It’s important to try and win over this fear before it begins to control every aspect of your life. We never know when we’ll run into something that can trigger us so it is better to try and work through our issues because we actually know that those things don’t have the power to hurt us anymore.

 

4.  Becoming a recluse

When you’ve been through so much, sometimes it’s easier to just hide yourself away from the pity, the sympathy, the blame, and all the other emotions that the rest of the world will try to project on you, even if they are not close to you. You might hate the pitying glances or you might fear others passing harsh judgments on you. By ensuring that you only go out into society when you absolutely need to, you hide yourself from the prying eyes of everyone else. This is called a social anxiety disorder and don’t forget that you can always seek help for it.

 

5.  Becoming passive-aggressive

It’s usually easier to beat around the bush rather than directly confront the cause of your problems. When people are too scared to do the latter, they spend a lot of time trying to repress the anger and resentment that has taken hold deep inside them. While they may be successful at times, some of it will eventually start to find its way out. They might not be ready for the direct confrontation but they start dealing with it in a passive-aggressive manner in an effort to remain subtle while getting their point across. They might think that they’re avoiding negativity but they’re just lying to themselves.

 

6.  A state of constant tension

That traumatic experience probably ended a long, long time ago but some people have a hard time letting go. They’re well aware that their circumstances have changed but they’re always preparing for those problems to come back, some even unconsciously so. Their brain is stuck on the principle of flight and fight and this causes a good deal of internal conflict. They are in a state of constant tension which keeps them from living life as it should be lived. They are never carefree about anything. This is usually seen in survivors of physical abuse but it also occurs in those who have had breakdowns due to being overstressed.

The Lifelong Effects Of Childhood Neglect

The Lifelong Effects Of Childhood Neglect

If you were emotionally or physically neglected as a child, it can be a difficult journey to heal. Neglect can be a hard thing to put your finger on, especially emotional neglect.

Neglected children often don’t realize they are being neglected at the time and can internalize the pain and loneliness and think it is their fault.

They are often told they are “too sensitive” or “selfish” if they try to get their needs met. Parents with little empathy often neglect their children and don’t even realize it, while there are also parents who don’t care. Either way, the child grows up wondering about their own self-worth and value.   

Traumatic experiences like abuse and neglect have an adverse effect on children’s brain development. As the child matures, the developing brain changes in response to the child’s environment.

Bruce Perry, an authority on brain development and children in crisis, has done pioneering research in this arena. His research shows that a child’s brain develops in sequence, just like other aspects of physical development. Perry says that the sensitive brain of an infant or young child is malleable.

Powerful experiences alter the functioning of an adult brain, but for children, especially young children, traumatic events may change its very framework. Studies and clinical experience also show that childhood abuse and neglect can impact a child’s emotional development. In my practice,

I see adult clients who were neglected, and most have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and significant trauma to resolve. If there was a lack of emotional attachment in childhood, this also affects relationships later in life and can make it difficult to trust others. Fear is often expressed and felt without always understanding why.    

Young children naturally have a playful and curious spirit about them. Sometimes it is fun to just watch them innocently explore the world around them. But if children are not properly attended to, validated, treasured, and loved, this spirit can be squashed and damaged.

Many times, parents who are neglectful also use shame and humiliation when the child attempts to get their love and approval. The child may eventually stop trying, and the loneliness that follows may actually be easier to deal with than shame, humiliation, or neglect.

The late Swiss psychologist Alice Miller made this important point when she said, “We don’t yet know, above all, what the world might be like if children were to grow up without being subjected to humiliation if parents would respect them and take them seriously as people.”

We’ve all had the experience of seeing children mistreated in public. It’s hard to watch without wanting to interfere and protect. 

But now with social media and internet access, we are certainly seeing more shaming of children in the public eye. Facebook, YouTube, and other social media displays of treating children badly are seen far too often.

Using authoritarian parenting and shaming children into submission might be the easiest way to parent, but it’s also the most damaging. Ignoring or neglecting a child’s needs can create many symptoms and ultimately mental health problems, which then can affect the rest of his or her life.

How, for example, can a child grow up knowing how to provide empathy and nurturing if they were never taught? If children are loved and treated well, they don’t grow up wanting to hurt others; they grow up wanting to help and respect others and with the ability to provide empathy.

If you are an adult who was neglected, please know that you can find your true sense of self and worthiness. You don’t have to take counsel from the wounded parents who treated you badly. You can define yourself, and live and model a different kind of life and parenting style with your own children.

This starts with working on your personal trauma and getting it processed. Don’t go it alone; get help when needed and don’t minimize the pain. You may think it is too selfish or self-absorbed to discuss your feelings, but they will catch up to you in the long run.

As Alice Miller said: “I have never known a patient to portray his parents more negatively than he actually experienced them in childhood but always more positively — because idealization of his parents was essential for his survival.”

She added, “Wherever I look, I see signs of the commandment to honor one’s parents and nowhere of a commandment that calls for the respect of a child.”

Take a moment to think about how it feels when someone truly believes in you and validates your needs and feelings. Empathy is the greatest gift to give and receive.