When a child is born, a parent sets aside his or her own needs to fulfill the needs of their child. These sacrifices can create deprivations in their emotional needs. This is true especially if a spouse is not around or cannot fulfill those needs effectively and can lead to signs of codependency.

A parent may replace a child for their spouse to meet those emotional needs. This creates a co-dependent relationship between parent and child. This type of relationship wreaks havoc on future relationships for both the parent and the child.

The child will seek out these types of relationships as they become an adult because of the familiarity of this type of relationship. A child will then seek out an emotionally abusive partner because he or she is used to that type of relationship.

Similarly, a parent might treat the child as if they were his or her spouse. They may also project their negative feelings onto the child that he or she should not have to deal with. When a child lacks the skills to differentiate themselves from their parent, a co-dependent relationship results.

Three Signs of Codependency in a Parent-Child Relationship

There are three signs of codependency in a parent-child relationship:

The parent uses relationships to meet emotional needs, leading to codependency

Parents have emotional needs, too. When a spouse is not fulfilling their emotional needs, they tend to use the relationships that they have with their children to fulfill that. This becomes unhealthy when parents see their child as their best friend and talk to him about subjects too personal or private for a kid to handle. Guilt results when the child wants to do things with their friends or siblings. This presents the wrong message to a child.

Soon, the child will seek to serve and meet only the needs of the parent rather than emotionally develop their own needs. Soon, they will push aside their own needs to make the other person happy all the time, creating an environment of codependency.

The parent has no interests outside of the children

A parent needs to be a healthy role model for a child when he or she can find other interests outside of the relationship with their children. Healthy parents need to model a life where they find activities apart from their children that they enjoy doing. Painting, hiking, working out, or any other hobbies should be an integral part of a parent’s life as well.

Parents should never see their child as their best friend while they’re growing up. This means the child is meeting the needs of a parent which should never be. These also place unhealthy expectations upon a child to be a person’s fulfillment of their emotional needs, which encourages codependency.

The children wonder if they are enough if the parent is not happy

Just as in any other relationship, a parent-child relationship will always be conditional. A parent will not be happy all the time. If a parent becomes unhappy with their child for some reason (the child is being disobedient, the child is not performing in school,) the child will see that as a problem in their relationship.

However, a parent needs to love their child separately from what they do. A child’s identity should never be wrapped up in the things they do for a parent. Parents need to see their children as independent individuals. They each have their own lives and personalities, and they will make choices based on those situations. A parent should never see a child’s poor decision as a poor reflection upon themselves.

The parent-child relationship can be complicated. Yet, it can be enriching for both parties if navigated well. When a parent can differentiate themselves from their child and treat them as individuals who have relationships outside of them, both parties can reap the benefits a parent-child relationship can provide.

“Dirt Track”, Courtesy of Marina Reich, Unsplash.com, CC0 License


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