The feeling of rejection by any of the parents as a child has devastating effects on the development of the child’s personality. And while mothers have been the primary target when children exhibit signs of feeling rejected, a new transnational research suggests that rejection from the father is much more harmful to their development.
Ronald Rohner of the University of Connecticut, co-author of the new study, explains that in half a century of international research, no other experience has been found to have such a strong and consistent effect on the personality as that of rejection, especially by the parents.
The authors of the study found that children who have felt rejected by their parents tend to become more anxious and insecure and develop hostility and aggression toward others. This experience imprints a pain that tends to linger into adulthood and it makes it difficult for adults to form trusting and secure relationships with their intimate partners.
It has been found that the same parts of the brain that activate when a person is experiencing physical pain are also triggered when a person is feeling rejected. The difference is, as Rohner says, that people can psychologically re-live the emotional pain of rejection over and over for years.
In addition to all this, the study found that rejection from the father can often leave more serious traces on the child’s development when compared to that of the mother. One possible explanation is that the children tend to pay more attention to the parent they perceive as more influential, the one that has higher interpersonal power or prestige.
Whatever the reason behind the increased damage the child endures if they feel rejected by the father, it has been established that attention received from the father does have an inevitably strong impact on the development of the child’s personality.
This importance should serve as a motivation to many men to become more involved in the emotional bringing up of the child and know that their love is as important as the motherly love, which has been given too much focus.
Many fathers tend to shy away from the emotional role, feeling insecure about their emotional importance in the family. The truth is that the father is a very influential figure and they should be more involved in the emotional upbringing of the children.
Rohner believes that recognizing the influence the father has on the child’s personality development should help schools and medical institutions understand that “mother blaming” is inappropriate.
“The great emphasis on mothers and mothering in America has led to an inappropriate tendency to blame mothers for children’s behavior problems and maladjustment when, in fact, fathers are often more implicated than mothers in the development of problems such as these,” Rohner concludes.
Source: Science Daily