When it comes to parenting, we typically associate warmth, affection and nurturing with mothers and more practical aspects with fathers.
But you’d be surprised to learn that contrary to popular belief, recent studies have proven that when children feel rejected by their father, it’s more harmful than rejection by the mother.
What Happens When Children Feel Rejected?
Ronald Rohner of the University of Connecticut carried out an analysis of over 36 studies about the effects of parental rejection on about 10,000 participants.
He explains that in half a century of international research, no other childhood experience has been proven to have such a strong and consistent effect on the personality of a child as that of rejection, especially by their parents.
Image Source: iStock
Studies show that the same parts of the brain that activate when a person is experiencing physical pain are also triggered when a child feels rejected. But rejection is worse than emotional pain for people can psychologically re-live the emotional pain of rejection for many years.
When children feel rejected by their parents, they tend to become more anxious and insecure. Over time, they start to have low self-esteem, chronic self-doubt and depression. They even develop hostility and aggression toward others.
This doesn’t end in childhood and the emotional pain lingers into adulthood. As a result, these children grow into adults who find it difficult to form trusting and secure relationships with their partners.
What Happens When Children Feel Rejected by Their Fathers?
Now here’s the thing, people primarily target mums when it comes to children feeling rejected. However, the consequences of parental rejection don’t come from only one parent. Furthermore, recent studies prove the psychological effects of rejection by father hold more weight.
“When children feel rejected by their fathers, the effects on their development are far more serious than that of the mother.”
A possible explanation for this is that children pay more attention to the parent they view as more influential and the one with more interpersonal power or prestige. So it hits them harder and causes more emotional damage when children feel rejected by father or dad.
“The attention received from the father has a strong impact on the development of a child’s personality.”
Implications of These Findings
The takeaway from this is that the findings should serve as a strong driving force for men to be more involved in the emotional upbringing of their children.
Men need to understand that their love is as important as motherly love which often gets most of the spotlight.
Fathers tend to leave the emotional parts of being a parent to their wives. Often this is because they feel insecure about their emotional importance in the family. But the truth of the matter is the father is the head of the family.
The father is very influential and he should be more involved in the emotional upbringing of the children.
In addition, schools and medical institutions are often too quick to blame mothers. It’s important to recognise the influence and role of the father on the child’s personality development and as such, the inappropriateness of mother blaming.
Do You Know When Your Child Feels Rejected?
Image Source: iStock
Having said all of this, it’s also important to raise awareness of what parental rejection is and when and how children feel rejected.
Most of the time, parental rejection is not deliberate. This especially applies to men. They unintentionally make their children feel bad about their rejection.
Apart from the obvious, not being warm and affectionate towards your child is also a form of rejection. If you want to be the disciplinarian go ahead, but that doesn’t mean that you always dismiss your child or communicate in a curt and distanced manner.
It may seem like you are doing them good and raising them in a ‘firm’ manner. However, if you don’t balance it out and show them affection, children feel rejected. Additionally, you end up scarring them emotionally.
Likewise, being too busy for them and constantly giving them divided attention is also a form of rejection.
Another example includes ignoring your kid when they excitedly run to you with their schoolwork. When you fail to notice them as they approach you, it counts as rejection.
Recognising the Moments You Reject Your Kids
Believe it or not, not all parents recognise the moments they reject their children. These situations may not mean much to adults but it’s not the same for our kids.
As adults, our life experiences make us unaware of our children’s emotional development. We also end up brushing off how overwhelmed they feel with their growth.
When children feel rejected, it remains in their memories. These scenarios include not glancing at them when they walk toward you. If you don’t look away from your phone, laptop, or TV, your children feel rejected by father.
Image Source: iStock
Moreover, invalidating their emotions or experiences implies that you refuse to listen to their problems. You also reject them when you don’t praise or affirm their achievements.
Meanwhile, the psychological effects of rejection by father usually revolve around focusing on negative incidents. If you refuse to recognise your kid’s good deeds, you end up rejecting their efforts. This also makes them feel small.
Overall, we need to mind our actions and face the psychological effects of rejection by father or mother. Parents must set a good example and learn to apologise for unintentionally hurting their kids with their rejection.
So mums and dads, and especially dads, in this case, be more aware of how you interact with your child. Give them the affection and attention that they need and deserve to avoid damaging them emotionally.
Help Your Kids Handle Rejection
Aside from the consequences of parental rejection at home, we must prepare our kids for rejection outside the home. They need to know about the pain they might feel from being rejected, disappointed, or defeated.
When children feel rejected by other people, they want to find someone to confide in. They usually turn to their parents when they face these situations.
Because of this, we need to provide a safe space for our children. To help your kids deal with rejection, you can follow the tips we compiled below:
- Find out if they want to hear your advice or if they need a shoulder to cry on. We need to understand that giving unsolicited advice makes our children feel worse.
- Listen to them and validate their feelings of being overwhelmed. When your children confide in you, they turn to you because their emotions confuse and overwhelm them.
- Provide a safe space and don’t compare your past experiences. Much like the earlier entry, we need to know if they want to hear about similar experiences in our past. If not, just listen to what they have to say.
- Help them see the bright side of things after learning about their situation. When children feel rejected, they wish to know if they can turn things around to receive approval. Help them know that they can try again or do better next time.
- Remember to make them feel that you’re on their side. After hearing about their problem, you need to let them know that you’re there to support them all the way. Additionally, you need to avoid comparing other people’s problems with your kid’s situation.
This article was updated by Kaira De la Rosa.