Incompletes, Dishonesty and Merciless Judgment: 3 More Characteristics

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.

  1. Have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end
  2. Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
  3. 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.

About Louise Behiel

Author, coach, therapist, mother and grandmother. I'm on a spiritual journey and consciously work to grow every day.
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18 Responses to Incompletes, Dishonesty and Merciless Judgment: 3 More Characteristics

  1. It’s so hard to identify these wrong messages in your own life, and consciously change those thought/behavior patterns. But, I think as an adult – your childhood is part of who you are but doesn’t need to define you. Change is hard but not impossible. It bothers me when people figure out why they are they way they are, and then choose not to do anything to change destructive patterns of thought or behaviour. There I go – ranting again. Your blog does it to me every time 😛 Great post.

    • Lisa, thanks for sharing. I’d never call it ranting…LOL I totally agree. what we don’t acknowledge we can’t change but once we know what’s going on and why, it is our responsibility to go to work on things so that we and our loved ones can have fuller richer lives. And so that our children can have better lives.

  2. gingercalem says:

    As always, so interesting. I’m going to suggest your series to a friend of mine. Do you have the list starting from the beginning someplace? If not, I’m sure I can go back and tell her where to start.

  3. Lawns Mackie says:

    Like your post Louise! certainly makes me wonder.

  4. Jennette Marie Powell says:

    This totally makes sense – for people struggling with this sort of baggage, lying to others (and most of all, themselves) is how they make excuses for their behavior and thus allow it to continue, rather than taking control of their lives, and taking the responsibility to change. This is definitely apparent in the childhood friends I mentioned last week, especially the middle “rebel” child. Last time I heard from him, he was still blaming his dad for all of his problems.

    And more grist for the character mill! Thanks, as always!

  5. Coleen Patrick says:

    Thanks for shedding more light on this topic. For me learning this lesson:rebels will lie as it suits them, was something that took a long time. Partly because I was trusting (gullible even) and partly because as the oldest child I was ‘in charge’ and just needed things to be ok.
    Thanks Louise!

  6. iamnotshe says:

    I take comfort from your posts. I see the stupid stuff i do, and the stuff i have, and can change. I think there is a lot of value in knowing where you came from. For others, maybe it is an excuse to sloth through and blame your problems on your parents.

    Maybe i’m just interested in People. All the crud they do to themselves, what THEY’VE been through and how it affects others. It’s interesting. Hey, sue me! Plus, you can use these tools of info. as a measure of how far you’ve come. blah blah 😉

  7. The poor Hero. He tries so hard to be one, but never sees himself as such. A martyr if ever was one I suppose.

    As always, good information.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  8. asraidevin says:

    Another useful post for me to think on. I’m still working on the last ones.
    I learned to lie for self-preservation. Never knew what would set someone off, so I learned what was best to keep everything even and everyone happy. I try very hard to make sure no one is ever angry in my world. I know I’ve caught myself lying unnecessarily in my life, out of old habits.
    Self judgment is the reason I have trouble finishing projects. I am constantly nagged by thoughts of “not being good enough.” I don’t even know what good enough is, it’s so inexplicable.

    • your experience is exactly what happens in tumultuous or barren homes, Asrai. Your experience is normal for the childhood you had. Now as an adult, you’re working on those patterns. Well done. progress can be slow, don’t forget. and backward slips are inevitable. go easy on you, my friend.

  9. Misky says:

    For now, I’m quite content to sit in the background and pour through the posts that you’ve written. I do however wish to say that I’m finding it fascinating. I wish I could figure out how and where I happened upon your blog though! This subject matter isn’t something that I’d usually seek out. 🙂

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