When parents are incapable of providing a healthy, nurturing environment for children, it can cause emotional, social, and even physical problems for children that can last a lifetime.
The problem is most prevalent where children grow up in a home with an alcoholic or drug-addicted parent, but can occur in the home when parents are incapable of providing emotional or physical support for their children, because they were victims of psychological dysfunction themselves.
Psychologist Erik Erikson listed eight stages of development in one’s life span, each stage dependent on the other for growth.
In a healthy home environment, parents help children through the emotional stages of early life:
- Birth to 18 months – Learning to trust
- 18 months to 3 years – Sensing self-worth, pride, and independence
- 3-6 years – Learning new skills and enjoying accomplishments
- 6 years to puberty – Acquiring skills for learning the value of working and how things work
- Adolescence – Experiencing different stages leaning toward individuality and maturity
Growing up in an unhealthy or dysfunctional home environment causes the following problems for young adults. Without the help of a professional or a support group, these young adults will carry these problems with them their entire lives:
- Young Adulthood – Isolation, self-absorption, and withdrawal from close relationships and intimacy
- Middle Age – Social and psychological deprivation and self-indulgence
- Old Age – Fear of death and disappointment in failure to accomplish goals in life
When children grow up in a household, where parents are not able to cope with meeting their own emotional needs, let alone the needs of their children, those children grow up believing they are to blame.
As adults, they punish themselves unconsciously, staying in bad relationships or avoiding all relationships. At worse, they become parents who repeat the cycle because they know of no other way.
People with problems relating to their upbringing, should attempt to seek help before becoming parents themselves. Support groups offer a place for those who, from birth, did not receive critical support at important stages in their development as a child. Seeking help is one way of breaking the cycle.