Childhood Emotional Neglect (which I call CEN for short) is easy to overlook. When a parent fails to respond enough to the feelings of the child, this is something that few will see or notice; least likely of all, the child himself.
This is why CEN went so many decades unaddressed. The field of psychology researched, wrote, and educated the public about many aspects of child mistreatment. All the while, invisible, unmemorable Emotional Neglect largely fell by the wayside.
Yet CEN is a powerful, harmful childhood experience. When it happens to you, it changes you. It launches you into adulthood with a lack of awareness and acceptance of your own feelings. This works against you quietly in your adult life, sapping your joy, making some feel alone, and others feel empty. It makes you prone to self-directed anger, self-blame, and self-neglect. It can leave you feeling directionless, disconnected, and alone.
The very first post introduced the first-ever Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) blog this way:
This blog will be about the invisible power of Childhood Emotional Neglect: how it happens, what it looks like, how to see it in yourself or in your own parenting, how it affects the child once he is an adult; and, most importantly, how to heal.
Since that day I have published 239 posts describing many different aspects of CEN and how to heal it. How does Emotional Neglect happen to the child? What does it look like? How does the child feel? How does it affect you as an adult? What is the impact on your marriage and your parenting? What are the steps to heal it? How do we stop its transfer from one generation to the next? All of these questions have been addressed.
Of the 239 posts, 5 have been the favourites: the most-read, most-shared articles. They are each summarized below. Then, below that, I’ve listed my 5 personal favourites. I chose those 5 because I wrote them specially from my heart.
The 5 Most Popular Childhood Emotional Neglect Posts On PsychCentral
- Raised By Parents With Low Emotional Intelligence: This article follows 10-year-old Jasmine through her fantasy of being taken to live in a different family. She is growing up with her feelings ignored.
- The Six Hallmarks of a Sociopath: In this article, you will learn how common sociopaths are in today’s world. You will also find out what it’s like to be raised by a sociopathic parent (the ultimate Childhood Emotional Neglect), and how it can leave you feeling unlovable throughout your life.
- The 5 Uncommon Strengths of the Emotionally Neglected: Observing emotionally neglected folks over many years has shown me that there is a silver lining to CEN. If you grew up with your emotions ignored, you probably developed these 5 amazing qualities. And it’s important to see them in yourself and value them.
- The 10 Lessons of Childhood Emotional Neglect: Do you try to hide your feelings? Do you believe that you are overly sensitive? Are you afraid to burden others with your problems? These are only a few of the unfortunate and incorrect lessons you learn from growing up with Childhood Emotional Neglect.
- 7 Signs You Grew Up With Childhood Emotional Neglect: CEN can be quite invisible and unmemorable when it happens. So as an adult, it can be quite difficult to know if you have it. Of all the ways CEN plays out in your adult life, there are 7 signs that are the most observable. This article describes each one in a way that can allow you to best see them in yourself.
My 5 Personal Favorites
- The 10 Rules Emotions Follow That Everyone Should Know: Since everyone has emotions, it’s very important for everyone to know these rules. So, of course, this includes you! I love this post because it succinctly lists some very powerful facts about how your feelings work. And once you know them, it can change how you view yourself and your life in important ways.
- Invalidated Child, Invisible Adult: I’m very fond of this post, one of my first ones, because I think it captures the feelings of a man who grew up essentially unseen by his parents. It’s difficult to read this post without sensing the invisible pain of CEN in your adult life.
- Why Millions of People Need to Say No More to Their Parents: Virtually every therapist on earth will tell you what they see over and over in their practices: good people held back from their potential by the very people who should be giving them the most support, love, and approval: their parents. In this article, you will see that “No more” does not mean ending the relationship at all. It simply means setting healthy boundaries and limits to protect yourself. And it can make all the difference in your life.
- 5 Reasons Forgiveness Does Not Work: Today’s world has various ways of ignoring and glossing over emotions. One of the most ubiquitous and, I think, most harmful ways is encouraging you to forgive those who have harmed you as a way to set yourself free. In this blog, I talk about the importance of not suppressing and overlooking your own hurt feelings in the process. Forgiveness is, after all, not a cure-all. It can harm you if you do it in a streamlined way so often described by popular culture and the media.
- Childhood Emotional Neglect: The Enemy of Assertiveness: I have never seen any group of people struggle more with self-expression and assertiveness than those who grew up with their feelings ignored. The unique messages of CEN, “Don’t feel anything, don’t need anything, don’t ask for things,” all make it hard for you, as an adult, to express your feelings and needs in a way that others can take in. This blog outlines your personal assertive rights and describes how to get better at exercising them.
To learn in-depth about CEN, how it may have happened in your life as a child, how it affects you now, and how to heal it in yourself and your relationships, see the books Running On Empty and Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships.
Since CEN is invisible, it can be hard to know if you have it. To find out, Take The Emotional Neglect Test. It’s free. As one of Dr Webb’s listed therapists, I can offer help to recognise how the neglect has affected you and how to heal it.