The next three characteristics of children raised in emotionally barren homes are: (please see the previous post for the source of this list)Have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.
- Have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end
- Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
- Judge themselves without mercy.
When the environment of a child’s home is not stable and predictible, there is a risk that they will fail to learn the importance of completing assigned tasks. This is fairly logical – if the environment is not conducive to follow through, the children will not learn the importance of this skill. Remember if children can’t rely on their parents to demonstrate such behavior, they won’t learn it. So if a parent is more focused on themselves or the other parent, rather than the children, this vital learning experience will likely be missing. And of course, broken promises equate to incompleted tasks, in the simplistic view of the child, so these reinforce the message that tasks are not worth finishing.
Of course for the family hero, tasks are virtually always finished – even when it is unwise to do so. They don’t know how to say ‘no’ or how to justify stopping something before it’s completed. It a hero commits to a job it will be done, even if it’s detrimental to their mental, emotional or physical health. For the rebel, failure to follow through is part and parcel of the role. Why finish anything? The old man never did and he’s still around. The Lost Child only takes on projects that suit him, so they are often finished…but these are not usually projects that challenge or uplift them. Rather they are simple tasks that make them feel complete but which leave partners, friends and co-workers saying “Is that all?” The mascot won’t finish a job but will make a joke about it, call themselves names for not following through and generally make fun of themselves while leaving tasks undone. And remember,all the while these behaviors are happening, the adult children of this family hate themselves for their failures.
The third characteristic (second on today’s list) is the pervasive conduct of dishonesty. Sometimes this shows up as outright lying, but often it shows up as dishonesty with self. For example, the hero will not say “that’s beyond me, or I don’t know how.” Rather they will step up to the plate and swing at the ball, regardless of their skills. And they won’t be gentle with themselves if they struggle with this task. Another way that heroes lie is by trying to please the people around them. “Yes, that’s fine,” is a common phrase with heroes, because they often have such feelings of inferiority that they can’t judge themselves, their preferences or their behavior reasonably.
Rebels will lie as it suits them – to get out of a jamb, to borrow money, to get drugs…the
reason is irrelevant. They lie to get their own agenda met. Lost children lie because they need to protect themselves from hurt. In saying they prefer to stay alone, they are often dishonest, whether they know it or not. And lastly, the mascot is so busy telling jokes and deflecting attention from themselves and the family situation that they don’t know how to face problems and situations honestly.
The last characteristic for today’s post is that adult children of emotionally empty families judge themselves without mercy. It is easy to see that the hero does this regularly. Nothing the hero accomplishes or completes is good enough for them. It always could have been faster or better. But this judgment is harder to see in the rebel, because it get mired down and covered by their behavior. When a rebel makes the subconscious decision, at a young age, that they only way they’re going to get by is to act out and deflect the attention of the family’s problems to themselves, they have to constantly work to make that happen. But this decision is a subconscious one, made from a child’s point of view. So often the rebel in their teens or young adult hood will know they can and should be doing more and better, but they have become so entrenched in the behavior pattern and roles that they don’t know how to move beyond it. As a result there is an internal conflict which is often buried under booze and drugs, to silence the critical voice within.
For the lost child, they need the interaction with their loved ones and are often angry with themselves that they can’t seem to connect with other people like their friends and siblings. But that’s the outcome of a decision made a long time ago. And lastly, the mascot may, up to a point in time, want to deal with the situation and tell it like it is, but is unable to do so. As a result, they can chide themselves and send many internal negative messages to themselves about their behavior. But they lack the skills to change how they interact with the world.
I hope this post helps you see how the same characteristics can impact each child and role a little differently. When we understand some of the underlying beliefs and values of these adult children, I think we are better to deal with ourselves and our stuff, and those of our loved ones. What do you think? Does this make sense to you? Let me know your experience.