Scars from your childhood have a way of staying with you. If someone were to ask you if you were emotionally neglected as a child, your immediate response might be “no.” But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll understand that your behavior as an adult has a lot to do with your experiences as a child. As painful as it may be to look back, childhood emotional neglectcould be the reason behind your actions today.
Here are six signs you were emotionally neglected as a child:
1. You Have Low Self-Esteem
Low self-esteem can be tied to many things, including being emotionally neglected as a child. When you were little, you may have felt like you weren’t worth your parents’ time or love, because they never paid much attention to you. While untrue, this feeling can be hard to shake. It can translate into low self-esteem and low self-worth throughout your adult life.
2. You’re Sensitive To Rejection
Are you sensitive to rejection? Being afraid of rejection in your adult life is a sign of rejection in the past. Being emotionally neglected can create a fear inside you that stays with you. Even constructive criticism hurts you, because you feel like you’re being attacked and told that you aren’t good enough.
3. You Feel Like Something Is Missing
If you were emotionally neglected as a child, you may always have the feeling that something is missing. There’s a hole inside that you leave open for a certain person’s love that you crave. Deep down, you believe that filling this space will finally bring you joy.
4. You Feel Numb
Feeling numb is something that can come and go. It isn’t a physical sensation, it’s an emotional sensation. Every once in a while, you feel numb to everything that’s going on around you. You realize that you should feel some emotion, but nothing really seems to matter. This type of emotional response is a sign that you were emotionally neglected as a child. You learned at a young age to stifle your emotions so you don’t get hurt.
5. You Refuse Help From Others
If you were emotionally neglected as a child, you often had no help when you needed it the most. You were constantly on your own. This feeling can follow you into adulthood. You learned never to be dependent on anyone else, so even if things are difficult for you, you refuse to reach out and ask for help from others.
6. You’re A Perfectionist
When a child is neglected, they might try almost anything to get their loved one’s attention. If you’ve been seeking that attention your whole life, you might end up being a perfectionist. You try to be perfect in everything you do, in order to finally get noticed and appreciated.
Strict Mothers Have More Successful Children, According To Science
Growing up, did you ever think your parents were being too strict? Maybe you’re one of those strict parents, whether you admit it or not. But do strict parenting styles really deserve all the flack they get? The funny thing is, the science suggests that being a stricter parent can actually help foster better children.
Why Strict Parents Usually Have Better Children
You’re probably wondering: what do they mean by ‘better’? In a 2015 study published by the Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex professor Ericka Rascon-Ramirez clarifies:
[The] measure of the expectations in this study reflects a combination of aspirations and beliefs about the likelihood of access to higher education declared by the majority of parents, in most cases the mother.
Between 2004 and 2010, Rascon-Ramirez studied a database of 15,500 schoolgirls aged thirteen or fourteen. She found that children who had strict mothers were more confident and secure. In addition to this emotional maturity, the frequency of premature pregnancies was 4 percent lower in teenage girls who had persistent and nagging mothers. As a result, children from families with strict parents – mothers especially – have a higher chance of finishing college, getting a good job, and finding general success.
In many cases we succeeded in doing what we believed was more convenient for us, even when this was against our parents’ will. But no matter how hard we tried to avoid our parents’ recommendations, it is likely that they end up influencing, in a more subtle manner, choices that we had considered extremely personal… What our parents expected about our school choices was, very likely, a major determinant of our decisions about conceiving a child or not during our teenage years.
In short, healthy parental pressure (i.e., setting high standards) can increase your child’s chance of going to and completing school, which ideally leads to a more successful life.
Parenting: How Strict Is Too Strict?
Every parent and adult planning on becoming a mother or father one day has asked themselves this question. How strict will I be as a parent? Studies exist where experts claim that strict parenting has minimal benefits for children. But with so many ‘experts’ on the topic, who do you believe – and put your child’s fate in the hands of?
Strict parenting, according to psychotherapist Philippa Perry, can turn your child into a liar (and an effective one at that). When a child lies, it’s not necessarily because he or she is a bad kid. Rather, the lies can come out of a co-created situation wherein the child feels unsafe telling the truth. Excessive discipline, putting pressure on a child to be perfect, or shaming them in front of other people can all contribute to this.
We do our kids no favors at all when we persecute them for lying. We can be curious about the lie, we can be interested in it, and look at our part in it. But being draconian and rigid about it is not going to make a situation better.
If Not Strictness, Then What?
So, is there a middle ground? Can parents enforce guidelines and values on their children without scaring them into being better at hiding their mistakes rather than owning up to them?
On the other end of the spectrum, numerous studies speak to the apparent intellectual superiority of Asian-American students compared to all other ethnic groups, especially in math and science.
It’s not because they’re simply born into intellect, but that Chinese parents are stricter, demand more, hold their children to higher standards, and have punishments ready when children fail to hit the mark. At first glance, authoritarian style of parenting seems undesirable. Even if children end up doing well, is it worth compromising their emotional and social well-being? Unlikely.
Consider authoritative parenting – there’s a difference. While authoritarian parenting functions out of fear, authoritative parenting – though spelled similarly – emphasizes high standards coupled with an abundance of parental warmth and open communication.
In short, there’s a battle between permissive parenting and authoritarian parenting:
In authoritarian parenting:
Harsh discipline can lead to more rebellious children
Strict discipline enforces the false idea that use of power is always right
Child-parent relationships are absent of empathy, based on fear, and encourage bullying
Children tend to be ‘good’ only when authorities are around, which fosters lying
In permissive parenting:
Children’s desires are fulfilled at someone else’s expense
The lack of healthy limitations doesn’t allow children to learn self-management and impose their own limits
Parents tend to be wishy washy on things that should not be compromised
Legitimate feelings of sadness and disappointment become intolerable (because parents do everything they can do keep their children from experiencing them)
Authoritative Parenting: A Fine Balance
No matter what side you choose, permissive and authoritarian parenting are two extremes that each have their flaws. In short, neither really works (in the long-term, at least). What does work well is authoritative parenting. It marries the empathy found in permissive parents and the healthy limits set by strict ones.
At the end of the day, each child-parent relationship is unique. Freedom, by virtue of its meaning, requires limitations. For example, the reason you allow your kids the freedom to play in the backyard that backs onto the road is because the backyard is fenced off. Otherwise they could run into traffic. So, while limitations may seem too strict sometimes, there’s no reason you can’t also exhibit love at the same time.
That’s what we’ll call them: Loving Limits.