In this post, we go over some issues pertaining to abnormal childhoods. There are many aspects to cover, but we’ll try to be as informative as we can within the post limit.
Learning to make do on your own
This can happen either when:
- You have no parents.
- You don’t have loving/supportive parents.
- You have abusive parents.
Let’s look at an anecdote (translated into English):
“I developed capabilities which kept me busy in building my own life. So yes I did make do on my own. But I was aware that there can be a savior, because I saw other people having that with their parents. So I never actually lost the expectation of a savior. In fact, the expectation got stronger continually, and, one day, it began to hurt.
The most awful part is not having anybody who is completely goofy around you and hopelessly attached to you. The first time I noticed this was during my stay with a father and his son. I was treated well enough. But I was acutely aware that if I did anything difficult to handle for the father, then he would only care like a decent human being. Not like a father. By that I mean, eventually, he would lose his patience, and then walk away or forget about it.
My friends did the same, really. I mean we were as close as any friends can be. But I don’t think even my closest friend put up with me like I’d seen loving parents putting up with their children.
This father I was talking about. The way he cared for his son was just on another level. He’d nag him repeatedly about something as easy to handle as inadequate breakfast. I didn’t have anybody to ask me if I had a good breakfast. Even the parent figures in my life, this particular father included, only asked me if I was okay and doing well in general. Not much more than that.
The other stuff hurt too. Not having the same access to money, comforts, food, resources etc. But not having anyone to care about you the way a true parent would — not even those who claimed to be exactly like a parent to me — that’s what hurt the most.“
Approaching caring figures
This experience is usually like the anecdote mentioned above. The parent figure cares like a good human being or an above average friend, but not really like a true parent, despite claiming be “exactly” like one. It’s called the uninvolved parenting style where the caring figure cares enough, but doesn’t really want to get involved.
Then there are those who are treated horribly by their supposed caring figures — for example, they may be abused and neglected.
Extremely strict caring is called the authoritarian parenting style. It causes:
- Aggression or submissiveness (because of the harsh disciplining).
- Appreciation seeking behaviors (because the child thinks he/she is not worthy of love/adoration).
- Poor self-esteem (because the child thinks he/she is never good enough).
- Picking fights to test loyalty (to test whether someone will stay with them despite their flaws).
- Needy-ness (because of neglect).
Here’s another anecdote (translated into English):
“I really loved him. I planned vacations for him. When I didn’t know how to talk about something, I would try for him. I hung out with his friends for him, despite their mysogynistic views and toxic masculinity. But, in the end, it felt like he just didn’t care as much as I did. Like he didn’t want to make any effort. When I brought it up, he’d tell me I have too many demands and expectations. He’d make me look crazy, causing drama where there didn’t need to be any. Then, one day I’d had enough. I broke up with him. But the real pain started when I saw the look on his face. It was a look of relief.
Eventually, I went to a therapist, because I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was indeed something wrong with me. I learned many things in therapy. About several dysfunctional aspects of the way I attached to other people. I saw that my ex was no saint, but he may have had a point.
In trying to develop his interests, I belittled his choice of interests. I regularly shot down his attempts to make peace, purely out of spite, because I wanted him to behave a certain way to begin with. I also wanted to test his loyalty and patience with me while I remained angry at him. There were many others, but yeah.
My therapist discovered that my problems started when I was a child. My caregivers made me feel like an outsider, and because of that, I developed all these expectations about how someone “should” care if you really mean something to them, and I developed manipulative behaviors to test those expectations.“
Practically speaking, trauma means horror/damage that may never completely heal. We have all heard of examples. Some are easier to imagine than others.
Let’s look at an anecdote about being scarred by disturbed parents.
“I still remember the first time it happened. I came home from school to my loving mother and father. But, what I saw was not love. There was no soul in their eyes, and it felt like I was in danger. Several kinds of danger. Danger to my own life. Danger of losing them to some devilish evil or horrifying crime.
I couldn’t even look at the fighting. Everything inside me was pushing to be lighter, quicker, and alarmingly ready for a hasty retreat. Even my heart was slowly detaching from its position, preparing to eject out my throat. My breathing stopped too, as if even the sound of air was enough to alert the sleeping darkness that was not to be provoked at any cost.
I will never forget how I felt on that day. Never.“
Socio-cultural morals tend to be black and white i.e. either good or bad. There is no in between. For example, going to class is good and not going to class is bad. End of story. Explanations don’t matter.
Such black and white morals are a problem for abnormally raised children, because these children often behave abnormally. For example, “people pleasing” may be bad, but a needy child won’t see it that way. Similarly, “bullying” may be bad, but an abused child won’t see it that way.
Another issue is the intensity of the child’s emotions. Most cultures are quick to label someone emotional as “immature” or a “drama queen.” It’s not that simple. Abnormally raised children have a lot of bottled up emotions and frustrations. So yes they’re going to be passionate while expressing them.
Pathogenic risk factors
The term pathogenic means something that has the potential to cause a mental or physical illness (pathology). According to studies, there are 3 big pathogenic risk factors. They are:
- Low socio-economic status.
- Prevalence of abusive, criminal or unhealthy behaviors in the child’s social circle.
- Inadequate access to basic needs, physical needs, emotional needs and esteem needs.
We didn’t actually talk about any illnesses in this post. We talked about factors that would one day become mental illness. As we mentioned in the introduction, this is a huge subject. Still, we’ve tried to cover the main points in enough detail for the reader to gain a strong understanding.