Overprotective parents who show little or no affection can harm their children. Some people believe that a good child-rearing strategy involves a combination of authority and “small doses” of affection.
However, this way of understanding expressions of affection and emotion has negatively impacted many families. In fact, it is diametrically opposed to a transformative, dynamic upbringing of children, in which emotions play a fundamental role.
Overprotective parents who show no affection are another version of a strange form of emotional suppression that has been around for generations.
How are parents who are overprotective and show no affection?
A person who is hurt within the family reflects this in his behavior. Experiential avoidance is a behavioral escape from the reality in which the individual finds himself. Their environment does not provide any positive reinforcement and their behavior is a response to it. Experiential avoidance is an escape from pain and, as a result, from life itself.
Overprotective parents who show little or no affection are not necessarily negligent or physically abusive. Although they love their children, they don’t show it.
When parents are very overprotective, but in no way express love or affection, a child can easily get caught up in those family dynamics. The behavioral cues are contradictory and claim to protect the child. but do not provide a safe haven at home.
When you look at it from the outside, it looks like the parents are doing a great job. However, the lack of positive reinforcement or displays of affection are painful for the child. Not to mention the absence of any encouragement for the child to develop his independence.
An example of overprotective parents showing no affection
Let’s look at an example to better understand this dynamic. Imagine a 40-year-old man going to a psychologist. He doesn’t know what’s been going on with him for years.
He has set values, especially in terms of what he will not tolerate. However, the logic he learned in his family was determined by what he was not allowed to do. This conditioned him to be highly sensitive to criticism, but practically impervious to reinforcement.
His mother almost never kissed or hugged him. The few times she did that were after a moment of fear or when he was sick. She picked him up from school, he was always well dressed and she was a great cook. His mother took care of everything.
This patient talks about feeling unable to fully enjoy certain experiences. He worries a lot about the bad things that happen to his children and hardly enjoys their achievements.
He closely associates feeling emotions with tension and fear. In addition, due to his depression, he often receives negative feedback on his work. Whatever he does, he never feels competent.
Helicopter parents who never let their children’s feet touch the ground
The man in the previous example is the result of a helicopter mother and an absent father. If one parent is absent, the other parent often compensates. The result is excessive attention that hinders the development of autonomy and independence.
Psychologist Holly Schriffin and her colleagues at the University of Mary Washington discovered how helicopter parenting affects students’ self-determination and well-being. They learned that this type of parenting is associated with anxiety and depression. The long-term effects are general dissatisfaction with life.
I won’t hurt you and I won’t help you
Some children lack love and affection in their lives. That’s true even for parents who aren’t explicitly cold, aggressive, or negligent.
Many parents use expressions of love and affection as a means of raising their children. This is also known as symbolic rejection, often expressed verbally as implicit forms of punishment. For example, “I don’t love you when you act like this” or “I love you, especially if you behave as well as tonight.”
Children and teens interpret these kinds of statements as proof that their parents don’t love them the way they are. Love must go beyond success and good behavior. From a child’s point of view, this kind of attitude teaches them that love is transitory and merit-based, meaning it’s something you have to earn.
Consequences of Overprotective Parents and Helicopter Parents
Unbalanced parenting can produce brilliant children. However, there are costs associated with that academic advantage. This parenting style does not fully prepare children for the real world.
They develop a codependent personality because they grow up in a place where they have no chance to take on responsibilities and make their own decisions.
Psychological studies repeatedly show that teens and adults with anxiety disorders, especially those that focus on social interaction, were more likely to have had overprotective parents.
In addition, studies show that anxious parents tend to have anxious children. That’s because they teach them that the right response to what life has to offer is fear, worry, and emotional abstinence.