How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children
Codependency causes much unhappiness. Research shows that codependency is learned in families and passed on generationally. It prevents the development of healthy, independently functioning individuals.
When parents are codependent, codependency gets transmitted unless they’re self-aware and consciously make an effort to respond to their children in healthy ways that counteract their codependent patterning. But because codependency is learned, it can be prevented and unlearned.
The problem is that, like addiction, codependency is characterized by denial. You may not even be aware that you’re codependent and are unwittingly teaching it to your children, despite your best intentions. The most preventative steps you can take are to work on improving your self-esteem and communication.
Some of the main symptoms of codependency are:
- Being overly focused on someone or something
- Low self-esteem
- Non-assertive communication
- Denying or devaluing needs, feelings, and wants
- Poor boundaries
- A need for control
Children learn who they are and how to identify, value, and communicate needs and feelings through interactions with their parents. Thus, how you communicate with your children is critical to the formation of their identity and to a large extent determines how secure their sense of self and self-esteem are. Here are traits of healthy families that allow children to develop into independent, functional adults:
- Free expression of thoughts, feelings, and observations
- Equality and fairness for all
- Healthy communication
- Reasonable rules
- Nurturing and supportive
- Healthy boundaries
- Problem solving
As parents, here are seven key things you can do to ensure your children grow into independent adults:
1. Allow freedom of information.
One of the main characteristics of healthy families and organizations, even countries, is freedom to express thoughts and observations. Secrets and no-talk rules are common in dysfunctional families. For instance, forbidding mention of grandma’s limp or daddy’s drinking teaches children to be fearful and to doubt their perceptions and themselves. Children are naturally inquisitive about everything. This is healthy and should be encouraged, not squelched.