Parental rejection and neglect

Suffering rejection and neglect from your parents hurts

When you hear about parents neglecting their kids on the news, it takes you aback and you question, what kind of monsters will do such a thing? The thing is rejection and neglect of children is more common than most of us realize. There are orphanages around the world that are operating over their maximum capacity. Broken children who grow up to be broken adults with their own broken lives.

Adults suffer it too

You don’t have to be a young child to suffer parental rejection, even adults can suffer parental rejection. Most of it is sort of subtle and it chips away at the self-esteem of a child which follows them into adulthood. It is always an assumed thing that every child born into this world will be loved by their parents but that is not always the case. Rejection and neglect by a parent is sure to hurt the most, it will cut deeper, sort of right at the source. Your parents made you and they are your source of life, they are supposed to love you. Only thing is it doesn’t take any qualification to bear a child and become a parent. Anyone can make one, but not everyone will care for one.

Many reasons exist for why a parent may reject or neglect their own flesh and blood:

  • Mental health issues mental health issues can cause parental rejection and neglect

Some people with mental health issues will not care for the child in the proper way that he/she deserves. In most third world countries, mental health illnesses are rarely diagnosed or treated. Sometimes, this leads to a mother who is suffering from undiagnosed post-natal depression being told to toughen up or just trying to deal with it the best way she can. The child is at a great disadvantage.

  • Having children for wrong reasons

Every time someone wants to have a child, they should be asked, ‘Why do you want a child?’ And the next question should be, ‘Can you afford one?’ Some people have kids simply because they can. The child is brought into a world of chaos and pain. Once the parents have produced one, then they ignore the child and not care for him/her. The other reason people use is to help save their breaking marriages. The parents, or just one, assumes that having a child will fix all their marital troubles. However, the result is mostly a home with fighting or divorcing parents who are ignoring the needs of the child. Another wrong reason may be pressure from others, like if you get married and everyone keeps asking you when you will have a child. To take the pressure off some people will have the child they don’t care about or didn’t even want in the first place.

  • Traumatic life events

A trauma in the life of a parent may result in the parent neglecting his/her child. The trauma can be from war, from an accident, losing a life partner or sometimes from rape which resulted in the birth of the child. (Yes, there are countries where abortion is illegal and the woman cannot abort even in the extreme cases of rape). Most of the time, the parent cannot love the child after having suffered a traumatic event.

  • Abusive/Sadistic individuals

Like I already mentioned anyone can have a child, this also includes some vary sadistic individuals out there. There are people who like to see others in pain. In these cases, the child is left to suffer in the hands of the people that are supposed to care for him/her.

  • Child favoritism

child favoritism

Most parents have their favorite child though they will never admit it. The child they don’t like as much becomes the family black sheep and does not receive as much care and love like the favorite child. Some parents might even take their favoritism to the extremes, whereby they might even refuse to send their least favorite child to the same school as the other, and to give any other basic needs. You can compare it to a child who is peeping through the window seeing the love and affection being given to their siblings but not them. It hurts the psyche of the child.

  • Some parents hold grudges against their own children

There are parents who hold grudges against their own child. Take for example, a mother whose lover left her and blamed it on the child. That mother might actually come to hate, reject and neglect her child because of that. Some might hold the grudge maybe because the child trashed a family heirloom playing or didn’t take their advice.

  • Don’t know how to care

Some parents don’t know how to care. They, themselves may have grown up in a place where there was no love and they were neglected. The norm to most people is what they got used to even if they don’t like it. They didn’t see it modeled in front of them. Some parents grew up with a criticizing parent and they will do the same to their own child. In some instances, they are too young to care or to know how to care.

  • Separating/Divorce

Separation and divorce

When parents are going through separation and or divorce, they may ignore the child. Divorce hurts and some parents may actually use a child as a weapon against their former spouse including refusing parental visits or shared custody. The child is caught in a tug of war. Most of the time the parent who wants full custody won’t take good care of the child and neglect their needs especially during the divorce trials. The parent that is refused custody or visiting rights may give up on the child and not look back. The child grows up feeling rejected.


  • Perfectionism and desired submission of the child

There are parents who want their children to be perfect or they just hold very high standards and expectations for the child. These are the parents that put a lot of pressure on their children to excel in something. Unfortunately, the child is their own person which means they may never reach the standard or submit to every command from their parent. E.g., A father wants his son to be good in sports but he isn’t. This may lead to the parent rejecting the child or just neglecting him/her. 

Being born is like a luck of the draw, some win, some lose. There are children who are affected the most with parental rejection, like children in foster homes, orphanages, children up for adoption, babies found in the dumpster, street kids and the children that are found living in abusive, neglectful parents’ homes.  Parental rejection and neglect hurts. It has repercussions that will stretch for the rest of the child’s life.

So how is one supposed to cope with parental rejection and neglect?

  1. Forgiveness is essential for a family unit to run smoothly

A happy home is built on forgiveness, love and unity. If you can’t forgive each other as a family then there is no love or unity. If you are the victim, you still have to learn to let go and forgive your parents. Don’t hold on to grudges.

  1. Know thyself and break the cycle

It’s pretty common that children who have suffered rejection and neglect, grow up to become very angry grown-ups, lack confidence or they develop addiction behavior to things like drugs and alcohol. It is important to know oneself. Reflect on what has gone on in your life and vow to yourself to not let it ruin the rest of your life.  Break the cycle of rejection and neglect by not doing it to your own children. Know when you are about to self-sabotage. That only comes through self-reflection, knowing oneself.

  1. Harsh it out with your parents but they may never apologize

If you feel like talking it out with your parents that rejected or neglected you, then you should do it. Be diplomatic and calm as you talk to them. They might tell you their side of the story and it might surprise you, so be prepared. Most parents won’t apologize because to them, they didn’t do anything wrong. Even if it was playing favorites with your siblings, if you ask them they might give you a list of reasons on why they thought that sibling was or is better than you. This will hurt you even more so maybe just accept that the apology you want, may never come.

  1. Stop the pity party

Un-invite yourself to your own pity party. We all like to play the victim game sometimes. But the thing is while we write the story where we are victims, we are busy making people who already stole so much from us into heroes or villains. Victim, yes but a victim can be a hero. There is no bargaining with yesterday, it’s gone forever.

  1. Know that you are the finisher of your story

Your story started on a bad note but it’s not finished yet. You get to choose how the story ends. Does it end as bad as it started or you end it with a flourish? Make better decisions. Move past the past hurt.

  1. Be kind to yourself be kind to yourself

Show yourself sympathy and empathy that you didn’t receive from your parents. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. There is nothing wrong with you. Stop being critical of yourself all the time like your parents taught you.

  1. It had to happen/Destiny

If you are someone like me and believe in God and the spiritual world, then you can say it had to happen. It might have been a part of your destiny. It makes you who you are at the end of the day. If you strip away certain life events, you might not turn out the way you are. No one really knows what life is all about it. Try and shake it off and smile, just one more time. 



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[…] After the slave, Hagar, gave birth to Ishmael and Sarah became jealous, Abraham sent Ishmael and his mother away, Genesis 21:14. Through their impatience, Abraham and Sarah had created a situation they could not handle and an innocent suffered for it.  Ishmael was an innocent child who had done nothing wrong and was rejected by his own father. God promised that he would take care of Ishmael but the rejection by his own earthly father would have remained with him for the rest of his life. […]