Affection and love needs are obviously closely linked, and all of the dependency needs overlap into a holistic parental behaviour sending out positive messages to your child, which in adult life increases his capacity to give affection and love in the best sense of the word. The third need is making the child feel worthwhile. We do this by attending to her. Essentially it means showing an interest in the child, praising them, asking how they are, what they are doing, how they are feeling and so on. When a child is attended to in this way they feel worthwhile, and will not grow into adulthood seeking attention or feeling dependent on another for their happiness or self-esteem. If this need is not met in childhood the adulthood seeking attention will never cease. As Amy Lew and Betty Lou Bettner wrote, it is like a cup with a hole in the bottom that can never be filled.
The fourth need is showing a child what to do; giving them direction. It is easy to dismiss this need as less important than the others, but it is a vital component of human development. It is hard to believe that we have to be shown everything. Children carefully observe how parents do things and learn in that way also. Parents are role models and it is incredible how children learn by observing and then by doing. The great Irish poet, Seán Ó Ríordáin, once wrote that the mind of the poet is like the mind of the child, always exploring, learning, and experiencing the immediate environment. Failing to meet the direction need in the child will instil feelings of incompetency (the condition of being incompetent). This will be looked at in more detail in the chapter on fear of failure.
Failure by his father to help him meet his dependency needs was resented by Jason, who as an adult felt inept. He defined himself by how his father treated him.
“My dad would never show me how to do anything, whether it was mending a puncture on my bike or latterly changing a wheel on the car. Just simple things that a father would show his son. I was too embarrassed and ashamed to ask him how to do any of these tasks. Anytime there was work to do around the house he would never ask me to help him. I just knew he was thinking I was lazy and useless. I would work very hard for my uncle and he would always compliment me to my mother. She would say it to my father to ask me to help, but he would just say that I wouldn’t do anything if I wasn’t being paid for it. This wasn’t true and I would have gladly helped him, but he would never ask. He would ask my older brother to help him, but never me. It really made me feel useless and good for nothing. As a result, I began to resent him for it. I would rebel a bit and try wind him up. It often ended in a blazing row with me sprinting out the door away from his clutches. If he had caught me I would have been beaten.”
Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018
Therapists in Tipperary
psychotherapists in Tipperary
Death of a child
Abuse and Domestic Violence