Words Can Worsen Wounds – Dismissive Parenting

Words can make all the difference in a bad situation.

Whether you’re an adult or a child, being told that everything is going to be alright can do a world of good.

The problem with this is: it’s usually not phrased this way.

When someone cries, we instinctively say, “don’t cry. Everything is okay”. But this is quite dismissive.

If we look at when this first occurs for most of us, it’s usually our parents and trusted adults that do this. Parents who regularly dismiss their child’s negative experiences and emotions are called Dismissive Parents. The problem is it’s not always a conscious occurrence. Many adults unconsciously dismiss the negative feelings of others, and due to this – they also do it to their children.

Dismissive parents often belittle the child’s negative response, invalidating the child’s emotions and leading to resentment.

Telling them that they’re okay when they’re in pain will make them feel uncomfortable about speaking to you about pain again. 

But it doesn’t stop there because Dismissive Parents can even go a step further to try and make a negative experience a positive… 

An example of this is: telling a child they should be happy they’re injured because it means they don’t have to go to school [often seen as a silver lining].

Besides dismissing the pain the child is feeling, either physically or emotionally, it also puts the idea in their head that they can get out of school by physically hurting themselves…

So, how do we avoid being dismissive? Whether towards children or just people in general…

It’s simple.

Instead of telling someone that: it’s okay when they’re hurting, tell them, it’s going to be okay. It reminds them that, right now, they’re not okay – and that in itself is acceptable. But it also reminds them that they will be okay again, and eventually, it will get better. 

For more information on Dismissive Parents, and how to overcome the aftermath, here is an article by Clinical Psychologist, Hal Shorey Ph.D: Dismissing Parents and the Rejected Adult Child.

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