In any relationships (romantic, co-parenting or parenting) perception is reality, especially when dealing with your children. We must be mindful not to dismiss their feelings just because we may not agree with them or even understand their way of thinking. Remember, their perception of a situation is their reality! When it comes to parenting, there are consequences of not allowing our children to feel heard. The consequences of distant or dismissive parenting vary from situation to situation but can leave lifelong negative effects and the pain can manifest in their lives in several unhealthy ways.
1. Fear of attachment & love
Children of dismissive parents often find it hard for them to embrace healthy romantic relationships. This occurs because of an intrinsic fear of attachment and love, which comes from an unfamiliarity with the subject. Trust is a major component of any relationship, but when you fail to receive that trust and security early on in life, it becomes hard to recognize and reciprocate later.
Children often internalize things that are out of their control especially when they feel like their feelings are being dismissed. This can lead to substance abuse or depression. Finding someone for them to talk to as an outlet or getting their feelings down is key. Writing things down in a daily journal or talking to a counselor, teacher or friend helps. Children can be guided to shift their focus on the things that are going right in their life and all the positive aspects. I make sure to give my children the text line to an anonymous counselor about once a month. Even if they never use it, it’s always available. Text “TEEN” to 839863 between 6:00pm-9:00pm PST to speak with someone.
3. Lack of direction
You cannot have direction if you don’t know where you want to go. Being driven to focus on negative qualities for so long, children that are not allowed to express their feelings often find themselves in a series of unstable and shallow relationships. When they don’t understand who they are, they are more likely to follow the crowd and far more likely to be controlled and guided by those who see the vulnerable part of them.
Having a selfish parent who’s dismissive can lead to the same behaviors in our children. When they cannot share their emotions freely, they find themselves filled with negative emotions that can further damage how they perceive themselves. Not being able to share with others leads to emotional detachment from the things going on around them and can lead them to further isolate themselves from the people that matter most.
5. Toxic adult relationships
Being loved and cared for appropriately by our parents can lead to some truly happy things in our adulthood. In that same manner, if our children see toxic relationships, that is all they will have to model themselves and their future relationships from. I always encourage parents to end unhealthy relationships and not to stick it out “for the children”. The last thing we want to do is show the children a toxic version of love and have them attempt to recreate that in their own lives.