A friend of mine was meeting his future in-laws for the first time. He got into a long discussion with his girlfriend’s dad about his upbringing. Her dad had been in boarding school from the time he was in sixth grade and attended camps each summer. My friend was impressed and remarked that it sounded like his parents wanted the best for him. With a pained look on his face, his girlfriend’s father said, “I don’t think you love your kid if you send him away like that.”
My friend’s girlfriend was floored. She had no idea her father felt unloved by his parents. But as she thought about it, a number of things started to make sense. Her father was an alcoholic and at times acted erratically. Kids who don’t feel loved by their parents grow up with a hurt that is detrimental to their lives and relationships. Here are 5 damaging effects of parents who don’t love their child.
People who feel unloved by their parents tend to develop a false view of themselves. They will see themselves as defective and unlovable. This inner critic will speak loudly and every criticism, even if constructive, will validate their feeling of worthlessness.
Parents who don’t love their child leave a boy or girl with a lot of unanswered questions. They will wonder why they aren’t loved, what they did wrong, and what other children seemed to do right to have what they don’t. These unanswered questions leave them feeling anxious. It’s like walking through life with an earthquake under your feet.A parent’s love and investment are what nurture a child’s maturity into adulthood.
3. Stunted Growth
A parent’s love and investment are what nurture a child’s maturity into adulthood. When that love and care is absent, the child’s growth is stunted. A kid may grow into an adult physically, but he can have difficulty processing and controlling his emotions. I have spoken to a number of people dealing with a lack of love or abandonment from parents. They will say, “I’m 32, but I feel like I’m 11.”
4. Unresolved Pain
If you’ve ever gone an extended period without food, you know it’s painful. Love is like food and when we go without it, it hurts. That pain is difficult to heal or resolve, often requiring professional counseling. However, many choose to numb the pain with alcohol or drugs instead. So their issues remain undealt with and unhealed.
5. Avoidance of Intimacy
That hurt will often make people hesitant to get close to anyone. Part of what plays into this is the belief that they are unworthy of love. They think other people eventually will realize their low worth and reject them. As a defense mechanism, they preempt that rejection by leaving first. It may save them from some pain, but ultimately, they don’t get close to anyone either.
Sound off: What are some other possible damaging effects of parents who don’t love their child?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Do you know why I love you?”