Dealing with dismissive parents
Dealing with dismissive parents
by: E.B. Johnson
There are few hurts more bracing than the soul-destroying invalidation or rejection of a parent. No matter what age we reach, the connection we share with our caretakers remains extremely powerful. Parental rejection — even in adulthood — can feel like a death sentence. And in many ways it is. Dealing with the dismissal of a parent is hard…but it’s not impossible.
Whether you’re dealing with a parent who refuses to see you, or you’re fighting with the traumas of a childhood dismissed — getting to the root of your issues starts with shedding a light on the patterns that have been lurking in the shadows of your life. Kick-start that process by understanding what it means to be dismissed and understanding what it means to accept your pain and move on.
It took a lot of time and therapy to accept that my parents hurt me because they were hurt people themselves. Childhood traumas and unexpected hurts can cause our caretakers to distance themselves, but that’s hard to see when we’re little more than broken children ourselves. Figuring out why your parents did what they did is hard, but it’s crucial. You can only come to understand your pain when you learn to understand theirs.
The primary reason that dismissive people engage in hurtful and distancing behaviors is that it allows them to feel more powerful and more confident.
This kind of power-shift can often occur later in a child-parent relationship, especially after the child has grown up and assumed the position of full adulthood. Desperate not to appear fragile to the child they always safeguarded, our parents can pull back or pull away in order to maintain their own illusions of grandeur or quiet superiority.
Some parents use their children as scapegoats for their pain, using them throughout the decades to carry their sins and bear the brunt of the burden that their mistakes have caused. This allows the parent to turn away from or deny their child and at the same time deny their own pain; detaching from it in a way that is neither healthy or constructive.
The problem with this play, however, is that we — as children — happily take on this pain, whether it be to protect the parent we love so well, or whether it’s because we simply don’t know any better. However it happens, being the proverbial is never a good place to be and is one of the main reasons so many of us struggle with our sense of self-worth and lovability later on in life.
There are parents who push their children away because they are looking to recover some sense of power from perceived ills or wrongs that went on in their life.
As children, we can be powerful representations of what could have been to the people that raise us, and those call-back’s can sometimes be painful reminders of the roads less traveled. When a parent perceives that they have somehow been hard-done by life, they often take that out on their children.
They push us away, undermine our successes and belittle our triumphs by reminding us of what they’ve given up or what they could have done better. We somehow live in their shadow, living in a world that is neither here nor there, in the midst of an existence that is at the same time exalted and loathed.
There are many different ways our parents devalue and dismiss us. From the subtle push-away to the all-out malicious assault, the damage our parents inflict on us often occurs in cycles and patterns that are hard to spot and break without some brutal self-work and honesty.
A parent who is incapable of honoring the views and beliefs of their child is one who does not honor and love their child truly and completely. Mutual respect is central to any relationship — be it romantic or familial.
Parents dismiss us and who we are when they refuse to accept our personal views or beliefs as valid ones. They don’t have to agree with your point of view, but they should support you having one. Without the ability to see your viewpoints as valid, these are parents that are not able to love you without restrictions and judgement.
Emotional availability isn’t just a game for romance, it’s a dynamic that should exist between parents and children as well. When our parents call us “too sensitive” or dismiss our emotions as being not worthy or unwarranted, they are invalidating your point of view and therefore undermining your value — whether you realize it or not.
While constructive criticism is valuable at any stage in life, the over-the-top criticism of a parent who is wounded and trapped in their own fear and insecurities is poisonous and toxic to the ways in which we develop our self-worth.
Growing up with an overly critical parent can leave you internalizing their negativity in ways that leaves you asking yourself if you’re really good enough. When our parents focus on the negative and use it to chip away at our confidence, they dwindle the light of our accomplishments and strength and so make themselves feel more powerful.
Our parents are only human, and that means they can sometimes become threatened or invalidated when our abilities and characteristics are different from their own. For this reason, the dismissive parent has trouble connecting with a reconciling themselves with their children and push them away for the simple mistake of not being a carbon copy.
The parent that constantly criticizes their child inherent temperament or abilities is one who cannot take their egos out of the equation. Just because you don’t have all the same characteristics as your parents doesn’t mean you deserve to be dismissed and invalidated. That can be hard to remember, however, when the hurt is coming from the person who is supposed to love you most.
The consequences of distant or dismissive parenting are far-reaching. When we struggle to resolve the relationships (or lack thereof) that we share with our parents, the pain inflicted from this experience manifests in our lives in a number of shocking ways. Get to the root of your child-parent pain by recognizing the signs of a heart hurt by dismissive parenting.
As the adult children of dismissive parents, it is often hard for us to harbor healthy romantic relationships. This occurs because of an intrinsic fear of attachment and love, which comes from an unfamiliarity with the subject altogether.
Children who have developed with an emotionally void parent grow up to become adults who struggle to attach normally and demonstrate / receive love. Trust is a major component of any relationship, but when you fail to receive that trust and security early on in life, it becomes hard to recognize and reciprocate later on down the road.
When you haven’t experienced the love and affection of a loving adult, you’re more likely to develop defenses or protective mechanisms that keep people forever at a distance. These mechanisms create a space that feels safe, though it really leads to unhappiness and an alienation that fosters a sense of hopelessness and loneliness.
Having a strong foundation of morals and identity can protect us from many of the pitfalls of toxic relationships. When you do not understand who and what you are, it becomes impossible to identify what you need from the world around you.You can’t have direction if you don’t know where you want to go, but that sometimes takes breaking with tradition and breaking with the crowds that we have always known.
Being driven to focus on our negative qualities for so long, we often find ourselves in a series of unstable and shallow relationships that are short-lived and painful, no matter what we do to change them.
When you don’t understand who you are, or you’re afraid of who you are, you’re more likely to follow the crowd and far more likely to be led astray by those who see the vulnerable hurt lurking inside of you.
Depending on how you look at it, selfishness can be a self-preserving evolutionary must-have or a personality deficit that’s to be avoided at all costs.
Not being able to share with others leads to an inability to be emotionally detached from the things going on around us and can lead to some juvenile or immature behaviors that further isolate us from the people that matter most.
Being loved and cared for appropriately by our parents can lead to some truly happy things in our adulthood. Conversely, however, the opposite is true, with the gnarly conflicts and traumas of our childhood also following us through the decades in some really nasty ways.
If we are abused or just neglected by our caretakers, it can lead us to develop some characteristics which are not only unpleasant but self-defeating. The adult children of distant or dismissive parents have been shown to struggle with long-term relationships as well as emotional problems that revolve around anger, grief and an impermeable sense of hopelessness.
Those who grow up with severely distant or emotionally abusive parents can often find themselves suffering with one of these disorders, which undermines their lives in a number of ways. To the BPD sufferer, unstable moods can lead to frequent fights, blaming and paranoia; while the NPC sufferer battles with grandiose feelings of arrogance and empty self-confidence.
Without proper therapy, both of these conditions can destabilize a household and any of the relationships the adult (or child) sufferer counts among their own. Being emotionally estranged from our parents is hard, but it’s also destructive. We need their love and guidance in order to thrive.
The first step in dealing with a dismissive or emotionally distant parent is to accept this fact and accept the fact that you are the only one who can heal yourself. Emotionally absent parents aren’t fully present — and they never can be. There are effective ways to deal with them, however, and that starts with a little understanding and ends with a lot of acceptance.
When we are hurt by our parents, we often go out looking for healing in all the wrong places. We turn to other people, to drugs, to alcohol — all in the search of the love we were denied when we needed it most. The problem with that is that no one else can save us. Only we can save ourselves.
Find activities that bring you peace and joy and be kind and gentle with yourself and the way you see the world. Work hard to build up that confidence that was wrecked by a dismissive parent and celebrate your strengths and victories every single day.
Write notes to yourself and start a mindful journaling practice that lets you get back in touch with that scared, broken little child that’s hiding deep inside. Learn how to love yourself and the rest of the world will follow. Give yourself a gift that never quits giving and be the parent you always needed.
Having a painful past can make it hard to revisit traumatic times, but it’s an absolute necessity when it comes to facilitating our own healing and joy. Only when we start to look the puzzle pieces of our childhood heartbreaks can get start to piece together a cohesive image of what’s gone wrong and where. Dig deep. Examine the things that happened and the emotions they bring up and then find it in yourself to forgive. You can’t move on until you learn how to forgive.
It’s important to remember that forgiveness is not excusing the actions of the past or pardoning the damage that they’ve done. It’s simply means you’ve given yourself permission to move on and you’ve given yourself permission to let go of the pain and the hurt that’s kept you crippled, scared and lurking in the shadows.
Open yourself up to the reality of your feelings and express your pain in the way that feels most productive for you. Make the decision to forgive and throw yourself into it full heartedly when you’re ready to open up and move on. Shift yourself from the victim mindset to an empowered mindset by accepting that the pain of your mother or father does not define the parameters of your future.
Growing up as the child of dismissive parents, we often learn to deal with our feelings by not dealing with them at all. We bury them deep and put them in a place where we think they can never hurt us. The problem with that, however, is that feelings will always out. And they’ll do it in some really destructive ways if you don’t deal with them in the open.
According to Dr. Jonice Webb, author of Running on Empty, parents who dismiss their child’s emotions during childhood are creating enormous problems for those children in adulthood.
Feeling our emotions is a scary thing, especially when the only examples we ever had were of running from them at every available chance. The best way to deal with deep-seated emotions for the first time is to journal, writing down your feelings and memories as they come with no editing and no smoothing-over of the uglier aspects.
Writing things down helps us to make sense of what happened and how it shaped who we are. Doing this regularly can also help you realize the fact (once and for all) that your emotions are as valid as you are. Put the words on the page and the discovery will be transformative.
It’s not your fault that your mother or father dismissed you or who you are. Emotionally distant parents are broken children, just like us, but it can be hard for us to see this through the haze of our childlike admiration. Broken parents struggle with their emotions and their traumatic pasts just like we do, and this can lead to them becoming distant and unable to love us on any deep and meaningful level.
When you feel frustrated or guilty, remember that you are not the one to blame for the distance or dismissal your parent inflicts on you. Rather than ignoring the negative thoughts, let them come and replace them with positive self-talk that helps you feel better about the whole situation.
Instead of thinking, “It’s my fault he / she treats me this way. If I would just…” try replacing it with a more positive thought like:
If your parents aren’t there for you, create a connected network of caring friends and partners that are there for you.
Strained relationships with our parents can lead to magnified feelings of insecurity, and this can lead us to isolate ourselves. The problem with this, however, is that it only leads to further unhappiness and undermines our confidence to the point of decimating it completely.
You can seek out new friendships by joining a club, getting involved in a charity or just looking for local groups that meet-up to do a hobby that you enjoy.
There are all sorts of relationships that can be fulfilling and not all of them need to be romantic or intimate on any level. There are millions of people out there who would love and appreciate you for who you are — no changes needed. Find them and find your way back to true happiness.
Having a parent that’s incapable of being there for us can really skew the way we see the world and our place in it. When we struggle with our negative emotions, it can cause us to catastrophize situations, creating a rift between reality and the beliefs we cultivate around our sadness, grief and anger.
Realize that your emotions are not reality. Though having a distant parent can make us feel of unworthy of love, that just isn’t the truth. Remind yourself that you’re as worthy of love as anyone else, you just don’t see things that way because of the way you’ve been hurt.
Our emotions are not a reflection of reality, though it can often appear that way. Imagine someone else experiencing your feelings and imagine what you would say to them if they told you their parents didn’t love them. Would you respond with support or would you agree that they’re worthless and unlovable? Give yourself the same support you’d give a friend in need. You deserve compassion and love as much as anyone else.
If you’re still in contact with your toxic or dismissive parent, then it’s imperative that you learn how to manage the relationship in a way that protects your heart and your emotions. This starts by setting boundaries and sticking to those boundaries even when things get hard or uncomfortable.
Have an honest and open conversation and be frank about what you need and how your parent’s actions make you feel. Setting boundaries is important in any relationship, but they’re especially important when we’re stuck in a one-sided relationship with caregivers we can’t escape.
Set boundaries in the moment and make it clear that you’ll no longer tolerate any behavior that is not in line with who you are and what you need. You can say things like “I appreciate you inviting me to Christmas, but I need you to send me these invitations sooner. Sorry. I’ve made other plans.” Stand firm in what you need and stand firm in the knowledge that you have a right to need what you need.
When our parents are emotionally distant, they often coerce us into the behaviors they desire by engaging in emotional manipulation that leaves us raw and feeling insecure. The key to managing this type of relationship is learning how to recognize the patterns of manipulation and stop them before they have a chance to damage us.
Catch those moments when your parents are being manipulative and disengage from the game immediately. Even if they guilt you or make accusations, stand tall in your convictions and let them know that you’ll no longer tolerate the endless comparisons and non-stop scapegoating. Don’t answer the phone and refuse to give in when they tempt you with all those emotions that keep you stuck in the past. Regain your power by breaking free of the patterns.
Repairing the damage caused by distant or dismissive parents takes time. Start small. Take tiny steps to heal yourself and distance yourself from the mother or father who is making you feel small and insignificant.
Don’t be hard on yourself if it takes a while and trust your process and the needs that you feel coming from within. The effects of an emotionally distant parent take a long time of readjusting to undo.
Remind yourself that everyone does their best — you included — and mistakes are a natural part of the journey. You’re going to get better, it’s just going to take some time and some conscious effort on your part and the part of your inner-child.
It can be incredibly difficult to let go of past hurts, but it’s necessary in order to become the happy, fulfilled adults we were always meant to be. Healing the hurts of our childhood often starts with dealing with the injuries inflicted on us by our caretakers. If you grew up with a parent who was distant or unloving, chances are you’re still fighting an uphill battle today. That battle can be won, though, with a little understanding a big dose of radical self-acceptance.
Get in touch with your past and learn how to connect with your emotions in productive and efficient ways. Start with small steps and accept that there will be missteps and mistakes along the way. Set boundaries and realize that your emotions are not reality. Healing is hard, but it’s not as hard as living a life broken and full of pain. Create new connections and stop blaming yourself for the mistakes of your parents. You only have one life. It’s time to start living it for you.
Dealing with dismissive parents
Research & References of Dealing with dismissive parents|A&C Accounting And Tax Services