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Children will often identify with, protect, and seek approval from their unhealthy parent

Children will often identify with, protect, and seek approval from an unhealthy parent over a healthy parent. It’s a paradox, really. But let’s explore the “why” here.

As human beings we seek acceptance and love. The first people we seek these things from are our first caretakers, often our mother and father.

As children develop and bond to their caregivers a relational dynamic begins to take form. They begin to learn what is acceptable and what is unacceptable in the eyes of their caregivers. They are rewarded for acceptable behavior and punished for unacceptable behavior. Patterns are established and behaviors reinforced.

When a child is attached securely to their caretaker, they act with confidence. They are able to leave mommy or daddy’s side and explore the world without fear. They know their caregivers will be there when they are done exploring. They learn they can depend on others.

But sometimes things go wrong. As we know, parents are only people. Imperfect and usually unhealed from their own childhoods. And so, on the flip side, a child who has an insecure attachment (as is often the dynamic between children with a narcissistic caregiver) will often form an insecure anxious attachment. Their caregiver may at times be responsive to their needs, and at other times be unresponsive, avoidant, cold or emotionally unavailable. They will pursue this person, abandoning and sacrificing their own need and selves in an effort to gain the love and acceptance of this caregiver.

This will often continue well into adulthood and play out repeatedly in intimate relationships until the problem is recognized, dealt with, and the inner child healed.

So you see, children will seek first the love and acceptance of the most unhealthy parent. It’s fear based. And the truth is, they don’t need to do this with a parent they feel secure with. They subconsciously know they are loved and accepted by that parent.🤍

If I’m transparent, this is something I’m still healing with my father wound. Can you see any healing in your own life that needs your attention?

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