The effects of rejection in childhood are serious, read on for some ways parents can communicate acceptance.
Before we get started let’s be real.
Life brings trouble and there will be times when we don’t react how we should. That is just how it is and there’s no way to stop it. Even the best among us will mess up.
The goal of parenting is not that we are perfect, however, but that our hearts are for our children.
If our heart is for them they will know that. If we seek to understand and love them, they will feel loved and understood. Major rejection will not occur accidentally or by accident, but by repeated purposeful or neglectful events.
In fact, if you’re here, this concept is probably completely foreign to you, but take note. It may be the exact thing you need to file away for memory and bring up with a friend or family member later.
When someone says the word rejection, you probably think of a high school movie like Mean Girls. Rejection by our peers is very hurtful, no doubt, but did you know that those who suffer rejection in their home are far more likely to suffer rejection in other arenas of life as well?
Rejection in the home does not simply mean that one parent declares they do not love their child. If only it were that simple (and horrible) there would be far fewer people suffering the ills of rejection. No, rejection can take on many subtle forms and when it is left unattended, can wreak havoc on a person’s psyche.
Examples of rejection within a family include:
- preferring one child to another,
- not being fair when extending privileges,
- allowing some siblings to have certain freedoms others do not (excluding age appropriate activities),
- spending too much time on your phone or online,
- one parent leaving and not following through on commitments,
- lack of quality time together,
- making fun of a child,
- interrupting or not letting your child speak,
- not showing interest in what makes your child tick,
- biting sarcasm,
- withholding compliments and praise, or
- never coming to your children’s events.
There are many more than these, but those are a few examples to give you an idea.
Perception is reality
This is a reality for both our children and ourselves. I think the saying goes, “If we define a situation as real, it becomes real in its consequences.” If your children perceive you are rejecting them they will believe it and suffer.
This doesn’t mean we are to be paranoid, but it does mean we aren’t to ignore their cries for attention or telltale signs of perceived rejection. If they say things like “You like sister better” or “You never want to play with me” then we need to take those things seriously.
This may mean that when dad will have to make special time and attention – though he is tired – to make sure his children feel loved and attended to. Being busy is no excuse to not spend time with our children.
Rejection is an awful thing and then, even worse, it keeps giving. If a child perceives himself rejected by his family then he will inevitably have self-worth issues. If he thinks he has little value he will act in a way that causes others to walk on him.
He won’t stand up for himself, won’t put himself out there, and others will perceive this and treat him accordingly. We will all experience rejection in life, and hopefully we’ll go through it in a way to make us stronger in character.
However, we don’t want our children to develop an identity of rejection early on that will make life harder for them. We don’t want our children’s personalities to develop around their fear of rejection.
Keep short accounts
Keep short accounts with your children. Don’t let incidents, situations or emotions pile up. Don’t go to sleep pretending all will be well in the morning. Even if moods are happier in the morning that is not an indicator that things are resolved, it’s an indicator that things have been swept under the rug.
When my husband and I were first married and in the midst of conflict, my husband would suggest we just go to bed. He thought sleeping on it would make it blow over. Unfortunately for him, I’d wake up in the morning even more ticked off.
It’s all about learning how your family handles things. If you get angry with your kids and lose your temper – and who doesn’t? – then be quick to sit down and talk with them. If you think they are feeling left out or unloved, don’t be flippant in how you deal with these issues.
Explain yourself thoroughly. You are only human and you will mess up and your children will still survive. We shouldn’t all be super sensitive, but we do need to make sure and assure our children that we love them and accept them as they are. And we should assure them often.
Watch sibling relationships
I read a tweet by Beth Moore ages ago saying we should treat meanness as strictly as we would lying or stealing. There is nothing more ugly than someone being mean and hateful just because.
A bully at home is arguably worse than a bully at school because if a sibling is the bully, the other siblings can’t escape him. If we have a bully in our house then we need to protect our other children by dealing with it. Rejection by siblings or constant feelings of inadequacy stemming from one siblings’ rejection of another will have lifelong effects.
Now that I’ve scared us all into having nightmares that we’ve accidentally rejected our children – which is not what we have to worry about – let’s talk about how to avoid this.
Our children want to be loved by us and we want to love them. All we really have to do… is mean it and show it.
We don’t have to be perfect. We don’t have to be happy and cheerful and always baking brownies. We don’t have to never lose our temper or always have hours to sit and read with our kids. We just need to be around, emotionally available and free with our feelings and praise.
To make our children feel accepted we simply need to purposefully talk to them, listen to them, hear their hearts, take them seriously, make time for them, and be genuine and available.
No one is perfect and we don’t need to pretend to be perfect for our children. The essence of acceptance is that children feel they are loved based on their position as your child, not on their performance.
If we can manage that, we are doing well.
I’ve created a free email series just for you! If you have a little one aged 1 to 8, this series will help transform your home environment. No, that is not a joke or false claim. You can let your kids express their emotions without raising back talkers who meltdown at the drop of a hat or throw a tantrum every time they are unhappy with something. After this free email series:
- your child will stop throwing tantrums for attention
- you’ll know how to validate and affirm your child’s emotions
- you’ll feel more in control of the atmosphere of your home and will be able to operate out of a place of love, not frustration
Click here to sign up for my free email series or simply click on the image below.
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