Whether or not a parent wants a child has a significant impact on that child’s life and long-term outcomes. The reality is that when a child is unwanted or seen as a burden, even when parents do their best to hide it, their underlying wishes and regret ends up coming through in their parenting practices. It’s a classic example of how subtle environmental influences add up to amount to a significant difference over time. (See chapter x) Regardless of a parents intentions or best efforts to the contrary, the fact that a child is looked upon as a burden or an undesired member will come through in the interactions adults have with the child. The end result is similar to that of a chronically abused or neglected child, with most of the same adverse symptoms.
Long-term studies have shown that unwanted children were worse off than their counterparts in every way measurable. (Fossman & Thuwe, 1966) It’s another strong indication of how powerful subtle environmental influences can take their toll over time. Even when one tries to hide such prejudice, it always ends up influencing actions in a scientifically measurable way. When a parent doesn’t want a child…
- Any love they try to offer will be mixed with contempt
- They will be less patient
- They will show less love
- They will interact with them less
- They are more likely to verbally abuse a child
- They are likely to blame the child for their life’s woes
- They are less prone to showing affection
This factor also plays a role when it comes to a parent’s preference for the gender of their child. Children born to parents who wanted a child of the opposite sex were played with less, had a more negative parent-child relationship, both of which brought about long-term negative consequences. (Stuttin & Klackenberg-Larsson, 1991) The effects of this seemed to be more pronounced for female children than for boys, but this could be attributable to a number of factors.
Another related issue is mere favoritism. A subtler but still significant form of a child feeling unwanted, favoritism tends to breed emotional problems. Feeling that a sibling is more valued than you is a type of emotional sting that speaks volumes towards a child’s psychology without having to say a word. Children who grow up on the loosing end of favoritism suffer from excessive envy and jealousy later in life, which can destroy their relationships. (Sills, 2008)