We all have a sense of self. Whether this sense of self is positive or negative is based upon our experience in life and our perceptions and assessment of ourself. Sometimes this assessment may be distorted or tainted by events and happenings in our environment, and possibly inherited emotions passed on from previous generations.
Our self-concept is a factual description of how we perceive ourselves, regardless of how others may see us.
When parents who are living together, or are separated/divorced, are engaged in conflict – children hurt and are in pain. Initially, they may not show obvious signs of distress but over time the build up can lead to an impairment of physical, social and emotional development. The child soaks in happenings within the environment and quite often tries to make sense of it and possibly even blames themselves.
Interestingly enough, even the parents cannot always see reason and can act immaturely and irrationally – so what chance does a child have at interpreting the behaviour they witness. The child usually is left feeling anxious, fearful, bewildered and confused.
Children do not wish to take sides as both parents represent their security. This sense of security eventually determines the child’s ability to trust themselves and the world around them. It can strongly impact their sense of self-worth, their view of themselves in relation to others, and their interpretation of where they fit in the dynamics of their relationships, and life in general.
A child’s self esteem can be nurtured or fragmented unwittingly by a parent or parents who are themselves trying to make sense of their own issues and dilemmas.
Most parents try their best from their life experience, intuition, and learned skill set and knowledge. Parents who are in conflict with one another are so engrossed in “winning” or “defending” themselves that they are oblivious to the affects on the child. The child may then take on faulty, distorted scripts and labels that hinder their ability to develop sound self-esteem and self-efficacy.