If you were a caregiver as a child you may have a hard time attending idealy to your kids.
Emerging research by Michigan State University’s Amy K. Nuttall, Ph.D. suggests that mothers who took on burdensome care giving roles as children (parentified children caregivers) and were not allowed to “be kids” tend to be less sensitive to their own children’s needs.
“If your childhood was defined by parents expecting you to perform too much care giving without giving you the chance to develop your own self-identity, that might lead to confusion about appropriate expectations for children and less accurate knowledge of their developmental limitations and needs as infants,” said Amy K. Nuttall.
As we do in many situations, in parenting, we tend to revert to templates of what we know to. Many times these templates come from our experiences interacting with our caregivers and / or parents. As adults, without our awareness, we can wind up recreating situations for our children where there needs are missed much as are our own. If our parents had difficulty empathizing with or attending to our needs and we became parent-like, it can be difficult for us to do for our children what was never done for us… Identifying their needs and attend to them.
A similar process can occur when we feel anger toward people who have an easier life or are coddled when we did not have an opportunity for this in our own life. These feelings of longing can reflexively come out as hostility toward the other. This kind of process is something we can become aware of and impact how it influences our lives through counseling. This is one area where Dr. Davenport has been able to work with many patients to help find change.
More details on this research is due to be published in the Journal of Family Psychology.