Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN)

Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) childhood emotional neglect (cen)
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Childhood emotional neglect can be simply defined as a parent’s inability to meet the emotional needs of a child in the early days of their development. It involves dismissing or overlooking the emotional needs of a child which shrinks the child’s development or doesn’t provide them with an environment where they can thrive and flourish emotionally. Some of the emotional needs of a child are support, affection, attention and safety and inclusion. The absence of great emotional support in childhood may lead to CEN. It is mostly ignored because it doesn’t display physical scars like other forms of abuse and it is mostly recognized when one has reached adulthood. Emotional neglect is not the same as child abuse because most of it happens unintentionally.

Intentional vs. Unintentional Childhood Emotional neglect

Intentional CEN is where a caregiver may intentionally ignore or dismiss the emotions of their children so as to “toughen” them up. From the eyes of the parents, it may look like they’re really doing you a great service because they’re building you up to be a tough person who will be ready to face a touch challenging world.

For example, as boy you’re told that a man is not supposed to cry or you should man up. This is a common one and growing up with it, you end up stifling or numbing your emotions because that’s what it means to be a man. You may also develop other behaviors like abusing substances to manage your emotions. Also, if your caregiver was authoritative and your household was full of rules and regulations that in itself means that you could not express yourself fully because of the consequences you’d face.

In some other instances, a caregiver may neglect your emotional needs because they’re also children of neglectful parents. They’re still carrying their own childhood trauma which were passed onto them by their parents and so they didn’t have great role models.

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They’re trying their best but they’ll still run short because your actions as a child are even triggering their unresolved trauma. So, some parents may not have a lot to give you emotionally because their cups are also empty. Emotional neglect can also arise when your caregivers are met with a strenuous and stressing life event like illness, death, divorce or job loss/transfers which makes it really hard for them to be fully present and attend to your emotional needs. Also, the ‘capitalistic’ system of life makes it really hard for parents to be there for their kids.

Effect of Childhood Emotional Neglect

The symptoms of childhood emotional will show up in childhood through various ways and the most commons ones are feeling disconnected, feeling small, numbing of feelings, feeling empty inside, low self-esteem, sensitivity to rejection, feeling like something’s missing and self-blame. You will feel that your feelings are invalid or you’re unworthy of love and connection which even draws you to toxic relationships.

Because of those childhood experiences, you unconsciously identify with being unworthy of love so as not to feel the pain of being neglected again. A toxic relationship is a place where your emotions are invalidated and your emotional needs are not met and if you’ve experienced childhood emotional neglect, you’ll feel that it’s the ‘safest’ environment you deserve to be in. If you find yourself in an ‘normal’ relationship, you will find it less exciting and you’ll even sabotage it unconsciously because they do not support those subconscious beliefs (like “my feelings do not matter”) you have about yourself.

If you’ve experienced childhood emotional neglect, you will have difficulty with having healthy kinds of relationships in future because of those subconscious beliefs. When you clear those negative beliefs, you have about yourself as a result of past experiences, you will not be experiencing uncomfortable emotions and thoughts around relationships.

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You will feel that you’re deeply free to act as you wish as you’ve been unburdened from stuck root identifications with the past where your emotional needs were neglected. Your mind’s identification with the past is what’s limiting you from living freely because your belief system is not up to the job of creating the reality you want.


Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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