11 thoughts on “3 Signs You Have Emotionally Neglectful Parents

  • September 17, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    A great article Dr Jonice! Once you are aware of these things it makes it easier to heal. Knowing that it was never my fault was a starting point for me. I have tried over the years to talk to my parents about important issues but they just remain clueless. I worked at the same job for 12 years and they still don’t know what I did. Unfortunately this lack of emotional connection has been passed down to my siblings. There seems to be a wall of shame which stops them from speaking about really deep issues. Once at dinner there was a discussion about why two of the siblings were at loggerheads. All my father had to say was “Is there any more gravy?” I’ve just learned to get on with things and look after myself and not to take their behaviour too personally.

    • September 18, 2017 at 7:46 am

      Dear Sue, that is a classic CEN story: “Is there more gravy?” I’m so glad you are seeing what went wrong. You are in a great position to change yourself and feel differently about your family!

      • September 18, 2017 at 6:01 pm

        Hi Dr Jonice, the more I delve into CEN the more little incidents like this crop up from my memory bank. It’s definitely a work in progress.

      • September 19, 2017 at 7:07 am

        Yes, I understand how that works Sue. Little by little, you remember things and realize things. It’s all worth it. Keep up the good work.

  • September 19, 2017 at 6:54 am

    One of the big struggles is the constant effort my therapist has to make to convince me it was worse than I realize. “Ted, normal people don’t tell their kids they’re disgusting or selfish leeches or that a kid’s main job is to make their parents feel good about themselves.” I don’t know how I’ll ever forgive them for this.

    • September 19, 2017 at 7:10 am

      Dear Ted, as a child, you don’t typically realize that your family is not like every other family. I’m very glad you are listening to your therapist. You don’t have to forgive, just accept and understand how it’s affected you. Sending you best wishes.

  • September 20, 2017 at 7:00 am

    Thank you Dr. Jonice! I ordered your book immediately after I read one of these blogs on CEN and am in the process of reading it. I recognized our family and what had been causing my untreatable anxiety for year– CEN along with going to a strict Catholic school from age 5-12 where guilt, shame and reverse peer pressure were used to discipline. CEN answers many questions about myself: why I have internalized everything unpleasant in my life, why I have pushed my husband away, why I always spanked my big Teddy bear as a small child. It was to let the anger out! Externally, one would never see any of my hidden emotons but, believe me, they are plentiful! I could go on and on. But, I just wanted to thank you for writing about this condition. It has been a life-changer for me.

    • September 20, 2017 at 9:36 am

      Dear Dove, I’m so glad to hear that you are seeing the origins of your true feelings. Letting yourself experience and sort through them will be an important achievement that will make a tremendous difference for you. Keep it up!

  • October 4, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    “You feel vaguely disappointed, or let down, (perhaps mixed with other emotions) after most interactions with them.”

    I guess I was lucky, by indications from comments above. There were some emotions in the family. Unfortunately, anger was the most common one (thus somehow an acceptable emotion). There were those flashes of delight from my parents when Mom saw a special bird in the feeder or the Christmas I got Dad a train set. “Is that is what is really in this box?” to the box that said HO train set.

    The sentence quoted at the top did hit a nerve though. Both my brother and I have had some very special occasions that our parents ignored. Bill had an anniversary of being in business and me – oh I only had been chosen as one of the first 70 state students selected for the first year of vet school. No special meal, no obvious “We’re proud of you.” No, for me, it was there, just not said. And they did support me when I needed it, to the extent that they could.

    My parents were the best they could be given their personalities and upbringing. We did neat things together and we were taught behavior that is no cause for embarrassment. I can forgive them for the CEN in that case. There were so many good times.

    • October 4, 2017 at 6:42 pm

      I like your last paragraph. It’s like acceptance of what happened. Acceptance is always the beginning of healing I believe.

  • March 16, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    Thank you for this information. I came here looking for answers for why my emotionally damaged husband is choosing to have an affair, and so much of your research makes sense in relation to him. He lost his mother as a toddler and was passed around his relatives until the age of 7 when he went back to live with his father and step-mother who had a new baby by then. His father was without doubt EN, to this day he has never had a conversation with his son about his mother other than “oh, poor First Wife, such a tragedy” and then changed the subject. My husband only found out the cause of his mother’s death in his late forties, from another relative. My FIL also lost a parent as a young boy. My estranged husband is a people pleaser, desperate to be liked and accepted, rarely shows anger but does the silent treatment and can be passive-agressive. I have no doubt that he has CEN. Unfortunately, it has gone past the point where I could direct him here as he has left to live with his mistress and thinks he has found the solution to his unhappiness.

    What really struck me though, was reading in the 3 signs of parents I realised that our children would identify with them from their Dad. Their father used to shut down emotional conversations, got impatient or exasperated when they were upset. My mother always said that “he gave his wit for them” meaning he wasn’t able to take an emotional step back and be the adult. They didn’t feel like he ever ‘had their back’, and have all said he doesn’t know them and what makes them tick. So it looks like this CEN has gone through three generations of the same family already. How do I stop it from reaching the next one? Is one emotionally healthy parent enough to stop the cycle?

    If my husband would ever accept the damage done to him in childhood has had a direct influence in the choices he is now making I would gladly send him here but I fear he is still in denial. In fairness to his father and others, they did not mean to harm him and are of a generation of men who were not encouraged to show emotion, but the repercussions have reverberated through the rest of our family and are now harming the next generation. It’s so sad and so hurtful.


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