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- millions of typical girls and boys become
seriously-troubled adults because
they didn't get key developmental needs
met well enough by their caregivers - they were neglected. Often, their parents and ancestors
were neglected too, and their society allowed that.
part of online lesson 6 - learn to do effective parenting. It
Before continuing, reflect: why are you reading this? What do you need?
We humans are needy critters. Needs are
physical, psychological, 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
better than others.
My experience as a family-systems therapist since 1981 with over
1000 average adults suggests that
unawareness of "parental neglect" is common. That's partly because
many parents weren't
taught what their children need
as they grow toward adulthood.
This is part of the
unseen [wounds + unawareness]
that is silently crippling many families and societies.
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 own kids need.
Premise - typical 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.
See how you feel about these premises:
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.
Typical young children
need a balance of male and female nurturance for healthy development.
Widespread. divorce 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
true Self, and they clearly have filled their
developmental needs well enough by the time they choose to live independently.
the Most Common Neglects?
My experience as a family therapist suggests that these are the most
common developmental needs that typical parents and grandparents neglect.
The more the neglect, the greater the psychological and social
to dependent minor kids: Option - star the needs below that you feel
are the most critical for average young kids' healthy growth.
learn to manage failures,
mistakes, and disappointments;
learn self-discipline - i.e.
learn when to defer instant gratification
learn to balance work, play,
and rest (self-nurturance)
learn to set realistic goals,
patiently achieve them, and enjoy success
have guilt-free permission to be a child (vs. a little adult)
learn to define, assert, and
enforce personal boundaries respectfully
learn how to accept
(add your own ideas)
Common sense suggests that caring parents would not ignore these
vital needs in their youngsters, so...
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:
Psychological wounds -
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) they often have unplanned and
unwanted conceptions; and...
Unawareness and ignorance
(lack of knowledge) -
ancestors and teachers didn't educate them adequately about (a) these
(b) kids' developmental needs, and (c) how to best
fill these needs while (d) steadily
nurturing themselves and each other;
Another reason for parental neglect
Societal denial, ignorance, and permission.
Our (wounded, unaware) cultures
tacitly promote the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle
spreading down the generations by denying it and its
Paradox: our society
tests for competency to operate a vehicle and to provide professional legal, medical,
pastoral, and financial
services. Societies require no proof
that parents are qualified to raise healthy new citizens. Our wide range of costly
social ills is one
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
do any of these proposed reasons fit them?
Typical Effects of Childhood Neglect
Significant early-childhood neglect promotes...
inheriting up to six psychological wounds:
disabled true Self
far-reaching toxic effects on the person until they admit and commit to reducing
is most common in middle age. When you finish here,
see this research report on how
neglect changes young brains. Web searching finds many
the wounds of reality
distortion and excessive shame often promote significantself neglect, which promotes poor health, stressful
relationships, and premature death. These
cause 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?
A widespread secondary effect of early parental neglect deserves special
focus: neglecting yourself.
Perspective on Self
Often kids in low-nurturance
households learn to ignore or devalue their own physical, psychological, and
spiritual wellbeing (wholistic health). Their wounded parents don't
model or teach self-care - or they preach it but don't practice it. Epidemic examples are eating unhealthy foods, avoiding exercise and
regular dental and health checkups, obesity, working too hard, using toxic
chemicals, ignoring bodily warnings, and not
getting enough quality sleep. Typical shame-based children and young adults
deny, justify or minimize these traits.
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
usually stem from
shame and guilt
learned very early - fostering a certainty that "I'm worthless and
unlovable, and I 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
One result of effective wound-reduction
("recovery") is that these well-intentioned subselves learn to trust the resident Nurturer
and true Self, and start to genuinely value the host person's health and welfare. A
useful Manager subself to develop during recovery is a Health Director.
Do you know people who are neglecting their
health and wellbeing? Are
you?Keep your perspective: social denials and tolerance for
the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle are the primary problems.
is a symptom and a 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..."],
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...
yourself honestly for significant psychological wounds;
Adopt a patient 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 psychological wounds and what they
Study and apply this lesson-6
article on helping your kids manage
excessive shame and guilts.
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.
This article focuses on parental and self
neglect. Parents neglect dependent kids if they ignore their children's' mosaic of
developmental needs as they grow.
The article illustrates parental neglect, and proposes four reasons why many
parents are unintentionally neglectful. It describes three toxic effects of
early-childhood parental neglect, and includes brief focus on a widespread
secondary effect: chronic self-neglect. The article closes with
specific suggestions for converting self-neglect to self-care.