How to Recognize and Overcome Childhood Emotional Neglect

Young child sitting alone in window with head down Because it’s mostly silent and invisible, childhood emotional neglect is largely an overlooked phenomenon in psychology. Unlike physical neglect or abuse, where there are signs such as bruises or children coming to school underfed, emotional neglect is difficult to identify as there are frequently no observable signs. More importantly, emotional neglect is generally unrecognized by the child until symptoms begin to appear in adulthood.

Emotional neglect can take many forms, from a parent having unrealistically high expectations or not listening attentively, to invalidating a child’s emotional experiences to the point he or she begins to feel self-doubt. When a parent is not emotionally attuned to a child, there is no mirror held up, no positive reflection being shared with the child. Developing a positive sense of self, then, becomes more challenging for the child.

Symptoms of Emotional Neglect

As outlined in Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect by Dr. Jonice Webb, symptoms of childhood emotional neglect that show up in adults may include (but are not limited to):

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  • “Numbing out” or being cut off from one’s feelings
  • Feeling like there’s something missing, but not being sure what it is
  • Feeling hollow inside
  • Being easily overwhelmed or discouraged
  • Low self-esteem
  • Perfectionism
  • Pronounced sensitivity to rejection
  • Lack of clarity regarding others’ expectations and your own expectations for yourself

While having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you were emotionally neglected, if you identify with more than one symptom, it may be worthwhile to talk with a therapist about the possibility.

What Kinds of Parents Tend to Emotionally Neglect Their Children?

First, let me say most parents are well-intentioned and well-meaning and generally do the best they can. Some may have experienced emotional neglect themselves as children, and therefore may not have a lot to give emotionally. However, there are some parenting styles and characteristics that lend themselves to emotional neglect.

Authoritarian parents want their children to follow the rules, and have little time or inclination for listening to a child’s feelings and needs. As adults, children raised by an authoritative parent may either rebel against authority or perhaps become submissive.

Permissive parents have a laissez-faire attitude about child rearing and may let children pretty much fend for themselves. Children raised by permissive parents may have a tough time setting boundaries and limits for themselves in adulthood.

Parents with narcissistic qualities feel the world revolves around them. It’s typically all about the parent’s needs instead of the child’s. As adults, these children may have difficulty identifying their needs and ensuring that they’re met. They may even feel that they don’t deserve to have their needs met.

Perfectionistic parents tend to believe their children can always do more or better. These are the parents who may complain when a child brings home a report card with all A’s and one B. Children of such parents may grow up to be perfectionists, and set unrealistically high expectations for themselves, resulting in anxiety around feelings of never being good enough.

Absent parents can be removed from a child’s life for a variety of reasons, such as death, illness, divorce, working long hours, or frequent travel for work. Children of absent parents end up raising themselves to a large extent, and if they are the oldest child may also raise their younger siblings. These children tend to be overly responsible, which may carry over to adult life. As children, they seem like little adults, overburdened with worry about their families.

Tips for Recovering from Emotional Neglect

So what can you do if you think you may have been emotionally neglected as a child? Here are some tips:

1. Learn to be aware of positive and negative emotions when you’re experiencing them.

If you’ve spent your adult life being disconnected from your feelings, the first step is to learn to identify positive and negative emotion. It’s important to acknowledge just good and uncomfortable feelings to begin with.

Once you have that down, you can focus on noting subtler nuances of feelings. You may not even have words for how you feel, which is perfectly normal if you didn’t grow up in a home where people talked about their feelings.

2. Identify your needs, and take steps to meet them.

Many adults who experienced emotional neglect as children are often unaware of what they need and typically don’t feel deserving of getting their needs met. Develop your emotional vocabulary by researching emotions and needs online or at the library. Once you know what you need, it’s time to take action.

3. If you believe you don’t deserve to have your needs met, acknowledge the belief and see it as just that—a belief, not a fact.

It can be helpful to begin to deconstruct old beliefs you’ve held for a long time that may no longer hold true. Like everyone else on the planet, you have emotional needs that you deserve to have met, no matter what you experienced in childhood.

4. Be gentle with and take good care of yourself, starting with small steps.

Adults who experienced emotional neglect as children often have difficulty with self-care. Unaware of their feelings and needs, they frequently don’t know where to start. Try treating yourself with the same care and gentleness you would give a child who wasn’t able to take care of themselves. Be tender and compassionate with yourself, especially if you tend to be self-critical or judgmental.

And remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day! This is a process. When you skin your knee, you need to clean out the wound and expose it to the light of day; the same holds true for emotional wounds. Dare to bring the wound out of hiding, give it some light and air, and you’ll be on the road to healing.


Webb, J. (2012). Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect. New York, NY: Morgan James Publishing.

© Copyright 2016 All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Dhyan Summers, MA, LMFT, Topic Expert

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • lindall

    February 18th, 2016 at 9:24 AM

    Now why do people go and have children if they are not willing to care for them and nurture them in the way that they need from their parents?

  • Haley

    May 28th, 2016 at 7:42 PM

    Sometimes it’s more about the parents thinking they’re doing it right, that they’re doing no wrong.

  • Dhyan

    May 29th, 2016 at 5:34 PM

    I think we need to educate parents about emotional neglect and its effects. Many parents are simply unaware of the effects their behavior has on their children.

  • Priya

    June 23rd, 2016 at 10:10 PM

    I agree with this. Looking back, I’m starting to realize that my parents and the caregivers in my life did the best they could–neither they nor their parents knew any better…they had their own issues to over come. None of it was helped by the culture we came from either.

  • Dan

    August 29th, 2016 at 5:24 PM

    I agree. A lot of parents seriously believe that they weren’t emotionally neglected as a child themselves. So why wouldn’t they repeat the same mistakes? In their minds, they turned out great. (Denial)

  • Lynn T.

    April 8th, 2019 at 1:06 PM

    So true. Myself I was not the favorite child in my family, my brother was favored and well taken care of by my mother, she did however sexually abuse us both, as well as physically. My father did his best, and thankfully taught me compassion, sympathy and kindness. I have been diagnosed recently with PTSD . After surviving 6 physically/ mentally abusive relationships I have decided a partner is not someone i can easily take on…I attract men who are physically , financially and mentally abusive to me.

  • Ruth

    August 7th, 2016 at 2:58 PM

    Because they don’t know what they don’t know.

  • erika

    May 18th, 2017 at 7:55 PM

    I was emotionally neglected as a child. This has forced me to become socially awkward and unable to communicate with people. I think I’m showing symptoms of a psycho.

  • Zach

    December 14th, 2016 at 10:03 PM

    Because they could be troubled themselves and project their problems in the form of neglecting their children.

  • anonymous

    December 15th, 2016 at 8:03 PM

    Well, I think they have the best intentions, and don’t know what they’re doing to heir kids. My parents are that way.

  • T.A M.

    January 9th, 2017 at 9:30 AM

    Responding to the comment:
    Now why do people go and have children if they are not willing to care for them and nurture them in the way that they need from their parents?
    There is no one answer. Here is mine. My parents had their children in the 1950s. In this era many people got married and had children because this was simply what was expected. My sister died in an accident when she was five and I was 18 months. My parents never recovered. They had a replacement child, my brother. They could not invest emotionally in their children because they were perpetually grieving. My father was bipolar and alcoholic. My mother was depressive and alcoholic. My uncles were alcoholic and didn’t like me or my brother because we were extensions of my father. Now, with all due respect, does this answer your question?

  • Dan

    January 29th, 2017 at 11:31 PM

    I hope you are well T.A.M. Your story is certainly is more extreme than most but as you can see, you are not alone.

  • Daphne

    March 18th, 2017 at 9:26 PM

    Great article. A lot to think about.

  • doubledee

    May 27th, 2017 at 7:54 PM

    bipolar and alcoholics have babies too. Everybodys got there bridge to cross. Ya I was
    raised by them. I am one. My mother died. I did the best with what I new. I have two duaghters. Raised them in program. They are ok. Im not sure I am. I gave everthing to being the best mother I could be. They love me dearly. Thank God or Id be lonely.

  • akatkins

    February 13th, 2017 at 12:46 PM

    I was brought up by a mother who was the child of an alcoholic. She was emotionally absent 90% of my life. I love my children and have tried my best to be a better mother, yet when looking over the past, I see many places where I myself failed. I too, have been emotionally absent in many circumstances. Not as my mother, but there were times I felt I should have done better. Because I never had a mother to demonstrate it to me, I feel that I lacked. I can only hope that my children Will do better than I did, and that in doing so, eventually we will have broken the cycle.

  • Dhyan

    February 13th, 2017 at 2:49 PM

    We can only ever do the best we can, which it sounds like you did. I’m sure you were more present for your children than your mother was for you, despite never having had a model of what that looked like. Please come to yourself with compassion and know your children have their own journey to follow, as did you.

    My best,


  • akatkins

    February 14th, 2017 at 8:28 AM

    It has taken me my entire life to see and understand that it is a journey and that all we can do it try to be better. I believe that so much would be better resolved and understood if we could just get it a bit quicker…..I’m nearly 60 and feel had I gained the insight that I have now at say, 40 or 42, I could have approached things differently and actually Not caused damage to my children. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20 and as I look around I see so many young people whose parents felt that allowing them the “freedom” to do as they chose and say what they wanted has created a society of completely undisciplined adults who care not for other’s feelings. The “do what you want to do” generation without care/consideration of how what you do affects so many others-both negatively and positively. I see it every day. I work in a SA treatment center, in admin support. The attitudes of ME First, MY considerations, ME ME ME….has created a generation of adults who never think of how their behavior affects those around them. It is difficult to see.

  • Heather

    August 13th, 2019 at 4:52 AM

    Well said!!

  • Charlie

    March 2nd, 2017 at 7:03 PM

    Im 16 years old. My mom is always complaining about being a single mother to us. And she implies that its our fault. She does not support us at all emotionally and barely financially. Im basically raising myself and i have no friends. Other kids’ have it so easy. Their parents encourage them and pick them up. What did I do to deserve her?

  • Dhyan

    March 4th, 2017 at 12:34 PM

    You did nothing to deserve your mom. It’s not your fault. Your mom probably didn’t get the love she needed as a child and doesn’t have much to give. Are there any other adults that you know who you can look to for help and guidance? A teacher, school counselor , relative or neighbor? You need support and there might be adults other than your mom who can provide that for you. My best to you,

  • Tammy

    March 4th, 2017 at 6:14 PM

    Charlie, I’m so glad that I caught your question. First, none of this is your fault; you didn’t do anythung to “deserve” a mother like the one you have. You and your siblings deserve a better mother. Unfortunately, this is the mother you were given. I think it is incredible that you are taking care of your siblings and practically raising them. In two years, you will legally be an adult and able to do more for yourself and your siblings. Your mother lashes out at you because she has nobody else to vent to. Try not to take her words to heart. I understand that it’s difficult. I grew up with a dad who chose his addictions over my sibling and me, while my mom chose my dad over her children because she worshipped the ground that he walked on. I had poor self-confidence, and no friends, as a result, because I believed that I was unworthy if my own parents would rather choose anything else over me. I am sharing this because I want you to know that you are not alone. If or when you finally become a parent (and you practically are one, since you are taking care of your siblings), be the opposite of your mother.

  • kara

    March 6th, 2017 at 4:40 AM

    My name is Kara and I never knew what I was a victim of until I read your blog. I’m almost 40 now, and I feel so alone in this world that it is unbearable. Growing up I had a mom that blamed be for everything. When the thermastate was on higher than it was suppose to be it was my fault. When her towels in her linen closet went misses it was my fault. She beat me up pulling my hair, slamming up against the wall or on the floor. My sister was never hurt or told off. She never got hit. Whenever she was in trouble my mom and dad were there. I recently was in jail, scared with no one and no one would even bother to pick up the phone. When my mom did respond to what happened it was another excuse of “I’m old enough to handle myself”. Throughout my entire life she has madeup reasons not to support or care about me. I have asked myself why? I have blamed myself my whole life. I have lived with is my entire life and now I have no family , no friends no moral support in anything. My boyfriend left me stranded in the state I have live in for now 10 yrs and still nothing has changed. I’m without a job, a home, love nothing. Because of how they have always treated me and no one coming into my life (lucky enough to change anything) . Now i’m almost to the end and feeling like death is the only real choice I have ever had.

  • The Team

    March 6th, 2017 at 2:53 PM

    Dear Kara,

    Thank you so much for reaching out. Please know there is hope, and help is available. If you are in immediate danger of harming yourself in any way, it is very important you seek help immediately. You can call 911 or your local law enforcement, or visit your nearest hospital emergency room. If or when you experience suicidal thoughts, you can call to talk to someone immediately at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY). You can also search for a therapist in your area on the directory by visiting

    We are thinking of you and wishing you the very best!
    Kind regards,
    The Team

  • Katy

    June 13th, 2017 at 3:16 AM

    Charlie.. you did not deserve to be unsupported try to find someone who can support you, also continue to use the internet as a way of seeking advice the aim for you is to not blame yourself and to loose your confidence .. you don’t have a functioning parent so you will have to parent yourself its not easy but you can begin to be positive, try to be good to yourself. Any negative things you think try to replace them with a positive.. Be extra good to yourself knowing you deserve the best

  • Honaria

    July 4th, 2017 at 4:55 AM


  • Dosilver

    September 4th, 2017 at 5:30 AM

    Im so sorry to hear about your struggles. It is not fare that you have to put up with this. I will tell you counseling might be a good thing to look into later (or now), please know its not your fault. I know what you are going threw I survived it too. I wish I could give you a hug brother please hang in there you will eventually get out and meet someone that deserves a good person like you. Take Care and know I will pray for you.

  • Del S

    September 5th, 2019 at 5:44 PM

    No one deserves what type parent they get….good or bad. It’s just the way it is at the start. Your task is to progress along your own path. Be the type of person you’d want to have in your life….you’ll attract similar people.

  • Britty

    March 11th, 2017 at 9:17 PM

    For some people having children is solely about feeding their own selfish adult need. I was sent far away to boarding school at age 7, which for many rich parent kids is juvenile jail for rich absentee parents. The kicker was my parents business went sour, were personally bankrupt by the time I was 14 and I had to be self-sufficient from there-on in. To survive in my adult years, I had to protect myself by going for a superficial, low-contact relationship with my childhood absentee parents but comically still get monthly reminders that I have a “duty” to fulfill to my parents in their retirement years and bend over to their ridiculous demands. Sad really!

  • SC

    April 7th, 2017 at 1:33 PM

    I too went to boarding school at age 9.5. I’m 51 now. I live 10000km from my parents. I’m going to see them in July. Not exactly looking forward to the trip due to the thought of establishing and then breaking bonds yet again. I’m taking my wife and two boys (10 and 14) with. The emotional neglect of boarding really hit me in the stomach when my eldest turned 10. You see how vulnerable you probably were. And it suddenly hits you. Or it did in my case. Boarding school really is an industrialized form of emotional neglect. The facilities may be nicer these days, but the age old problem remains: No parents. You cant get away from the psychological damage this does. Also the constant establishing and breaking of the bonds as you move between the school and home. Later in life I had major problems establishing friendships and romantic relationships, and finally got married at 36. I’ve been studying and trying to adapt myself so as not to pass on my issues to my children. I’m actually quite blunt and have warned my wife and children (and friends) that I have hidden issues that may pop out. Example: Its the boarding school training when I start yelling at 10 for everyone to go to bed (that was lights out 40 years ago). When I cannot sit still, its the boarding school speaking…etc. There are some fantastic resources at “boarding concern” and if search for “boarding school syndrome”. In certain respects I don’t blame my parents. My Dad was an exboarder and my Mom was raised by an ex boarder (my grandmother). Another great book is “running on empty” by Dr Joinice Webb. It deals with childhood emotional neglect. Reading the literature on ex boarders was very helpful. It explained a lot of the things I’ve done in my life. We tend to be very independent and don’t talk about our emotions to other people. What has been very helpful has been talking to a therapist. This has made me much more confident and I have opened up big time to friends and colleagues. While scary, it has made a profound difference to the quality of my relationships. It took me a while to understand that there was nothing wrong with me. My behaviour was an expected response to the childhood emotional neglect of the boarding school. Good luck with your recovery. Like at school, never give up.

  • CS

    May 17th, 2020 at 3:37 PM

    SC, can you share what you did to finally get married? I’m 36 and haven’t had a romantic relationship yet. It’s very worrying. I’d like some advice from someone who’s been there.

  • Stacy B

    May 9th, 2017 at 7:50 AM

    Because they were idiots who didnt know how to practice safe sex like my parents. My mom was mentally unstable got pregnant at 28 by my 24 year old dad who didnt know what he was getting himself into, they got married cuz that’s what you did back then.. He worked 60 hrs a week to support us and had no idea the emotional abuse we endured and after he left…the hoarder episode that was my house.

  • Lucy

    May 16th, 2017 at 5:41 PM

    Great, article and helpful tips for recovery, thank you!
    Asking why people have children and then neglect them is not helpful. It happens and we need to focus on the solutions like this article does.

  • Sad Tony

    July 28th, 2017 at 3:34 AM

    I was neglected as a child and sadly fit into all the groups. I really can’t tell you all the details as it still hurts and trying to unpick the tangled mess of my emotions:- knowing I wasn’t cared for and to know I have been shaped by these experiences. I didn’t like been a slave then (Cooking, cleaning running errands etc for no thanks and made to feel ” A big girls blouse” when crying after a punch in the face at 8 years old, Letting the blood run down my face into my snotty nose was the best defence. I still go for the symathy vote when struggling and I hate this default state as an adult when I have other methods of dealing with situations. As I was made responsible for so much at a young age I do have extensive problem solving skills which I use after my default near jerk reactons. Cynical really) but still feel compelled to put others first all the time. The perfectionism driven by lack of self worth has had a positive effects as I became an electronics engineer but at a huge emotional cost which has become better over the years as I now know so much it doen’t cause the dredfull self doubt and anxiety it once did but I do still feel overwhelmed as a fear of failure walks like a ghost wherever I go. My mother was illegitimate She simply wasn’t equipped to “Nurture”. She was completely unaware. I am still confused about many things. I can now look objectively at my life and say “You did well there” or I have achieved so much. I do often wonder if I would be so driven if it wasn’t for that hollow feeling inside. Good luck to you all WE ARE WORTH IT.

  • Nancy B

    September 30th, 2019 at 4:40 PM

    I love you for your hurt and can share mine.

  • London

    August 1st, 2017 at 9:15 AM

    I ask myself this everyday when my horribly narc mother chips away my self-esteem with her acid tongue. I could never treat a child the way my mother and step-father treated me.

  • Emily

    November 10th, 2017 at 10:44 AM

    You can’t blame a parent for having their faults and failures. My parents tried as hard as they could to balance my needs with the needs of my much more pronounced mentally ill brother, but my needs fell by the wayside because their belief that I would be okay.

  • Claire

    November 18th, 2017 at 3:32 PM

    Exactly – My mother once said she wanted three children (which she got) but I seemed like an annoyance to her – she never taught me anything, didn’t care about anything I could do or did (like grades, abilities) gave NO feedback pro or con (ever!!) I felt as important as a fly on the wall.

  • Sunny

    February 10th, 2018 at 1:54 PM

    Most of these people have children because they believe that may overcome their own obstacles of emotional neglect through the child, thus perpetuating the problem. In addition, I believe these people want the child to fulfill their unfulfilled legacy through having children. Lastly, I think the culture promotes the idea that “everyone” should have children when in reality not everyone should, however because these people are themselves emotionally neglected and have an underdevelopment idea of maturity they fall into the peer pressure. Another good read about this is “Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents”. Some other topics to broaden the issue are Codependencies and Enmeshment of parents

  • Lori-Ann

    August 4th, 2018 at 8:54 PM

    My mother had schizophrenia and left for the hospital when I was 3. A few years after in and out of hospital, she no longer lived with us. My dad took care of us. He worked hard and provided for us, but he was an alcoholic and emotionally unavailable. He once threatened to “kick my a**” because I got emotional and mentioned my mother being gone (he wasn’t drinking either, he was never an angry drunk). He was often physically absent as well and I remember doing pretty much what I wanted and getting myself into bad situations because of the lack of supervision. One good thing is that I lived in the country and not the city. I feel that it gave me peace and kept me grounded somehow.

  • Kylie

    June 20th, 2019 at 5:16 PM

    Well, one day when my mom was driving me to school, I brought up my brother skipping school so much because he was “sick”. I knew he wasn’t. And my mom yelled at me for it. And for no reason, she blamed me for her medical problems. She has diabetes and when she was specifically blaming me for that, her pump beeped at her and she blamed me for that too. She told me that she was gonna home and take care of herself first. I told her that I don’t give a s*** about what she does so she swerves the car on the road threatening to crash it. I eventually told her about my suicidal feelings, and she laughed at me all because she was mad at me. She completely ignored me. And she continued to ignore me this year saying I want sympathy and that I am manipulative. When I told my school counselor, she of course notified my parents and my mom said she never did anything like that to me and claimed she never remembered doing it. I know she did because it took me five f****** months to get over it and many nights where I cried myself to sleep. After that, the school didn’t even bother talking to me so I felt hopeless. Now i’m so f***** up. And if my mom listened and if my mom cared, she could’ve saved me from my own hell. And just so you know, my mom is the type of person that won’t own up to s*** she has done. Instead, she blames it on others. If she makes me mad or sad, it’s not her fault. To her, it’s my depression and she always runs for my medicine when she f**** up. Now I rebel against her by not taking it and if she hands me it, I always find a way to get rid of it. This is only f****** me up more, but I want her to know that i’m not putting up with her b******* anymore.
    And what’s worse is that i’m only 14 and when I grow up, i’m gonna have a lot of problems. I just know I will.

  • The GoodTherapy Team

    June 21st, 2019 at 2:25 PM

    Hi Kylie,

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  • Katherine

    September 14th, 2019 at 7:37 AM

    Because they thought it would be fun. Or because they liked the attention of being a new parent. But that will fade once the child reaches a certain age and then the parent isn’t getting so much praise and attention. Trust me, I have seen it.

  • ben-dover

    February 5th, 2020 at 8:23 PM


  • Anna

    March 23rd, 2020 at 6:53 AM

    Because they forgot to wear condom or take the morning pill then when tested positive, they don’t know where to abort or cannot afford the cost. Just another unwanted and unplanned pregnancy.

  • Hailey

    February 18th, 2016 at 10:32 AM

    These are children who need so much from their parents and yet they wind up getting very little in return from them.
    I agree that there are certain types, narcissists mainly, who will neglect their children, and fr what? Their own selfishness is what keeps them from giving the attention tho their children because to them life is supposed to only be all about them. It does not make any difference if someone else is being neglected as long as they think that their own needs are being taken care of.

  • Anjy

    July 2nd, 2016 at 8:24 AM

    It’s taken me years to work out what was happening at home and emotional neglect/abuse was a consistent theme throughout. Coupled with that, my parents had a troubled marriage – alot of rows, blame, arrogance and probable mental illness. I suspect the early warning signs were there to teachers at school: i was often walking myself home from school at 6/7 yrs old because mum forgot. On one occasion, i got distracted when walking home and decided to play with a neighbour’s kid a few doors down which led to a search by teachers and mum. There were ‘reasons’ at times eg my nan had cancer but later on when these things happened, there were no obvious reasons for this ‘forgetfulness’.

    To outsiders, im sure we looked like a fairly comfortable, respectable working class family, no real financial pressures, no black eyes or bloody noses but the situation underneath was grim. My mum would use me as a confessional to her troubled marriage – i was listening to stuff that no 7 year old should be burdened with. Often her grumbles would include ‘if i didn’t have you, i’d have a job, money, independence’. The situation as i got older was bizarre – there were times when i was treated as the other woman – on one occasion, i was having a water fight with my dad, just a fun moment; she flew into a rage and threw her wedding ring into the sea. When she wanted to have another mother/ daughter counselling session, she would start to offer me clothes or trinkets/treats: she would round on me one day and then the following day, usually after another row with dad, would try and bribe me back. My dad, at times was a bully, both physically and verbally; the former stopped when i defended myself age 12yrs but the verbal ridicule continued about my voice, my appearance, my abilities. A number of times, they sold off my christmas presents without even saying anything to me – i just laughed it off because at that stage my own boundaries and privacy were non-existant.

    The emotional fallout of all this eventually led me to breaking off contact with my parents for nearly ten years. It caused problems because alot of people like close relatives and the boyfriend didn’t approve. Eventually i got pressured by my now ex-partner and grandparents into resuming contact which i now regret. Despite lengthy, blunt letters telling both of them i cannot be a marriage guidance counsellor to my own parents, my mother still thinks it’s ok to approach me on these matters. Ignoring her does not work. When i lived at home sometimes i tried to ignore the rubbish so she would sulk and ignore me for weeks. Last year, on one occasion, i ignored her texts and she phoned up claiming she needed help with an unrelated matter and then switched the conversation to her marital problems. Very devious!

    Sorry for the long ramble and thanks for reading. I know i’ve got off more lightly than some but i wouldn’t wish aspects of my childhood on anyone. Parenting your parents at a young age is guaranteed to cause problems. And as this article and other posters say, it my parents were very much a product of their own upbringing. It seems like education would be the best way forward to try and raise awareness and tackle this type of abuse.

  • Dhyan

    July 2nd, 2016 at 6:17 PM

    Whew! It sounds indeed like you had a difficult childhood and I commend you on your insightful observations. I think giving yourself permission to set boundaries with your mum is key. As soon as the conversation turns to her marriage or anything else you don’t want to talk about all you need to say is, Mum, I’m not available to discuss this with you. And keep repeating it or tell her you’re hanging up if she continues to try and engage you, then actually be willing to hang up. I know it sounds brutal but it doesn’t sound like being subtle works with your mother and yes I agree education is crucial, as is therapy.
    My best,

  • Anjy

    July 3rd, 2016 at 2:28 AM

    Thanks for replying Dhyan. Yes i’ve established boundaries and paid the price for refusing to listen in to her marital problems. Getting the silent treatment, being lied about to third parties or her finding fault with me etc is what happens after i’ve said “no”. This happened at home and it happens now. I agree talking therapy is important for dealing with this. Also, putting time and distance between myself and my parents has helped alot too. Sadly some parents either don’t want to see or can’t see the damage they inflict on their own children.

  • Dhyan Summers

    July 4th, 2016 at 12:09 PM

    TIme and distance is important Angie, especially emotional distance. Untying the knots go deeper than we think.

    My best,


  • Anjy

    July 5th, 2016 at 5:39 AM

    Thanks Diane ;-)

  • Carleen

    September 16th, 2016 at 12:44 AM

    When you brought up the feeling of parenting your parents…it rang so true with me. My father used to try to convince my sister and I so many times when he was arguing with my mom to offer our opinions. It was as though we were guidance counselors trying to help. Of course, over time he had managed to manipulate us to see his position in every argument with her to be on his side. It hurts me to this day that I was a part of making her feel cornered. :(

  • Antora

    November 6th, 2016 at 2:41 PM

    sorry to hear your story Anjy, I can relate to so much of it. And now in my 30’s Im finally learning how to deal with my traumatic childhood. It takes a lot of courage to share one’s story, you should feel very proud and know that it helps others.

  • Nancy B

    September 30th, 2019 at 4:46 PM

    I am o sorry. My growing up was awful but I believed it was good. Am 70 now and dealing with much pain as the person I became protecting myself. God help us.

  • samona

    February 18th, 2016 at 2:10 PM

    You know those kids when you see them, but the problem is that most of us just don’t have the guts to get involved.

    I think that teachers in the classroom see it too but there is only so much that they feel like they can do, and half the time they are being undermined at home anyway.

    It can be a real problem knowing that there is a child who needs help but not really being sure how much you need to step in and help.

  • Dhyan Summers

    February 18th, 2016 at 2:37 PM

    Hayley and Lindall, I agree with you both that some parents need to self-examine more before they make the decision to have a child. But I also find that most parents are well-meaning. They probably didn’t have their emotional needs met as a child and just don’t know how to go about meeting someone else’s. It’s sad all the way around. And most parents, if if they are narcissistic, woukp probably have no idea that they were emotionally neglecting their children.

    Samona, unfortunately, unlike child abuse, we don’t have observable data that a child is being emotionally neglected, so often there is little we can do to help, except to offer nurturing to the child and let them know they are valued in whatever little way we can.

  • Stu

    October 3rd, 2016 at 12:07 PM

    As someone who grew up with an emotionally absent father and subsequently an over-bearing Mother, not only do I know how it felt as child, but I was aware how my behaviour (especially in a class room setting) appeared to those around me. It seemed blatant to me even at that sort of age which kids were getting their emotional needs met and who wasn’t. Sure, I have little-no evidence in regards to who came from an emotional stable family or not, but it was just one of those things you feel like you can pick up on, especially when you can relate to it.
    Although it may not be the case with every child, I’d hazard a guess that the majority of emotionally neglected kids sit at the extremes in terms of how active their behave in the class room environment (i.e. attention seeking or very withdrawn). Both behaviours shout out trust issues.

  • Dhyan Summers

    October 4th, 2016 at 2:31 PM

    I agree Stu, good point.


  • Tammy

    February 18th, 2016 at 7:50 PM

    I see a lot of criticizing on here. I’m betting a lot of them don’t have kids in the first place, so my adice would be stfu! Everyone wants to jump in and blame and shame and point fingers and feel better because they defeated the bad guy. The comment “they should’ve thought b4 they had kids” is f%ck%ng dumb! What about people that get rapped and can’t afford an abortain or can’t go through with it or hell! Because of laws today AREN’T ALLOWED to!? What, they should’ve thought about that b4 they walked outside! How about women in abusive relationships? They should’ve known better than to date?
    How about guys that poke holes in condoms, cause they want a baby, even though the woman said she wasn’t ready? Is it okay to abort then? Or is that still her fault?

    What about stressed out single mom’s who got away from a bad situation and are still struggling to heal emotionally while trying to support their babies by themselves?

    No, neglect is not okay. But. There is a lot more to think about when parents aren’t perfect then just pointing ur fingure n blaming.

    Wanting to jump on someone else and always point the blame is another psychological term called “projecting”.

  • Carleen

    September 16th, 2016 at 12:49 AM

    I’m pretty sure the commenter you replied to was referring to people that choose to have children. I don’t think they were intending to offend anyone by not including circumstances where there was no choice in the matter.

  • Dhyan Summers

    September 16th, 2016 at 9:15 AM

    Dear Carleen,

    Just know that you are not responsible for acting in accordance with your father’s wishes as a child. All children do this to get their emotional needs met. It is normal and natural. Unfortunately your father used you to meet his own needs, which is inexcusable, but not your fault. Let the guilt go as much as you can.


  • Annie

    October 4th, 2016 at 10:49 PM

    This is a reply to Tammy: February 18th, 2016 at 7:50 PM

    Those who have suffered childhood emotional neglect can and should speak their own truths just as any other person and just like any other person their experiences, thoughts and feelings ARE VALID. I don’t appreciate your comment which seeks to further invalidate me, my experience and my history, this just echoes childhood abuse I have suffered. Other people have their own histories, they are neither better nor worse than mine, yours or Dhyans’, they are just DIFFERENT. There is no hierarchy of emotional experience, your comment seeks to erase the validity of mine and others here. Your comment is in fact somewhat off topic.

  • Joanna

    May 10th, 2019 at 11:22 AM

    Comment for Tammy. I don’t think you understand the meaning of projecting. An abusive person will project their abusive behaviour onto their victims. There is no insight/no truth involved. Whether they meant to be abusive if not it’s a self defence mechanism. However when a victim of abuse is describing the actions of an abusive person and saying it is unacceptable- that is just telling the situation as it is. The abusers projection is based on a lie. E.g. I hit you in the face but it’s your fault – you made me do it compared to My Mother hit me in the face and it was abusive and unacceptable. Abused people, because of the abuse, will only too readily feel shame, accept the blame for an abusers actions because they have been conditioned to do so. Your reply is incredibly ignorant and hurtful to those who have suffered abuse. I am guessing you have suffered abuse but still feel the need to defend the abuser or you have been accused of abuse yourself.

  • Dhyan

    February 18th, 2016 at 8:30 PM

    Tammy, I honestly believe that we are all doing the very best we can, whether we’re the moms, the kids, or the ones criticizing. We all need to develop some compassion for ourselves and for each other.

  • Berry

    February 19th, 2016 at 8:06 AM

    Why such anger Tammy? Do you think that someone is talking about you? I guess if the shoe fits…

  • Dhyan Summers

    February 19th, 2016 at 8:52 AM

    I think we all need to practice compassion, for ourselves and each other.

  • doubledee

    June 9th, 2017 at 9:48 PM

    i love reading this and these stories.My parents died very young. Im 53 and have so many questions but know one to ask. I listen to theses stories and it helps me get out of denial as I hear and see the similarities. My mother went to boarding school. She didnt tell me much about it except she learned nothing just got in trouble and was made to clean alot. She was a good mom I thought. Even if she did emotionally neglect me she was a very nice mom. She made me clothes. My room was always pretty and clean. I have a lot more to learn about this. My problem is im feeling now and its to intense at times. I have periods of extreme anger. I had never thought of myself as an angry person. Now ive had outbursts couple times so I got a therapist because that behavior scared me. Other times Im so inward all I want is to be alone. Being alone horrifies me.

  • Chris T.

    July 6th, 2017 at 8:56 AM

    I have had a very very similar experience. My mom to her credit expresses regret about our anti-social upbringing (we never as far as I remember went to anyone’s house for a get-together, other than immediate relatives of my dad). They never came to my school unless it was sports. I didn’t feel supported. We never ever talked about feelings. They pushed me to do sports and overachieve, but I had severe social anxiety when a child (couldn’t even talk to anyone, had no friends) and later in life severe anxiety and depression. What I needed was not sports but communication skills. I don’t blame my mom, she came from an alcoholic neglectful parent too. She has since expressed regret, which is all I can ask for, but I gotta tell ya my romantic relationships go through the exact same pattern: initial extreme feelings and the world opens up, they move in & meet my family and BAM i become extremely shut off intimately, i want them gone, I can’t deal, and every attempt at bringing them into my family spells disaster even going to the length of sending me nasty emails about my partners, wanting me to break it off at the first sign of trouble even after it took a lot of strength to express my dissatisfaction (which is crazy making. my parents, despite their own relationship problems, have always subtly been passive aggressive of my partners).

  • Marissa

    February 20th, 2016 at 5:16 AM

    We are often so caught up in ourselves that we fail to see what others need from us. Yes this is even true as parents at times because we are all so busy focusing on our own wants and needs that other things tend to fall to the side as we do things that meet our own needs. The thing about kids though is that what they learn from us while they are children are the things that they will then exhibit to their own. Let us all try to be a little more mindful of one another. I think that is probably a wise lesson for any of us to follow.

  • Dhyan

    February 20th, 2016 at 5:43 PM

    I agree Marissa.

  • Teri

    February 22nd, 2016 at 10:29 AM

    I think that because i was abused and neglected as a child I knew that I was going to go overboard in the opposite direction with my own children and I know that I have done that. I think that I always felt like I was lacking that love and so I have smothered my own kids. There are times that I know they would much rather I back off a little but I have to try to explain to them that I would have loved to have a parent like that when I was a kid.

  • Dhyan

    February 22nd, 2016 at 3:47 PM

    It’s really hard to find the right balance Teri. All we can do is what we believe to be best in any given moment. I think keeping the channels of communication open is what’s most important between parents and kids. And as parents we’re all products of our upbringing.

  • jason F

    February 23rd, 2016 at 7:24 AM

    I see all different kinds of parents out there and I think that you are definitely right in that a lot of child rearing has to be about finding that right balance for your children. What might be right for one family may not necessarily be right for another. It is not all one size fits all when it comes to the very best solutions. But I think that as you come to see how your needs as well as those of your children mesh, I think that you will have a clearer picture of what that balance should be all about.

  • Dhyan Summers

    February 23rd, 2016 at 8:48 AM

    Well said Jason, I completely agree.

  • susan

    February 25th, 2016 at 7:45 AM

    I’ve read and re-read the article and agree whole heartedly. I believe most of us have experienced trauma, to one degree or another, and the steps to healing are just as individual as was the injury.
    Identification, evaluation, communication, forgiveness and trusting are some keys to this process, but, it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ prescription.
    Another key ingredient, in my case, was finding another human being I could open up to, trust to share information with and feel secure in their ability to accept and understand that I’ll always be a “work in progress” and are patient with me.
    My true admiration goes out to anyone who has the courage to undertake healing, but I believe it’s worth the work.

  • Dhyan

    February 25th, 2016 at 9:15 AM

    Susan , I couldn’t agree with you more. I particularly like the idea that we are all a work in progress.
    My best,

  • Paula

    February 25th, 2016 at 2:08 PM

    Both of my parents were alcoholics, functioning ones but yeah, the bottle usually took a great deal of precedence over me. Now when they were sober they were the best parents ever. But I a;ways felt like I was second on their list you know? So I am not sure that this really counts as neglect and I know that there were those who have had it far worse than I ever did, but it does something to a kid to know that you are not the first priority in the home. It just makes you grow up a little too fast and I miss that part of getting to cuddle up with my parents and just be a kid.

  • Dhyan

    February 25th, 2016 at 9:15 PM

    Paula , one of the markers of adults who were emotionally neglected as children is the sense that others had it much worse than I did. And maybe they did, but that doesn’t negate the fact that your emotional needs weren’t attended to when your parents were drinking. So if you’re having any of the signs mentioned in the article, just know it’s for good reason and come to yourself with just a little bit of compassion.
    My best,

  • Bennett

    February 26th, 2016 at 11:39 AM

    That is the one thing that most of us struggle with, no matter our circumstances, is just the ability to forgive ourselves and to understand that most of the things that have happened to us in our lives is not our fault. Yeah, some of the things we can take the blame for but then there are other much larger things that we ultimately have never had any real control over.

  • Dhyan Summers

    February 26th, 2016 at 3:13 PM

    Hi Bennett,
    It’s true that we didn’t have control over most of what happened to us as children. We are not to blame at all. Yet still, we need to come to grips with what happened and what we are telling ourselves about this, and to see that the negative messages we tell ourselves are simply beliefs and not truth. We need to challenge the beliefs in favor of what is actually true, if that makes sense.


  • mackemzie

    February 28th, 2016 at 3:29 PM

    The hard thing to acknowledge once you are an adult and looking back on your childhood will be seeing that maybe things were not always as ideal as you once thought that they were. Once you begin to look closely at your life you could see that you were missing something as a child and it will not be until much later on that you are actually able to see that and all of the ways that it has impacted your life, usually in a very negative way. That does not mean that you can then have something to hold against them, but there will just feel like you finally have the answers for the things that you somehow knew were missing.

  • Dhyan

    February 28th, 2016 at 9:33 PM

    I agree with you Mackemzie that it’s not about blaming our parents, they were doing the best they could , but rather shedding some light on why we’re the way we are, hopefully with compassion and understanding.

  • Bhax

    March 12th, 2016 at 10:59 PM

    Nobody came into this world with an instruction booklet, telling their parents how to best bring up their little darling. It is sad to note that childhood emotional neglect happens because of the lack of parental emotional skills. Consequently, CEN can and does go through each generation in a family as a silent shadow as any parent cannot teach what they don’t know. Thus this poisonous legacy keeps being gifted over time. Having children is easy; parenting them so that they grow to be happy and healthy individuals is not. We may need to challenge our ideas about parenting and learn about it before having children. Just because you can doesn’t mean one should. We may need to be even more radical. Parenting classes in school for teenagers, more financial support for the nuclear family, and more flexible working for parents.

  • Dhyan Summers

    March 13th, 2016 at 11:30 AM

    How true Bhax. And even more radical would be some kind of process for people contemplating parenthood that would help them resolve their own childhood issues of emotional neglect, so the process doesn’t have to conitnue for generations.

  • JO

    May 31st, 2016 at 1:57 PM

    Is it sad that I can relate to a lot of this? My parents are never there for me when I need them. I have basically raised myself to the person that I am now because my parents have always worked and never been around. They never have time for me. I don’t blame them that they have to work to sustain my siblings and I, but I have to take care of my younger sister ever since she was born, when I was 10 YEARS OLD. I’m almost 16 now, and I swear everyday it gets a little harder to deal with my parents. I’m not being ungrateful for everything they have given me, but they never ask how my day went or any of that . I can’t even remember the last time they have told me they loved me. I can’t joke around with them because they take everything so serious, they have such high expectations from me. I feel like I’m never good enough.It stresses me out so much. I have honors classes, and I bring home all A’s, i don’t lie to them, I am overall a good child besides the typical not cleaning my room and talking back. When I talk back, though, I don’t do it to disrespect. Most of the time I am just speaking my mind, not yelling, but I get shut up for saying the truth. People have always told me to try and talk to them, but they don’t understand that my parents are people that will NEVER understand . They don’t understand that nowadays children get loaded with work and STRESS, or that depression occurs in teenagers. They think that we have it so easy. I wish i could have a relationship with them, but they are so hard headed they will never understand. Im tired of everything because even after my dad gets home from work at around 6:30 pm, I still have to feed my sister when HE IS THERE. SHE IS NOT MY CHILD. But I can’t complain because he will always be like, “I pay your phone bill.” I cannot put how i feel into simply words because it’s all too much. I can’t do the typical stuff a teenage girl does because I always have to stay home and take care of my little sister. I have an older brother who goes out and nobody tells him anything. For example, I got out of early from school last week, and I was supposed to pick up my sister, and I got distracted and didn’t look at the time and got there like 6 minutes late, and I got yelled at. I’m the one the ALWAYS picks her up, and i have never been late except that one time. To add on, they are super strict. I cannot go have fun and have sleepovers with my friends, not even my neighbor, which i’ve know for more than 11 years and my mom and her mom know each other. I BARELY even get to sleep over my cousins. My parents are also so judgmental, always judging other people, including me. On how I dress, or sleep late, or never brush my hair. My dad is also such a hyprocrite. He has told my brother multiple times like why doesn’t he have a girlfriend etc. Although my mom defends my brother and tells my dad that let him be, It pisses me off because I’m sure as hell my dad would not let me have a boyfriend or be around boys. Does he not expect me to have guy friends? They have gone through my messages, and some social media accounts, and it annoys me bc when they do it on each other they get mad, but clearly its ok to invade MY privacy. I do not have anything to hide, but I hate how they don’t have trust in me. I literally give them 0 reasons not to trust me. I’ve never typed out I felt , it would be too long, because there is much more I could say, but it does feel good to get it out there. I just really cannot wait for Senior graduation and to move out of this house. I want to dorm in a college because there is no way I can put up with them. I just feel like they are the ones stopping me from doing fun stuff that make me happy.

  • Debbie

    February 26th, 2017 at 1:31 AM

    I seriously believe that some relationships just need to end for a while if they cause you pain. It is not healthy to wait around and think that a mother, father, or any person is going to wake up and treat you differently. It is time to treat yourself to people who will be there for you emotionly and love you . I never had to walk away from my parents even though due to poverty and other things I had way too much responsibility. My mother had no education due to growing up poor in the depression. She put us in unhealthy situations because she really did not know about parenting, but we always knew she loved us. These days you can go to sites like this one for help and a sense of support. My mother was divorced with 3 young children. She had very little support and my dad let us all suffer just for an ego trip. Both of them are dead now. My two children had their own stresses with me even though I had every intention of making a good life for them. I just could not stand my husband’s infidelity constantly. So even with good intentions my kids went through their own issues when I became bedridden with Lyme’s Disease. My point is that sometimes it almost seems like life can be out of our control and we are almost meant to go through certain life events and learn about ourselves and others. My life has been very difficult but now at age 64 I have been fortunate to be at a place of peace and self acceptance. People are flawed. But there are peodple who are on the journey of self discovery and love. Those people are the ones you want in your life. Do not settle for less. Many family members may disappear from your life as you move forward and that is ok. They may join you later if they wake up. We can be happy without them. And sometimes we might be sad. It is important to be ok with our feelings and know that they are always changing.
    One thing I always turn to when I want to feel good is music. If you are young and feeling alone this is one thing you can do to life your spirits that doesn’t involve relying on anyone. I feel for you if you are in a situation where your parents are totally emotionally unavailable or on drugs, etc. It is not fun. I know. But you have to start loving yourself and find good healthy ways to feel happy. Much love to all of you.

  • Dhyan

    February 26th, 2017 at 1:02 PM

    Thanks for your support Debbie and for taking your life’s journey into your hands.
    My best,

  • Jo

    May 4th, 2017 at 9:08 PM

    Thank you very much for all of your support. I honestly forgot that I wrote this, and it’s been a whole year. And I can’t say that much has changed but as I’ve said I look forward to my graduation . Now closet than ever . And my parents are still the same, a little change, but I’ve learned to cope with all. Although I do have those hard days

  • Erin

    April 9th, 2017 at 8:13 PM

    Thank you for this article.

  • Dhyan Summers

    May 31st, 2016 at 6:17 PM

    Jo, it sounds like you are in a difficult situation in your family. I wonder what might happen if you wrote them a similar letter that you wrote here, and got everything out in the open with them. It most likely would not make things worse, and who knows? Glad that you will soon be able to go off to college where you’ll have more freedom.
    I wish you the best,


  • quentin v

    June 29th, 2016 at 11:04 PM

    thanks for the segments on types of parenting regarding emotional neglect, it’s clear and an original strain of ideas
    i came here to cry, remembering how good crying can feel when it gets fitted into the cold box of my mind
    as your suggestions say, i’ll try being compassionate to my strict self
    you mentioned indistinct goals of people affected by their parents, i wanna be a lot of things i’ll remind myself once in a while to sort my targets out

  • Dhyan Summers

    June 30th, 2016 at 9:29 AM

    How insightful of you Quentin, to be putting all these pieces of the puzzle together. And yes, feeling compassion toward yourself is so important. I urge you to spend some time bringing compassion to yourself each day. My best to you,

  • Natalie B

    July 2nd, 2016 at 11:21 AM

    I have read this article today and it has almost made me freeze. I can feel myself shaking and my limbs feel heavy…it’s not easy to type. I have suffered with mental health struggles – anxiety and depression – for about 20 years. I am now 36. I can identify with so much of the article and know that I suffer many of the symptoms of emotional neglect as a result of my experience with my mother. It’s only been coming together in my mind slowly over the past 5 years – since I first became a parent myself. I am now mother to two wonderful boys. I am so scared that I will repeat this cycle of emotional damage to my own boys. I am currently on antidepressants – for the 4th time in my life. I am also about to embark on a course of counselling. My husband is extremely supportive, as is my sister, who is also facing her own emotional struggles. I recognise my own emotions quite well now and I am always able to see when I need help and support – hence the 4th round of antidepressants. I do also see how my own experiences are impacting on my relationships with others, my expectations of myself and my fears. I do not feel resentment or anger towards my mother anymore. I think that ship has sailed. I feel a sadness for her and a deep sorrow that she has obviously suffered so much in her own life. Dhyan – The issues I am currently struggling most with and the questions I would put to you are this:
    1. Is it possible to break the cycle of emotional neglect? I know I have made mistakes myself as a mother – particularly with my eldest son who is now 5. Is being self-aware and seeking help and support enough to change the trend?
    2. My family are all in agreement that my mum has been suffering with depression herself for years. Whenever anyone tries to encourage her to seek support, she goes into a fit of rage and shuts down emotionally for weeks. She feels that everyone is against her. How can you help someone who refuses support or to accept that they have mental health issues?
    3. For the past 5 years I have been questioning whether I want my mum in my life anymore. My dad is deeply in love with my mum and he can’t imagine life without her – they are both in their mid 60s. Despite the fact that she tells him (and my sister and I) that she despises him and doesn’t love him, he always fights for her and convinces her that he loves her deeply. This happens at least once a year. For his sake, I feel I need to keep peace with my mum and never admit to her how I truly feel about things. My husband and my sister know how I feel. My sister feels much the same way. As time goes on I am finding it harder to accept my mother’s behaviour and I wish my dad would walk away from her, but she has threatened suicide and we feel all feel obliged to keep pacifying her in order to make sure she does not harm herself. Is it possible to live a life where a whole family “glosses over” a person’s mental illness in order to stop that person hurting themselves and because you love them and fear for their safety? Should I speak out and risk splitting the family apart and depriving my boys of their Nanny whom they love very much?
    There is a lot here and I appreciate that you cannot give me answers to solve all the issues, but I welcome any advice you may have in relation to my questions. Many thanks.

  • Dhyan Summers

    July 4th, 2016 at 12:18 PM

    Well first of all, I commend you for getting the help you need. Anti depressants are very helpful in terms of making you feel better in general, and to untie the knots so you’re free from the emotional neglect you’ve suffered, counseling is definitely a must, so glad to hear you will begin that process.
    To anwer your questions:
    1. Yes, its definitely possible to recover from emotional abuse with the help of a trained therapist, so share with your therapist everything you’ve shared here.

    2. It’s impossible to help someone who doesn’t want help. Your mother is probably terrified to look at herself, and until she’s willing to do that she will not get help.

    3. This is much more complex and best discussed with your therapist who will get to know you and what you need.
    I wish you the best,


  • Anjy

    July 5th, 2016 at 6:53 AM

    Sorry Dhyan, my name is Anjy, not Angie.

  • Anonymous

    July 7th, 2016 at 5:00 AM

    This is something I have dealt with for most of my life. Growing up, my father was in and out of jail. While I still view him as a good man, he was very rarely emotionally available or capable of battling my mother. My mother never showed any interest in being emotionally available to me. My younger sibling was and still is the golden child, and I the scapegoat. This resulted in me spending most of my childhood with relatives, but even then, I couldn’t escape my mother’s grasp. I vividly remember begging my mother to spend time with me and to just love me. I tried my hardest to convince her that I wasn’t as bad as what she thought I was.. The trauma of growing up neglected by my own mother has had a profoundly negative impact on my adult life. The only way I can describe the feeling is a soul crushing experience. It’s a heaviness that sits on my chest, a lump in my throat, heart literally breaking, kind of feeling. I often long and daydream about a mother daughter relationship that I know will never come to be. It is something that is so hard to move on from or even admit to. No one wants to shine a negative light on their own mother, and even after all the years of emotional neglect, I still find it to be a daunting task to address such hurtful feelings. I love my mother dearly and constantly long for her acceptance, but the results of my childhood have damn near ruined my life.

  • Dhyan Summers

    July 7th, 2016 at 10:04 AM

    How courageous of you to be willing to look this square in the face. And of course you wish you had a more “normal” mother daughter relationship, all children do. It’s important to realize that with all her faults re mothering, your mother did the best she could at the time. I would suggest therapy to help you untie some of these knots, so yu’re no longer so negatively impacted by these feelings.
    All the best to you,


  • Ann

    July 14th, 2016 at 3:05 PM

    My parents made me work at 16 and kept all my money so they can pay their bills besides they fact they were saving on there end. I paid for my older siblings wedding and my other older siblings needs. I was the youngest and my parents emotionally blackmailed me and they kept telling my that since we are your parents u have to work and give us the money. I worked two jobs thru college and still they kept taking but Since I’m really nice and wanted to do the best I can for them. But little did I know it wasn’t worth it when I asked my parents for a semester of college session and they told my y should they pay for me. finally when I finished and found the man I love and and of course they refused to pay for anything. I had to work extra hrs and do it myself and when my dad tried to ask about my expenses. I confronted him u have no right to ask me my expenses when it was my wedding u never cared. He told me upfront u don’t deserve anything from me anyway. No I don’t think I deserve anything from anyone but what hurts that I wish he realIzed his lil girl was doing much more to take care of him. Nothing hurt me more than his words. Though out my childhood I tried to work to get their attention cuz I grew up with them telling me they didn’t want me anyway. But i tried my 100%.

  • lynda

    July 26th, 2016 at 7:45 PM

    I grew up in a very traditional household. Father wad the authoritarian and breadwinner while mother stayed home. I had no relationship with my father. We are not close to this day. My mother was a good mother in that she took care of our physical needs but she did not or could not connect on an emotional level. Neither parent cared much about what we were doing as teenagers and young adults. We had no mentoring or encouragement in anything. We basically ran our own lives and were left to make life altering decisions on our own. I was smoking by 9 years old and drinking by 14. My parents were completely clueless to this. I thought this was normal until I had my own kids and now realize how much my parents failed with their parenting. I’m not a perfect parent but I certainly make sure I know what is going on in their lives and with their education. The ramifications of having emotional neglectful parents are that I am now 42 years old and although I have always worked and have a stable relationship I still lack self confidence and direction in my life. I find my self consumed with self doubt and fear for my future. I don have a career and still to this day have no idea how to sort my life out. I find I can be selfish and really have to make an effort to be there for my kids as it does not come naturally to me. I suffer depression where I can easily just sleep my life away if I was able. I know this all comes from my childhood and teen years and I feel like screaming at my parents but my mother is a really nice person but she definitely let me down in a lot of ways.

  • Jean

    December 1st, 2016 at 9:12 AM

    Lynda – Sounds like we had similar childhoods. I’m approaching 60, and only now am realizing that I was emotionally neglected and abused, and having relationship issues as a result. I have raised, lovingly, three grown childre. I’d love to talk more with you.

  • Violet

    April 9th, 2017 at 10:57 AM

    There is a very strong survival instinct we are programmed with, that allows for a great deal of mental gymnastics when we are faced with negligence or abuse in childhood: in order to retain the parent as one who will unfailingly meet our needs, and therefore prevent us from experiencing the terror of their failings, we make ourselves the problem. It’s not them–it’s just that we are not worth the investment. As adults, we assume we are betraying our parents (who did the best they could, of course), by being disappointed in them, or telling them (or others, or ourselves) directly, that we are outraged by the neglect we endured as children. Your statement “I feel like screaming at my parents but my mother is a really nice person,” perfectly illustrates this pretzel logic.

    If your mother really WERE a nice person, YOU WOULDN’T FEEL LIKE SCREAMING AT HER! She was emotionally unavailable, and, there’s no way around it — for the developing child, that is emotional abuse. Surely you’ve heard of the Romanian orphans who fail to thrive despite adequate food, clothing and shelter. The ingredient of childhood that allows us to thrive as adults is HUMAN WARMTH. Within the category of warmth we find a spectrum of emotional experience: TOUCH, LISTENING, SOOTHING, MIRRORING, CURIOSITY, SUPPORT, INTELLECTUAL ENGAGEMENT, and EMPATHIZING. If you did not get any of that, then you did not get raised properly, and you are likely experiencing the concequences of the neglect in the form of deficits in your executive functioning, as well spending your life bathing in an inner landscape tinged with pervasive loneliness.

    I’m not even assuming your mother was capable of better. I doubt she maliciously chose to be an emotionally negligent mother just for kicks. Obviously she did not get her emotional gas tank filled up in childhood herself, and thus had nothing to offer you. But to make excuses for this gross negligence, or to minimize it, and to eternally repress the pain and anger around it, is just adding more and more abuse to what you already endured throughout your childhood.

    And we haven’t even touched on your sh$tty dad, what he did or did not bring to the party, and how it is we can call any woman the sacred term “mother” who would allow such a cold presence in her children’s home.

    So. Congratulations. You successfully internalized the message: your feelings are irrelevant. Now unlearn it!! find a competent therapist, feel all those repressed feelings, and undo the knots in your brain. Everyone deserves a loving, attentive mother. Not just deserves it, but requires it, to be a functional adult. It’s AS important, if not more so, as food.

  • Claire

    September 8th, 2017 at 8:10 PM

    Violet – I, too, suffered emotional neglect as the child of a mother who never talked to me – no communication verbally about anything going on in my life from as far back as I can remember. My dad, though he worked hard to provide for us (mother and three of us children), also never talked to me or cared about anything going on in my life. I felt like one of those lab babies who had all physical needs met but was never spoken to, cuddled, picked up, or played with. Those babies actually died. Though I managed to function throughout life (I paid for my own education up to a master’s degree for example) it was all only due to a survival instinct. My mother, especially, may have had some emotional problems of her own (I never heard the words, “I love you” toward me or between my parents); I never knew their anniversary, and no birthday celebrations existed.) I somehow always felt I was OK as I did get compliments from other people – all non-relatives as I was kind of cute and had some innate abilities that they recognized. But never from my mother or father. She once said she wanted three kids but showed no interest in mothering my younger bro’ and I especially (she let him quit school in the 11th grade and just signed our report cards without one comment.) My older bro’ fared better with both parents but I never felt any rivalry about this. I have vented my anger in recent years and even forgiven her (and my dad) but she has crippled me for life. I am now retired, and alone, except for one daughter who I likely went overboard being a loving and supportive mom to. I currently feel I am slowly dying (like the boy in “Cypher in the Snow”). I don’t see suicide as an option for me (I don’t have the courage to do it though that may change – I’m not sure about that.) My appetite is gone – I constantly fight losing weight and depression. I have been to many therapists but will seek one out again.
    May God help you find someone to support you emotionally and in other ways.

  • Dhyan Summers

    July 26th, 2016 at 9:15 PM

    Yes Lynda, I know the feeling. And how could it come naturally to you to be there for your own kids when you never had a model of what that looked like. It is a testament to your strength that you’re in a stable relationship and are able to work. And that you’re willing to look this issue in the face. Kudos to you!


  • Ammy

    August 3rd, 2016 at 10:54 PM

    Hi Dhyan,
    I am currently studying for my diploma in childcare and it has been helpful for that but it has also helped me to understand myself.
    As someone with a narcissistic mother, I find that small things overwhelm me. (Finding the words for this comment for example)

    Your article has helped me to understand why I am the way I am which I believe is a big step in the right direction and for that I wanted to thank you. :)

  • Dhyan Summers

    August 4th, 2016 at 12:15 PM

    It’s a huge step in your recovery. Keep up the good work and remember, above all, to be kind and forgiving of yourself. My best,

  • Annie

    August 11th, 2016 at 8:05 PM

    Hi Dhyan,
    Thank you for your article. Like some here, I endured emotional neglect and abuse at the hands of a narcissitic mother and emotionally absent father. As a child I worked really hard to be ‘good’, to try and get things ‘right’ in an effort to gain some kind of approval but of course at the time I had no idea the field of play had ever moving goal posts! Any disposable income she spent on clothes and jewellery for herself. My mother has consistently, throughout my life belittled every achievement I have made and still continues to conscientiously try and push any emotional button she can to diminish me.

    Childhood emotional neglect and abuse led me, for many years, to become a people pleasing doormat for others to walk over. When I became aware of what was wrong with my mother, I was able to shine a light on all those terrible years of neglect, abuse and fear and finally begin to forgive myself for never being good enough. I have now accepted that she is a very dysfunctional person and that it has always been her problem and not mine! She is old now of course and she continues to dismiss, diminish, gas light, lie and pull faces but quite frankly I just don’t care anymore! She is an odious person who has never done her best for anyone other than
    herself. The irritating thing about emotional neglect and narcissists in particular though, is that all their abuse is hidden behind closed doors and hushed up. No obvious signs, no black eyes or broken bones which is why I presume children who suffer this terrible mistreatment are largely invisible. It is devastating, in hindsight, as an adult to realise the level of cruelty and suffering inflicted on my childhood self by one who should have nurtured and protected.
    Sending strength and hugs to all those here that battle to get beyond their beginnings.

    Thank you Dhyan for your article.

  • Dhyan Summers

    August 11th, 2016 at 9:22 PM

    Thank you Annie for your courage to write about your experience. You are so right, emotional abuse is the hidden enemy behind closed doors. I hope this helps a bit to bring it out in the open.
    My best,

  • Sen

    August 27th, 2016 at 1:09 PM

    Both of my parents suffered from clinical mental illness- one from manic depression, the other, paranoid schizophrenia. They were both, I thought, quite loving in their own ways, I never felt unloved at all, but as an adult, I have begun to understand how many ways my sister and I were neglected, however unintentionally. We were frequently left to our own devices, left to “figure things out” on our own, and at times of failure, our parents reacted franticly, imposing sudden harsh restrictions we couldn’t understand, then quickly giving up and reverting to indifference when these efforts failed. Our childhood efforts to define ourselves and find passions to pursue in our developing lives were met with similar indifference, and complete lack of physical, financial, and emotional support. “It’s just a phase, she’ll get bored of it in a week.” And so I never learned how to pursue goals with even a small amount of dedication. As a child, asked what I wanted to do or be when I grew up, I had many ambitions- but in fact pursued none of them, leaving me with a lifetime of regrets, self-doubt, and reliance on others. All these many years later, I can recognize these deficiencies in my upbringing, but have no idea where even to begin to heal these ancient wounds, or whether there’s even a point to trying, so late in my life. I feel unhealthy, emotionally broken, and incredibly lost.

  • Dhyan Summers

    August 28th, 2016 at 8:02 PM

    Yes Sen, I know exactly how you feel. There can be a sense of hopelessness when you begin to realize the extent of the hurt and damage you suffered. But you can heal, this I can promise you. It’s a matter of learning how to be a more loving parent to yourself than your parents were to you, without having had a model of what that looks like.

    There’s a small child still very much alive inside of you, and all the child wants is for you to love her/him, in much the same way you would do if you had a real child, and maybe you do.

    Please let me know if I can help. I offer counseling/therapy worldwide via SKype and FaceTime. Happy to help in any way I can, or get you connected in your community.

    My best,


  • Rosslyn

    August 29th, 2016 at 7:52 AM

    I think I was emotionally abandoned as a child, my parents were both abandoned too, my mom’s father left her when she was 8 years old and my grandmother had to work all day to provide for her and my uncles, my dad was emotionally abandoned by my grandmother because she had “more” important things to do than caring for him and his siblings
    I don’t have a lot of memories of my childhood, my older brother had asthma while growing up and therefore my parents had to take care of him, I know he’s not a fault but I always put the blame of him that I didn’t got the attention I expected, i’m also angry at him because he never matured and still acts like a kid, he couldn’t do his part as an older brother and therefore I had to be the older sister and mature faster than the other kids
    My parents have marital problems too and I always had to be in the middle of it, I became very depressed and have suicidal thoughts, I always thought I was burden to my parents and that it was because of me that they have a troubled marriage, mainly because my mom tells us several times that it’s because of my brother and I that she hasn’t divorced, she has even told my brother that because of his sickness she couldn’t get a job
    I grew up with a lot of insecurities and trust issues, I tend to push away those people who have cared for me in fear of being hurt or betrayed, i’m 18 years old now and I only have had 3 relationships that never worked out because all 3 of them cheated, I became a really cold and bitter person, I don’t really a motivation in life, I just exist but I can’t live properly
    I know I shouldn’t be angry at my parents but I have always been, I feel angry that they made the same mistakes their parents’ did, I feel angry especially at my mom because she always knew I had depression and I wasn’t ok yet decided to only nag at me that because my dad is still present in my life I should be “happy” but she fails to notice that my dad abandoned me emotinally, I never recive words of encouragement, hugs, kisses or an “I love you”, I became used to it but I still feel that emptiness

  • The Team

    August 29th, 2016 at 11:50 AM

    Hi Rosslyn,
    Thank you for your comment and for sharing your experiences here. We noticed you mentioned having suicidal thoughts, and we wanted to reach out and give you some resources that can help. First, if you are ever in danger of harming yourself or others, or if you are in crisis, it is very important you seek help immediately. You can dial 911 for immediate assistance, visit your local emergency room, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY). Find more crisis resources here:

    Please know there is hope, and help is available. If you would like to start searching for a therapist in your area, you can do so on the directory, here:

    We are thinking of you and wishing you the very best! ♥

    Warm regards,
    The Team

  • Rosslyn

    August 29th, 2016 at 9:47 PM

    Good Therapy staff
    I’m thankful you have reached out, i’m currently seeing a therapist who is helping me with my abandoment issues but it seems we’re not progressing, mostly because i’m cureently living a financial and personal crisis in my house, therefore it’s get hard to actually heal up, right now my suicidal thoughts have been less evident but they are still there in the back of my mind
    Anyways thank you so much for helping me out

  • The Team

    August 30th, 2016 at 8:02 AM

    Hi Rosslyn,
    We’re glad you have found a therapist to work with, and we understand the process of therapy may be daunting, slow, or even stagnant at times. Roadblocks are common. But we believe all people are capable of healing, and we hope you will push through. Here are a couple articles on the topic of feeling “stuck” in therapy that may interest you:

    Thank you again for your comments! We are wishing you the very best.
    The Team

  • Dhyan Summers

    August 29th, 2016 at 4:15 PM

    Dear Rosslyn,
    I second the thoughts of the Good Therapy staff, that if you are having suicidal thoughts and feelings, it is important to get help. I echo their suggestions. Please know that you don’t have to feel this way. Help is available to you and can make a difference.

    My best to you,

    Dhyan Summers

  • miss jackson

    September 6th, 2016 at 4:49 PM

    My whole life my mother was spent protecting me from my father’s harsh degrading no good words in life .. once you reach a certain age (15) you figure that insted of causing hurt in the family because you’ve been made to feel like such a f$ck up you venture out on your own and pave a way .. I have come to accept that sometimes you will not receive the love that we so badly seek from our parents moral of the story if your a parent or choose to play that role you must be aware and have a deeper understanding of the impact we inflict on children it causes damage ..

  • Dhyan Summers

    September 7th, 2016 at 9:58 AM

    I agree with you. Parents need to parent consciously, taking into account the needs of their children. And yes, sometimes it’s necessary to accept the fact that we just can’t get the love we need from our parents, and tryto heal that wound.
    My best,


  • Meg Clare

    September 19th, 2016 at 12:53 PM

    I am the product of 2 only children, neither of which ever wanted to get married or have children. I have been told all my life that I was not wanted, they never wanted to get married and have kids. She got pregnant by one guy she barely knew and made time with another to get married before she was showing. They both enjoyed making my life hell. Him with his beer every weekend after being out on the road all week and her with her valium. They didn’t just ignore me, they used to plan things to do to hurt me, physically as well as mentally/emotionally. I know it sounds like a lot of self-pity, but when I talk or write about it, it becomes more real and better articulated for me.

  • Dhyan Summers

    September 19th, 2016 at 8:44 PM

    It sounds like you were both physically and emotionally abused as a child. I agree that the power of writing and talking about it helps the healing process. Have you ever talked with a counselor or therapist about this? It might assist with the healing process. You can check out therapists in your area here at GoodTherapy.

    My best,


  • sharon

    September 21st, 2016 at 8:05 AM

    Im 56. My dad died a year ago. My mum has now decided she needs to call me every day. Im struggling with anger, hurt and feel damaged. Little things built up. she made me feel ugly as a child, teenager and adult..not precious or special. ‘your hair needs a perm’ ‘put make up on’ . never compliments. no mother-daughter bonding in the kitchen or shopping or chatting. shut in the lounge if she was cleaning or cooking. Kept home from school if she wanted company so my education not important. Not allowed friends in the house as they make a mess. She adored my brother, a year older. My dad loved me but went to work overseas when I was 13 and that was the next ten years..just my mum and brother. I cant remember any of it. When I went to university my dad and grandad took me..she stayed home, more important things to do. When I got married she was worrying about money so wasnt interested in my dress, plans, wedding. Sulked on the day, rowed with my dad. I was anorexix from 15 to 35, no periods so couldnt have the little girl I wanted to show how precious she was, the way no one but my dad ever made me feel. When my dad got ill she took over his life, told him when to eat, bath, smoke. When I got divorced she wouldnt visit, it was Christmas, I spent it alone. Didnt see my dad last 3 years of his life because if I visited I would argue with her..she often slapped me on the face. My last visit to him before he got bad dementia he asked me to stay but she had been so horrible to me I told him I couldnt and couldnt come back…I never saw him again where he knew who I was. Now Im supposed to be the daughter who is there because my dad died and her wonderful son lives in Australia. And suddently Im falling apart inside.

  • The Team

    September 21st, 2016 at 11:36 AM

    So sorry you’ve had these experiences, Sharon. Please know there is help available! You can search for a therapist on the directory here:

    There are people who care! We are thinking of you and wishing you all the very best. ♥

    Kind regards,
    The Team

  • Abdulqadeer

    September 27th, 2016 at 5:33 PM

    Change on my door!

  • Anon

    October 18th, 2016 at 11:43 AM

    This is such a tricky one. It hinges on forgiveness and understanding the way out of this. And that isn’t easy. My father invalidated me massively, my sister bullied me, and my mother was focussed on her career from when I was 6, to now – essentially none of them were ever there. They moved house every 3 years for work, we didn;t get a say in it. And I was largely ignored. I feel like I don’t even know them.

    I’m 33, and i’ve been on a healing journey for the last 4 years, after finally accepting I had quite severe anxiety and depression and BDD. In fact, I was suicidal at the worst of it and so detached I couldn’t even talk to people. I had no friends and my life was a mess.

    They denied I had a mental health disorder, and would often get angry. So I never took it seriously. Infact I had to fight through an internalised parental voice of them to actually go.. “You need to get help, you’re heading for the grave, You’re not well”

    During this time, I would often have periods of living at home due to depression. it’s so embarrassing. I completely shut down. I didn;t know what was going on. I kept saying to them ” hey this is what i’ve got” like a child, hoping they would validate me, but I just got ” shush!”

    Now that i’m getting better I came home to forgive them – I believe there is a guilt issue here that was pulling me back to them – I explained it to them. This time my dad listened..ish.. My mum has borderline so took it as personal attack, and my sister gets angry if I mention mental health. My dad listened a bit. I started to move towards forgiveness. Started to feel better. But then it just goes back to normal. No , hey how are doing” “must be difficult to get over that” ” keep going” none of that.
    It’s f*cked up, I hate it here, I want to forgive them, I’m not even sure why I get so angry around them – could someone explain why I reacted with so much anger to the slightest bit of shushing?? it makes me crazy.
    So I tried to forgive, but It’s frustrating because I thought it would hea everything and my dad wants to be friends… I can forgive from a distance.. But any kind of real relationship with him ends up in me being invalidated. And I still find it really difficult knowing that none of them ever bothered to ask if I was OK on the last 20 years. And the thing that bugs me, is they keep saying they did and they love me. But that isn;t love and it makes me so angry because it f*cks with my head.. then i feel guilty.. and the whole thing is so confusing.

    Does anyone else have this experience? I can forgive them. but I don’t want anything to do with them. And the depression I have felt has left me with massive gaps in my memory to the point where I can;t remember why I’m mad at them, but when I’m around them I just get this huge feeling of anger. But they say they didn;t do anything, so i’m like.. what am I forgiving them for again… All i know is i’m massively angry.

  • Amber

    October 23rd, 2016 at 6:11 PM

    I’ve never posted on anything like this before , but here goes. I’m 19 and over the past year, I started to notice that my parents/childhood were kind of a mess. From age 5-10, I had a heart condition that put me in the hospital constantly, at times almost every week. Around age 8, I started being isolated from the other children. I wasn’t allowed to participate in recess, and other physical activites. My SVT was corrected when I was 10. When I was 6, my dad left. He comes around like every 4 years and never even remembers my age. He’ll take me to some weird restaurant, give me weird gifts and then be gone again. For the first 10 years of my life, my mother and I were extremely close. Even though I was in the hospital alot, this part of my life doesn’t feel so awful because my mom and I were so close. My mother has also always had alot of rules for me. Starting with deciding what I wear to school, all the way up to one summer mandating that I wasn’t allowed off the property. For some unknown reason, I have pretty much always followed her weird rules. I wore her “uniform” as she called it until I was 17. My summers until high school were about education and honestly the schooling was always more difficult in the summer. First day after classes ended we would go to the educational store and buy books. I was supposed to go to Penn (spoilers I don’t go to Penn, I didn’t even end up applying). Back tracking a bit, almost immediately after my surgery, we moved in with my new step-dad Bob. Things with Bob went south almost immediately. He yells constantly, about everything, everywhere. He has thrown tantrums in numerous public places including malls, airports, and restaurants all over small issues. Family vacations are a nightmare, and not a single one is a good memory. As the years passed, Bob’s behavior has only become more erratic. He and my mother own a company and are under tons of stress. They work constantly. They come home in the middle of the night screaming at each other or they don’t come home at all. In 2010, they had a kid together. This section of my life is my far the most confusing for me. Originally , my sister and I were given a room in the office where we were told to stay as they worked. I hate the office. All day all your hear is them fighting and you cant even leave. It’s about 20 minutes from my house, next to a highway. Literally no escape. I only put up with being in the office non-stop from ages 10-14. Once my sister got alittle older (around 2), I started refusing to watch her unless I was at home. Home seemed like freedom. Then they just stopped coming home. At first for days, but by the time I was a junior in high school, at times I would probably go several weeks without seeing my parents. Usually, I wouldn’t see them all week, then on saturday we would have a family dinner out somewhere and I would catch them up on that weeks events. I was in no way equipped to be caring my sister the way that I did. I feel guilty almost everyday about it, espiacally as I’ve begun to understand my effect on her development. Now I don’t even see her because I can’t stand going home. I miss her constantly but coming home is too much to handle. When I do go home, I see the way they treat her and it makes me sick. They expect a 6 year old to sit in the office and make no noise as they work. They just give her a damn ipad to play with instead of interacting with her. Another issue was the food situation. My mom pretty much stopped making me breakfast when I was in the 5th grade so I pretty much stopped eating breakfast in the 5th grade. Not because I’m lazy, but I really didn’t think it was required. Now that I’m in college, I can see the impact that eating breakfast has, but for years I truly saw it as an extra. From 10-14, we ate out constantly. My mom and Bob to this day eat out or order take out almost every night. The problem was that around age 14, I stopped going to the office. They were never home so they pretty much never bought food. When they did, I would feast not even thinking about conserving the food to make it last until the next gorcery trip. My mom would get mad at me for not eating as I got older. At times she would call me anorexic, but I never cared about my weight, I honestly just wasn’t good at managing food like that. I know for a fact that I wasn’t feeding Chloe correctly. I didn’t even realize how little I was eating. On an average day in the 10th grade (when this was by far the worst), I would wake up, skip breakfast, go to school without lunch, stay after for some activity (usually until 5ish) , walk home while carrying an extremely heavy backpack plus my violin, and then I would finally eat when I got home usually around 6. I started walking everywhere once I realized that I couldn’t rely on my parents to get me places on time. I walked home from school, to and from soccer, to the supermarket, literally anywhere. Getting a drivers license is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. The educational pressure in my family is intense. My mom set a grade alert at 95 and everything under I was scolded about. I have had numerous break downs at school over grades. I’m talking full fledged crying fits. My high school resume was a mile long and I hated almost every activity on the list. In the 10th grade, I started taking APs, I was on some dumb mission to take all the APs in my school. I did it to make my mom proud, but it really had the oppsite effect. My grades dropped to B’s. She stopped calling telling me to fix my grades. Then I got kicked out of NHS. My mom has been talking about me being in NHS since I was in the 6th grade. When I got kicked out I couldn’t deal with it. For some reason she didn’t even have to say anything, maybe she didnt even notice, but I could feel the disappointment. I started drinking very heavily from April until my graduation in June. I took a few shots before my graduation. For years, I convinced myself that everything would get better once I turned 18 and went to college. This is far from the case. Now I am constantly overwelmed with emotions that I straight up don’t know how to deal with. I constantly feel alone even tho I have friends who actually care about me. I love them so much, but I’m still consumed by loneliness and guilt.

  • Dhyan

    October 23rd, 2016 at 9:57 PM

    Dear Amber,
    I am so sorry you had to endure all that you did during your childhood. It was your parents’ job to keep you well fed, safe and emotionally cared for. I would strongly suggest that you see a counselor or psychologist at your colleges health services department. It is possible to heal the wounds of
    your childhood , but very difficult to do so alone without help. You deserve to be helped in this process. Pls let me know if I can be of further help.
    My best,
    Dhyan Summers

  • Stuart

    October 24th, 2016 at 4:33 AM

    Hey Amber, got to admit, sounds like a nightmare what you’ve been through. I’m sure you have been able to feel some goodness along the way, and no doubt you are strong inside, even if you don’t quite feel it. From an outside perspective, you are really strong :).
    Your last line said it all really, the negative impact of your parents and step-dad have filled your subconscious up with loneliness and guilt. You are around good friends now, who care about you, but I know from experience that isn’t always enough.
    What you need to do, and i mean NEED to do in order to live the life you’d like to. Is that you’ll have to confront your past full on, examine it all (I’m sure you’ve done it a lot already) but look at it in as many ways as possible. See that your parents most likely had a rough time in their childhoods, it doesn’t excuse their behaviour but it explains it somewhat.
    I didn’t have a childhood as traumatic as yours, but I definitely had a lot of difficulties all the same. Once I got to college I felt like things would be better, in a way they were, I finally had some true freedom, that was by far the best part for me. Thing is, I was still carrying my mental baggage, and even 3 years after uni I still carry it, though now it’s like I’ve got a small sling bag instead of an army backpack weighing me down.
    The process you could do with focusing on and practicing is the process of shedding, putting down/leaving your baggage in the past where it belongs. Reading that back it might sound like I’m saying to disregard what happened, not at all, but don’t hold on to it more than needed, don’t let it bother you in the present like it is right now. Take your time though, be kind to yourself, it’ll be tricky since you were not treated kindly. I suggest you get some outside help, it doesn’t have to be a full on psychologist, but someone who can guide you a bit (if you feel you need it). Of course coming on here and saying what you have said is a great step since as you say, you haven’t posted something like it before.
    Well, be excited now, excited that you have released some of the hurt onto this webpage, you’ve been honest with yourself and expressed some difficult things. Be excited for a different state of mind, which is well in your reach.
    I suggest, if you don’t already, to invest your time in some practices that could be of help to you. Such as meditation, perhaps yoga or some other relaxing exercise (at least the after effect is relaxing), maybe read up more on psychoanalysis, keep doing the things you enjoy (if you feel you don’t enjoy what you do, it’s up to you to explore and find something) and perhaps the or one of the most important things, listen and I mean listen to your friends, listen with your heart, not with your head that confuses intentions sometimes, listen with your open heart as by the sounds of it, these friends of yours will not hurt you but heal you, and you may be able to and probably have helped them out in ways you’ve not been aware of :).

  • Chris

    November 22nd, 2016 at 7:58 PM

    Hi all
    Damn this is tough, (I’ve sat here for 10 mins and this is all I got), Talking about emotions and feelings and stuff is tough.
    There’s part of me that feels like I’m looking for problems or someone/something to blame, But something feels missing from me, that something is wrong? Maybe its just attention seeking. Loneliness perhaps?
    My background is one of being alone.

    Here goes.
    At no point have I ever felt unloved. I think My Mum did the best she could.
    She was a stewardess and part of her job was staying away at 3 days at a time.
    My dad was an alcoholic, he never beat me, and I don’t think he ever hit my mum, he used to lay into my older brother, he would use his belt.
    I only have few memories of him.
    Pretending to slap his bald spot when I was 5. My older sister was laughing
    Being sent back to bed when I was caught being my brothers “Shedder”.(I liked the Turtles okay, My mission was to steal food from the kitchen for my brother.)
    And coming home after playing outside all day to find him on the floor crying and listening to Brian Adams “everything I do, I do it for you.”
    And the dinner time my mum and sister sat crying. My dad phoned to say he wasn’t coming back.
    I never saw him again; except that one time.
    more on that later.

    My Mum had a mortgage to pay on her own now, she had to work, she would pay Au pairs to look after us; all 3 resigned. (I still feel a sense of achievement about that)
    I’m 31 now, but at the time I was between 7-9.
    These were strangers in our home, we didn’t want them there.
    In the end She gave in to my older brother and sisters demands to look after themselves. My brother was 17 and my sister was 15 at this point.
    Inevitably My older brother left home soon after and a year later my Sister went travelling.
    So here I was, 11 years old and looking after myself.
    I was now the man of the house, and could do whatever I wanted. I felt so grown up. Happy!

    I would get into trouble, nothing serious, more like misdemeanours.
    I never did my homework, and always had detention. I didn’t want to do it and no-one could make me.
    Who could?
    As long as I went to school, social services wouldn’t get involved.
    I could easily intercept any letters sent home from school.
    I was a devious and cunning like that.
    I was a very popular kid in school, everyone I wanted to be my friend was, and I could move between social groups with ease.

    My mum always bought me whatever I wanted, playstations, Mp3 players, etc. I guess she felt guilty.
    She knew I was failing in school and always told me, I’m useless, I’ll amount to nothing that she wants to be proud of me. She always put me down (still does)
    (I don’t think she means to intentionally be nasty, I think its her way of reverse psychology.)
    I liked having stuff, and wasn’t bothered she wasn’t there. I was used to it.
    Maybe its my fault, I never told her how I felt about anything, but I didn’t know how (I still don’t) and she never asked.

    When I was 14ish I started “Cross-dressing”. It wasn’t for thrills, It was like I could be a softer version me, one that didn’t have to put on a brave face all the time, One that didn’t have to act so tough.
    I’d see myself in the mirror and I didn’t feel lonely anymore. It felt like someone else was there.
    (Giving myself a psycho-analysis I come to the conclusion, I just didn’t like myself or who I was and this alternate me was a coping mechanism.)
    I kept it very secret, and no-one knew. Not even my mum or siblings.
    I was afraid this made me queer, I didn’t want to be different, I didn’t want God to hate me.
    I was ashamed of myself but at the same time I couldn’t stop.

    Fast forward a few more years, I’m 15-16.
    My mums takes me aside and tells me, my dads in a coma and will probably die.
    I saw him in Hospital, Before he came out of his coma.
    It was strange, I felt nothing. I was just looking at a body moving with tubes in its face.
    What did get me was when my brother cried. I had to walk outta there, I went to the toilet and had a little cry in secret.
    Then after he (My dad) came out of his coma, my mum guilted me into going to see him.
    He shook my hand and called me “mate”.
    He Kept calling me by my brothers name, like I never existed!
    I was so angry, “how F*#king dare you” I thought.
    But I did what I do best. Said Nothing.
    I never saw him again.

    A few months later he died and I went to the funeral. Again, I felt nothing.
    I was more excited that I was riding in a limo.
    I attended a strangers funeral that day.

    Shortly after leaving school I told my friend about my dressing up. I was so confused, and there was no-one to talk too.
    He freaks out, and never spoke to me again. He told everyone else though!
    I became a laughing stock, and I had no friends. I couldn’t walk down the street without someone shouting “faggot”.

    So fast forward again another 2 years, I’m 17-18
    There’s a girl I’ve been after for 2 years, I’m her best friend but I want more. I’m totally in love and She wants me to open up to her. She’s my only friend in the world and I don’t want to lose her.
    So I tell her about the dressing up, and she seems okay with it. She confesses to hearing ‘Rumours’.

    Turns out she thinks its a joke.
    I can still see the look of horror on her face when she finds out it is actually true when she looks in my wardrobe.
    She gives me a cuddle as I burst into tears and says it not my fault.
    I didn’t know it then, but that was a hug goodbye. I never saw her again.

    I was so upset (and drunk) one night I stubbled in and told my mum.
    I was told to “go away, you’re drunk. I don’t want to talk to you.”

    Overwhelmed, the next day I ran away.
    I don’t dress up anymore, that’s all behind me, and past experience says it doesn’t end well.
    My family still tease me about it to this day, I just pretend it never happened and reply “whatever?”

    In the past 12 years, I’ve been living alone for 10 of them.
    I was in a relationship at 24-26 with a mum with 2 kids.
    That ended in me being cheated on, and that it was “your (my) fault, your like Jeckel and Hyde.”
    “you don’t have feel trapped anymore!” “you can be on your own as much as you like.” “You didn’t care anyway!”
    I don’t try to make friends anymore or have relationships.
    I knew the last one was futile but it did it anyway.

    Few years ago I was really bored and unchallenged so I did A-level maths.
    I told my mum, I wanted encouragement, and guess what she said?
    “Waste of money, You’ll never pass. You’re too thick!”
    I got an A.
    I went back to her with my certificate in hand, I don’t know if I went that day for validation, approval, a well done or just to say “in your face!” Either way I got a lecture about school and I should of done it then.
    I wasn’t surprised, I wasn’t angry or sad, I just thought “typical”.

    So that’s me.
    I’m not depressed or anything. I’m more concerned.
    I talk to myself a lot!
    I work in a solitary job going place to place fixing machines. I have very limited human contact.
    It bothers me, that being alone doesn’t bother me. I feel like it should.

  • Dhyan

    December 9th, 2016 at 1:26 PM

    Dear Chris
    I think you suffered from emotional and physical neglect as a child. Because no one was attuned to your needs, you must have told yourself you didn’t need anyone and were fine in your own. But that is never the case. All children need adults to take care of them emotionally and physically. Your life can get better and you can get more out of life. I would suggest counselingvwith a therapist that has experience working with childhood emotional abuse. You can look here at Good Therapy for a therapist in your area, or I could see you online with Skype. But definitely reach out and get professional help. You deserve it.
    My best to you,

  • M

    December 8th, 2016 at 8:38 AM

    My dad & I stopped talking in August after I wrote him a letter about how after all these years I felt he needed to know the damage he has caused me for never being there for me, emotionally. My dad left my mom when I was not even a year old and continues to try and convince me that she deceived him and got herself pregnant on purpose (she was 17, he was 20). He has said many times to me that he never wanted children. I saw my Dad occasionally on the weekends but when I did he was completely emotionally unavailable and almost treated our relationship as one he would have with a male friend. There was no affection, no concern for my feelings, and no real interest in having a meaningful relationship with me. As I got older, in my teenage years, he would tell me not to bother coming down to see him because my social life is more important. This obviously stung. He barely called, made no effort to ever come up and see me, and missed my graduation. Any time I would try to tell him how I feel he would turn it around on me and say I’m the one who is in the wrong and that a parent-child relationship is reciprocal and he should never be expected to reach out to me if I don’t do the same. I stopped reaching out to him so much because my needs were not being met, he never seemed genuine, and I was hurt. He said I should be ashamed of myself and that I owe him an apology for not being appreciative of “all he’s done” for me. I couldn’t believe that after pouring my heart out to him that he would just stomp all over it and then make me feel bad about saying how I really felt all these years. His excuses were that his parents were the same way to him and my brother did a number on him (he has APD). I finally said enough and told him if he’s not willing to admit he was wrong, apologize, and change his ways he was no longer welcome at my wedding that is coming up in May or in my life at all. I have yet to hear from him. His mother and sister suggested family therapy to him, which I agreed to, but he has refused to go until I apologize. He told me not to ever expect him to apologize or change. I am not interested in a relationship anymore, as he will most likely never give me what I need or have the desire to make a real connection with me..but my family is telling me I will regret shutting him out one day when he dies. My question is, do I stay true to myself and keep a toxic person out of my life so that he can no longer hurt me or do I put up my walls, keep my distance, and accept him for who he is for the sake of letting go and keeping our family happy? Am I asking too much from someone who never wanted kids in the first place?

  • Dhyan Summers

    December 8th, 2016 at 10:53 AM

    I always vote for staying true to yourself. Your dad is unlikely to change after all these years, and you need to look inside and see what is the best course for you. I wholeheartedly support you in this endeavor. Let me know if I can be of help.
    My best,

    Dhyan Summers

  • Tony

    February 21st, 2017 at 6:13 PM

    Your dad was a selfish d$ck. Don’t even give him the time of day.

  • Angie

    December 8th, 2016 at 1:34 PM

    Hi Dhyan,

    Is it always caused by BOTH parents being neglectful? I feel like a lot of these stories are so sad. I never had it that bad. My mom was a great parent. She was very attentive to our needs, when she wasn’t catering to my father and his “needs”. I never felt unloved or neglected by my mother. My father, on the other hand, was barely there. Although, I almost hate to say that he was abusive. It has taken my own relationship with a narcissist ending badly a couple years ago (we were engaged), coming to the realization that I had been abused, and learning more about narcissistic abuse to see just how narcissistic he really is. In addition, my mom had breast cancer, and they also had to go through bankruptcy this past year. With all this going on, witnessing my father’s “absence” from being so self-absorbed, was appalling. It was as if it was all just happening to HIM?! He couldn’t see where he contributed to any of the bankruptcy problems. It was all my mom’s doing (of course), and this was all put on her while she was going through cancer treatment, but HE was the victim. (My anger is unreal, by the way.) I live at home and wasn’t working, so I cared for my mom, took her to appointments, and ran the household. The cancer is gone and the bankruptcy is over, but, needless to say, both our eyes have been opened WIDE. I fully believe he is a covert narcissist at this point.

    In addition to him being narcissistic, he was physically gone working out of state for most of me and my younger brothers childhood, usually for months at a time, and even once for a year. I used to think that this was a bad thing, but now I wonder if it wasn’t better for us, because we had some normalcy when he was gone. Everything was so heavy, stressful, and oppressive when he was home. And I know he tried to divert my mom’s attention to his own needs over ours. My mom admits that she probably wouldn’t have been able to stay married to him this long if he had been home this whole time. We both are trying to get our lives in order to leave. I don’t know when we will be able to financially, and it’s depressing.

    Anyway, there’s so much more I could say; so many examples I could give, but I don’t want to go on and on. In fact, I started writing a book almost it seems, but decided to delete it (I might continue writing a blog or something? lol) I just know that my father has always been too wrapped up in himself and his needs to be there for me (or my younger brother and mother). And I’m so angry.

  • Dhyan

    December 9th, 2016 at 1:37 PM

    Hi Angie,
    I understand why you’re so angry. Narcissistic parents aren’t capable of meeting their children’s (or anyone’s) emotional needs. But it can get better. You don’t have to carry this anger around with you for the rest of your life. I would suggest looking for a therapist at Goodtherapy in your area, and ask therapists if they have experience working with childhood emotional neglect. If you can’t find a therapist in your area I’m available through Skype.
    My best,

  • Candice G

    December 8th, 2016 at 4:50 PM

    I am afraid you forgot to comment on Chris Nov. 22, 2016

  • Dhyan

    December 9th, 2016 at 1:28 PM

    Thanks for this Candace, I just did.

  • Chris

    December 10th, 2016 at 4:53 PM

    Just purging all my BLAH on here was enough. I will always feel/know I’m wasting someone else’s time. Other people have had it far worse than me. Far, far worse!
    My issues are insignificant.
    Like I said before, I feel I’m looking for a problem, but I know my mum did the best she could. Yes she says hurtful things, but that’s just her way too “encourage” me. she wants me to ‘Spite her’.
    My dad had a illness.
    In the grand scheme of things, I turned out pretty well.
    I’m not a criminal, I have a job, and I function from day to day.
    Yes, my world is lonely but… That is my doing. I’m too afraid.
    The answer for me is too embrace that terror and run with it.
    Past is past, I cannot change it, nor is it helpful to dwell on it.
    There is always tomorrow to look forward too.

  • sult

    December 12th, 2016 at 8:40 AM

    I dont blame the parents as they dont realize the harm they are doing by not being there – as they are not aware especially if they are going through their own trauma. children can mirror back the pain in their parents lives. my mum took good physical care of me and my siblings but somewhere i recall getting lost, not being seen, invisible – and spent much of my life finding me

  • Zach

    December 16th, 2016 at 8:15 PM

    I’d say that most parents have the best intentions, but that doesn’t always mean they’re doing the right thing. We’re perfectly imperfect, so mistakes can and will happen somewhere down the line. How the parents were treated when they were growing up has a huge impact on how they become as parents. Shame as well as ignorance are the key factors here. My mom told me that when she was young her father put a bag over her head and called her ugly. Imagine what psychological effects can occur with such behavior. When I was very young my sister would take care of me while mom was at work. I called my sister “mom” for a while and I feel that sense my sister was the one taking care of me I sort of missed out on that mother/child bond or attachment. I do see signs of emotional abandonment in my case. My dad was never around and learned that he was an abusive man, I’m glad I never met the man. I don’t know what I’d do if I came across him, I’m sure mom has a picture of him somwhere. I haven’t gotten an official diagnosis, but I am convince that I suffer from developmental trauma. It has impacted my abilty to find that special someone because I don’t feel like I’m “good enough” and the last thing I want to do is drag “her” through the mud, that would be very selfish of me. My brothers father abused me a few times and worst part is that he was suppose to be there to comfort me and that all went out the window. He once made me put my soiled tissues in my mouth because I put them in the trash can instead of the toilet and he beat me a few times with a piece of wood that he shaped into a paddle and I was going to use that piece of wood for a project prior to these actions. He would leave bkack and blue on my butt when it was all said and done. I wet the bed to this day and I’m 32 years old and I’m certain it’s from the trauma I endured.

  • Dhyan Summers

    December 19th, 2016 at 8:28 AM

    Dear Zach,
    I;m so sorry you had to suffer the emotional neglect you experienced in your childhood. You are good enough and deserve to be in a loving relationship. Please consider therapy to resolve these issues if you haven’t already. It really can get better.
    My best to you,

  • Zach

    December 21st, 2016 at 5:20 PM

    I appreciate your kind words Dhyan, thank you! I am seeking professional help and my therapist has even given me the option to email her in between sessions. She told me at my last session that she enjoys my company and that I’m a good person. Do you have any suggestions for healing the abandonment?

  • Jack

    December 15th, 2016 at 10:01 PM

    By age 16 I was : failing in school/ skipping school, smoking, stealing, doing drugs, run away, poor hygiene ,malnourished, angry and depressed. I credit my parents 100% for this . Good job mom and dad.

  • Zach

    December 16th, 2016 at 8:30 PM

    Jack I’m sorry to read about your situation, but you’re not alone, I was having the same issues too. On a positive note, you do possess strengths, otherwise you would not have made it this far. I know what you’re going through and I know it’s tough. You should give yourself a pat on the back for not giving up and sticking with the fight.

  • Dhyan Summers

    December 29th, 2016 at 12:31 PM

    For Zach:
    So glad to hear you’re in therapy. My only suggestion would be to focus on the positive aspects of yourself and strengthen these.

    My best to you,

  • Tony

    January 10th, 2017 at 10:14 PM

    Some people are just plain selfish and there isn’t much excuse for it. I hate to sound bitter but it’s the truth. Some background so you can see where I’m coming from:
    My parents divorced when I was 3 and probably should have sooner as my earliest memories are just them screaming and throwing things at each other. My mom met another man and had more kids, my dad moved in with another woman who had her own children and he treated them more like his family than his own blood because … I don’t even know why. My one full brother and I were left mostly to our own devices. I spent a lot of time playing by myself in the woods, while he was getting molested at an after school program (didn’t tell me about it until decades later) when my mom moved away my dad reluctantly took us in for preteen and teen years until my step mom booted me out right after I graduated. Both me and my brother have had issues, though never addressed by our so called family, yet they are all super defensive and aware of issues with each other within their separate families. His are more with substances and mine more with promiscuity and violence. I’m in my 30s now and I’ve had a child of my own out wedlock, and I don’t see how you could look into your childs eyes and not acknowledge how beautiful and delicate their innocence is. I do whatever I can to talk to my kid and let her know that I will always love her no matter what, encourage her, and to most importantly, give her confidence and teach her self assurance and I will also make sure she understands risks and dangers of life.

    One thing that pisses me off is that both my parents would consider themselves progressive types that understand society, but they’re so off, a functioning society starts in the core of the family.
    But the thing that gets me the most, is that my dad was a successful person, but never shared any guidance or insight. He was an accomplished athlete, very educated and was very successful in his career, was even generous at the presence of others of course, yet no guidance, never played catch with me even though I was athletic too, never watched a single game I played, no heart to heart talks, hardly even spoke to me unless it was screaming at me to clean the kitchen or on my behalf in the presence of others. As a teenager I would leave for days, breaking into cars and getting into fights, sometimes I would get arrested, didn’t seem to care as long as the house was clean. I almost feel like I was purposely sabotaged so as not to out do him and to prove to my mom that he was right about her being stupid and inherently her kids were too as he used to tell us when we were 2-3 years old. I was actually once considered a bright kid, now I have no education, had to quit my job at the mine because as usual I somehow get put in the most dangerous positions job after job, and to try to figure out this pattern of people writing off my life as worth less than others. Now I’m broke, bitter, have anxiety and don’t want anything to do with anyone except for my child, and occasionally a couple old drinking buddies. I feel like I’m going to snap the next time someone tells me to relax or that I’m too serious. I know that I actually have a nice friendly soul. I know you can’t live your whole life blaming things on others, but I’m starting to realize my folks really did a number on me and the more I think about it, the less forgiving I am. I’ve had some time to take a good long look at myself finally. I never quite knew what my problem was, now I’m starting to get it. I just wish it was sooner so that I would already have an education and career I can bare in order to provide for my child.

    Reading other peoples stories has helped with my own insight though, thanks everyone.

  • Tony

    January 10th, 2017 at 10:32 PM

    Missing a couple organs from fighting when I was younger too..just to ad to my self pitty line lol. I know it sounds like a lot but its true, just to give the scope of the consequences of bad decisions. Sometimes I feel like I’m the real guy from Bad Santa.

  • Forever Broken

    January 27th, 2017 at 10:20 AM

    Tony, thank you for sharing your experiences during childhood. I understand a lot of what you are talking about. I wish I was able to put everything that happened to me in a short succinct story. I can’t seem to find the words and I end up crying about it. I thought I was over the neglect and abuse, but that wounded child keeps coming back. Ruining relationships, my career and whatever else. I want to help her, been to counseling many times and I can’t seem to face my parents to tell them the truth. I have this irrational fear of being abandoned. Even though I can’t be abandoned by them anymore as I am an adult that doesn’t depend on them for anything. I’ve been to counseling so many times. I feel like I’m unhelpable.

  • Dan

    January 29th, 2017 at 11:51 PM

    Hang in there FB; there is light at the end of the tunnel. Only recently did I realize some of my childhood “stuff” was causing me problems. It sounds cliche I know, but forgiveness, yourself and your parents, can really help. Once I forgave myself and them, it was like the removal of a roadblock to getting better. Take care, it will get better.

  • Forever Broken

    January 31st, 2017 at 11:02 AM

    Thanks for the encouragement Dan. I will think about what you said.

  • Tony

    February 7th, 2017 at 5:46 PM

    Thanks FB for reading. Have you ever tried writing your thoughts out, even if it is just for yourself? I can’t imagine what you have been through, but I feel sometimes it helps me understand myself better. Though I’m sure our story is different, and our struggles are different, It’s nice knowing that were not alone. We live in an incredible age where we can communicate like this. I think Dan is right, forgiveness goes a long way. Though, I know some things simply cannot be forgiven. This is going to sound corny and its more male oriented but if you ever get a chance, watch the final scene in “Blood in Blood Out” you can look it up on youtube. Even if you have no one to share the idea portrayed in the scene I find its more about ones self. It’s about self forgiveness. And if your ‘family’ before you doesn’t get it, you can start fresh with your own children teaching them these values.

  • Forever Broken

    February 8th, 2017 at 1:43 PM

    Well I recently shared with my parents that I haven’t adjusted well via text messages. One said a lot and the other barely said anything in my group text. It was the only way I could communicate. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had moments of bursting into tears over minor situations, I did a lot of soul searching, journal writing and counseling. Then when I had to start taking medication I knew that something had to be done. Some of my siblings had already shared with them that they had a hard time, but my parents didn’t seem to believe them since I wasn’t saying anything. Well now I feel better because their experience was validated when I spoke. Haven’t seen my parents since I disclosed my feelings, but oh well. For some reason i had trouble getting to sleep one night and I started having flashbacks of every horrible decision I made and all the ways I just couldn’t function; All the tattered relationships, nasty attitude and ways I expressed anger. It seems as if that small child within felt validated enough to have peace with all that happened. The blame went to the right place. My parents are responsible with how I lived the first third of my life. Now I have to take over to make sure the other two thirds go better. I can’t change the past, but I can do better in the future.

  • Dhyan

    February 8th, 2017 at 2:34 PM

    Kudos to you for taking such brave action. I guess you’re not forever broken.
    My best,
    Dhyan Summers

  • Doreen

    February 8th, 2017 at 7:32 PM

    Kudos and God Bless you for speaking up. I feel as though (as a Mother of a young adult who has anxiety/depression)I am partially responsible for her situation. She, however, feels that I played only a small role. I don’t believe this. I was controlling and strict as a single parent. I hope she figures out somehow and confronts me. I am opened to acknowledging her feelings.

  • Dhyan Summers

    February 9th, 2017 at 10:31 AM

    Dear Doreen,
    You played a role in whatever your daughter is going through, but likewise she camei nto this world with a certain disposition and personality traits that are all her own. And she has her own road to travel, as do we all. Be gentle with yourself.

    My best,


  • Forever Broken

    February 10th, 2017 at 9:53 AM

    Thanks for the feedback Doreen and Dhyan. Doreen, I admire your ability to acknowledge your part in your daughter’s situation. The fact that you have acknowledged may have made it easier to see her role in how her life is going. My mother and I have a counseling session coming up next week. That’s the only way we are going to be able to talk again. I am a bit nervous, but know that it needs to happen. I do believe that my personality traits and disposition played a role in how I respond to certain situation. I am a sensitive person and issues that may seem just a little difficult would be perceived as harsh to me. I am aware of this and accept that this is who I am. I think it’s important that parents be open to feedback from their children. I was always taught that feedback was disrespectful, but it would have been better to teach me how to say what I needed to say respectfully and still be able to get my point across.

  • worried parent

    February 16th, 2017 at 5:17 AM

    I realise now, that two of my adult children suffered horrible emotional neglect during and after my divorce. Their father (even though they were 9, 5 and 1) left them alone for hours on end and my eldest daughter would have to care for the younger two, often making agonising phone calls begging me to come and get them. I couldn’t without a notary and a complicated legal procedure (we were in Mexico) and she has been really harmed by that whole experience and blames me. The youngest seems to have got out unscathed, presumably because of lack of contact with her dad and being so young through the divorce. My 22 year old son feels that I don’t listen to him, and I’m sure that that’s true to some degree and our relationship is really difficult. My daughter, now 26, feels like I don’t love her enough, that I don’t show my love for her and will focus on one detail, ignoring 20 recent acts or demonstration of love to prove her point. How can I help them ? My son won’t go to therapy, he says keeping his distance from my toxicity is enough. My daughter would go, I think. The irony is that whatever they need I’m always there, but somehow there’s always something that I do wrong. I suppose that given my youngest child’s uncomplicated feelings towards me, it could appear i love her more. But that’s simply not the truth – she’s not constantly furious with me. Is keeping my distance from my son the best thing? how can I behave to make my daughter understand that she is loved and mend the hurt she feels? The list of symptoms certainly resonates with me, thinking about her. How did I neglect two and not the third?

  • worried parent

    February 16th, 2017 at 5:27 AM

    I also just realised i gave myself a free pass on a terrible thing, I was verbally abusive and at times physically when she was a very difficult teenager. I know now that all i had to do was tell her how much I loved her and hug her and a lot of those challenges would have dissipated but, of course, it’s too late.

  • Forever Broken

    February 17th, 2017 at 10:55 AM

    It is never too late to mend relationships (unless the person is no longer alive). After going to a therapy session with my mother just recently, I appreciated the ability to confront her in a safe environment. I didn’t say everything, but the most troublesome things and due to the therapist being there to interpret her words I understood her more. I do not expect my mother to go back and change things since she cannot do that. I wouldn’t want her to if she could since her actions could cause devastating changes within everyone’s future. I am so glad that no one is able to go back in time! What I was looking for is for her to acknowledge my pain and her part in it. I need her to be there for me now and be authentic within our conversations. I need her to really be there and not in some shallow way just to look good for others. Be able to have a deep conversation and to help give me guidance in areas that she knows well. I’m just speaking for myself, but perhaps your children want the same thing on some level. I am sure this is a very humbling experience for you and you may fear being vulnerable. I had to open up and become vulnerable through this process and it was hard. I wrote on my dry erase board above my desk “vulnerability is a step towards authenticity.” I look at this statement everyday to remind me that it’s ok for my wound to be out in the open so that it can properly heal. I wish you all the best and pray that you and your children can get on good terms at some point. At the same time, you can’t accept all the blame for what they have been through since some of that is on the other parent.

  • Kiddo

    February 16th, 2017 at 9:49 AM

    What a compassionate article that I feel moved to tears. I see all of my behavior in this post. Both my parents were neglectful. My mother is (was) an alcoholic and drug addict and my father is very narcissistic and misogynistic although he seems like a very good guy until you get to know him. My aunt was blatantly cruel towards me. Growing up they both veered between either neglecting me or using me to satisfy their emotional or financial needs. I felt completely unlovable, unworthy, and lost. My self-esteem was severely low which I didn’t realize until I was older. I became a people pleaser. I couldn’t form a healthy relationship with any man as much as I wanted it. Only in the last few years have I realized all these men were very much like my father-neglectful, selfish, and misogynistic. I’m now 39 and made so much progress with a very loving therapist, and from disconnecting from my parents and aunt. I have decided to stop dating because it’s only been full of disappointing. Yes, it’s a loss because I’m a pretty sensitive, big-hearted person, but I feel so much lighter. This is the first time in my life I haven’t been obsessing about finding a relationship. The biggest thing I struggle with now is a sense of shame and being damaged by my poor relationship choices. I feel very inferior to other people in this area, and I feel shame that I didn’t expect more for myself. I’m afraid of not healing or untangling these feelings.

  • Forever Broken

    February 17th, 2017 at 10:43 AM

    Hey Kiddo. Thanks for sharing your story. I appreciate being able to relate to others and I have too had very difficult times within relationships. I was so angry for so many unknown reasons in my 20s that I lashed out to whoever I was in a relationship with. It hurts until this day to think how horrible, selfish and inconsiderate I could become. I refused to become vulnerable and allow the pain out then and it played out over and over again until recently. I too feel like I could’ve been further along in my life in relationships and career wise. I could never keep a job since I was scared I would become like my mother. A workaholic that chased after money to my detriment. I appreciate her putting a roof over my head and her attempts at discipline, but that’s all she did. I grew up feeling worthless, ashamed and a people-pleaser who always felt inferior to others. I didn’t like authority figures telling me what to do and would just quit a job without thinking about the consequences. I would get so depressed that I just could stand forcing myself to stay somewhere I hated. I would get quick relief, but look at my situation and be like dang! Never thought I would be here again. i am going through that cycle again, but this time I know where a large part of how I operate came from. I acknowledge my part in some of that in that I could have tried to mature quicker, but that just sounds like an excuse for my parents issues. I hope you find someone that is big-hearted, loving, understanding and different than your father. I hope that when you find that person you can appreciate them with a healthy type of love. It’s good to take some time to sort through our feelings, but I hope you don’t give up on your dreams completely. You may have to go about accomplishing them a different way due to no fault of your own, but I hope you move forward in whatever way brings the most peace and know there are others out here who get it.

  • Kiddo

    February 20th, 2017 at 7:06 AM

    Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. I appreciate them more than I can even express. I have to tell you that I had some authority issues too for many years! I was very combative and easily triggered by any form of what I perceived as disrespect. I worked really hard to combat it, but it wasn’t always easy especially if I didn’t trust or respect the manager. One of the things I had to do (and still do!) is slow down and ask myself, “what’s best for me?” and that often helps me manage the situation better. I also spend a great deal of time trying to visualize the type of interactions I want at work. I do hope you find the career that validates and stimulates you. I also hope for you a sense of peace and joy in your life that allows you to detach from the past. I am working on this too. I know that a huge part of my healing and progress has come from immersing myself in healthy and healing messages from my therapist and from other places. We must make it a priority to seek the healthy, authentic, and loving truths that we deserve and weren’t able to get from our parents.
    I am praying this for you….
    Thank you,

  • Chris

    February 21st, 2017 at 8:18 PM

    Sadly, I don’t think parents imagine that the children that they want to have will have emotional lives of their own. Especially these days, i see young couples eager to have children and share pictures of them online, without regard for what needs their child is actually going to have down the line. No one will be willingly sharing their children’s misbehavior and failure in adulthood 20 years down the line. That tells me that the parents of today really aren’t prepared to have children.

  • Processing

    February 25th, 2017 at 4:08 AM

    I read through these stories and my heart goes out to each and every one. I come from a family of 4 children with myself being the youngest. My oldest sibling is in their mid 50’s, i am in mid 40’s. My parents are very loving, I feel guilty even writing in here, I have always had a sense of emptiness growing up, I could never put my finger on it. As I grew older I started to recognize this emptiness more and more, never being able to fill the void or even figure out why it was even empty to begin with. Now as an older adult I have always loved learning, anything about the world or culture or spiritual aspects have always caught my attention. So I started meditating trying to quiet my mind (it is always spinning). For some reason I always come back to the feeling of being invisible and as I look back now on my childhood…..I kinda was, not in a bad way. My parents were both hard workers with a plate full of stress to deal with, they had a hard marriage and 4 kids to tend to at the same time. I just remember not being valid or not being praised. I spent a good amount of my childhood in my bedroom cause i did not know how to cope with my emotions and i had no one to open up to. Today a light came on for some reason I searched how to heal from feeling empty as a child and this is how I came upon this group. I am not sure if my comment will help anyone but I just felt the need to let it out. I just want to feel happy inside (all the time). Best of luck to everyone on the journey to self healing <3 we are worth it!

  • Dhyan

    February 26th, 2017 at 1:07 PM

    Well first let me say that none of us are happy all the time. It’s just not the nature of being human until we become enlightened! But coming to grips with that feeling of emptiness is really important on your healing journey. Sound like you’re doing a really good job. Kudos to you!

  • Tash

    March 7th, 2017 at 6:40 PM

    The emotional neglect is something I am coming to terms with as a 27 year old. It has taken me many years to work out the basis of so many of my problematic thought patterns.

    My mother is an alcoholic, and has been since I can remember. I grew up with her and my stepfather. They have never had the best relationship and still don’t. They fought most days (even now), especially during her alcoholic binges. My step-father has buried his head in the sand for years and has never really put his foot down. Even has defended her when one of us kids has ever brought it up.

    When she was completely sober, she could be so loving and thoughtful and life would be smooth sailing. Unfortunately this wouldn’t last and she would pour that first glass of wine, turning everything completely upside down. She would become mean, emotional, angry and I became a very inward person. I have suffered so much internalised pain and anger over the years and even so, still I find myself making excuses for her. She has suffered many losses in her life (a stillborn, her parents) and tends to bring these things up constantly as if to say “my life has been hard so everybody needs to give me a break”. That subliminal message really got stuck in my brain I suppose and until recently, I felt more love and empathy for her than disappointment or anger. Now though… I’m seeing a person who has been stuck in this loop so long that she is slipping deeper and deeper into dysfunction and narcisissm. I’m realising that she manipulated her family into keeping her own needs at the top of the list of priorities. Above everyone elses needs.

    Her sober moments aren’t what they used to be. I’m beginning to not want her in my life because of the effect she has on my wellbeing and the memories it brings to mind. 9/10 visits with her end with me crying when I get home. It’s not healthy at all but I’m working on distancing myself and limiting my time with her.

    I’ve recently starting studying to become a counsellor in the hope that not only will i be able to help people with their emotional struggles but I can learn healthy and functional ways of living my own life. It’s my mission in life to not repeat history. I want my future family to be spared the pain that I grew up with. I want to help others. So something good will come out of this tough situation.

  • Kimberly

    September 2nd, 2018 at 9:35 PM

    Your situation sounds exactly like mine (down to the stepdad), except my mom died from liver failure when I was 18. I’m 25 now and I don’t know what I’d be doing if she was still here. My sister cut her out completely years before she died but she’s ten years older than me and was living out of the house by then. I wasn’t so lucky since I was a teen and had to stay. Anyway, I wish I had advice for you. Part of me wants to say be happy you still have her, but that’s the grieving side. The other part of me remembers how badly I wanted to escape and how happy I was the few months between when I left to live with my sister and when she died. Maybe you’ve got it figured out now, over a year later.

  • Livi

    March 11th, 2017 at 8:36 PM

    I’m 19, and I still live at home. I remember when I was little, whenever I would cry or be in any way upset (angry, sad, etc.) I would be yelled at or lectured. When I would cry I would be told to go to my room because “no one wanted to see that.” When I was angry or upset (especially in “public”…aka other family members counted as public, I guess) I would be yelled at about how I was an “embarrassment” and how I’d embarrassed my parents, even though I would just sit in the corner and sulk…I never once lashed out or was mean to anyone. Yet I was still an embarrassment for being upset, and neither my parents nor any other family member would try to help and ask what was wrong. I remember when I was little and crying, I’d hold the cat close because no one else would comfort me and then the cat would run away. I’d be told, “see, even the cat is scared of you” or something like that. I remember how I would cry and be sent to my room as young as 6 or 7, and I’d hear my family laughing at some show in the other room…I’d always think “no one cares about me. I don’t matter.”
    My mom would call this “tough love” but I can’t believe that “tough love” is ignoring your child when they’re in pain and need comfort. This childhood has left me, as an adult, feeling like I’m worthless and that I SHOULDN’T need comforts like cuddles or long hugs. It has left me feeling like no one would care even if I’m sobbing my heart out. I recently came to the realization that this screwed me up, though I thought it was emotional abuse, not neglect. But I suppose some neglect can, in fact, be proactive.

  • tina r

    March 24th, 2017 at 11:55 AM

    i really am so glad i did this search and selected this article. my parents divorced when i was 9 months old. my mother was emotionalie unavailable and completly rapped up in herself and her unhappyness. my oldest sister was givin the responsability of taking care of me. i was the 3rd child and my mother didnt want me and wasnt happy about having to mess with me. she was mean to me, had no patience and didnt hold and show me love. i do not recall her ever trying to comfort me or even taking the time to even explain the smallest of things to me. theirfore i wasnt taught manners or how to speak properly and certinly not about edacut. i am sorry about my spelling. i was pushed around from relitive to relitive. my father remarried only 2 weeks after the divorce was finial from my mother, my dad didnt get to see me until i was 2 years old. my step mother was not fond of me at all. by the time i was 6 i had been molested by 3 family members and i had emotional problems also depression and step mother grew to like me less and less, during my teen years from 13 to 16 she was abusive and would tell on me to my dad at everything she didnt like, my father would spank me until i couldnt feel my bottom, i was so scared of him. he was so over the top controliing i learned to lie at an early age and i would tell him what i thought he wanted to hear which got me in more trouble. i ran away from home on 4 sep occasions only to be given back to my dad who would repeate the spankings and speaches of how i was worthless and stupid, a lier,cheat and slut…by the time i was 16 i was so unhappy that i delibratly got pregnant to get the hell away from them. my step mother made huge differances between us kids and it was made clear that i was hopeless. my parents withheld their approvement and affection from me and to this day i struggle with drug addiction and do not have a clue what love is. my step mother talks openly behind my back to anyone who will listen. i could never tell anything that was going on becouse i couldnt trust anyone. they would tell private things. i never had that hero as a child, even then i knew i didnt wanna be like them. i am having a really hard time now, i still feel so unloved and unwanted. im hurting and filled with hate. please help me

  • The Team

    March 24th, 2017 at 3:16 PM

    Dear Tina,

    Thank you for your comment. We are sorry to hear of your experience. The Team is not qualified to offer professional advice, but we encourage you to reach out. Speaking with a therapist or counselor can be helpful in many circumstances, especially when working through things such as you have described.

    You can locate a therapist or counselor in your area by using our website. To see a list of professionals in your area, simply enter your ZIP code here:

    Please know you are not alone. Help is available, and we wish you the best of luck in your search.

    Kind regards,
    The Team

  • Dhyan

    March 24th, 2017 at 7:14 PM

    Dear Tina ,
    I’m so sorry you had to suffer so much from abuse as a child. Please know you are not alone and that you can get help. You don’t have to feel this way. Pls check GoodTherapy for a therapist in your area to get help. I wish you all the best,
    Dhyan Summers

  • Devora

    March 24th, 2017 at 3:08 PM

    Reflection on ones unproductive shell of a life is for nought. My inner strength saved me from drugs & alcohol but not a life of crime. Or a tormented quasi half-baked existence. I have always existed, but that’s it. Absolutely no faith in abilities. Always ‘knowing’ that anything I attempted would fail. Agonizing self-doubt everyday of my life. In every arena.
    It didn’t have to be like this. Raised by a man [father] that showed no emotion. No hugs, well stiff brush off stuff, now & then. Never an ‘I Love You. Ever. A lost beautiful child. Me. Out-of-control, not knowing right from wrong. Action from inaction. Real love from paid love.
    Found the words ‘Reactive Attachment Disorder’ in a novel. Self-doubt jumps from this page. It don’t matter now. It’s way past late in my ‘life’. How does one fix a broken mind and spirit?
    I always wanted to be a writer..let the tears begin.

  • Forever Broken

    March 26th, 2017 at 3:56 PM

    Hey all,
    On Facebook there is an online book club for “Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents” that I think will be very helpful. The name of of the group is based on a book of the same name by Lindsay Gibson. Right now we are all in the process of getting the book so we can start reading it together. I have grown tired of picking up self-help books since I have read so many with little to no results. What’s different about this group is that we are reading through it together as I have become tired of trying to do it alone. I hope someone off here comes and joins the group. I have nothing to lose. After many years of therapy, reading several books, praying, crying, shutting down, depression, anxiety, doing nothing at times, going to school to be educated about life, working, parenting, writing, isolating, yelling, etc. something has to work at some point. I do have a strong faith in God and often asked why do I have to go through such a life with parents that still don’t have a clue. I am learning to accept my story, but just need to find better coping skills to deal with the side effects. Love to you all.

  • Dhyan

    March 27th, 2017 at 8:08 AM

    I am so glad for this group and I thank you for posting it here. I’ll visit you in the group and will get a hold of the book which I hadn’t heard of.

  • Viennen

    March 31st, 2017 at 7:40 AM

    It’s taken me nearly 30 years–I’m nearly 30–to realize how much I’ve been emotionally neglected.

    Sure, I had my mom AND my grandparents but I never really felt like I mattered to any of them. It was like my brother was the only one important to them. After all, he’s the one who’s gonna carry on the family name, right? While I’m the family fuckup despite my brother doing drugs right under their noses while here I was trying to do everything to get their fucking love and attention. I was trying so hard to get good grades, tried so hard to get decent jobs, dated boys because I assumed that was what they wanted of me even though I’ve been attracted to females for a long time.

    Sometimes I feel depressed just because I feel like my friends give more of a damn about me than my own family…

  • Robin

    April 2nd, 2017 at 4:33 PM

    There’s a lot of years between me and my siblings, who are all close in age. I definitely felt I was neglected growing up. Parents had a very unloving- almost passive aggressive- relationship with each other. I moved away after college, and now have my own child who I’m raising as a single parent. I would like to move back to the region, but am now questioning why I’m looking at doing so- I know I’ll never have a relationship with them, have tried to reach out to my siblings as an adult and have gotten rejected over and over again. I know moving away won’t make us ‘closer’ or repair anything, but I’m drawn to the region as I feel no real ties to any other part of the country. I do see being able to do the occasional holiday or bbq where my daughter can get to know her (2nd) cousins her age. Do I need to delve into this more, or does what I type sound like all it could be? There’s a lot of unresolved feelings that will never be resolved, But friends are questioning what might ‘really’ be behind my desire to move across the country.

  • Dhyan

    April 2nd, 2017 at 10:20 PM

    You might want to look at what you expect from your family if they’ve been rejecting in the past. What are you wanting from them and what do you expect from them if you move back? You might also wasn’t to consider therapy to look at some of this before you move. Either search on GoodTherapy or I’m available on Skype.
    My best to you,

  • cindy

    April 18th, 2017 at 5:16 PM

    I am a 20years female.I realised l always felt uncomfortable whenever I see people showing emotions,in life or or in the TV.
    I am always uncomfortable when i see parents telling their kids they love them,seeing a person crying instead of comforting the person i feel like getting away from the place because i feel uncomfortable,when am watching an award ceremony and it comes to the part of speech,i fast forward it because I cant bear to see the emotions.I feel uncomfortable when a person hugs me or touch me unexpectedly or when a person tells me they miss me.I dont tell people i miss them even if i do because is difficult for me to say
    Growing up my mum never showed me affection.she didn’t like to be touched,never hugged me or told me she loved me.verbally and physically abused me constantly.
    I know I need help to express my emotions and feel comfortable when other people express theirs.

  • Ses

    April 21st, 2017 at 11:53 AM

    I’m really glad I came across this website. I’ve been struggling with childhood issues for so many years it’s been really hard. I had zero love from my parents and absolutely no positive people in my life.

    Life has been really hard for me and I don’t want any of my experiences to impact me any longer I just want to break free and start fresh but I don’t know how. I’ve had counselling for over 20 years and nothing has worked. From a young age I remember my mum telling me I was unwanted, the nickname for me in my family was actually “the spare one”. Being the youngest of 3 sisters my mum always made me aware how disappointed she was that I was not born a boy as they desperately wanted a son to carry on the family name. When I was 9 years old my cousin sexually abused me for many years but I told no one. At the age of 22 I told my sister in confidence when she had a daughter who was getting older so she could protect her from that monster and she told my mum. I remember that day my mum called me and was screaming at me on the phone saying “you ***** why are you destroying our family by telling lies. Your aunty is so upset with the lies you are spewing for attention”. I remember that conversation it’s been going over and over in my head. How could a mother not be devastated by that?

    I got married at 29 and thought my life would get better, it has a little, but having a mother in law from hell who actually makes my mum seem like an angel is just a joke! I do think how different I would be if things had been better and I had a loving mother. I suppose I would be more confident and have a higher self esteem and a normal life where I could just go out and have a laugh but it’s just really difficult as there are so many thoughts and memories always playing in my mind.

    I do wish my parents had never had me and my “soul” could have gone to a loving mother instead. Even at the age I am now all I really want is a mother’s love. I’m so sad that my mother in law could have been the solution to all this given me the love I’ve always craved for.

  • Dhyan

    April 23rd, 2017 at 9:00 PM

    I’m glad to hear that you’re finding help along the way and thank you for sharing these books. I’ll have a look at them and I’m sure others will as well. I think by trying to understand the effects of emotional neglect and to make some sense of it you and in your healing process. Pls let me know if I can be of help.

  • Dhyan

    April 23rd, 2017 at 9:03 PM

    Above reply was for Forever Broken. This one is for Ses:
    I’m so sorry that you’re having a similar relationship with your mother-in-law that you had with your mother. Maybe you can view it as more healing wanting to happen. Pls let me know if I can help in any way.

  • Forever Broken

    April 21st, 2017 at 4:23 PM

    It’s so sad to see that there are so many hearts that have been broken in childhood. At the same time it’s comforting to me to know that I am never alone. It’s hard to have these feelings towards your parents because everyone else tells us that we should appreciate all that our parents have done and not to expect perfection. “They did the best they could with what they had at that moment” and so on just invalidates everything in my mind and made me hide my true feelings. The more I come to terms with what happened and through reading this book (Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay Gibson) I can take charge of my story and give my life meaning after so much hurt. It’s hard to see people continuing the same negative legacy that their parents imparted in them and I can’t help everyone. What makes me feel great is helping those around me heal. The better I get myself together, the more I can share the light that’s at the end of the tunnel. My parents will never understand the damage that their insensitive and immaturity caused me and I am learning that I don’t need them to. What I do need is to make sure my legacy is different. What I do need is to show others the way. What I do need is to be one of the healers of this world who can let others know that it’s okay to be upset, it’s okay to remember and it’s okay to do what you need to do for healing (excluding breaking the law and going against other people’s rights of course). I was also listening to an audio book called Finding Your Way in a Wild New World by Martha Beck. That audio book was something that really opened my mind in making sense of my pain and moving forward to helping others heal.

  • Caty

    April 25th, 2017 at 12:00 PM

    I had a difficult childhood. I grew up not being good enough, pretty enough, smart enough. I wasn’t allowed to speak, and often was scolded for breathing too loudly. I was physically threatened and felt inadequate, small, and lonely. I ballooned in size because I self medicated with food, then I began a vicious battle with eating disorders that lasted many years. I have no animosity towards anyone who inflicted this emotional pain on me during my childhood. It was difficult, yes… but I am who I am now because of it. I can very honestly say that this has set me back, however because I was felt “not good enough” to achieve anything in life, so I simply didn’t try. I have had so many dreams and desires killed by my own mind. I would find myself constantly apologizing to my spouse and children for trivial things. It’s hard to live with a certain way of thinking that has been drilled into your mind and then attempt to change it all completely… but it’s absolutely possible. I’ve been putting much work into learning to love, respect, and admire myself. I am on the path of healing! I can truthfully say now that I AM worth it and I AM loved.

    My struggle is this: I feel strong, happy, loved, smart, and beautiful now. But, when I’m around the person who caused me emotional pain during my entire childhood I still revert back to the same person who feels small and inadequate. Our relationship now is very different. There is no abuse at all. Why do I still revert back to that same person? I can be so confident with myself and as soon as I am around them that confidence diminishes and I feel so awful about myself. This person is going to be having a bigger presence in my life soon and I want to make sure I do not give my power away. I don’t want to feel like that anymore. What can I do? Why is it I still give them my power?

  • Grown up now

    April 25th, 2017 at 3:37 PM

    I have really enjoyed the article and the very personal and honest sharings by others. Parts of my story are in so many of them. I am 46,years of self help and counselling under my belt and only recently twigged that my very self absorbed mother most likely has Autism (Aspergers). I keep falling in love with unavailable men that I try to fix! I had been aware of emotional abuse for some time but emotional neglect is the missing from piece

  • Dhyan

    May 21st, 2017 at 6:21 PM

    Dear Grown up now, I’m glad this article helped you to understand yourself better in some small way. You might consider going back into counseling to work on this issue of falling in love with unavailable men. This is something you can heal from and now might be a good time to begin. I work with clients on Skype or you can use the Good Therapy directory to find a therapist in your area. My best to you, Dhyan

  • Angela

    May 2nd, 2017 at 6:36 AM

    What do you do when you feel the need to help and do for others but don’t feel worth the time or effort in doing the same for yourself? I am driven to make sure that my kids never go to bed without hearing the words “I love you”, or to make it to every one of their sports games, or be at school functions in which they are involved, to make sure they know that I am proud of things they’ve done. I am also one to make sure I do my best to help someone that is emotionally hurting, being tried in various situations of their life and find it NECESSARY to be their super hero (which has often gotten me into trouble with friendships and going too far in helping them). But I can not find it necessary to receive help from others – or to receive kind and compassionate words or things from others. And if I get those, I am and emotional wreck – uncontrolled tears and a overwhelming sense of love that I never got when I was a child and not really sure how to handle it other than shy away from people and NOT let those emotions and feelings creep inside me. One thing I am truly thankful for in being emotionally tormented through out my childhood by my mom is that I learned how not to treat others – and I refuse to let my kids grow up thinking that there was anything that they could do to make me stop loving them and in loving them unconditionally, I hope that I can pass onto them the necessary steps in keeping that kind and compassionate nature into their own lives as they grow up.

  • The Team

    May 2nd, 2017 at 3:00 PM

    Hi Angela,

    Thank you for your comment. If you would like to consult with a mental health professional, please return to our homepage,, and enter your zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area.

    Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. You are also welcome to call us for assistance finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time; our phone number is 888-563-2112 ext. 1.

    We wish you the best of luck in your search.

    Kind regards,
    The Team

  • Brandy

    May 8th, 2017 at 1:31 PM

    I am so glad I stmbled across this article. Ii describes me perfectly and makes perfect sense. I had a handicapped younger sister that my mother had to take care of 24/7 and my dad worked away from home. I was smart and made good grades and kept to myself so no one bothered to worry about me. It has affected me my whole teenage/adult life. I have made so many bad and wrong choices in life just looking for someone to love me.

  • Beginning to Heal

    May 17th, 2017 at 9:36 AM

    Hey Brandy. I can relate for sure. I tried to be the good child too and didn’t get a chance to have that healthy teenage rebellion that is part of growing up. I wasn’t always good, but when I acted up it wasn’t healthy. For me, it took all of my 20s to figure out that I needed healing. Thanks for sharing your story and I hope you find peace with your past choices. Forgiveness has been key for me. I had to forgive my parents and forgive myself for taking so long to heal and forgive others that didn’t help along the way.

  • Dhyan

    May 21st, 2017 at 6:17 PM

    Dear Brandy, So sorry that I’m just now getting back to you. I just saw your message in my inbox. I’m sorry that you had a childhood where you were emotionally neglected. I want to say that one thing is for sure, you can heal from this wound. It doesn’t need to follow you and contribute to your making bad choices. I would suggest you seek out therapy. I’m available by Skype or you can use the Good Therapy directory to find a therapist in your area. Now is a good time to start. My best to you, Dhyan

  • Tamryn

    May 20th, 2017 at 1:18 AM

    I’m so glad I found this site I’m a 24 year old female I feel like my mom doesn’t love me. as a child I grew up not knowing my mom until I was nine years old. she would always come an go and I wouldn’t understand why. I lived with my grandparents and my child wood wasn’t easy or fun like other kids course I never knew wat I was lyk growing up with a mom. after my grandmothers death I was told DAT I was gng to live with my mom I was 11 then. I was so exited coz I thought that finally I will feel wat its lyk to live with my mom and be loved by her lyk other kids and their moms. buy things didn’t turn out the way I expected. when we moved to where she was staying with my step father only to find that she was abused by him and my life with them was miserable as I was also abused emotionally and physically by my mom I felt lyk she hated me. I later ran away from home as the abuse got worse I felt I would be better off away from her. i dropt out of school at grade ten and ever since then my life has has never been the same. I now have a 4 year old son that I love to bits but I feel like I may transfer this anger to him. plz help.

  • The Team

    May 20th, 2017 at 11:03 AM

    Hi Tamryn,

    If you would like to consult with a mental health professional, please feel free to return to our homepage,, and enter your zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area.

    Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. You are also welcome to call us for assistance finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time; our phone number is 888-563-2112 ext. 1.

    Kind regards,
    The Team

  • Dhyan

    May 21st, 2017 at 6:13 PM

    Dear Tamryn,
    I’m so sorry that you had to experience such pain growing up in your family. If you are aware of anger you have you are way ahead of your mom who doesn’t sound like she was aware of much of anything that was going on with you. If you are afraid of transferring this anger onto your son, I suggest you seek out therapy near where you live. In addition to looking at the referrals on Good Therapy, you might try Catholic Charities or Jewish Family service, both of which provide low fee counseling if you can’t afford a private therapist. You can most certainly heal from the wounds you suffered as a child and now sounds like a good time to start. My best to you, Dhyan

  • Beginning to Heal

    May 21st, 2017 at 2:03 PM

    Lots of responses to people’s comments are directing them to the therapists on and I wonder if anyone has actually started counseling after posting to this site. Is this article just here to help people figure out that they need counseling and to direct them there?

  • Dhyan

    May 21st, 2017 at 8:50 PM

    Dear Beginning to Heal, This article was written to help people identify emotional neglect, and to begin to take steps toward healing. We know that therapy can be helpful towards healing these wounds. My goal is to help people take steps toward leading a more joyful, rewarding life.

  • Beginning to Heal

    May 22nd, 2017 at 7:02 PM

    Ok, but ways to find therapists are already posted in the article and in previous comments. I doubt that people don’t know that they needed therapy way before they started reading the article. What I am saying is that when people comment it seems that they are looking for some validation of their experiences and not just someone saying go get some therapy. They may have already done so for many years and are still having to deal with what has happened to them. For me, I just like when people can relate since I’ve already been to therapy. Unfortunately, even therapy given by the best counselors will not erase all the after math of the abuse and neglect.

  • lastoftwelve

    June 25th, 2017 at 3:09 PM

    It’d be nice if therapists I’ve seen over last year would even entertain any idea of what childhood was like for me and how much of it relates to problems most recently had …. issues related to adhd .. but then now one doctor spitting out bipolar word has everything being reassessed …. what a ride of meds to get prescribed, help in some ways, then basically have others added when that magic B word was tossed about that messed things up worse …. doctors barely size up situations that are going on that I have to address to protect my family .. along with many other stressors (health, multiple family death) ….
    it’s like these psych doctors all look at things different … some push more meds .. others want none … no one has time to really understand …. and you’d think they might be used to people who can talk a lot …. or how about they actually know of the potential issues related to patients they might see in their field (I’m referring to fmla, ada rights, accommodations needed and how to interact with a workplace … or even disability insurance, not because you are disabled entirely but because the policy had a provision that applied — yet they think you are exaggerating things … and also, you’d think many more of them might know about ERISA laws …. it’s all so pathetic) … much of the problems are directly due to the state of the healthcare industry as a whole ….

    the person who talks to you, should be the person who decides if meds are even an option ….

    psychiatrists have so little time, the greater majority of them are just legal drug pushers

  • Jennifer L.

    June 21st, 2017 at 9:56 PM

    I’ll throw my story in here, as well. I have struggled with mental health issues for most of my life. I guess I can attribute at least some of the issues to my upbringing, but I still blame my own weakness a lot of the time. My parents weren’t abusive per se, but they only covered the minimums: I had a place to live and food to eat. My mother wasn’t really mean, but she was distant and cold. I distinctly remember crying once and she stated flatly, “Don’t cry.” That was it. I can’t remember her ever hugging me or saying “I love you.” She did, however, inform me that I was “a mistake”. When I was about 6 she went back to work. By the time I was 11, she left at 6 in the morning and returned at 9 at night. She was a secretary, so she didn’t have to stay at work; she chose to. My father seemed warmer and would tousle my hair, etc., but he also drank every night. He sat on the couch drinking gin and watching TV. He also traveled a lot for work, so he was gone for weeks at a time. I also can’t remember him telling me he loved me. I was socially awkward and pretty much ignored at school except by a few bullies, some of whom threw stones at me or shoved me up against the lockers. At some point, I started hurting myself but no one noticed except for a teacher, who talked to me once but didn’t intervene. I had a brother and sister but they were considerably older and out of the house. At some point, I think I reasoned that other people were different than me: they deserved attention and care.

    I tried hard to please my parents. I cleaned their room and bathroom sometimes as a surprise. I worked hard in school. I tried to never ask for or need anything. When my mother came home from work, I listened to her complain about her work life; she did not ask me about mine. When I finally went off to college, I was terrified and, ironically, wanted to come home all the time. At some point I finally started therapy, which I ended up in and out of for years. My family basically considered me “the crazy one,” a label which I accepted and still struggle with.

    My mother died a few years after I graduated college and my father remarried. I still crave love and attention from him, but after my mother died he pulled away even more. We barely talk and he forgets basic facts about me, like how to spell my name or whether or not I’m a vegetarian (I’m not but he seems to believe I am). However, he appears to believe that he is doing a great job. He insists on telling me how much he loves my kids, which seems impossible since he wouldn’t even be able to pick them out of a crowd. I tried to talk to him twice about the past, but the first time his wife jumped in to say, “Isn’t he a great dad? Isn’t he? ” The second time he unexpectedly flew into a rage and called me a bad daughter. I have given up on trying to talk about these issues with him because I don’t think he’d ever understand or be able to cope, but I haven’t been able to do much about the hole that’s left where the love should have gone.

    I think sometimes about the wasted years of my childhood, which I mostly spent alone in front of the TV, and it’s hard not to be angry, but there’s nowhere to go with that anger. What do I do with it? I am also aware that “they did the best they could”: I know for a fact that their childhoods were no picnic. But that idea is not reaching the spot I need it to reach. To be honest, it’s a bit hard to believe. I don’t think they did try to do their best.

  • Dhyan

    June 22nd, 2017 at 12:58 PM

    Hi Jennifer,
    I completely understand your anger and frustration and feeling like you got a “raw deal”, (my quote, not yours.) I do however believe that most people parent as best as they’re able to at the time. If your parents didn’t receive adequate parenting they probably didn’t have much to give to you emotionally. It doesn’t mean it’s right or fair, just the way it was. Have you worked on any of this, particularly your anger in therapy? I have found that helpful in releasing negative emotions. Also EMDR, a type of therapy that release emotions from held trauma, which I believe emotional neglect leads to. Just some thoughts. You’ve obviously done work on yourself and have a lot of insight.
    My best to you,


  • Jennifer

    January 13th, 2018 at 8:52 AM

    I’m reading this again after 6 months and it strikes me how well-intentioned people are so quick to insist to neglected children that their parents always did the best that they can. That is probably true in a sense, but I wonder if people who have endured physical or sexual abuse as children ever get that same message? I had a boyfriend whose father used to beat him nearly every night. No one has ever told him that his father did the best he could at the time. Instead, everyone is horrified at the terrible behavior of his parents. But of course the same statement about “doing your best” could certainly be applied to his father, who was poorly parented and emotionally ill-equipped to have children. His father did his best with his poor emotional skills.

    Is it any wonder that those of us with neglectful parents have a hard time accepting that it wasn’t our fault? I’m not saying that we should nurse resentment–quite the opposite–but I question whether it’s a good idea to immediately insist on the idea that if you weren’t sexually or physically abused, your parents were really trying hard. This just reinforces the idea that “we didn’t have it as bad as others” and “we shouldn’t feel bad, since our parents tried so hard.”

  • Jennifer L.

    June 23rd, 2017 at 10:27 AM

    Thanks for the kind reply. I can sort of accept that, but I wonder what it would take for us to decide, no, this person didn’t do their best, the way we might about someone who got a C on a test when they could’ve gotten an A by studying more. I suppose we could say that the test-taker had other priorities and therefore couldn’t study any more, but it makes the whole idea of doing your best kind of meaningless. At any rate, it’s harder to forgive someone when they are still making the same types of choices. For instance, my father has declared that he will never visit my family, and we are not allowed into his house. He does not call. All the effort is on my end (and my siblings’).

    Still, the bigger issue for me is the anxiety and depression that is left from my childhood. I was alone in (what seemed to me) a dangerous world, where kids would do their best to physically and emotionally hurt me, and I had no recourse. Then I joined in and also did my best to physically and emotionally hurt myself, and no one noticed. I could easily have killed myself. That is both an anxiety- and depression- producing situation, and it’s never really left me, although I’ve certainly come a long way from where I was. (To answer your question, I’ve had loads of therapy, including EMDR.)

  • Beginning to Heal

    June 23rd, 2017 at 12:21 PM

    Hey Jennifer! I feel like some people are afraid to feel the anger towards their parents for what happened to them. Our society teaches us that our parents must have “done the best the could’ve given their circumstances” but I don’t believe that anymore and I feel much better. Everyone that gets a C did not try their best, but we don’t know if that was really an A student that was distracted or an F student that studied really hard that day. I understand that anger is a healthy emotion that if not allowed to be expressed, we turn it inward which turns into issues with depression and anxiety. Just because we are angry, that’s not a reason to emotionally abuse our parents or hurt them physically like they did us since that would just keep the unhealthy cycle going. We just have to direct the anger to the right places and stop chasing after our parents for the love and affection they will never give. I am glad that I am not old enough to parent myself and make more healthier choices for my own children and I hope you will be able to do the same. For me, the key was to get my spiritual life in order and for me that meant going to God and releasing it all to Him and let Him deal with me and them. I no longer want to feel bound by the hatred and carelessness of others.

  • Jennifer L.

    June 23rd, 2017 at 12:50 PM

    Thanks for saying that. Yes, I agree with what you wrote. Sometimes it’s a habit to talk myself out of feelings. Oh, I shouldn’t feel angry, because they did their best. It becomes a pattern where you try to talk yourself out of all your feelings. Better to accept it and then try to let it go. I’m working on it. :)

  • Sunny

    June 23rd, 2017 at 9:55 PM

    I think there comes a point of no return. Where a neglected child has numbed out so much for so long – now as a 26 year old man – is exploring things on his own, the rush of emotions from excitement to “wow I didn’t know this existed” just causes this person to unravel into what can only be described as tears and a lot of hurt… but only in the privacy of his own.
    Day in and day out parents instilling the belief that if you don’t earn a certain amount you will be a failure at life…. all this while having a look of disappointment on their faces while talking to you.
    Now a 26 year old man… far surpassing financial goals into the world of ‘wishful thinking’ and the luxury of self-employment, the ease to spend on experiences not witnessed as a child is a high priority.
    Then came today… when that 26 year old man took his mother and father to a performance called Odysseo put on by a group called Cavalia where the parents looked to each other then told that now 26 year old son of theirs that “they wish they brought you to these kinds of things when you were younger” in the middle of the show.
    That 26 year old man… son… boy…. whatever you wish to call him, has never felt so lost and out of control of his emotions, all he desired was a place to pen his feelings and get it off his chest.
    He’s never spoken about this to anyone… not even his friends or his girlfriend. They observe his actions just shocked at all the things he’s doing and experiencing creating an aura around him slowly drawing in others to come join him in any of his adventures.
    Yet… the smile on his face is only temporary as how he was raised… hardwired per-say… never truly allows him to enjoy anything he does, but rather brings his brain back to the basics; the basics of the mentality drilled in by his parents a decade ago.
    I just hope this changes soon.

  • Dhyan

    June 24th, 2017 at 5:47 PM

    Hi Sunny, you are a beautiful writer. Truly. Please write more. And know you’re not condemned to continue to hold onto the beliefs your parents instilled in you. They are just, after all, thoughts in the mind that don’t really exist in any substantial way. If you haven’t already sought out therapy, that is my suggestion so that you may free yourself from these bonds. My best to you,

  • lastoftwelve

    June 25th, 2017 at 2:54 PM

    Try being a twin and the last of twelve, with a father who died just before 9 —
    where he had his own problems that turned into a temper that led to tables flying .. and a mother who lived life cleaning, watching kids, and trying to change any topic that got him upset … if there were happy times …. I dont know what they look like …. cant even remember a hug let alone a kiss …. cant remember under 5 1/2 … told we didnt talk til age 4 ….. I’ve had many life issues this last year, and seriously just need to know … who actually took care of us .. taught us … anything …. no one even remembers that I used to hit my brother is he barely touched me up to age 9/10 when I realized for myself I better stop or I’ll be called crazy … so much more …. i can’t stand it

  • Dhyan

    July 10th, 2017 at 10:57 AM

    Sounds like you were a pretty insightful child to recognize so early that you needed to stop that behavior. Have you ever tried writing your dad a letter, saying everything you want to say to him? I know he’s not alive but sometimes the act of setting your feelings down on paper is really helpful.
    My best to you,


  • Wendy

    July 16th, 2017 at 10:31 AM

    I’m going to work on being ok with being alone. So many of my defects revolve around my fear of being alone.

  • SRS

    July 9th, 2017 at 8:53 PM

    I have felt all of these:
    Numbing out” or being cut off from one’s feelings
    Feeling like there’s something missing, but not being sure what it is
    Feeling hollow inside
    Being easily overwhelmed or discouraged
    Low self-esteem
    Pronounced sensitivity to rejection
    Lack of clarity regarding others’ expectations and your own expectations for yourself

    I did not even know myself completely – yet got married at 22 as it felt good to be desired; I suppose. Ended in divorce 10 years later as I realized I had no sexual desire or interest in women – in fact, craved men from first grade onward. Afraid of my family and mostly God – I rejected and resisted my feelings – blowing things off as if it was my fathers suicide and his alcoholism and lack of affection perhaps – and suddenly, I realized – one I was only 14 and most of all these feelings all existed prior to his death. When he died, I internally rejoiced – no more family drama, fights, hiding (literally to protect my little brother) from hearing the events taking place.
    I am an OK guy – and I refuse to let his misfortunes impact my life any further. It would be nice to set down and have a discussion with him regarding his narcissistic behavior.
    Can anyone relate?

  • Dhyan

    July 10th, 2017 at 11:00 AM

    Oops, wrote your comment to last person by mistake: I suggested you sit down and write your dad a letter as sometimes putting your feelings down on paper can have a positive effect. Have you been in therapy? Also helpful for adult children with emotional neglect issues.

    My best, Dhyan

  • Logan

    July 20th, 2017 at 4:25 AM

    Reflection is hard, coming to terms with what happened is even harder, I’ve outlined a few examples of parent/child interactions I remember having, sometimes at what I feel were key moments in my childhood, or just day to day events. I say ‘common’ a lot below, because, this was the basic parenting mantra I was exposed to growing up on a daily basis, I’ve picked an example to go with each but I could probably write a small book on the number of times these we’re used as a response. For me, as a child, a situation that required a little bit more input and help was met with these ridiculous phrases. The quoted text is as it sounds, always used and in many situations by each parent:
    “Children should be seen and not heard”
    A common one I heard from most family members, often our playtime was drowned out by loud music from my father, his needs always took priority, and parents telling me to be quiet when I had questions or was upset about something. I was taught that keeping quiet and not “causing trouble for your father” was better than expressing my concerns, feelings or opinions.
    It pretty much sums up how I’ve been made to feel my entire life, I still have trouble expressing myself and making myself heard without getting overly emotional or angry, and whenever I do manage to get a message out, those people ‘closest’ to me either ignore, undermine or shut me down. As my mum once put it, it’s like banging your head against a brick wall.
    “I’m alright Jack, pull up the ladder”
    A common response to asking for help with something, especially if it got in the way of them doing their own thing. I can remember this as early as 4, me asking for a drink and to put a video on (Disney’s Robin Hood) after I had just broken my ankle (as described later). This also included help with homework, wanting something to eat, love and attention, to play, it’s almost as if everything was a ‘bother’. These days I can see it for what it is, but again, as a child, it’s devastating starting to think you’re in the way, and, as once mentioned by my father “we were a lot happier before we had kids”.
    “Shit with sugar on it”
    A common response to usually asking what was for dinner. Pure and simple. I can remember this response very well, mainly for the fact I learnt my first swear word and showed it off in middle school (I was put against the wall for it). It was one of my mum’s favourite phrases to her 4 year old son.
    “Why do you do/are you doing this to me”
    A common response if ever I got hurt, injured or bullied and sought help from my father. This ranged from accidents in which I broke my ankle (mentioned later at the end), to being bullied at school for either being overweight or just being myself. When I got home there was never any concern for me, just the stress and pain I was causing them, masking their own inability to even deal with pain and emotion. When I broke my ankle I remember clearly the people who made me feel better, the old lady who came out of her house to give me some chocolate, and the Doctor/Nurse who put my leg in a cast, my teachers in year 5 and year 9. My parents were always the victims. If you go to a victim for empathy or sympathy you’re going to find yourself very short changed, and possibly even in debt to them after. It was always my fault. I remember when I was much older and got knocked off my bike, flew across the bonnet and ended up on the tarmac. The driver of the car was a very apologetic lovely guy, he knew it was his fault, but he asked me if I was okay, took me and my bike home. On arriving home my Father immediately began discussions with the driver on how to claim on the insurance for damage to the bike. It would have been nice if he’d asked me if I was okay.
    “You’re lucky I don’t knock you across the room like my father used to do to me”
    A common response when discipline was required, my father, having been physically abused by his father, never let me forget how lucky I was ‘not’ to be beaten for doing something wrong (wrong could range from leaving a window open too long or not doing the washing up). Fear kept me in place and to this day always has done. The influence and imprints parents leave on children stay with them their entire lives, hard wired, programmed into the brain, some ignore it, some become it, some try to come to terms with it, most I would say manage it but never fully move on. My Dad never did hit me, but the threat was there, the anxiety, the fear, the dread of violence if ever I made a mistake. I began to fear everything, the pressure to not make a mistake and fail was overwhelming, I am now and feel I always will be a nervous wreck when it comes to success. If you want success, you must first learn to fail, but if you think failing means getting the living shit beaten out of you, then why would you even try.
    Which brings me onto my next memory, (but at least he never did hit you? – I hear those people cry… I opened up a little to someone recently and this was their immediate response) However, the fact I was never hit didn’t stop me having to witness his physical abuse of my sister later in my childhood, who, more often than not, would stand up for herself and not be silenced by these mere ‘threats’. Whereas me and my mother were silenced (mostly) by the threat and subservience to our ‘master’, my sister was having none of it, it had the opposite effect, the more she opposed, the more she paid the price. The shame I feel for not doing anything to help is gut wrenching, its debilitating to me as an adult, the blame and guilt I’ve poured on myself for 35 years is sickening to my stomach. Why did nobody stop this? Why didn’t I stop this? Sadly, I’m seeing more and more of my Dad in my sister these days, like his father before him, my sister now takes no time in crushing your soul if you disagree with her, if you don’t build her up and do her bidding she’ll abuse you on a very personal level, if you say no to her she’ll threaten to cut you out.
    I can only speak from emotional abuse and torment, physical abuse I can’t even begin to really understand, but because I feel, and witnessed the same growing anger and aggression in my sister to this very day, which has been directed at me more recently, the energy to keep up the ‘façade’ of ‘being strong’, to ‘not be like my father’, is slowly turning her into the thing she loathes the most, if only we both had the strength to admit to ourselves it wasn’t our fault, and look to the child abusing, wife beating, adulterous father we grew up with, the man who stood at my mother’s grave and declared “this is so unfair on me and so unfair I wasn’t invited to the funeral”. However, I believe my sister has survived by denying it ever happened, she’ll deny and lie to my face about it, she’ll play the game with every different person she meets, wearing a different mask each time, you can see the shame on her face when she does or says something wrong, but she’ll never admit that or apologise, and now she now frightens me as much as my father does.
    “You need to toughen up!”
    A common response to any adversity I came up against. Simple as that. Being bullied? “You need to toughen up”. Being beaten up? “You need to toughen up”. Seen something that’s frightened or traumatised you? “You need to toughen up”. Having bad dreams? “You need to toughen up”
    As a child, this is a constant suggestion that it’s all “your fault”. Amazingly, the hypocrisy of this constant shaming in hindsight was just my parents’ failure in not being able to parent, because of their own experiences. They failed to ever stand up to their own abusive parents (my mother did a little concerning her own mother in later years) and therefore both took it all out on me and my sister.
    The phrase toughen up, from my own personal experience, do you know what that gets you as an adult? It gets you a big dose of emotional detachment from your parents. As well as very confused and mixed feelings when it comes to being around them, and looking to them support, which is what feels natural when things go wrong, because there is no attachment there, but why? That’s your father? Mother? Why don’t you love them? people cry…. Because when I needed love, empathy and sympathy, even from the earliest time I can remember, it was either not available at all (father) or inconsistent from my mother.
    “I gave most of my wages to my parents to help with upkeep, do you know how expensive it is to raise a child?”
    Most of the time my father manipulated you into loving him through fear, threats of abuse and money spending, and by the time I reached my 30s I realised how true this was, fear to keep you in line, presents to counteract the fear. No-one wants to remember the bad stuff, no-body wants to remember the game of Monopoly were your father flips the board screaming it’s a game of luck rather than any skill when he loses, nobody wants to remember sitting there stunned and frightened after that outburst, you want to remember the nice presents you got for Christmas the day before.
    Monopoly was all about money, which makes perfect sense in this memory, my father had a constant reminder to me after getting my first job as a paperboy was how much of his wages he used to give his parents, and then any job after that, and how ‘lucky I was he didn’t do the same to me’. Always reminded how lucky I was that he wasn’t trying to beat me or take my money. I remember being shown print outs and information by my father, saying that it costs up to 200K by the time a child is 18 to raise one and how lucky I was he was looking after me and that he wasn’t charging me rent (again, I was 14 and doing a paper round).
    This might seem a more trivial thing to most with regards to abuse, but my father played a very refined game of keeping me just subservient enough to continue doing his bidding, replacing my mother, cooking his tea, getting his house tidy, ‘greeting him with a smile and a how was your day’ when he got in. I used to literally jump out of skin when I heard him cycle up to the back gate and open it, petrified I hadn’t gotten everything ready and perfect, and then there was just enough guilt to stop me leaving “I probably won’t be able to cope if you leave me too” “You’ll probably leave me too, just like your mother”.
    “If you ever leave I don’t know what I’ll do (suicide)”
    The day my mum left, or ‘disappeared’, is hard to remember… or I just didn’t want to remember. I was 14, I was wearing my favourite tracksuit top and playing the game Alien Trilogy on my Sega Saturn. Someone came into my room and gave me a hug and told me all was going to be okay, it wasn’t my mother I know that much, or my father or sister. I sat there after, alone in my room, I remember her leaving the house, bin bag in hand with just a few belongings. I remember feeling hurt, angry, confused, frightened. I had all those feelings bottled up inside and no-where and no way of expressing them, I wasn’t allowed, expressing emotions was wrong. I remember hot tears again running down my face.
    I remember being petrified of my Dad coming home from work on the day my mum left and stayed hidden in my room, glued to my computer for the rest of the day. I remember ‘meetings’ in the living room, my father leaning on me and my sister for answers, Where is she? Why did she leave us? I remember being constantly asked to find out ‘information’ about her but at the same time confused and fearful of seeing my mum, as I didn’t understand at the time why she left, as usual, it was my fault, my father used this guilt to his advantage very well. I missed my mum so much, but thought she didn’t care, my father made certain to play on that, making me spend most of my life pushing my mother away, fearing going to see/visit her when I wanted. When my sister finally left too, I was his constant emotional leaning post and dumping ground for his own problems “if you ever leave I don’t know what I’ll do (suicide)”.
    I wasn’t able to express how I felt about my mum leaving, I’d already spent a childhood not being allowed to express myself, my mum leaving is without doubt one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever experienced that I can remember. I wasn’t allowed to visit her (fear, guilt, shame and powerful tools of control, by this point in my childhood I was so brainwashed I felt resistance was pointless, even though it was destroying me as an individual), and if I expressed the want to visit I was made to feel like a piece of shit for ‘abandoning’ my father to see my “lying, cheating, nasty mother” who left us all.
    The next 4 years I got to see my mother a handful of times, but during these times I was an emotional wreck. It was two people, both broken and destroyed, unable to express to each how they were feeling, because there was no empathy. I wanted her to listen, she wanted me to listen, neither of us wanted to burden the other as we both knew we had problems. She couldn’t handle and take on mine, I wasn’t willing to understand and take on hers. That’s how we spent the next 20 years after she left, me pushing her away. Me feeling sorry for my Dad and so sticking with him instead of my mum (and trying to ‘please’ him) is why I hate myself so much.

  • Wendy

    July 20th, 2017 at 1:25 PM

    I relate to this it’s almost like you told my story. My mom died though. I thought I was a pain in the but so she left to be a movie star. I love this site. So much better than therapy. Therapy leaves me feeling so screwed up.

  • Michael

    July 30th, 2017 at 1:26 PM

    I didn’t realize until I read about childhood emotional neglect it was a lightbulb moment for me. I recognize most of the symptoms in myself. At forty-seven years of age I’ve had a rollercoaster of a life. I’ve had so many different treatments for depression that I’ve lost count. I’ve had problems with trusting people throughout my life and haven’t had many close friends. I’ve never had an intimate relationship with anyone. I’ve been through I don’t know how many low paid jobs and I’m still in one now. I have problems with my self-esteem. I frequently feel lonely, numb and empty. I don’t know what the hell I’m meant to be doing here.

    Then I think about what my childhood was like and it starts to make sense. I was provided for in every other way besides emotional support.

  • Michael

    July 30th, 2017 at 1:35 PM

    Only thing that keeps me going is eating a reasonably healthy diet, taking regular exercise and keeping my weight in check. Luckily I don’t smoke or drink. I think if I did drink there is a chance I might become an alcoholic. But I still feel like there are a number of massive black holes in my life, and it’s too late in the day to fill them now. Feels like I’m living a double life. On the outside I put on this front; pretending everything is fine. Whilst on the inside I feel like a weird, lonely loser who’s life is falling to pieces.

  • Nancy

    August 4th, 2017 at 4:47 PM

    We as parents do the best we can with what we know. Each child in a family has different needs and different characteristics. It is impossible for us to fulfill all the needs of our children. My mother had wonderful intentions, but she had a father who died when she was 12 and a mother died after several of years of cancer when she was only 18. I was an only child for 12 years and she thought she was doing what she was supposed to be doing by insisting that I could always be better and “live up to my potential.” It’s only as an adult with adult children that I’ve come to understand that she thought she was doing what she should as a parent. Each of us has also probably contributed emotional distress to others throughout our lifetime. The best we can do is figure out how to be as kind to others as we can be during the rest of our lifetime, and to accept that now the responsibility for fixing ourselves is now up to us.

  • Michael

    August 5th, 2017 at 11:19 PM

    Hi Nancy, I agree with everything you say. Nobody makes a perfect parent. Reading about C.E.M. has really enlightened me to the problems I’ve had throughout most of my life up to this point. I do agree that life is too short to be bitter towards parents. Better not to carry on repeating the same mistakes out parents did, then they won’t get passed on to the next generation.

    My dad passed away over ten years ago. But I think mum is aware of what happened now. We get on a lot better, I do not believe it is a good thing to carry on holding grudges and misery inside. Like you say, best to heal the past and come to terms with it, then carry on being compassionate both to other people and yourself. Many thanks for your helpful words.

  • Lucy

    August 30th, 2017 at 9:29 PM

    My dad left my mom and I when I was 3 years old. He was an alcoholic and, from what I understand and have been told, was someone who thought he wasn’t good enough and in a place where he couldn’t address his problems. My mom remarried when I was 4 and had my sister with someone who I now consider to be my real dad. Growing up I never really had strong feelings about my biological dad. In fact, I only started thinking about him when I was about 13 years old and how his disappearing from my life was affecting me. Around this time I was deeply depressed, paranoid, and suicidal. My parents suggested that I go into therapy and the topic of my biological dad was brought up once. At the time I thought it was silly and had nothing to do with my mental health or behavior. Over the years I have done more research and learned more about the trauma of early childhood abandonment. I am now 20 and have been beginning to have fears about randomly seeing him in public or of him reaching out to me. Though the likelihood of these things occurring is very low, I still have these fears. What would I say to him? It is so hard for me to imagine. People often ask me if I will ever attempt to reach out to him myself. I say I won’t because the last thing I knew he wanted was to never see me again and I want to respect his wishes and not waste my own time with someone who doesn’t want to know me. I do not truly know why left and didn’t want to be my dad and I most likely never will. It is really difficult for me to feel bitterly towards him for what he did. One reason is because I don’t know him. He had his own reasons and I’m sure he felt very strongly and confidently about his decision to leave his family behind. All I know is the pain that I feel daily because a once very important person in my life didn’t love me enough to stay and be my dad. Sometimes I don’t feel like I can ever know myself fully because I feel like I never got a chance to know him.

  • Doug

    September 19th, 2017 at 8:03 AM

    This article is interesting. I have a few questions, and I suppose this may not be the right forum for them, but have to start somewhere: 1) How do you know if you have been emotionally abused/neglected? Looking back on my childhood, I feel that I was. Alcoholic (non-physically abusive) step-father, basically only child (8 yrs older than my 1/2 brother), left to my own devices for as long as I can remember. Always been awkward around people/women. I honestly don’t remember much about my childhood. Might be something else involved? and 2) what are the first steps to take to get on the right path, to recover from that? Where does one even begin? What questions do you ask? Where do you look? How do you know what to look for?

    Any advice?

  • Dhyan Summers

    September 19th, 2017 at 4:35 PM

    Hi Doug,
    This is the right place to ask for clarification about emotional abuse/neglect. You can scroll up to the symptoms of emotional neglect section and see if any of these apply to you. Many people who suffered from emotional neglect as children describe a numbing out feeling or being disconnected from their emotions. Also, many people who were emotionally neglected as children experienced a lack of attunement, in other words not feeling like people “got” you as a child, and often this feeling follows them into adulthood. Likewise, adult survivors of emotional neglect sometimes have difficulty forming closed bonds and attachments with others.

    For a first step, I recommend reading Reading Running On Empty, which describes this is more detail. Secondly, to heal these wounds I suggest therapy with a qualified and trained therapist. You can either look at GoodTherpy therapists in your area, or contact me to discuss online therapy with Skype or Facetime.

    All the best,


  • Stephanie

    March 3rd, 2018 at 6:49 PM

    Hi i would like to get in contact with you over skype

  • Bo

    October 5th, 2017 at 9:48 PM

    At 65 years, only recently did I become aware of the emotional neglect my sister and I experienced as children. Our mother lost her dearly-loved mother at 7 years old, growing up with a cold step mother and detached father. An event that reveals my outlook as a 10 year old boy was when a boy in our church drowned. The father wept through the entire church service the following Sunday. I asked my mother why he wasn’t laughing and happy, since he was rid of a child. Her reply stunned me: “I guess he loved him.” Talk about cognitive dissonance! I chewed on that for years. Some parents love their children? I was probably in college before I began to believe that was true. Having been bullied, as a socially-awkward, hyperactive child, I hated children, and couldn’t imagine ever wanting any of my own. Oddly, perhaps, what started softening my heart was owning parrots. One of them had even seemed to have been traumatized—like me, I guess. Fast forward 30 years, and our two biological children are adults. I wasn’t a perfect dad, but if asked, they will say their parents loved them. I think I’m starting to be an okay father to our adopted child, but I have so far to go, to leave behind the damage inflicted by my own emotionally-absent parents.

  • T

    October 9th, 2017 at 8:35 AM

    Hi Bo and all others who feel (KNOW) they have been neglected,
    I am over the shock of the realisation of the emotional neglect and “slavery” I endured and the feelings of being alone/ignored when help was needed. As an adult I heard the phrase inner child. In my own mind I have changed this phrase to the “Nature of me”. It stems from the recognition that I like many of the same core things now as I did as a child. Simple things like favourite music, or the love of nature(wild life etc), that sort of thing. As an adult with the endless layers of denial I wrapped around myself to get by and ignore my hurts that all of you guys have been describing. It is painful reading knowing so many of us have experienced such sad times. The “Nature of me” is an adult version of the inner child. It is the impetus part of our nature that we all have. “I really want a drink” for example. As a child I was made to walk to the local city with my mother for essential shopping. (Still not sure was that is lol). It was a 10 mile round trip. As a 10 year old it seemed so so far. We were not allowed to buy a drink labelled big girl’s blouses for being thirsty. Even now I often feel it an over indulgence to buy drinks when out and about. Anyway I have countless examples but I know all of you have your own hurts to express and it there is little point in listing all of my own experiences. What I want to get across is that when I look back and feel hurt at the memories I had in the past in was often the Core things, that part of my natural nature, that when constantly denied. That’s why I think it hurt so much. I have found great joy getting to know the nature of myself and I take time in recognising the import parts of my nature and fulfil them as much as I can. A good one, but simple one that caused me great anxiety in case I let slip a shout, is I was never allowed to shout support at the football teams on the TV I was made to contain this excitement (suppose this is the classic seen but not heard but it’s no matter to me now). Now I go to football regularly and enjoy shouting and singing until my heart’s content (nature is fulfilled). The nature of me and the adult self are one and the same thing. The nature of me demands drink the Adult me decided how practically soon I can fulfil it. I work both bits together. If I pandered to the nature of me all the time I would simply become an adult brat. Lol. Does this make sense to anyone lol.

  • Dhyan Summers

    October 9th, 2017 at 10:15 AM

    Hi Bo,
    The fact that you were able to love your children when never having had a model of what that looked like is a testament to your healing. And I think owning parrots served as a bridge of sorts to help you develop love when the stakes weren’t as high as with one’s own children. Keep up the good work!
    My best,

  • Dhyan S.

    October 9th, 2017 at 10:21 AM

    Hi T,
    I love your naming of the nature of me. It pretty much says that it’s the part that follows us through life, and who knows maybe into the next as well? I like that you’re able to find ways to express that nature in your adult life. Continue with the good work!
    My best,

  • Dhyan Summers

    October 9th, 2017 at 10:18 AM

    Hi Bo,
    The fact that you were able to love your children when never having had a model of what that looked like is a testament to your healing. And I think owning parrots served as a bridge of sorts to help you develop love when the stakes weren’t as high as with one’s own children. Keep up the good work!
    My best,

  • Nancy

    April 12th, 2018 at 6:48 PM

    You forgot to include alcoholic/addicted parents and mentally ill parents

  • Jesse

    April 13th, 2018 at 6:46 AM

    Its really sad that i saw some symptoms Of bad parenting in my child. Im a single mother and i had a bad and traumatic childhood and ive been neglected. And as a mother now im trying my best to be a good mother to my child but its just then when i realized ive done it wrong, my child become insecured, she doesnt believe in herself, she used to blame herself whenever things went wrong. It was all my fault, i hope its not late for me to try to change it. She’s turning 9 but i think she is suppering too much because of what ive done. Please help me, i dont want her to grow up and ended like me.

  • Caroline

    April 20th, 2018 at 2:15 PM

    I finally have a name for what happened to me. I knew the effects, I could identify the causes, but there didn’t seem to be an actual term that defined it – now I know it’s Emotional Neglect. My mother was totally wrapped up in my brother and, even more so, my sister. I was the oldest child by five and a half years. When I was three, my mother had a stillborn boy. My brother was adopted at age 17 months when I was six and a half. My sister was born six months after that. At that point, I feel I got lost in the shuffle as a child. I can’t blame her entirely – her mother was an emotionally stunted narcissist who neglected both her children. Mom never had a good mothering model to draw from. Since I didn’t either, I made the conscious choice not to have children since I didn’t believe I could be a good mother to them.

  • Steve

    August 5th, 2018 at 6:35 PM

    I graduated from boarding school in 1978, and was eager to find success in my life now that I was “free”, but I really went nowhere. I wanted to do so much that I didn’t do anything, I got consumed in enviousness and tried to emulate others instead of forging my own path, and I became very fearful, hypochondriacal, and depressed. I didn’t even get a part-time job until I was 24, and only became independent when I was forced to be. I had no patience for putting up with the rejection you get before you finally get hired or cast in a professional play(I wanted to act)and I foundered for a while.I was always afraid to approach certain people. I wonder if this was connected to my experience growing up with Parents who meant well, but had serious issues of their own. I had a bad behavioral/learning disability, and though my Mother got help for me, at home they only made my problem worse-my Mother generally didn’t listen to me, and my Father thought that the answer to my disorder was to be an a**hole to me. We had good times as well, but we never bonded, and I always felt that my Parents were people I lived under more than people who took care of me.

  • Dhyan Summers

    August 7th, 2018 at 12:42 PM

    Dear Steve,
    If you feel like you never bonded with your parents, it is most likely due to emotional neglect. Loving parents bond with their children. I’m sure your parents did the best they could and were well-intentioned, nevertheless they may not have met your emotional needs. If you feel you are still being affected by this in your relationships and the rest of your life, please consider counseling, either with someone in your or area, or with me using Skype or FT. My best to you, Dhyan

  • Stephanie

    September 4th, 2018 at 10:12 AM

    I stumbled across this post when I was searching for signs of neglectful parenting, because I’m starting to highly suspect that my sister and I are children of neglectful parents. I guess I have always known, since grade school, that my home life wasn’t completely normal. For starters, I have a narcissistic mother, who has a lot of emotional problems which likely rooted from her childhood due to her parents (my grandparents) getting pregnant with her at 16 and not being able to provide her with the emotional support that she needed as a child. To this day, that whole side of the family is kind of wacky. There is more to the story but it would take too long to write out. My grandmother is in denial most of the time and is actually a very narcissistic and manipulative person, so I guess that is where it came from. Pretty much all females on my mom’s side of the family are on antidepressants.

    My dad, on the other hand, has three kids at home, my mother included. He’s always been afraid of confrontation, especially with my mom even when she’s done something completely ridiculous, like spending $300 on a diet plan instead of my college when we are clearly tight on money. She doesn’t work really, which makes it worse that she is spending his hard-earned money like that. He tries so hard to be a nice guy all the time even if he is clearly being used as a doormat. As far as I know, my dad was raised in a pretty normal household. However, my grandad died when my dad was a young adult, so I think that has affected him deeply. I used to feel like I could always confide in my dad, since he was pretty much the one who raised me. I went to daycare near where he worked so he was pretty much my caretaker back in the days when my mom was working a secretary. He prepared my meals and gave me hugs and listened to me when I was upset. My mom never showed me that kind of support. The only time she would acknowledge me was when I did something wrong, like refusing to be the housekeeper. Even when I was like 10 she thought I should be doing things around the house FOR her, like washing the dishes and vacuuming. I get that chores are normal. But when my neighborhood friends would come over and do a favor for her she would praise them and tell them right in front of me that she wished I was more (obedient) like that. Not gonna lie, it hurt. I always found it kind of hypocritical of her to expect me to be so hardworking since she stayed in her parent’s house until she was 30 something and married my dad. My sister was born when I was almost 6, so that was when my mom had stopped working and had become a full-time housewife, which she can’t even do that well, considering how much she sleeps and doesn’t do anything around the house anyways (my dad plays breadwinner and housekeeper these days). So my sister was around my mom most of her gradeschool years, and you can clearly see what being neglected has done to her. She never takes initiative in doing anything, she shows signs of depression, and her hygiene is horrific. Most of her clothes consist of baggy t-shirts and hand-me-downs that don’t fit her right. My dad tries to take her shopping but she refuses to try clothes on. Part of that is just her personality but I do think some of it is a product of my mom not wanting to take care of her. My paternal grandma told me she was surprised at my mother a long time ago for not changing my sister’s diaper and letting her sit on her filth for so long. My dad changed both me and my sister’s diapers for the most part because my mom didn’t want to do it.
    Fast forward to these days, now I’m 21 and my sister is 16. We are starting to realize how far from perfect our parents are. Since highschool I have kind of been my sister’s keeper, as I was always told to make her bathe and try on clothes and even feed her when my dad wasn’t home to fix her anything. I always thought that my sister would be the one who would feel the neglect that most because I had at least my dad to take care of me when I was little, but now I’m starting to see that I’m just as emotionally affected.
    Now that I’m in college, I’m beginning to realize that I was not given the proper tools to succeed in life by my parents. My dad has played both the role of father and mother to us, but he is not Superman and he can’t do it all. He has a very difficult job, which has taken a toll on his psychological health. He has way more responsibilities than any one person can take on. So because of that, I have been the last student in the parking lot to be picked up, etc., in my highschool years. To this day, at 21 years old I still don’t have my driver’s license or know how to do my taxes properly. I’ve been told to figure out things by myself, which has left me completely lost. I’ve asked my parents for help with things, but then I’m always being redirected to someone else, whether that be a driving school or a faculty member at my school to help me. Help me with things that my mommy and daddy should’ve taught me. It’s awful. Because of the lack of support I get, I feel lost and anxious most of the time. I’ve developed a panic disorder and I’m depressed and lonely a great deal of time.
    When I try to express these feelings to my dad, he gets defensive and he says that he can’t do EVERYTHING, and I KNOW that. But it’s not my fault. He tells me things that he should be really telling my mother, and not me. He takes his frustrations out on me. Just recently I complained about how my mom lost something of mine in the laundry, since she tends to misplace things when she’s lost in her own world. Without even asking him, my dad went looking for it. Turns out that the thing I had lost was in my room. When my dad discovered it, he got upset and told me that if “people” actually did stuff around the house and the house wasn’t such a pigsty then maybe I’d be able to keep track of my own stuff, making it sound like I’m the one who’s not cleaning the house. I do what I can when I’m home from college, but it’s not my responsibility to clean the house all the time. It should be the responsibility of the one who’s home all the time–my mother. So that deeply upset me. He also grumbled about how it had taken up so much time to go looking for the thing WHEN I HADN’T EVEN ASKED HIM TO GO LOOK FOR IT. It’s crazy. My dad is kind of borderline OCD in my opinion, in the fact that he wants our house to look like a model home all the time and that there cannot be a single wrapper in the car otherwise all hell breaks loose, which we joke about. But I do think he is under a lot of stress, so I don’t blame him for acting that way. What I don’t like is when he can’t stand up to my mother about things, like directly telling he she should be taking care of the house stuff since she is home all the time, like buying us clothes, washing our clothes, and actually cooking meals. It’s unfair for my dad to be doing all this stuff by himself without any support from his spouse. But like I said before, that’s what’s happening, so I feel like I should be understood when I feel like no one is helping me. I’m not doing well in school right now, I have no aspirations for the future, and I just feel like a failure. But whenever I try to describe these feelings I just get ignored. My sister tells me she feels the same way. It’s like our feelings get bypassed because no one wants to acknowledge the big elephant in the room that we are the result of passive/neglectful parenting. It’s sad. I can’t remember the last time anyone has gone to any school function (willingly), that I’ve been in. But I think my dad just feels that now that I’m away and that I’m an adult that it’s hands-off for me, and now my parents are trying to make it up with my sister, since she’s been getting more attention with her band stuff. I have been in choir since grade school but I’m not majoring in music and I’m not really that interested in it anymore. I like choir, but I’m not going out of my way to be more involved in music. But now my dad’s on me about learning to play the piano when there are other, more important concerns on my mind. he plays the piano so he’s trying to get me into it, but I wish he’d be that insistent with other things in my life.

    I realized a lot of this post was rambling, but I feel better now that I have written it. I just feel like there’s not really anyone I can turn to at this point and I admit I’ve been having really sad thoughts lately, so it had to be done. My paternal grandma has been noticing I’m a bit off, but no one has taken a great interest in asking me about it or talking to me about it. I have panic attacks everyday and my parents know this but they don’t try to help me through them, and I just feel like my psychological health is going down the drain.

    If you’ve made it this far, thanks for listening.

  • The Team

    September 4th, 2018 at 10:57 AM

    Hi, Stephanie. Thank you for sharing your story. If you would like to consult with a mental health professional, please feel free to return to our homepage,, and enter your zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area. If you’re looking for a counselor that practices a specific type of therapy, or who deals with specific concerns, you can make an advanced search by clicking here:

    Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. Alternatively, you are welcome to call us for assistance finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Time; our phone number is 888-563-2112 ext. 1.

    If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, in danger of hurting yourself or others, feeling suicidal, overwhelmed, or in crisis, it’s very important that you get immediate help! Information about what to do in a crisis is available here:

  • Louise

    September 26th, 2018 at 7:33 PM

    My mother died when I was 13 and we were left with my father who we didn’t know even though we lived in the same house. He was never home. Yes he worked but most of his money went on himself. I brought up my five year old brother. I would try and ring him when we needed him but he wouldn’t answer or people would lie and tell me he wasn’t there. I am studying counselling at the moment and get so sick of people using the excuse that they didn’t know any better and did the best they could. No he didn’t he was an asshole, he did a crap job and he is still the same. I live 6 km from him and he hasn’t been to my house to see his grandkids for 2 months and he refuses to ever go to any of their school events. He ruined my life, I can’t even begin to tell you the horrible crap that has happened to me because I was taught nothing a men and just wanted someone to love me. Studying counselling has been the best thing ever, I am so much happier within myself because I have been forced to talk about my self and my classmates and lecturers are amazing. Even now 33 years after my mother passed away my father still refuses to talk to me about mum dying or his behaviour. It is selfish and pathetic . We all make choices, I have decided to raise my children in a loving and accepting environment and I hope that they can talk to me, I always make sure they know I love them and I always try to be there for them. It called being a grown up. Don’t get me wrong I have anger and self esteem issues and are completely useless at communicating when I face to tell someone I am not happy with them but my kids are absolutely number one. As A parent I am responsible for assisting my children to become the best adults they can be. One of my pet hates is people on face book going on about hoe useless and disrespectful kids are, drives me nuts I had to deactivate my account lol. I was getting way too worked up.

  • Zulu Girl

    December 4th, 2018 at 10:40 PM

    My parents have been married for almost 32 years now. they have 5 children, all girls. one excuse I can give my parents especially my father for not providing emotional support to all of us maybe was that he doesn’t even know what emotional support is. We are all scared of him, i cannot spend 10 minutes with my father, It just feels uncomfortable. He is more of a reserved person around his girls, you know its just a mess. Yesterday was his birthday, I couldn’t take a phone and call my dad cos it just feels uncomfortable and I know there wont be a conversation there. I love him, we all love him, He is just what he is.
    all of us this has affected us in different ways. I struggle with friendships, Socializing, I prefer to be alone and the tv, I struggle with communicating my feelings, I am not very affectionate.
    I am glad I came across this article because I know that I need to work through some things in my life.

  • Lynn T.

    April 8th, 2019 at 1:20 PM

    Sadly enough there are thousands of neglected children who end up very damaged and carry on attracting more damage(the familiar) with abusive partners throughout their lifetime. I was an example,( one partner broke my nose, one partner shoved me downstairs, bashed my head by swinging cupboard doors into my head on two occcassions,and my third partner abused my children to hurt me, as well as threatened physical harm on us often… but now the world is way less depressing now with god in my life. And decent people. God is good.

  • Lynn T.

    April 8th, 2019 at 1:47 PM

    With all abuse in my life I saw a therapist thinking that it would help. She did somewhat but after three sessions started being very controlling and dismissive of my opinions and feelings. a good therapist needs to able to listen, not tell a person what feelings , thoughts or reasons that they should be having. She claimed abuse is because of the need for control, i agreed adding its also because of a lack of patience, physically exhaustion,sometimes poor health and frustration for certain people as well. Then she said no dismissively, abuse is only just because of a need for control.. I disagreed. She then shortened my appointment and mentioned her husband was ill. I expressed concern by saying Im sorry to hear that, karen( not her real name) .I also let her know of a friend of mine who constantly has self harming comments and thoughts of suicide , whom Karen is a therapist for. Would a decent therapist then say this?” Oh well, wendy( not her real name) says that all of the time and has for years. She is not serious.” This woman is also a church Pastor, but actually not well liked . My friend was sexually abused at a very early age of 4. and neglected alot as a child..that actually makes her a prime suspect for trying suicide. She has recently gotten a pet, which has seemed to help her a bit. I am really concerned that her therapist( not mine anymore, i found someone else way way better. ) will drive her to suicide by her lack of empathy, compassion, and kindness towards my friend.If you have any suggestions of a plan of action i can follow to help “Wendy”.? she is a good soul. and really needs my support. Thanks for any suggestions of what I can combat her suicidal comments with? or how I can convince her to see a new therapist?

  • Louise

    April 29th, 2019 at 3:29 PM

    Hi Lynn, it is sad to hear that your experience with therapy was so negative. It sounds like you had no agency or power in that relationship and the therapist thinks herself the expert in your life. This of course is never helpful for long term but it is good to hear that you have found a more suitable therapist. I am glad you have found something that helps. I left my partner 4 years ago and had similar experience with him and have made the decision not to have another relationship till I am absolutely ready and not let loneliness or others expectations get the better of me.
    Hi Mandy, you may not have been physically or verbally abused but you were psychologically abused and it has the same effect. I may the discovery not long ago while writing an assignment for university that I have real trust issues with other women. I think one of the reasons for this is because when my mum died the women who should have cared for me didn’t as they were all effected by their own grief. It does make it difficult to form relationships. I hope you find someone to assist you and help you through the darkness.

  • Mandy

    April 28th, 2019 at 11:59 PM

    I’m struggling to form any meaningful relationships and lack trust in people.
    No one cared for me emotionally, at the age of 5 I developed suicide ideation and at 11 I tried to commit suicide, I was never physically or verbally abused, I was fed and clothed but no one spoke to me, I have never had a conversation with my father – [ I’m 29 years old] though we lived together and saw each other everyday, my mother started to converse with me only when I was 22 years old. I spent my entire childhood locked up in my bedroom crying every chance I got wondering why my parents don’t love me. I would go cry in the toilets at school, the mall everywhere I went. I felt so alone, so unloved and uncared for. They just did not care for my emotional needs.

    I sought therapy last year and the therapist said I have depression.

  • Mandy

    April 29th, 2019 at 12:09 AM

    Please notify me of new comments.


  • Sue S

    July 14th, 2019 at 4:41 PM

    I am so relieved to have found this article. I also just ordered the book, Running on Empty. I have barely any memories of my childhood, I can’t remember one single moment with my dad who died when I was just about to turn 11. I’ve been in therapy for several years now after multiple suicide attempts (or at least calls for help). I’ve felt like a fraud and an emotional desert for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember any neglect but my therapist has mentioned quite frequently that he thinks the stresses on my mum bringing me up alone with limited resources and also having a pretty poor mother experience in her own life probably resulted in my not getting my feelings validated. It’s just amazing to me that this experience can have such huge effects on your adult life. I’m desperate to remember my dad and my childhood, whether good or bad so I can process it and finally move on. Trying to explain to people that I should love, that I don’t know what love feels like seems rather cruel but it’s true. I feel empty and like each day is just another step in front of the other to make it through. I’m hoping that this book will have some insights and that I can share it with my therapist.

  • Mandy

    July 18th, 2019 at 12:57 AM

    Thank you for your comment Sue S.
    I know the struggle of not knowing what love, affection and being shown kindness feel like, not trusting anyone, not being comfortable around people, constant suicidal thoughts, trying to make it through each day, wishing I could just disappear or die. I recently also ordered this book and find it insightful, though, because of years of emotional pain I find it challenging to face my feelings head on, they just overwhelm me and I end up binge eating and overeating everytime I have to do the activities in the book and the ones By Julie M. Simon [When Food is Comfort]. It is an excellent book.
    I wish you all the best, Keep working on yourself, in time things will get better, we live by hope-it is the only thing that keeps us going and keeps us “alive” [the hope that things will get better]. You are not alone.
    Thank you.

  • Susan

    October 8th, 2019 at 9:52 AM

    I have 2 older sisters who had left home by the time I was 13. My Mother used to say she didn’t feel like
    We were a family anymore with my sisters gone. She tried and almost succeeded in committing suicide 3 times when I was in Junior high. My Dad worked nights and went to work after the ambulance would leave and I remember wondering, should I go to bed, am I going to school tomorrow? My Dad would act so cheerful because she was gone – in the psychiatric ward. I am almost 60 and these things cross my mind almost every day. My 2 sisters haven’t spoken to me in years because I don’t pretend life was great – they had different experiences, I was left to fend for myself. My therapist says I have PTSD and I have taken anxiety and depression medication for 20 years. I have a great husband but feel so rejected – even though my sisters aren’t nice people that you would want to know. Why do I care? Why does it hurt so much? This was 45 years ago……I feel so left out….

  • Dhyan Summers

    October 8th, 2019 at 12:36 PM

    Susan, I’m so glad you have a therapist. I agree w her or him about PTSD. Have you ever tried EMDR?
    Very effective for resolving old trauma. I suggest you talk w your therapist about this if you haven’t already.
    My best to you, Dhyan

  • Susan

    October 8th, 2019 at 10:03 PM

    Thank you. Yes, I did have EMDR with my first therapist, it just didn’t seem to do anything for me. She was very knowledgeable and I do believe it can really help. I am glad that I had an appointment with my therapist today.
    We talked about this, my birthday is coming up and brings back old memories. I am going to see her every week for awhile. Thank you for the reply, Sincerely, Susan
    ( I think message boards and forums can really help in a time of despair, thank you so much)

  • Alegria

    November 22nd, 2019 at 5:33 PM

    Self compassion, self-care that’s key. On beliefs though I think it’s far more complex than just do you believe you don’t deserve this or that. On some level you know you should be able to enjoy what anyone else does, yet in some part of your brain is a signal tower sending out these discouraging signals that tell you subconsciously that you won’t be successful in relationships and can’t have an enjoyable life or a satisfying job or fulfillment in anything.


    December 7th, 2019 at 7:45 AM

    Have I got a story to tell. I am 53 yrs old. My parents hated each other early on in the marriage. My dad did not want to disappoint his mother and they stayed married for 17 years and had five girls, I am #4. My dad left the house when I was 10 years old. That’s when it really got bad. My mother would drop me and one sister off on his doorstep. I remember getting on my knees begging and balling for him to not send me back there to the horrible place. I was miserable. My cousin was in the same school and bullied me under the direction of her mother, my mom’s sister. I still don’t understand why they hated me so much. If I told any of my sisters or my mother what my cousin was doing, they acted like I was making it up. I could go on and on about how miserable I was. Let me just say this. I would get myself off to school in the morning because I was hungry. Good grades came easily even under the pressure, but not one adult in my life ever talked to me about my future. And I don’t remember thinking about it. My cousin did not miss a chance in high school to keep me from having a boyfriend. (the school is small. my graduating class of 60 was considered huge.) So, I looked elsewhere for companionship or maybe an escape, love. The “bad crowd” treated my like I was special. They knew I was different and wanted to protect me somewhat. I came and went whenever. I dated the wild dropout from California for two years before I became pregnant. You know I never thought about any consequences. Afraid of the unknown. Didn’t know the right questions to ask or who to ask. I was six months pregnant when I graduated and before any one member of my family said a word to me about being pregnant. My mother decided to be a mom and took me to get a prom dress. I knew that this could be the day that I finally get some help. I was scared and pregnant. In the dressing room with the lady that worked there and my mother measuring and tucking and pulling on me. No one said a word. My oldest sister came to my graduation, took me swimming and she said something. She told me I would come back with her and give the baby up for adoption. That was 1984.
    It’s 2019 and I recently discovered that my name had been forged on legal documents that kept me from my share of my mother’s estate. My sisters got together and went through the house without me. Through the years I made numerous attempts to hang out with my sisters. But nothing. I was so stupid. I can get over the material things.
    What I thought was just my cousin and her mom that hated me. My sisters were all players and it did not stop at my childhood, has been going on all our adult lives. They are the so evil. I would confide in one of them a heartache and they would re-create the situation to see me upset. They still lie. My dad’s favorite is the oldest and refuses to believe any of them are capable of doing these horrible things to someone. She told me I am disowned because I found out the truth about being ripped off. The insecure, people-pleasing, depressed, magnet for bad luck that they created raised two boys as a single mom with this mentality.
    I use to try to keep up with my children but they are not interested. They have children of their own now, not planned, broken homes. I would do anything to play with my grandchildren and see my boys. But I don’t. You can probably guess who they stay in contact with. A couple of folks told me not to trust my sister. I defended her. She lied to my face and then boasted to people how stupid I was for falling for all the evil things they did to the child inside of me that never grew up. I thought everybody had to follow the unspoken law of a family bond. Why wouldn’t you want to love your family and always know someone has got your back. They made fun of me for being perfect and said I thought I was better. But I never could please them or anyone else in my life. After a car wreck the first think I said was don’t call my dad or any of my family. I screwed up again and I don’t want to tell them. Even though the wreck was clearly the other driver’s fault, because I was sitting still. They stole my chance to enjoy being alive. I don’t laugh at the TV. The lack of nutrition when I was young and continued poor eating habits is becoming evident in my health.
    Please don’t comment with a “forget about it” “you gotta move on” or “just let it go, it’s in the past”
    Living through the nightmare was tough and made me tough or so I thought. Learning that the person I have become is what has been created from that nightmare. I don’t know how to be any other way. It’s all I know. I am still afraid of the unknown. Sometimes I wonder if it would be better if the truth had stayed hidden.
    I think it’s time for some light to shine. We need to realize just because they are “family” does not mean you hand over your self-worth to them. What comes from anyone is about them. No one has the power to determine your self-worth but you.
    We need to be talking to our children about real life issues. Shed some light on this dark evil that is devouring us. It’s more wide spread than I thought. The damaged are raising the damaged.
    You’re never going to recognize love if you don’t have it for your self.

  • Alegria

    December 8th, 2019 at 3:02 PM

    Billie – yes so true! Family are not necessarily the people whom you can depend on, confide in, get support from, trust, nor should you continue sharing your thoughts and feelings and troubles with people who don’t care – any people – family or not. Yes the damaged are raising the damaged. Narcissistic parents are raising children who are emotionally neglected, manipulated for the parent’s own ends, traumatised with mind games and terrorized with threats of harm or disownment or all kinds of punishments in order to instill fear and obedience. These days there are large service organisations saving children from extreme physical neglect, physical and sexual abuse – often too late mind you. However, psychological abuse, emotional abuse and harms, emotional neglect is insidious and just as, if not more harmful. It often occurs in families that appear to be so functional. Neat houses with healthy, nutritious food, all the school books you need, nicely cleaned and ironed uniforms, well behaved children (of course as they are strictly controlled for the convenience of the parents)… etc. One day this issue will not be swept under the carpet any longer – here the society goes all out for workplace inclusion, bullying and harassment policy is strictly enforced (although if it’s your manager you might as well get a new job or relocated departments). Yet parents and families can isolate children, turn them into house maids and baby sitters, shut them in their room to not be a bother etc etc as long as they don’t literraly burn them with a poker or refuse to feed them you won’t get any intervention from the rest of society. It’s like how in the old days a father was allowed to give a child a beating for getting home late or scratching the furniture. Now days your parents can still tell you how unworthy you are, how selfish you are, how disappointing, make you feel helpless, dependent, small and of no consequence and children like that will struggle. They’ll struggle to work out who they are, what to do with their life, struggle with relationships etc etc.
    I have just been reading “Healing your emotional self” by Beverly Engel and am currently working through “finding life beyond trauma” an Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) workbook which is a mindfulness practice along with not trying to fight against the pain or push it down but rather just accept and observe it. Etc more than that but I’ll leave it to you to explore. I’m 51 so I know what this is like as often in later life we can no longer deny that ignoring the pain doesn’t make it go away it just allows it to ruin your life.

  • Dhyan Summers

    December 8th, 2019 at 4:24 PM

    Hi Billie,
    It sounds like you were traumatized growing up by how you were treated by your family and by how they continue to treat you. Have you ever gone to see a therapist? There are some really effective methods for resolving trauma like EMDR to name just one. Suggest you try to talk with someone in your area that might help you deal with this emotional abuse.
    My very best to you,

  • Alegria

    December 8th, 2019 at 11:14 PM

    Hi Dhyan, I read that EDMR was not an advisable treatment for trauma experienced over a long period of one’s life such as childhood emotional neglect, compounded by psychological abuse etc because it is extremely exhausting and re-traumatising to go through it (eg one may have to have time off work after each session and it won’t be a quick fix). It is suited to an event such as a car accident because there are many safe places in one’s mind to go to and because it doesn’t take long for it to take effect or do what it can do to ease the distress? I am currently going through the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy workbook for trauma and they say that it is the circles of suffering we create in our lives as a result of trying to avoid the pain of trauma that are most destructive to our ability to live a good and meaningful, fulfilling life – not the pain memory itself.

  • Alegria

    February 7th, 2020 at 5:41 PM

    IFS (internal family systems) therapy, either as self therapy using audio meditations and audio books or face to face with a therapist is ideal for healing wounded parts from childhood trauma. Trauma informed Art Therapy may also be beneficial for some people who do not wish to talk about their trauma. Using IFS as self therapy you also do not need to talk about it and can take your time as needed. It also is not exhausting or re-traumatising to do it. Highly recommend giving it a go along with Mindfulness or any other meditation style. Meditation is a part of IFS.

  • Cherylyn

    March 24th, 2020 at 9:07 PM

    I am now 79 years old, retired, and alone, except for a local daughter (who is loved dearly by me but I made many mistakes raising her). Has anyone out there ever felt like they received absolutely no information from their parents – neither good or bad? My father tried to be a good father, I think, as he provided well enough for us (I am the middle child of two brothers) but he worked overtime a lot and rarely talked to me (my younger bro even noticed this and said, “Dad never talked to you.”) My mother was worse (a stay-at-home housewife). I left home at 18 and always felt like she was glad to see me go. Her only verbal criticism was abt. the music I liked (country). She NEVER talked to me either, never taught me anything, (except how to iron flat pieces), no comments re: report cards, no teacher conferences, compliments of any kind. Nothing!! Once I saw she was in pain but when I asked her about it, she just said to leave her alone. My father died suddenly at 46 and I knew instantly that I was completely on my own (I was 13). Of course, I suffered from confusion, low self-esteem, etc. as a growing child and on. I did have teachers at school and even church (another crippling place but that’s another story) who saw my abilities (I was good at art, music, writing) and a few tried to help me in my lonely situation – they could tell something was bad/wrong). There were no relatives who ever inquired about me or took any interest in me at all (including grandparents – 2 only) including both bros. I managed to get thru college (it took me 6 yrs. on my own) If I ever explained any of this to someone, at least 3 – 4 thought my mother was jealous of me for some reason. I won’t go into the details but I think it was true. Once, at 82, while “talking” over coffee (most meet-ups with her thru-out life were boring, with only small talk for communication) she looked up and said, “My eyes are bluer than your eyes.”
    My emotional famine crippled me thru-out my life. I made many serious mistakes (I had my share of drinking – but no drugs- and other poor moral choices but was basically a “good” person) but managed to survive (it was my only goal – I didn’t have faith in myself to hope for anything more). I luckily was always an attractive child and woman even into my 70’s. I could go on and on but I am most curious as to whether anyone else experienced such dearth in their lives. It took me well into my 50’s before I began to focus on the “good” things that came my way throughout life and, with the help of God, began to fill me with self-understanding and confidence. I made a list of even the smallest positive event or fact that happened to me ( like, being chosen in 6th grade to write a soap opera for a classroom newspaper and draw a Santa in chalk on the back of the classroom, winning an art contest, being on the Queen’s Court in college, getting the highest music aptitude score in college (beating out a male ego-ist), catching the eye of a handsome college man, etc.). I secretly always liked myself even as a child and knew I could do a lot of things well, but my belief in ever succeeding in any of them was very weak and I was chronically depressed most of my life. Has anyone else ever suffered such emotional famine at the hands of their parents? I am thankful that I don’t recall any severe negative verbal (or physical) attacks, but the inner “pain” (depression) was often excruciating and extensive. Nothing (therapy, books, groups, etc.) ever helped much. I also (it comforted me a lot) learned I am an INFJ personality type which is the rarest kind (1 – 2% of the population). Does anyone understand about this? I hope you will comment

  • Alegria

    March 25th, 2020 at 3:48 PM

    Cherylyn the similarity in your account of your mother really makes me wonder what causes a mother to end up that way. re Myers Briggs and INFJ – I think these personality divisions are in part affected by upbringing and resulting mental health including sub personalities (such as an inner or outer critic) that can become dominant in order to protect a wounded personality within ie my introversion is at 60/40 in that not all aspects of introversion apply to me. I love depth and dislike small talk but primarily I am often drained by being around people and I think that is the childhood neglect opening up an empty chasm inside. My results have most often come up as INFP with J pretty close ie. INFP/J Although one time I got INSP. I think if I am not suffering in dysthymia (having a very long low to moderate depressive episode) or a more pronounced shorter episode, then I’m a little more on the ENFP side, and am more creative and caring as I have quite a bit more brightness and energy for people. ENFP is my ideal self – there would always be a good dose of introversion (needing time alone to process), however it would be balanced out more by reaching out to others and gaining inspiration and a sense of belonging from being engaged and connected. When I get into a sub personality like a critic – that is I become fused with it, it takes over – then I am very critical of EVERYTHING around me. It’s not a very cheery place to be at all and makes life feel like it’s not worth bothering with anything. When I”m in my true self then I can see the beauty. I can forgive. I am kinder to myself. I strongly recommend loving kindness self compassion meditation and to take a look at IFS – internal family systems therapy – self therapy is a way you can do this yourself through recorded sessions. Look up Richard Schwartz on audible books and also on youtube. It’s very enlightening on this topic of childhood emotional neglect and may give you a whole new perspective on life.

  • BN

    December 29th, 2020 at 7:14 AM

    Live to see this article.

  • Shell

    December 30th, 2020 at 3:20 AM

    Thanks for your article. I love this article.

  • Kate

    January 26th, 2021 at 12:58 PM

    I was emotionally neglected as a child. Physical and emotional abuse also occurred. All on the severe end of the scale. I am intelligent, and have various skills (social side a bit lacking). I want to SUCCEEED in life, but just cant seem to due to the long term issues of my childhood. I have been in therapy for years, and I do a lot of introspection, I also do a lot for others and an ‘involved’ with things in the community. However, I cant seem to decide what to do with myself, commit to it, and have the motivation to keep going with it. Long term unemployed, never had a partner, no kids, some friends but not all that close, fractured family also not close. Never even had a passport! I’m not sure there’s much more I can do? Perhaps just know that my life wont be ever be as fulfilling as I would have liked, or that I will ever feel actually loved.

  • Alegria

    January 29th, 2021 at 1:27 AM

    Hi Kate… don’t give up! You’re on the right track. You can find deeper emotional connection in your life somehow that fills the void that emotional neglect left in you. Perhaps you will find it through those channels you’re already exploring, helping others, being involved in the community, but you need to try a slightly different tactic or area of focus. Or perhaps through a totally new avenue like a creative pursuit, be it music or art or creative therapies, journals, collage, knitting, crafts, woodwork, restoring furniture, interior decorating, gardening…. really anything that resonates with your energies. It’s all about you, your gifts, values, strengths. Maybe you can be a peer support worker or find solace in quietly persuing the connection with nature that humans often neglect. I wish you every joy and happiness. You can have a fulfilling life!

  • Dr. Arline (Maust) Westmeier

    April 16th, 2021 at 2:28 PM

    I agree with every factor that you have pointed out. Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts on this.

  • Arline W.

    April 21st, 2021 at 2:16 PM

    I respect everything that you have written in this blog. Please continue to provide wisdom to more people like me.

  • Pat

    May 3rd, 2021 at 4:01 AM

    My situation is the mom of my adult kids who are I suspect are suffering from CEN, which I had know idea why my adult kids are so unhappy until it resulted in my oldest being hospitalized and nearly dying. I knew my children were having self esteem problems and were battling depression. I couldn’t see a way to solve it. I had 5 children in 7 years when I was young. It was a lot of responsibility and yet before my choice to make a career to pay for them to “ have a better life” being a stay at home mom was THE BEST years of my life. But becoming a healthcare worker meant good income at the price of caring for everyone else except me and my children. So now at 59 I’m searching for answers as to why 3 of my children have such low self esteem and 1 of my children is utterly bitter and distant. And that brings me to learning that my own children are suffering from this. Since my children have children it’s now going into the next generation and I don’t still don’t know how to stop this catastrophe. Counseling resources for us all during COVID19 and all of its constraints leaves a huge financial and shortage hole in this picture. Very very depressing.

  • Faith

    May 13th, 2021 at 1:12 PM

    Well, after reading this I am going share my story.
    My christian parents divorced when I was 12 and it got very ugly. My sister became a prostitute when she was about 15. I watched my sister cut herself and my divorced parents holding her down to stop her. I was 13-14 at that time.
    After my sister moved out with her boyfriend, I was left alone. My parents stopped their christian faith. They stopped caring what I did.
    I had sex when I was 15 because I was angry at them for not caring.
    I smoked weed everyday for a year when I was 16. I went to highschool drunk.
    I did not talk to anyone. I cut off all my ties with my old best friends. These are friends I used to read the Bible with at 6am everyday. I would lock myself in my room alone in the dark. No one cared…(no one was there for me)
    I jumped off a bridge, I eventually harmed myself because I wanted to see how my sister felt.
    My cousins pressured me to drink and smoke with them.
    Anyways. I am 19 now, I have moved out and I’m living on my own. But I still feel left out. I’m having a hard time hanging with my old friends, I am distanced from my family that lives here. Ive quit smoking and drinking, but sometimes I feel so alone I kind of want to start drinking again. My dad was an alcoholic, and my mom is a weed junkie, so of course I need to be cautious.
    Therapists cost money, I’m also a student so it is hard to pay for things. I’m doing everything I can to keep myself happy, but I still have problems. I disassociate when in groups of people, I have been having heart pains and sometimes it is hard to breathe. I am trying to hold myself up but its tough when I don’t have family support, and when I have a hard time connecting with friends.
    I also led my closest friend into hard drugs. She has tried to kill herself even. She wants to do cocaine, morphine, lots of bad things. I was the one who introduced her to weed, so I blame myself for how she has turned out. I also blame myself for choosing to cut off all my old friends, also for giving into pressure smoking and drinking.
    Anyways I might go vent on another different website, maybe reddit lol.

  • Faith

    May 13th, 2021 at 1:19 PM

    Hey Kate, I’m sorry to hear you’re having troubles too. I feel that way too, sometimes I will be going about my day and I just feel lost sometimes. I don’t have much motivation for things either. I was also neglected. I also wonder if I will ever be able to live a truly fulfilling life like normal people. It’s hard to see other people in happy marriages, it makes me jealous lol. Also seeing happy families make me jealous too…Oh well. It is nice to know I’m not completely alone, and you aren’t completely alone either. Although this kind of pain is unlike anything else and is not understandable

  • lucy

    July 7th, 2021 at 5:55 AM

    It my experience, it’s not the neglect so much that bothers me, its the absolute refusal to admit failure and show a little humility in the process. To show that my parents are human.

  • Scotty

    October 16th, 2021 at 12:38 AM

    No longer just the youth. The events of this time is bringing people down to the age in which trauma damage occurred so that they can either be built up into maturity or destroyed. Those who Jesus has emotionally healed and is raising up for such a time as this, will be needed! Behold, is it not from the Lord of hosts that peoples labor merely for fire, and nations weary themselves for nothing?
    For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. ~Habakkuk 2:13+14
    What a promise, eh? One day all the squabbling will come to an end, and we can fully live in the goodness of the Lord.
    His peace. His love. His tender mercies. Always there, no longer will we have to burrow into those promises, but, living them out will be easier than breathing is now.
    Yet for now. People crave the knowledge of God, even as they fight to stay away from it. The consuming love of Yahweh is wanted by those who love His light, yet our human nature screams against His burning presence. If the Lord has ever brought His consuming fire around you – you understand what I’m saying.
    What I love about working with the youth, is seeing the rawness which occurs in these key years, as a child is becoming an adult. Their emotions are real, bold and terrifying as they are trying to figure out how to live with this inner fire, and the age is full of traps and pitfalls which will hinder them or encourage them for the rest of their lives.
    If there is a place where the Holy Spirit can be tested and found to be true or not, it is in the youth. Especially in the youth of today.
    I’m realizing that the message the struggling youth want to hear is, that they are loved, there is a God who cares for them, that there are grown ups who love them, and are willing to be transparent in their love, and who will wrap their arms around them and give them the guidance they so desperately need.
    We are doing a disservice to them when we lower the knowledge of God into entertainment and easy to bite pieces. Their lives are difficult and they need every scrap of wisdom we can give them! In their heart of hearts, they know this. The one’s who are considering suicidal thoughts, are seeking one strong thread of truth that will give them hope.
    Those who carry the joy of the Lord, have that hope!
    Please, be real, be raw, and let the Holy Spirit prove that He is sufficient in all the upheaval we face today. via: Libby T.

  • Lucy

    October 18th, 2021 at 12:09 AM

    Regarding comment above Libby. I feel you have just written that to preach and not really say anything.

  • Thursday

    July 27th, 2022 at 4:06 PM

    I just came across this article today…. I really don’t talk about my feelings much (obvious reasons lol)
    I’m really longing for a home. I miss my dad, he was my last throwback of a home.
    Wishing all of us Godspeed.

  • Heather

    November 13th, 2023 at 8:45 AM

    I am 17,going on 18 and am slowly getting over my emotional abuse from my parents! It all started when I turned 12 and started puberty and bedwetting because of it. My parents, wanting to save money, got me cloth diapers and plastic pants[rubberpants] to wear to bed every night. An hour before bedtime, i would take a quick shower, then come into my room, sit down and lay back on my bed,mom would slide the cloth diapers under me, apply the babypowder, then pin the diapers on me. Then I would raise up my legs and she would pull the adult size rubberpants up my legs and over the diapers and made sure they covered the diapers. Even though I was capable of putting them on my self, mom said she had to do it. I felt like a baby with the diapers and rubberpants on under my nightgown at bedtime! From then on it got worse! For Christmas and Easter i was put into the diapers and rubberpants under my dresses and also had to wear them to church every so often. Then after i turned 13,I was the flowergirl in my nieces wedding, and wore a white,poofy, sleeveless, top of the knees flowergirl dress and headwreath with lace anklets and white shoes. Mom made me wear the diapers and rubberpants under the dress so i would be “cute and little girlish”. Mom always referred to me as her ‘babygirl’ and that didnt help matters any. My bedwetting went on into 14 and nothing much changed. My 8th grade confirmation was comming up that May and per the dress code, the girls had to wear a white, poofy, short sleeve, knee length dress with a veil, white tights and white patent leather shoes. Mom put the diapers and rubberpants on me, even though i didn’t want to wear them, then put the tights over them and the rest of the outfit. I felt very weird being with my classmates! My bedwetting went just past 15 and then ended, but mom still had me wear the diapers and rubberpants for holidays and special occasions until I turned 16!

  • sgtamilan

    November 24th, 2023 at 5:35 AM

    A standing ovation for this insightful article. Childhood emotional overlook is regularly overlooked, however this piece sheds much-needed mild on it. The techniques shared right here don’t seem to be simply helpful; they’re definitely empowering for these navigating this complicated journey. Thank you for supplying such treasured training and understanding.

  • noni

    February 29th, 2024 at 5:22 PM

    I’m almost 50 now. Recently was amazed by the fact that i also deserve to have needs and to be loved. Still, i am horrified by the fact that i must go out every day and meet other people, regardless where or who. All these years i though that this sickness is just temporary and occurring only through rough periods. Actually it is a never ending loop. The people captured in it are living true hell-on-earth 24×7. It is absolutely impossible for people who had good parents to understand even a 30 seconds of our lives without parents. i also thought that the monster parents death will somehow ease the constant pain. Actually is the exact opposite. i blame myself now for their deaths, and for everything related with them.
    i do not think i ever did anything so bad in my entire life to deserve such cruelty and hatred from god.

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