Blog 98. Parenting: People Can Remain Stuck At The Age That They Experienced The Least Amount Of Affection.
Some while ago, I found these words written as a meme on Pinterest. I have no idea who wrote it, however it’s certainly an accurate description of the human condition. (You can read this meme which is situated right at the end of this blog).
This is what I read:
“Our children play a heavy price when we lack consciousness. Over-indulged, over-medicated, and over-labeled, many of them are unhappy. This is because, coming from unconsciousness ourselves, we bequeath to them our own unresolved needs, unmet expectations, and frustrated dreams. Despite our best intentions we enslave them to the emotional inheritance we received from our parents, binding them to the debilitating legacy of an ancestors past. The nature of unconsciousness is such that, until it’s metabolised, it will seep through generation after generation. Only through awareness will the cycle of pain that swirls in families end.”
And sadly, it is often through ignorance that many don’t fully realise just how important it is, that when we choose to have a child, we also need to create an environment in which a child will have access to love and affection, security, a stable home life, as well as access to both parents.
Sure, the responsibility is immense and this is why choosing the right partner and circumstances in which to bring up a child – is crucial for the emotional well-being not only of the parents but also of the child.
Unfortunately, not all parents realise the wider implications of not providing a solid foundation for themselves and their child until it is too late, or when they find themselves struggling to also provide the necessary emotional support for a child.
However studies are now finding that if this foundation is missing, if both parents are not present, and if a child receives little or no affection, and if they are either abandoned physically or emotionally, this neglect can impact a child’s:
- Brain development
- Physical growth and
- Long-term mental health.
As a result, children who lack love and affection from both parents can form indiscriminate bonds or friendships. And many never develop the skills to help them connect with others and therefore they may find it very hard to develop trust or even a basic bond with others. This can cause lack of self-worth, self-belief or confidence issues that can continue right into adulthood. And being able to initiate relationships with others may become difficult to achieve too. As a result, they may become controlling and insecure. They may push people away and this can cause isolation and loneliness, leading to depression and further emotional issues.
Although these may be extreme cases, this can happen to any child, if during childhood:
- They didn’t get their emotional needs met from both or either parents or,
- They landed up confused as to what was expected of them,
- They experienced a loss of a parent, and so on,
- They felt unloved and lacked affection and/or attention.
As a result, they could start behaving as if they where still the age that the trauma occurred – even though they may appear as adults. This is evident if for example, someone in their 20’s or 30’s behaves as if they were teenagers, or if an adult behaves like a 3 or 5 year old and so on.
This behaviour is called Regression and often it is mostly unconscious. But why or how can this happen?
There are many reasons but the one most applicable to this topic is that, sometimes it can be too scary for a child to move on. For some, it may be harder to grow up and escape the stage where they were loved the least. Consequently, ‘remaining that child’ keeps the fantasy open and alive. And in so doing, they continue to hope that at some point they’ll receive the love they never got – if that is, they continue to behave like the child they were, at the age they somehow became emotionally stuck.
This is often why they can find it so hard to connect with others as their trust may have been broken. But also other adults may find it hard to deal with an adult who behaves like a child. And this is particularly evident in emotionally abandoned children. But again this example is an extreme case.
There are tons of scenarios that can occur leaving someone stuck in any age. And some people aren’t even aware that their behaviour regresses or why it even does – either temporarily or permanently. And most are totally unaware that they’re somehow stuck somewhere in childhood because the behaviour is usually unconscious as stated earlier.
However, it can also be said that we all regress to some extent because there will always be some stage in our childhoods that was not worked through properly because well that’s life. It ain’t perfect. However, some regress more than others without knowing. And yet, they can still lead independent and successful lives. Many can even have relationships and children of their own, yet their behaviour at times can appear younger and less mature.
But sometimes the regression can get in the way. In these instances, thankfully, some therapists are trained to pinpoint the exact age where the emotions froze – in order to help clients unblock and understand their behaviour better.
Because sometimes, buried unaddressed emotions can re-appear in adulthood.
And most importantly – a child doesn’t just forget childhood traumas. We all remember. How we remember can differ from person to person but remember we do. And often the memory will get hidden often because a child doesn’t also have the emotional language to express itself. Consequently, feelings can get buried until they emerge at a later date. Unfortunately when they ‘choose’ to do this, is not always convenient, or they can emerge as warning signs or as depression, and so on.
And sometimes regressed behaviour can alert one that an issue needs to be looked at and finally addressed.
For so many, parenting is about having kids and hoping for the best. Yet bringing up a child has vast consequences not only on a particular child – but on the generations after them too.
It is therefore so important that we realise why and how important it is to provide a sound foundation for which to bring up a child. And it is important to understand the emotional effects of not doing so too.
And sometimes one of the effects of childhood trauma is exaggerated regression that might become a problem.
If you think that you’ve found yourself regressing at times or you’ve been told that you do – you may want to find out why. If you feel that it may also be holding you back in some way, then learning more about yourself may require a few sessions of therapy.
And there is certainly nothing wrong with doing so, especially if it will help you deal with what has been kept buried and unhelpful emotionally.
© 2018 Deidré Wallace All rights reserved.
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