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August 10, 2013
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- millions of typical girls and boys become
seriously-troubled adults because
they didn't get key developmental needs
met by their caregivers - they were neglected. Often, their parents and ancestors
were neglected too, and their society allowed that.
This brief YouTube clip provides perspective on what you'll read in this article:
Before continuing, reflect: why are you reading this? What do you need?
We humans are needy critters. Needs are
physical, emotional, and spiritual discomforts.
"filling someone's needs." Here,
neglect means "not filling needs that you're responsible for."
Our needs change constantly as we age and the world evolves.
Families exist because they usually fill their members' (and society's)
primary needs more effectively than other human groups. Some
''high-nurturance'' families do this more effectively than others.
My experience as a family-systems therapist since 1981 with over
1000 average Midwestern American women and men suggests that
about "parental neglect" is common. That's partly because
many parents weren't
taught what their children need
as they grow toward adulthood.
This is one vital component of the
unacknowledged [wounds and unawareness]
that is silently crippling most U.S. families and our society.
Test this premise by taking this quiz about
families with an open mind. Then see how many
traits of a high-nurturance family you can describe. Then ask yourself
how many families you know who consistently supply most of
these traits to their members - starting with your own family.
Healthy parents genuinely want and love their kids, and strive to prepare them for a
safe, happy, productive adulthood.
Parents who survived
serious neglect themselves as young children are often unable to supply
some of what
their kids need.
Premise - people who were
significantly neglected as young kids grow up neglecting themselves as
adults. To avoid painful awareness, they often rationalize, joke, deny, or
minimize that they do this, despite glaring evidence of the toxic results,
like widespread obesity, major
illnesses, addictions, and
Many self-neglectful people are
and unconsciously feel they don't deserve to fill their own
wholistic needs well. Do you know anyone like this?
Reflect, and say your
definition of "parental neglect" out loud. Then picture yourself before the
age of six, and/or any other children you care about at that age. Keep
those images with you as you read.
Starting before birth, children
depend on their birth mother and other caregiving adults to fill
- nutritious food, water, shelter, stimulation, touching, protection; and
their dynamic emotional + spiritual +
socializing (developmental) needs.
Most of these needs can be filled by caregivers and teachers
providing high-nurturance traits like these.
Typical young children
need a balance of masculine and feminine nurturance for healthy development.
The U.S. divorce epidemic makes this a challenge for many families;
Parents who conceive children and/or care for other
people’s children are morally, legally, and socially responsible for...
the youngsters’ range of primary needs
at each stage of their growth, and...
doing their best to fill these needs
(nurture) adequately, without
neglecting their own needs..
Healthy parents want
to do this, vs. feeling obligated to from guilt, shame, and/or anxiety. For
environmental reasons, parents
range from competent to inadequate in their ability to nurture a child
over two decades to prepare them to live independently and nurture kids
effectively themselves. So parental neglect may not be apparent until 25
or more years after a child's birth.
Premise - parents who consistently want to provide a high-nurturance environment for dependent kidsand themselvesraise Grown
Nurtured Children (GNCs).
Two key traits of GNCs is that they (a) develop harmonious
personality led by a competent
true Self, and they clearly have filled their
developmental needs by the time they choose to live independently.
Why Do Some Parents Neglect their Children?
Try answering this question out loud. Then compare your idea to this opinion:
parents fail to fill their kids'
physical, psychological, and spiritual needs for four interactive reasons:
Wounds - parents
from their unaware ancestors, and they need to deny or ignore that and
Common results: (a) they unconsciously choose wounded partners who also
may be unable to nurture kids effectively, and (b) have unplanned and
unwanted conceptions; and...
Unawareness and ignorance - parents'
ancestors and teachers didn't educate them adequately about (a) kids'
developmental needs and (b) how to best
fill these needs while steadily
nurturing themselves and each other; and...
Social denial, ignorance, and permission.Our (wounded, unaware) culture
tacitly promotes the pervasive [wounds + unawareness] cycle
spreading down the generations by denying the cycle and its
toxic results. So far, there is no public demand for licensing or
Paradox: our society
tests for competency to operate a vehicle and to provide professional legal, medical,
pastoral, and financial
services. It requires no proof that parents are qualified to
raise healthy new citizens. Our wide range of costly social ills is one
expensive result; including...
struggling for daily survival often have too few resources to nurture
their children adequately.
Pause and reflect. Can you
think of other reasons parents can't fill their kids' developmental and
special needs well enough? If you know parents in a low-nurturance family,
do any of these proposed reasons fit them?
Typical Effects of Childhood Neglect
A thoro description is beyond the scope of this summary article. In the
context of this nonprofit Web site, significant early-childhood neglect promotes...
typical children developing up to six
excessive shame and
This has far-reaching toxic effects on them and society
they hit true bottom, and choose to admit and reduce their wounds. This
is most common in middle age.
the wounds of reality
distortion and excessive shame often promote significantself neglect - which in turn promotes poor health, stressful
relationships, and premature death. These promote significant stress in
family members and supporters.
combined with adult and social unawareness and denials, these
psychological wounds are
pass on to the next generation, spreading their toxic effects in society.
Do these effects seem credible to you? Can you
think of any other common effects of parental ignorance and child neglect?
What is Self
is continuing childhood habits of not caring about one's own physical,
emotional, and spiritual
health. Epidemic examples are eating unhealthy foods, avoiding exercise and
regular health checkups, working too hard, ignoring bodily warnings, and not
getting enough quality sleep - and justifying or minimizing these.
Self neglect may be amplified by self dislike, self disgust, or self hatred.
All of these are clear evidence of a disabled
true Self. They stem from
shame and guilt
learned very early - fostering a certainty that "I'm worthless and
unlovable, and don't deserve to be happy or healthy.")
Typical personality subselves contributing to self neglect are the Shamed,
Guilty, and Scared Inner kids; and the Pessimist,
Perfectionist, Procrastinator, Worrier, Magician and Inner Critic.
Collectively, they form a "false self." One result of effective wound-reduction
("recovery") is that these subselves learn to trust the resident Nurturer
and true Self, and start to value the host person's health and welfare.
Do you know people who are neglecting their health and wellbeing?
you?Keep your perspective: social denials and tolerance for
the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle are the primary problem.
is a symptom and secondary problem. Do you agree?
Common reactions to parental and self neglect are...
denial ("Neglectful? No Way!"),
minimizing ("It's not so bad"),
reasoning["You should take better
care of (someone), because..."],
scorning ("When are you going to grow up?"),
criticizing ("You're a poor excuse for a
generalizing ("You know, people who
don't take very good care of _____ often _______.")
These classic false-self
reactions will never produce better nurturance
because they don't validate and reduce the underlying wounds and ignorance.
They usually amplify anxiety, guilt, shame, and frustration.
Better options include...
concepts here, and
yourself honestly for significant psychological wounds;
Adopt a multi-decade outlook, and commit to
Evaluate the nurturance level of your birth family an/or your present family (low
to high). If it's low, consider confronting
and educating the appropriate adults about inner wounds and what they
See adults neglecting their minor kids
as wounded and unaware, notbad. Respectfully encourage them to read and apply
these Lessons for their
and their kids' sakes; and...
if you suspect or observe
and/or significant neglect, alert the responsible adults that unless they
correct these, you'll report them to local child-welfare officials
and/or the police. Then follow up on this, for the sake of your
integrity and their vulnerable children.
Neglect is willfully ignoring the moral or legal responsibility
to help a dependent child or disabled adult fill their primary needs. When
you minimize or ignore your own wholistic health, you're self neglectful.
This article offers perspective on self neglect and parental neglect, and what
causes them - significant psychological wounds + unawareness. It suggests common personal and social results of significant childhood
neglect, and options for responding to or reducing neglect in yourself or
more perspective, read this overview of abuse.
Child and elder neglect is inherently abusive.