Our family is supposed to be our safe place. Unfortunately, though, for many, that simply isn’t the case.
As children, we face several complex emotions, and it is the job of our parents and our families to help us learn to cope with and manage our emotions. Sadly, not all families are up to the job. In turn, the emotional neglect that we experience ends up leaving us vulnerable and unable to understand ourselves.
Even though we don’t often want to admit it, our childhood leaves a much bigger mark on us than we realize.
When most people think of neglect, they envision a child going without their physical needs being met. But, there is another side of the coin: emotional neglect. Childhood emotional neglect happens when our parents fail to tend to our emotional needs and overlook them altogether.
If you believe this sounds like your family growing up, here are 10 signs to look out for.
1. Family conversations are very shallow.
During family talks, the topics are kept on the surface. Any time someone tries to discuss emotions, they are ignored, talked over, or shunned. When it comes down to it, you cannot remember the last emotional discussion you had with your family.
2. Major family issues are brushed under the rug.
Whenever a major family issue takes place, it is brushed under the rug. Rather than talking things through, and communicating, your family has an avoidance approach.
3. Family members use a cold and unfriendly tone.
When talking with family members, the conversation always feels cold and distant. You rarely, if ever, feel like you are supported by your family.
4. Children in the family often compete with one another for attention.
The children in the family are always in competition with one another. However, it’s unclear as to what this competition is for, other than attention and love. Unfortunately, attention and love are rarely given.
5. Even when you are around your family members, you feel lonely.
While most people go to their families for love and warmth, your family is not like that. You sometimes feel more lonely when you are with your family than you do when you are alone.
6. Emotions other than positive emotions are rarely discussed.
When it comes to emotional talks, most of the conversations in your family revolve around light topics. Emotions involving sadness, anger, or anything emotionally intense are kept quiet. When they do surface, they are ignored.
7. When you bring up emotional problems, you are viewed as weak.
Feeling deep emotions in your family gets you marked as being weak. You were told from an early age that emotions are for the weak, and when you expressed them, you were punished or ignored.
8. You have a lack of compassion for yourself, but have plenty for others.
You have a hard time being compassionate towards yourself. Your self-talk is often negative, and you are extremely hard on yourself. But, when it comes to others, you have a lot of compassion and love to give.
9. It’s difficult for you to identify your emotions.
You have a hard time processing your emotions and even identifying them. You mostly recognize your emotions as either positive or negative, and that is as far as it goes.
10. Substance problems runs in your family.
You have a history of substance abuse in your family. Some members may have a substance problem or even gambling. Even looking back into your overall family tree, you can see how prevalent addiction is.