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The effects of being rejected by a parent as a child




Growing up feeling rejected by a parent is something that can strongly affect a child’s self-esteem, bond with others, and or psychological well-being.

Growing up feeling rejected by a parent affects the child’s self-esteem, bond with others, and or psychological well-being. We’re going to take a closer look at the main effects and how to deal with them in this article.

Parents or guardians are the most important figures in our development. As primary attachment figures, their job is not only to protect, feed, and care for us, but also to provide love, acceptance, and affirmation. If for some reason they are unable to fulfill these functions, the psychological and emotional consequences can affect us for the rest of our lives. Therefore, it is interesting to learn about the effects of a child being rejected by a parent.

To understand the scale of the consequences of their actions, it is worth remembering that in childhood we are totally dependent on those who take care of us and therefore very vulnerable. We need our parents to survive.

But there are also those who teach us how much (or how little) we are worth and what we can expect from life. If what they convey to us is a rejected one, this puts us in a difficult situation.

How is it possible to be rejected by a parent?

Being rejected by a parent is more common than we think. It does not always appear in a clear and direct way. Sometimes it is more subtle and hidden, but just as painful for those on the receiving end of the treatment.

In general, we can talk about a child being rejected when the following situations arise:

  • The parent attacks the child, either physically or verbally. It can be pushes and punches, but also violations, humiliations, negative comparisons, and constant criticism. The parent may react with sarcasm and mockery or be overly harsh with their words and actions.
  • Neglect is another form of rejection. In this case, the parents do not assume or exercise their parental role and are not physically or emotionally present in the child’s life. They neglect or treat the child with indifference.
  • It is possible that both situations are combined, and the same parent is sometimes aggressive and sometimes indifferent. Regardless, these children grow up feeling that their parents do not like them, that they are not chosen by them, that they are not enough, or that they should be different to deserve their love.

Why do parents do this to their children?

There are several reasons that can explain this type of behavior. In any case, it is important to emphasize that it is in no way the child’s fault.

Among the main reasons are the following:

  • Unwanted parenthood: When an unplanned pregnancy occurs, parents may feel that this child is tying them to a marriage they don’t want to be in, restricting their lifestyle, or placing a burden of responsibility on them that they don’t want to shoulder.
  • The child symbolically represents the other parent: When there are major differences of opinion between the parents and the child resembles one of them, the other parent may feel a strong unconscious alienation. It also happens that the resemblance to another family member unleashes these attitudes.
  • A Bad Combination: This occurs when the child’s and parent’s temperaments are too different. So if the adult cannot accept and meet the child’s needs, it leads to a lack of understanding, causing him or her to reject the child.
  • The parent suffers from some form of mental illness: These conditions can prevent her or him from bonding with the child. This is common in postpartum depression, but also in conditions such as anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychoses, and other conditions that may play a role.
  • Parents who themselves have been victims of inadequate parenting:  The parent was rejected as a child by his own parent and did not receive affection, understanding, and acceptance during his own childhood and is now repeating the pattern.

What are the effects of being rejected by a parent as a child?

The psychological effect of being rejected by a parent is expressed in the image that the child develops of himself and in the child’s ability to relate to others. The following are the most common consequences.

Insecurity and low self-esteem

People who grow up feeling rejected by a parent develop a poor self-image and negative self-esteem. They live with great doubts about themselves and their worth as human beings.

If the people who should have loved them the most in the world were not capable of it, why should others love them? This can make them very insecure creatures.

A pattern of being avoidant in interpersonal relationships

This consequence is often seen when the child has received total indifference from the parents. When children express their feelings and discomfort, the adults who care for them need to acknowledge and see them.

If parents minimize, belittle, or ridicule what the child feels or needs, the child withdraws into himself and learns to rely only on himself. In this way, the child avoids showing himself vulnerable to others, hides his feelings, and may have a tendency to run away.

The child may suffer from fear of commitment and difficulty establishing deep and lasting relationships.

Emotional dependence and need for recognition

The opposite happens when the rejection comes from an ambivalent position. That is, the parent was loving at times and hostile at other times. Sometimes they gave praise to the child, and other times they criticized or abandoned him or her.

In such circumstances, children grow up in constant uncertainty about how to get the affection and care they need. These children do not know when the parent will be available. As they grow up, they tend to become anxious, independent, and self-centered.

They need and seek external approval and are willing to do anything not to lose the companionship and affection of those around them. They do not feel deserving and worthy of love and friendship for who they are and they can go to great lengths to fulfill the wishes and expectations of others.

Psychological disorders

Finally, it has been shown that being rejected by a parent as a child significantly increases the risk of suffering from various mental disorders. There is a greater tendency to develop depression, eating disorders, and anxiety problems, especially social anxiety.

Overcoming the trauma of being rejected by a parent as a child

The consequences of being rejected by a parent as a child can stay with us for life if we don’t do something about it. Therefore, as adults, it is important that we have the courage to look at our wounds, accept them and work with them.

It is not easy to admit that a parent rejected us or to realize that we feel anger, hatred, or resentment because of this. But we must allow ourselves to express it in order to free ourselves.

At the same time, we are faced with the task of building up our self-esteem, and our self-image and learning to reconnect. To cope with this process, it is important to seek professional help. It may seem scary, but the results can be very liberating and satisfying.

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