HOW PARENTS’ UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP CAN AFFECT THEIR CHILD?

HOW PARENTS’ UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP CAN AFFECT THEIR CHILD?

Parents are considered to be the first interaction that an infant has in his life and considering that they are also initial caregivers to the child, the child will look up to his/her parents and will try to imitate their actions, behaviours, habits etc. The child sets his own standards in accordance to their parents ranging from the values they develop to their interest to their future relationships with other people (platonic or romantic). Home dynamics, establish a baseline for the child, helping him/her to understand what is normal. Lots of fighting becomes normal for the child, abusive behaviour towards either of the parents becomes normal, not communicating properly becomes normal. Even the unhealthy arguments can become normal. With all of these instances being turned normal for the child it is very unlikely that the child would ever be able to come out of this kind of environment. Parents have such a huge impact on their child’s life that if the relationship turns into something unpleasant it could potentially ruin the child’s future. Children are very sensitive to any tensions between their parents and are able to sense the uneasiness. Parents usually think the child is not paying attention to their fights, hostile behaviour towards each other or their behaviour in general but the child observes smallest of the details and in response he/she might internalise or internalize the distress caused by the tension and this could have drastic effect on your child’s mental as well as physical health from a very young age. The child starts looking for an alternate parental figure which could possibly be unhealthy and risky.

TAKING A TOLL PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY

According to research, children are often distressed when their parents fighting. Fear, anger, anxiety and sadness are some of the common reactions that can be witnessed. Due to the distress the child experiences, it drastically affects the child psychologically as well as physically. Furthermore, they are at higher risk of experiencing health problems, disturbance in sleeping, problems with their academics because of lack of focus. Aggression, hostility, anti-social behaviour vandalism are some of the behaviour that would be showcased by the child. Other than that, mentally the child is prone to suffer from depression, anxiety, dysphoria and withdrawal in the future. Anxiety and worry shoots up when the child senses that something is wrong between the parents which results in them to practically shut out their emotions. They become insecure, afraid, sad which leads them to suppress their emotions. Guilt is one of the primary emotions the child feels when there are problems between the parents and starts blaming himself/herself for their disputes. We can witness various behavioural changes in the child such as overeating, avoidance, playing video games continuously. They eventually feel like they cannot communicate with their parents, thus start portraying their feelings in different ways like throwing tantrums, being clingy, losing interest in studying and frequently getting into fights with other students. The recent phenomenal movie Marriage Story directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Noah Baumbach, successfully shows the complicated relationship between a couple about to go through a divorce and custody of their only child. It can be clearly seen the divorce and their behaviours gets messy which in turn affects their child emotionally. These types of behaviours push a child towards the negative aspects of their life and result in utter chaos for the child and his future. 

IMITATION OF SIMILAR BEHAVIOUR

The children adopt parents’ habits, behaviours, interests and nature and imbibe that into their own nature and lifestyle. So when a child sees his parents arguing, fighting, yelling, giving each other silent treatment rather than solving it in a healthy manner. Normally, arguments and conflicts don't bother the child that much but when the fights escalates, and instead of talking and resolving it peacefully they resort to more violent means then the child is greatly affected. They start adapting their parents’ behaviours in their own lives. They avoid confronting or talking about their problems, they frequently get into fights as they are unable to resolve the emotions within themselves so the only outlet is anger. Children in their later years have a negative outlook towards everything. They feel insecure, withdrawn, conflicted and alone which makes it difficult for them to be in any kind of relationship with people. If the child’s parents were abusive, it is very likely that the child would be violent or be a victim later in life, depending upon the age, gender and who he/she might be close to. Even if the parents don’t display aggressive behaviour, then also the child is severely affected as they notice the withdrawal, or show low level of warmth towards each other and child’s behavioural, social and emotional development is influenced by all these experiences.

INFLUENCE THEIR FUTURE RELATIONSHIPS

As the child sets his/her standards in accordance to their parents, the child looks similar traits in the people he/she might want to be associated with. After witnessing your parents' hostile and unhealthy relationship in the past you believe that would be normal as well. We often take humiliating statement which are towards marriage in a humorous manner when in reality the child’s perception about romantic relationships or marriage for that matter has been distorted. Children who experienced frequent conflicts between their parents at a young age are more likely to have poor problem solving abilities, interpersonal skills and social competence. In future, these traits and negative behaviour hampers the person’s life and relationships with different people. Another important aspect of a relationship is trust. A loving and supportive parent would encourage their child to trust whereas hostile or unavailable parents would erode safety and trust which will make the child believe that love and support cannot be provided by others. These ideas that have been developed in the mind of the child will affect his/her relationship with their partners in future. Lastly, communication is an integral part in maintaining a healthy relationship with people. If the child has witnessed that the parents didn’t express their emotions, the child may find it difficult to identify, understand and express in his/her own relationship. Considering the communication is important, the person may not be able to maintain a strong and healthy relationship with his/her partner and would find it difficult to resolve any kind of conflict between them.                                                                      

About the Author

Fiza Abbas
Student.

I recently completed my honours degree in Social Sciences and Humanities from Ambedkar University Delhi. Here, an o

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