How parental dysfunctionality shapes child emotionality
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02-10-15 Category: Mental Health

parental dysfunctionality child emotions

Often times, the origins of a mental disorder can be traced back to a person’s childhood. Not only are mental health disorders at unprecedented levels for adults, but children as well, with 3 percent of children (aged 3-17) suffering from an anxiety disorder and over 2 percent from depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is due much in part to most parents’ unawareness of how much influence they have over their children, lacking the educational or emotional skills to raise their children and prepare them for the world.

Some of the most dangerous types of parents to their children are arguably those with mental disorders and substance abuse issues themselves. Parents who are struggling with their own mental disorders usually have less energy and attention to give to their children’s emotional needs, spending much of it dealing with their own issues. Even more damaging is these parents’ tendency to have unhealthy thoughts and behavioral patterns that are contributing to their disorders that can easily be imposed on their children, setting them up for developing their own problems later on.

Children of unstable parents who are too preoccupied to cater to their emotional needs often end up in foster homes, addiction treatment centers or juvenile detention centers, eventually passing their unhealthy behaviors and beliefs onto their children as well. Many developmental theories posit the idea that family dysfunction begins with education, teaching of social skills and parenting style. One theory, put forth in the 1960s by Diana Baumrind, a developmental psychologist, involves two parenting styles that she believed contributed to unhealthy child development. They include the following:

  • Authoritarian parenting – These parents are often overwhelming to their children, imposing strict rules and expectations on them. Authoritarian parents try to use fear and intimidation to raise their kids, often crossing the line between parenting and abuse. In cases of verbal and physical abuse, the child not only develops resentment for their parents, but learn to handle their own frustration and disagreements in the same manner. These types of children usually grow up to be hostile, having boundary issues, a lack of respect and substance abuse issues.
  • Indulgent parenting: These parents can often be mistaken as the child’s friend, uncle or babysitter. They tend to make very few demands, taking a laissez-faire approach to parenting; the opposite of authoritarian parents, their children usually have little to no respect for them, setting them up to developing mental disorders like ADHD, behaving wildly and impulsively as well as resorting to criminal activity in some cases. Despite indulgent parents taking a laxed stance with their kids, they often fail to provide real attention or affection, prompting their children to look elsewhere for parental figures, something that almost always results in an unhealthy relationship.

The healthiest option to avoid family dysfunctionality is to find a balance in-between authoritarian and indulgent parenting, being an “authoritative parent.” These types of parents are calm, yet strict enough to teach their children to respect authority.

Sovereign Health’s expert team of healthcare professionals places a strong emphasis on family, employing family based therapy models such as brief-strategic family therapy as well as special family days and educational classes exclusively for parents. We take a holistic approach to treatment, offering alternative approaches to brain wellness such as brain mapping and NAD/NTR rapid detox (at our San Clemente, California location) as well as neurofeedback and biosound chairs. If you would like more information regarding our incorporation of families into our treatment programs, feel free to contact us today.

Chase Beckwith is a writer with Sovereign Health Group whose lifelong goal is to make reading about addiction and mental health palatable.

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