Every child deserves to be loved, nurtured, and given an environment to thrive. But sadly, this is not always the case. And what happens when unloved children grow up to be adults? If they were not able to heal and process their childhood, they will most likely struggle with the byproducts of never being loved by their parents.

True love and connection will immeasurably benefit you and your kids

As a mom, I have seen firsthand how important my emotional connection is with my children. Even within a day, if I fail to connect with them, it shows in their behavior. But if I take the time to be intentional with them, even if for 20 minutes, or certain moments throughout the day, there is a light inside of them that turns on. They are in better moods; they smile and laugh more; they are more confident.

You see, throughout your child’s life, they will have questions about themselves. And you, as the parent, will be the one they look to for answers. The most pivotal questions that shape their life are: Am I lovable? Am I likable? Am I successful? Am I attractive? Am I smart? Am I talented? Depending on your child’s personality, certain questions will be added to this list. If they like to make people laugh, they will look to you to see if they are funny. Your child will see themselves through your eyes; your voice becomes their inner voice.

sad little girl

If your child doesn’t see themselves as lovable based on how you treat them, they will struggle for years to come. When they are still children, they won’t necessarily see your fault. They will most likely blame themselves for not being “better.” Until they reach adulthood and can process why they feel the way they feel, you will be the perfect one they never lived up to.

We all have something to work on when it comes to love

It’s so heartbreaking when parents can’t think deeper about how their words and actions will affect their children, not only in the present but for years to come. These people often look for ways to “fix” their child, without looking within to see if their child’s misbehavior is perhaps a symptom of something they need to change in their parenting.

As you’re reading this you might be thinking, I love my child, so I’m good. But what many parents fail to realize is that we ALL have things to work on when it comes to parenting and making sure our child’s emotional needs are being met — even the best of parents. And how our children FEEL loved is often different from how we feel loved. Find out their love language. Do things that make them feel lovable.

We will all fail our children in one way or another. We will all do unloving things to our children that will affect their life and leave a ripple throughout time, sometimes for generations to come. That’s why it’s all the more important to live intentionally, be humble and willing to grow, and apologize when you wrong your kids.

We all have wounds to heal from

So whether a child has been emotionally neglected completely, or just a little bit, these traits are what all of us struggle with to some degree based on our upbringing, life circumstances, and how we choose to heal and grow.

I’ve met people who have had the worst possible childhood, but because they have done the work to heal through it, they have overcome and are living their best life. But that doesn’t mean those thoughts and doubts about themselves won’t come to their mind again. Healing is a process. And just because the struggle is still there, doesn’t mean healing didn’t happen.

I’ve also met people who have had the worst possible childhood but never did the work to heal from it. They have become embittered and miserable.

Whether you’re reading this article as a person who wasn’t properly loved as a child, or you’re wondering whether or not you’re loving your child enough, there is something for everyone to learn here — how important showing love to those around us truly is.

At the end of the day, we all desire to feel loved. And we all deserve to be loved.

When people are unloved as children, this is what they will struggle with in adulthood

sad woman

People-Pleasing

When we feel as though we can’t please our parents, we try harder and harder. And when parents can’t answer this “am I lovable?” question, a child will feel like they can never live up. They won’t know how to express their emotions because the environment in which they live isn’t a space they feel safe to share who they REALLY are. Because who they are is not who they believe their parents want them to be. In adulthood, this often translates to becoming a people-pleaser. Your parents won’t quench your thirst for attention and admiration, so you will seek it elsewhere. They will then mold themselves to whoever everyone else wants them to be, neglecting who they really are.

Inability to Trust

Trust building begins in the womb. Your baby will feel you surround them. Subconsciously, they know they are safe. Then, when they are born, they struggle to adjust to their new environment — you aren’t as close as you once were. This is why babies struggle to be left alone in their cribs. They need to feel you; know you are still there, keeping them safe. And as they grow older, love is an incredible motivator for trust. A lack of love will translate to a lack of trust, both in their relationship with their parents and their relationship with others.

Here is a great article about building trust with your teenager.

couple fighting

Developing Unhealthy Relationships

The first relationship in someone’s life is with their parents. If that relationship wasn’t healthy, then their idea of healthy relationships will be skewed. Their desire for connection, love and mutual respect will be something they continue to look for throughout their life. But accomplishing this will be a challenge, as they were never taught how to have a healthy relationship.

Self-Doubt, Insecurity

While the world and its influences are full of ways to make us feel inadequate in who we are, our parents will also play a role in this. If our environment growing up was unloving, we won’t see ourselves as lovable or attractive. We won’t feel enough. This will set the stage for a lifelong battle of insecurity and self-doubt. Since our parents don’t see value in us, how will we know we have any value to give the world?

depressed man

Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety are often a result of something that’s amiss in our lives. Sometimes, this is because our parents never taught us proper skills to self-regulate, express our feelings and emotions, or let us in on the fact that life is sometimes hard, and we will fail. When we haven’t learned these proper emotional life skills along the way, we won’t know what to do with our big emotions. When we feel sad, we won’t be taught what to do with our sadness. “You’re fine. It’s not that big of a deal.” Instead of “I’m sorry you’re feeling sad. Would you like to talk about it? How can I help?” Children are forced to push down their feelings, and the result could someday result in depression and anxiety.

Lack of Empathy

Empathy is an incredible gift we can bestow on our children. It’s when we can identify with how they feel, show our compassion for them, and stick around to be there for them in whatever way they need. But empathy doesn’t always come naturally to everyone and has to be learned. And if a person’s parents never showed them empathy, then how will they learn how to extend it to others?

Inability to Self-Reflect

A child learns the most just by watching their parents. An unloving parent is not someone who self-reflects. They are someone who thinks they are always right. And because kids learn this behavior, they will most likely emulate it when they are older.

In conclusion:

All of these struggles are something most of us deal with in our lives to some extent. But when a child isn’t loved throughout their life, the repercussions are monumental. Do the work to heal if this was you. Do the work to not repeat the cycle and show your kids to love and attention they deserve.

Author

Hillary Gruener is a wife, mother, writer, and musician. If she's not at her desk writing content on family life, she's adventuring the world with her husband and two boys.

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