It is not really a secret and probably any therapist will be able to confirm to you that parenting has an influence on child’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. I share this view and think that parenting has an important impact on how the child is going to view themselves, others and the world later on in life—also as an adult. I covered this topic already a while ago in a separate piece: Mindful Parenting as Essence of Child’s Mental Health. Recently published research about the impact of mother’s personality traits on child’s level of depression, anxiety and self-harm confirms what, as a therapist, I see with my psychotherapy clients all the time.
The research finds that higher levels of dysfunctional maternal personality traits were associated with higher risk of anxiety, depression and self-harm of children. A lot of therapists might say that this is not something that they find surprising given we pretty much on daily basis deal with results of developmental trauma and emotional hurt our clients were exposed to as children. And often we see this trauma being inflicted due to mental, psychological and emotional issues that parents—especially mothers—presented as they were raising our clients. But it is important that this is also confirmed by research.
Raising children is not solely a cognitive thing. It’s an emotional thing. A lot of it is out of awareness. Subconscious. Unconscious. Especially the emotional part. And it is the emotional part that is not present and emphasised to the extent the cognitive one is.
After all the entire schooling and education system is built around cognitive learning. Our careers revolve around it just the same. Emotional awareness and emotional learning is not only not stressed, it is sometimes even despised—as though it interferes with cognition, makes us weak and interferes with our “real” and “important” lives. As kids we are taught intuition is misleading. Why do we have it then? Why did we develop it as humans? To mislead us?
Neglecting emotional growth will later on come back to us as a boomerang. To be honest, the boomerang comes around to our children, which is not really fair, is it? And the boomerang is not only the result of neglecting the importance of emotional literacy of our children. It is also neglecting the impact our own emotional deficiencies. The impact that our developmental defects and our intra-psychic instability has on our children’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
Our own dysfunctional psyche and our own emotional chaos will lead us to engage in dysfunctional relationships and dysfunctional relationships will become toxic environment for raising children. These children will grow up unequipped with tools to handle real life and will themselves not know how to engage in relationships functionally and healthily.