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How to Deal with Parental Neglect

Almost every single child in the history of this world has felt some kind of emotional void while growing up. It could have been in the form of an unanswered question, unwarranted punishment or an un-wiped tear. But when a child experiences this void over and over again, for a rather long period of time, he or she tends to suffer from what is called Childhood Emotional Neglect.

It's often as adults or as parents themselves that most people finally realize that they have distanced themselves from their parents. The effects of childhood neglect are many and vast, leading to insecurities and relationship issues. Neglect comes in many forms and it's important to first and foremost, identify what you had been going through.

Some parents neglect their children by being selfish. Their selfishness per say, has more to do with their expectation from the child to take care of them and their feelings rather than the other way around. This selfishness sometimes extends to the point of abuse, both emotional and physical. Be it the use of abusive language at their own children or the capability to physically/sexually assault them, self-centered neglect is mostly caused when a parent can't relate to their child as an extension of their being.

Some other parents genuinely care for their children but have to deal with their own struggles first. These struggles could be financial, work-related, marital or related to another struggling child. In these cases, they fail to satisfy the child's expectation of being cared for, thereby appearing emotionally unavailable to the child.

There are also the kind of parents who love and care for their children but are never capable of expressing the same externally as a result of being victims of childhood neglect themselves.

However, is it always a good idea to confront your parents with the neglect you faced? That's a question nobody has the right answer to. It's entirely subjective. Every single life and story is different. There are no two people in this world who perceive things in the exact same way. Not even siblings. The only thing that you should take into consideration before confronting your parents is whether that will help you in any way. Will it renew the bond between you and your parents? Will it help you to move on? Or will it completely destroy your relationship with them?

In the case of "selfish/abusive" parental neglect, it's always good to come forward and tell them what they did wrong. Especially in the case of physical abuse as it is tangible and undeniable.

In other cases, it is important to perceive and predict your parents' reactions before you speak to them. You may want to choose the right time and place to do so as well. Some parents are defensive whereas others get hurt and guilty at the revelation. You can surely find it within yourself to forgive them and send them compassion for their mistakes.

However, if it is healing that you're looking for, you can do so by not getting them involved as well. It is completely possible to find closure and comfort without involving your parents. Books, therapy and even religion help in this front. If you have emotionally and physically distanced away from your parents, it's probably for the best to bury all the ghosts of the past and move forward to help yourself.

In the end, the only thing to remember is to prevent the onset of a chain reaction. The negativity shown to you should never prompt you to direct it at others around you.


For extensive reading and self-help:


For stories on parental neglect, please follow the journals of Marya and Harish.


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