Did you know that when children feel rejected by their parents it has devastating effects on their development? And it's worse when it's rejection by the father.
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.
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 towards 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. But the recent studies prove otherwise.
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 their father.
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 wife. 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?
Having said all of this, it’s also important to raise awareness of what parental rejection is and when and how children feel rejected.
Many a time, parental rejection is not deliberate. Especially for men, they don’t have the slightest idea that they are making their children feel rejected by some of the things that they unintentionally do.
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, but if you don’t balance it out and show them affection, children feel rejected and you end up scarring them emotionally.
Likewise, being too busy for them and constantly giving them divided attention is also a form of rejection. If your child runs to you in excitement to show you his schoolwork and you can barely look away from the television, your handphone or laptop, it’s also rejection.
Not praising and affirming their achievements and positive character traits and constantly focussing on the negative is also 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!
Reference: Curious Mind Magazine