22 Feb Dealing With Unloving Parents
This is a continuation of our series looking at the different types of unhealthy parental messages described in the book Cutting Loose, by Dr. Howard M. Halpern. Today we will look at “unloviing parents.”
All of us have had experiences in life where we have felt unloved, misunderstood or uncared for at times. Which, as long as we live in a fallen world will be a universal experience. But, there are those who have experienced parents who seem to have a deficiency in either their ability or desire to be basically loving and caring. It is of these that we speak today.
There can be a variety of reasons for this. Your parents may not have wanted a child, or didn’t want one at that particular time, or wanted a child of a different gender. Children can also represent by their looks or personality something their parents don’t like in their own parent, spouse, or sibling. The greatest reason for the unloving behavior however, is the parent that is too involved in himself to have anything to give to another. This type of pattern is called “narcissism.” Narcissist’s have the following general characteristics:
- They see themselves as the center of the universe with others revolving around them.
- They don’t empathize with the impact of their actions on others.
- They get distressed when others need anything from them.
- They don’t understand the concept of “give and take.”
- They are preoccupied with their own attractiveness and health.
- They distort reality to a point of being unwittingly untruthful.
These characteristics make it difficult, if not impossible, to have meaningful, intimate relationships with anyone. This obviously leads to a sense of being unloved and unwanted for the child and can scar his entire sense of being lovable, wanted, and valuable.
Children, whether still young in age, or fully grown into adults use different types of coping mechanisms to try to deal with these unloving messages.
They range from overfunctioning in life to trying any possible way to get love, to joining the parent at the top of the world as a fellow narcissist, to withdrawing from all relationships because the risk is too great for further pain. None of which lead to any sense of personal peace and joy.
The first step to health and wholeness is to understand that your parents not loving you is a statement about them, not about you. The second step is to understand that your parents’ unloving narcissistic behavior is due to their own weakness and insecurities and you can’t “fix them” enough to get the love you want. The next step is to be aware of and work on stopping the “song and dance routines” of all the coping mechanisms you have been trying to do to handle the lack of love received from your parents. This may take time and assistance but can be done, and is the foundation for a renewal in your life.
The final key is to begin to look to relationships you can count on and that are nurturing. The first one and foundational one needs to be intimacy with Christ who will never change and who’s love is true, pure, fulfilling and consistent.