Codependent children usually lack an emotionally safe environment where they can express their own emotions, needs, thoughts, and desires. They have learned that it is dangerous and painful to be honest about their thoughts and feelings. Parents cannot handle the truth and only get more upset, defensive, or abusive. So they started focusing on pleasing their dysfunctional parent or being sure they didn’t upset him or her. But in the process, the children lost touch with their own needs, desires, thoughts, and feelings. And since they had lost touch with their own needs, they ended up choosing a marriage partner out of their caretaking or dependent role instead of from a perspective of mutual love and emotional maturity. Consequently, they ended up in relationships fraught with unmet childhood needs. Another way of understanding the causes of codependency is from the point of view of the child’s progress in growing from the absolute dependency of infancy to a healthy, mature adult interdependency. Anything that interferes with this process predisposes a growing child to become codependent. For example, if a baby’s emotional needs are not nourished sufficiently, the baby may become overly dependent and go through life trying to please others in order to gain the love that wasn’t received as a child. If a parent is overprotective, a child may never learn to stand on his or her own feet emotionally and intellectually. If parents are perfectionistic, the growing child learns to try to please others instead of recognizing her or his own needs and feelings. And if the parents rely excessively on guilt and shame motivation, the child learns to feel selfish for trying to have personal needs met. Any of these patterns can leave a growing child with a lack of confidence or a healthy sense of personal identity , worth, and self-esteem. Jason T. Li. Ph.D.
The fastest way to be a bad parent
is to never let your child be a kid.