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16 Comments to
Parents, You Can Reverse Generations of Emotional Neglect By Doing 3 Small Things

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  1. great guidance! I love posts that provide practical guidance to parents, especially those including “address your own issue first and foremost” like you did. thank you on behalf of my clients. I posted it on facebook.

    • I’m glad you found the article helpful Resmiye! We parents can use all the help we can get šŸ™‚ Thanks for your comment!

  2. This is an incredible article!!! Thank you for these very specific, actionable, yet transformative steps. I think you should rename your title to, “Parents, You Can Reverse Generations of Emotional Neglect By Doing 3 Small (But Powerful) Things”

    • Good idea for the title! Iā€™m glad you like the article. Take care!

  3. I’m already an adult with 3 adult children and 4 teenage grandchildren. My kids don’t want to hear about it. They don’t want to talk about it. About anything. I don’t even know how to talk to them. When we do talk, I just listen to them talk. I’m stuck as to what to do or say to them. When I asked what I could do to ‘fix’ the situation, I was told they don’t want to ‘fix’ it. Just keep it the same as it is. Which is nothing. Where to I go from here

    • Dear Grannyfrog, it is very hard to give your children something that your parents couldn’t (I’m guessing) give you: true emotional attunement. It’s great that your adult children talk to you so much! Try to understand what they are feeling while they talk, and try to respond on a more feeling level to them. It will make all the difference. There’s lots of help on how to do it in Running on Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships. Do not give up on this, OK? All my best wishes.

      • My children don’t/won’t talk to me about it. They don’t want to hear about it. They tell me to ‘get over it’ if I do mention it. You can’t Transform Relationships unless both parties are willing to try.

      • You don’t have to talk directly about “the problem” if they refuse to do so. Just start responding differently. It will take time but will gradually make a difference.

      • How do you respond differently when there is basically no communication?

      • I think at this point in time the problem, right now, is lack of communication before emotional neglect. I have been in this same situation as you before but coming from the child side. I say invite your kids over but not to “talk”. Your relationship hasn’t been that way, why should it start now? Just hang out, watch a movie or if you can’t get them to do that, have them take you to the store to buy a coat or laundry soap (actually buy something so it won’t feel like a waste of their time). Ask their advice on what color garment to buy. Start interacting that way. It’s a start. I suggest not trying to jump in and get close right off the bat. When you do get to the point of confronting the emotional neglect, don’t start off with “I want to talk to you about..”. That is code for “hey, here’s what is wrong with YOU (not wrong with me but wrong with you)!”. In my situation I know that when my parent(s) finally did get around to the emotional neglect issue I had such a distrust, such suspicions, such…I don’t really have a word for it. But I was thinking “why are they bothering now? They didn’t when it would have mattered”. It was like my needs did not mean enough to them to get their attention but I was a chore to them rather than worthy. I can imagine it is the same for your kids. If the kids don’t want it ‘fixed’ then don’t. Trying to fix it would be just another incident of neglecting what they want (even if it would be for their own good). But do not ignore the emotional neglect issue. Maybe start paying attention to their emotional needs without saying you are paying attention to their emotional needs. ‘Fake it until you make it’ as I have heard it said before. Just start trying to meet their needs (without pouring it on too thick because they will know something is up) without having to have an entire speech of how your neglect of them made YOU feel.

      • That is wonderful advice for grannyfrog Darryl! Thank you for taking the time to write it!

      • Thank you Jonice and Darryl, My CEN is not about my kids as much as it is about me. And besides, my kids would laugh me off the planet if I suggested going shopping or even coming over. They don’t even come over for holidays. Too busy with their kids’ activities. For me it’s about being laughed at when I cried, being told to lose weight & I’d have more friends (I was about 8 years old). Being told not to be sad or angry or any other emotion but Happy. I should have nothing to be sad/angry about cuz I have a home/food/parents etc. They weren’t wrong but they never validated my feelings. I was always told to ‘feel’ some other way. I shy away from expressing my feelings for fear of being laughed at. BTW, my parents have been gone for 20 years. My own siblings (I’m the youngest of 4) don’t value me at all for anything. I see them maybe once a year and we all live within a few miles of each other. Like my kids, I really don’t want to fix anything or to be ‘fixed’. I just need to be heard.

  4. One parent dead, one lost to dementia. This isn’t going to happen for me, which makes me feel like a guy in a stone canoe riding a river of lava: the boat isn’t stopping and you aren’t jumping out to swim for it.

    • Tommy, it’s painful when you realize you’ll never get emotional validation from your parents. But it’s not the end of the road; it’s a beginning. You can begin to focus on yourself and give yourself what your parents couldn’t give you. Keep reading and learning about Childhood Emotional Neglect, and it will pay off I assure you.

  5. Errors are allowed by every parent and the main thing is that these errors do not recur. Parenting a child is a complex process that involves more than one nuance, or not 3 things, as you write, but much more. I know this from personal experience: I worked two jobs, and while doing freelancing as a writer of articles, I was engaged in the education of my younger brother, who is 12 years old. Because our mother finds it difficult to work and returned late.

    • Dear Garry, it sounds like you have learned about parenting in some difficult ways. I surely am not saying that these 3 things are all there is to parenting! It’s such a complex process that sometimes it helps to identify a few single, understandable truths/guidelines to follow, especially when it comes to emotions.


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