As a result, we learn to shove our feelings down.
We learn to deny our innermost thoughts and ignore our own needs so we can avoid disappointing our parents. When parentified, we had to parent our siblings as well. We might end up feeling short or like we failed because by default, it is impossible for a child to perfectly fit in the roles of a parent. We may also feel guilty when when we have to leave home e.
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Psychologically, we feel like parents walking out on their children. There is no way we could have helped their parents with their emotional pains or many dissatisfactions of their lives. We believe it was our fault and that we were not enough. This affects us even as we grow into adults. We have an overly obligated sense of responsibility in relationships and may overcompensate for this. We do not learn to say no or know when to stop giving. We are always too eager to help or rescue other people from pain and might be attracted to partners that take more than they give. Eventually, we can become emotionally drained and fatigued.
What makes the situation worse is our difficulties in getting angry at our parent. When we were parentified, we intellectually understand they did not mean to be abusive and were just limited or vulnerable. As a sensitive child, we felt very compassionate and protective of our parents. This protective instinct hinders us from admitting the truth of what we have been deprived.
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It leaves deep emotional wounds that endure into their adult years, adding to the challenges already present. Behavioral manifestations that begin in childhood tend to become worse in adulthood, making it challenging to maintain healthy relationships. Our suffering continues as we enter adulthood. As the primary caregiver for our parents and siblings, there is often no emotional support, no safety net.
For the most part, we were expected to keep it together and never show signs of distress. We are often unable to express anger and have a hard time trusting others.
This unresponsiveness, in turn, makes the children feel shut out and abandoned. This is done through a process called mirroring. Children need to feel wanted and welcomed by their parents. To achieve this, parents applaud a child, encourage them and converse with them in an affirmative way. Sure, a parent cannot be there for the child at all times.
A parent has work or other commitments to attend to. But as a baseline, a we receive enough mirroring experiences to have a foundation. If we have received sufficent mirroring as a child, we will have enough memories to draw from and no longer requires constant reassurance. We will grow up with a good sense of self-worth and an ability to self- regulate.
If ,however, we have not had enough mirroring experience, the development of our internal-mirroring would have been hindered, and part of our psyche remains child-like and dysregulated. On several failed attempted, he resigned and turned away, looking hopeless.
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These events occurred quite quickly, that they could have gone unnoticed. The experiment shows that we learn to regulate emotions by mirroring. Babies only learn to manage and regulate how they feel when they have other people as mirrors. This skill is particularly crucial for empathetic children.
It is easy for us to get overwhelmed by other people when we cannot self regulate. Adults in some families may disapprove children with scorn when we try to connect with them.
This emotional neglect takes a substantial toll on. We do not easily forget these hurtful events. According to the Separation-Individual theory , babies have a natural symbiotic relationship with their mothers at birth. However, they still need to have a sense of self and know their mothers as a different entity from them so that they can develop healthily. However, some parents have a hard time letting go and separating themselves from their children, usually due to their own insecurities or unfulfilling lives.
This eventually denies the child opportunities to take risks, explore, make productive mistakes and become resilient. They may try and use the child to fill a void they feel from being displeased with their own lives or relationships. On having a child, the parent may feel as though she finally has someone who will love her unconditionally and proceed to use the child to fulfill her own need to be wanted the female pronoun is used in old psychoanalytical texts.
We should be careful not to preserve this mother blaming culture. We can imagine why it is tempting for the parents to use an empathic child as a confidant— they are loving, perceptive and sensitive. They can sense when their parents feel down even before they do.
After all, we were afraid of losing their love. This results in enmeshment— a relationship where people become excessively involved with each other. In enmeshment, family boundaries are blurred or non-existent. Since we did not grow up with firm emotional boundaries, we struggle to set them as adults. We have a blurred sense of identity and find it difficult to differentiate between our feeling and the feelings of those close to us. We feel an obligation to help others, sometimes compulsively. It may be difficult for us to have balanced relationships.
Enmeshment often occurs under the guise of love, loyalty, family or unity, which makes it even more deceptive. Rather than love or family, it comes from a place of fear.
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A child should not feel like there is a condition which he is loved. Parents should not feel like their children are their only source of happiness, fulfilment or wellbeing. Enmeshment is not a malicious scheme by parents. It often is a family pattern, passed down from generations. Parents are usually not even aware that they are enmeshing their young ones; they only are repeating a cycle.
Parenthood comes with an array of emotions; anger, joy, grief, pride, and so on. While it is not commonplace to talk about it in society, jealousy is one of these emotions that parents can feel towards their children. Parents with unfulfilling lives are particularly threatened by seeing what their children have— opportunities that were not available to them in their youth. As they watch their children grow, their childhood wounds are reopened, and they go back psychologically to when they were children.
Sometimes, they even begin to perceive their children as competitors.
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This becomes a paradox. On one hand, they genuinely want their children to succeed. On the other hand, they feel intimidated seeing their children more beautiful and more successful than they were or are. They may feel betrayed as the child becomes more independent, considering how much time and energy that had sacrificed for the child.
Parents who are not self-conscious may out their resentment and envy in dysfunctional ways. They may give their children back-handed or sarcastic compliments, subtle criticism or even more direct attack and scorn. However, when the supposed role models insult us for our accomplishments or put us down, we begin to develop low self-esteem and hate ourselves.
As adults, we may feel very guilty or ashamed of our successes in life. We may even sabotage ourselves, stay average and purposely underachieve. Carl Jung explains that nothing has a stronger psychological influence on children than the unlived lives of parents. Although it does not make up for how they behave, most competitive parents at a point in their childhood were victims of deprivation.
They find it difficult to give positive feedback to their children because they never had it. It is possible that you had hoped and you were disappointed but kept hoping regardless. Or that you were hurt and betrayed but still believe in love. It is possible to feel confused by the several trains of emotions that you have for the family that could not understand you.
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From the point of view of human evolution, the bond we form with our parents or caregivers is one of life-or-death and so, the idea that these people we totally depend on can fail us or that we can disappoint them is terrifying. We have historically suppressed the anger or resentment we had for our parents because that was the only way to survive. Despite becoming adults, a lot of us still have an estranged relationship with anger.
We find ways to rationalize or justify the rage we feel because we feel threatened by it. Most of us do not feel safe enough to handle our rage and spend so much of ourselves trying to drown it. We may binge eat or numb ourselves, becomes aggressive to ourselves or fall into depression. Sometimes, the bottled-up rage in us explode unexpectedly, and we sabotage our current relationships with those we love.