“One of the most pervasive, traumatic, and damaging dynamics that occurs in families in this dysfunctional, emotionally dishonest society is emotional incest. It is rampant in our society but there is still very little written or discussed about it.” - Robert Burney M.A.
Impacts of Emotional Incest
A child in theseI first came across this topic 2.5 years ago when I was reading a book called “Healing your emotional self” by Beverly Engel. The concept was sure to grab my attention and curiosity, but also created a massive jaw dropping shock reaction as I dig a bit deeper. This has been an amazing discovery to understand how this can impact my life and others, especially those little ones that we have the privilege to teach, guide and shape into the beings that they are destined to be.
I must tell you, this understanding not only helps me become more aware of my actions/behviours as a mum, but more importantly drives my desire to work on my underlying issues, my self-esteem and self worth so I can become the happiest person that I know.
What is the ‘Emotional Incest Syndrome’?
Most often, emotional incest occurs when an adult marriage or relationship is fragile, a parent is lonely, or there is a broken family dynamic such as infidelity, mental health conditions, or addiction. One or both parent may engage the child in talks about adult issues and adult feelings to a child as if they were a peer.
The child may be called upon to satisfy adult needs such as intimacy, companionship, romantic stimulation, advice, problem solving, ego fulfillment, and/or emotional release.
It is important to understand that most of the time parents are not consciously aware of their behaviours and the impacts that may have on the child.
Circumstances is deprived of healthy attachment bonds, stable emotional growth, and many other basics of childhood development. Instead, the child is taught that his or her worth is based not on who he or she is as a person, but on how much he or she can please, amuse, and/or bond with the caretaker. As a result, they may experience the following when they grow up:
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