The Importance of Emotionally Available Parents

Parenthood involves considering every detail in children's growth and development. However, this isn't always an easy task. Empathizing with your children is something that many parents don't do. We'll provide tips on how to be emotionally available parents in this article.
The Importance of Emotionally Available Parents

Last update: 18 October, 2018

When we talk about emotionally available parents, we’re talking about their ability to interpret their children’s feelings. It’s not just about physical issues like hunger or pain. It also has to do with being empathetic.

We live in a world where people often overlook things. The constant stimuli that electronic devices give us have made it harder for us to observe things. They bring us closer to things that are far away. However, they also distance us from those that are right by us.

Unfortunately, children are often victims of this. This is because parents aren’t always as emotionally available as they need to be.

As a result, they don’t notice the problems and typical issues at each stage of their children’s development. In this article, we’ll go deeper into this issue.

Why are some parents less emotionally available?

The absence or lack of emotional availability can happen due to many different factors. One of them, perhaps the most important, has to do with parental competences. This is the inability of parents to take care of their children. It can occur due to health problems, traumas, addictions, or depression.

Another important factor is the degree of attachment between parent and child. If parents have a negative idea of their babies, they won’t be able to empathize with them.

It’s important to know that emotional availability doesn’t depend on the family’s social class. This happens in both low-income families as well as wealthier ones.

Finally, you need to consider your children’s characteristics. Parents may have a hard time understanding children with the following problems:

  • Low birth weight or premature. This can be caused by being exposed to toxic substances like alcohol.
  • Other health problems.
  • Difficult temperament.
The Importance of Emotionally Available Parents

Effects of parents’ lack of emotional availability

In the 2005 Longitudinal Study of Minnesota, they looked at the consequences of different types of child maltreatment. The research lasted 30 years. They concluded that emotionally unavailable parents caused the following problems:

  • Severe depression
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Criminal incidence

In fact, this is so important that it’s considered worse than more serious mistreatments. It was even considered worse than abuse or physical violence.

In small infants, feeling unprotected causes constant stress. This stress hurts their brains. They lose the ability to focus on their full development. As a result, they can have learning difficulties and language problems.

In addition, this can seriously hurt their self-esteem later on. It can affect their confidence, and even lead to abusive behavior to others. In the same way, data shows that these children go on to become emotionally unavailable adults as well.

“Unfortunately, children are often victims of this. This is because parents aren’t always as emotionally available as they need to be.”

What is emotional availability?

If you want to give your children the emotional availability they deserve, follow these instructions:

  • Pay attention to what signals you give off. Always try to welcome their concerns and give the best answer you can.
  • Stop what you’re doing to address their problems and give solutions.
  • Work with them, but also respect their privacy.
  • Control your negative emotions. Instead of being angry, try to be understanding and seek peaceful solutions.
The Importance of Emotionally Available Parents

Other solutions

In addition to the attitude change you need to make, there are other ways to fix this. You can fix the bad effects of this problem, at least a little bit.

The first one is seeing a professional. You can do this at home or a medical center. In addition, your children’s teachers can also be very helpful. They are with your children most of the day.

Finally, you can also take parental counseling courses. In them, parents learn to interact, interpret and respond to their children’s signals. They provide tools and strategies to make better relationships.

In one way or another, it’s important for parents to be emotionally available. This way, you can give your children what they need and deserve. Otherwise, they might not be mentally stable enough, which could hurt their development.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Carpena, A. (2008). Emociones y salud. Aula de Innovación Educativa, 173-174 (pp. 61-64).
  • Garrido-Rojas, L. (2006). Apego, emoción y regulación emocional. Implicaciones para la salud. Revista latinoamericana de psicología, 38(3), 493-507.
  • Navas, M. D. C. O. (2010). La educación emocional y sus implicaciones en la salud. Revista Española de orientación y psicopedagogía, 21(2), 462-470.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.