It is generally assumed that parents (in particular, mothers) have an innate, instinctive, natural and inborn capacity to love their children unconditionally. However, sadly, this is not the case. In this article, I will look at some of the most common factors that may inhibit a parent’s inclination to love his/her children :
Factors That May Inhibit Parents’ Inclination To Love Their Children :
- Parents may resent the responsibility/burden placed on them by having children
- A parent may resent character traits in their child that, consciously or unconsciously, remind them of aspects of their own personalities that they dislike or aspects of their partners/ex-partners (i.e. the child’s other biological parent) personality that they dislike
- Parents may resent being made to feel inadequate by children; for example, narcissistic parents may find the child’s challenges to his/her (i.e. the parent’s) impossible demands intolerable, especially if the child becomes, due to quite natural, normal and necessary survival mechanisms, rebellious in response to such impossible demands when s/he reaches puberty.
- The parent may feel bitterly jealous of the child’s youth (e.g. a narcissistic mother may resent being reminded of her fading looks by her daughter’s youthful appearance)
- A parent may have low self-esteem and a child’s success, or future prospects of success, may serve to make the parent feel inadequate or that s/he has, by comparison, wasted his/her life
- Postpartum depression: biological changes that a woman undergoes when pregnant can lead to chemical changes in the brain that result in depression and impair her ability to bond with her newborn baby in the usual way.
- A parent may have been emotionally neglected or abused during his/her own childhood, restricting his/her ability to express and feel love
- A parent (most frequently, but not exclusively, the mother) may resent his/her child whom s/he perceives as having ‘got in the way’ of his/her career.
- A parent may resent his/her child if that child does not share, or actively rebels against, his/her (i.e. the parent’s) strongly held beliefs (e.g. religious beliefs, especially in relation to sexuality)
- Projection: parents who have a poor self-image, low self-esteem and, essentially, don’t like themselves, may off-load their negative feelings about themselves by projecting them onto their children (e.g. a parent who has latent homosexual inclinations and dislikes himself for it may project these feeling onto his son by using deprecating language in relation to his son’s (real or imagined) homosexuality, or, even, by disowning him (and thereby, on a symbolic level, disowning his own repressed, sexual feelings).
The Importance Of Showing Love :
Some parents may believe they love their children but the way in which they act towards these children does not reflect this; in other words, despite the parents’ beliefs, their children do not perceive themselves as being loved – such parents may not be properly attuned to their children’s emotional needs; this, too, can be very psychologically damaging to the child. Indeed, children who are not loved or perceive themselves not to be loved, especially in very early life (but at other stages, too) can incur damage to the physical development of their brains which, in turn, can lead to serious psychiatric problems.
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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).