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Challenge your Mindset

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How are you feeling?

Have your relationships been affected by your parents?


We all adhere to one negative relationship issue or type, sometimes from a lack of experience or in many cases due to our experiences of seeing others. The commitment-phobes, the adulterers, the workaholics all start somewhere. Maybe you’re high-maintainance, or struggle with jealousy. In truth, how you relate to your partners might be down to your parents. As your first intimate connection, the strength of the bond can greatly impact how well you do with relationships as an adult, and any difficulties with your parental relationships, the most common issue being divorce, can affect you more than you might think.

Parent-child developments

Research by leading universities and psychotherapists, though they may disagree on the nature of the outcome, all acknowledge that childhood experiences can have profound effects on the lifestyle and choices one makes. Coined as ‘the sleeper effect’, adult behaviours are formed by repressed childhood memories. Some behaviours are trivial and express the personality and belief systems of your family unit, such as the way you speak, bad habits and taste in music or fashion. Others show signs of psychological traumas of all degrees of severity. Apart from more serious traumas such as physical or sexual abuse, certain events can affect the emotional well-being of children, who aren’t mature, experienced or cognitively developed enough to comprehend what is happening, such as divorce.

Divorce and attachment

Divorcing with young children is often seen as one of the most difficult situations to navigate sensitively. [5 ways to manage your emotions during a divorce] Unable to recognise the complicated nature of love, children are left distraught by seeing their parents separate, but this initial sadness does not need to have a lasting effect. Whilst some, such as at John Hopkins University, have argued that divorce has a delayed effect which sees an increased likelihood in commitment and addiction issues in children up to twenty-five years later, others argue that good parenting can remove the threat of such effects. Communicating with the child about everything that is happening can seem overwhelming to you, but the confusion is what leads to lasting damage.

The child is ultimately an extension of the relationship, and as a result the parents’ business is their business to an extent. Handling divorce incorrectly can lead to the development of negative behaviours, due to a lack of trust, emotional ineptitude and skewered perceptions of attachment. All events can lead to certain behaviours. If you want to share joint custody, the child can’t feel like a ‘suitcase kid’ or they end up more likely to have problems with settling down. If your spouse has cheated on you, the child can’t afford to see you disrespecting them for it or they may struggle with paranoia and forgiving others. It is often in these cases that children take one parent’s side in an attempt to maintain a close bond as expected since birth. The necessity to keep a positive relationship between separated parents whenever possible is vital, so the child sees that their relationships remain intact. They will be less likely to become clingy, depressed or socially anxious.

Self-esteem and standards

Unfortunately, many divorces have ended acrimoniously and have led to relationship problems for children involved. A woman with divorced parents is 60% more likely to get divorced herself compared to a woman whose parents are still married. For some, the belief in the marriage construct is gone and ideas of romance are replaced with pessimism and doubt. In fact many see a connection between the increase in divorce and the effects divorce has on children involved. Psychologically, the children of divorce make the effects personal, often associating them with blame, guilt or inadequacy. They have a self-imposed barrier to furthering relationships due to a lack of confidence in themselves. Your parents are your first role models. Their passions, interests and beliefs are the first cues you take in personal development. In a sense, if they can’t make their marriage work, why should you think you can? Unfortunately, your self-esteem is lowered. For strategies on building your self esteem or understanding how to cope with the loss of a relationship visit Video Moods. 

If you were raised amidst a broken marriage, recognising the symptoms of divorce in yourself may help you find the root in any relationship issue you might have. What you must realise is that your problems stem from one experience you have witnessed, which makes you biased towards certain relationship ideas and makes you seek to affirm your behaviours by finding other examples in other people. It helps to remind yourself that your parents aren’t you and you can make relationships work regardless of theirs.


This article was contributed by Pink Moods.

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