The Effects of the Parent-Child Relationship

The parent-child relationship lays the foundation for a child’s life. It teaches a child about how to find and manage their way through life one day. The parent-child relationship shapes us into the adults we will be one day. They also determine what issues we will have to work through.

When we think of a poor parent-child relationship we think of cases where a child is physically abused or neglected. The fact is that a poor parent-child relationship occurs as much in well-educated families.

It is difficult to make generalisations about the effect of poor parent-child relationships.  We have all seen examples where two children who grew up in the same home, turn out very differently. The one may lack confidence, be a problem child, etc. Whereas the sibling could be well-balanced and live a normal, meaningful and successful life!

So it may be more helpful for us to look at how we can become a more conscious  and mindful parent.

Lack of love, affection and appreciation

Children who experience this sometimes turn into needy adults who want attention the whole time. Or they lack self-esteem, are reserved and keep to themselves. Where parents show no physical affection, some children over-eat. Food acts as a comfort. This in turn affects their self-esteem negatively.

Lack of discipline or respect

The children become used to having everything their way. They say what they want to to their parents. They come and go as they please. The children are never disciplined.  There are no boundaries. This can result in children not learning right from wrong. Furthermore, the children fail to learn how to behave toward figures of authority. They may struggle at school or later in life when they need to “conform” to normal societal rules.

Over-controlling parents

Children can respond in various ways: some learn to give in as it is just easier to do as you are told. Another child develops feelings of helplessness. They may see themselves as a victim in life. This could lead to feelings of low self-esteem and even depression in the long-term. Other children may become rebellious by nature. They refuse to conform in anyway. There are also children who learn to quietly go their own way and stay out of the way of their parents!

Verbal abuse and constant arguing

Children from homes where parents fight continuously may learn to become rebels. Others display symptoms of stress and anxiety in adulthood. They may find that their coping skills are not good in relationships or when they are under pressure. Some on the other hand may be quite robust and able to deal with challenges in life.

Physical abuse

Children who witnessed and experienced violence and abuse will most likely suffer from suppressed anger and behaviour problems. Where parents misuse alcohol and become violent it could predispose children to display the same destructive cycle and behaviour in adult life.

Parents trying to be more like friends to their children

In some poor parent-child relationships a mother may compete with her daughter by dressing and behaving like a youngster. The daughter could easily feel her mother is competing with her, in what is meant to be a supportive relationship. The daughter may develop feelings of shame or anger at what she perceives as inappropriate behaviour by her mother. The same could apply to a father who tries to be trendy.

Helicopter parents

These parents are over-protective of their children. They fail to allow their children to figure problems out for themselves and lead independent lives.

The children can become over-dependent on their parents. As a result they never learn to take responsibility for themselves. These children may fail to learn basic survival skills such as making food, doing their laundry, living on their own, etc. Their parents do everything for them.

Helicopter parents undermine their children’s self-esteem and self-confidence. They cannot understand that they make life more difficult for their children and create dependency patterns.

Psychologically healthy children encourage their parents to back out of their life so that they can make their own decisions.

No one ever said parenting was easy! No matter how conscious a parent we are, our children will have emotional baggage to deal with. Our role is to raise our children with greater consciousness so that they can be confident to find their own way through life.

Would you like to get closer to your children? Family counselling will provide you with the inner resources and skills to foster a healthy bond with your children.


Posted in Conscious Parenting, Family.