The Impact of the Unlived Life of the Parent

Carl Jung, Swiss Psychologist, stated that:

“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.”

This statement is quite profound. Is it a grant of permission, a justification, for a parent to live their life the way the want to? Perhaps, with many qualifiers, yes it is.

Exploring this train of thought then it would seem to say that if your children are not harmed, neglected, or deprived by the life you truly want to live then they will benefit from you living it. When thinking of the inverse, a life unlived, then the truth of Jung’s statement become more clear.

A parent who puts their life on hold indefinitely, who feels unfulfilled, or who longs for a different life will always have feelings of resentment, emptiness, complacency, stress, and even hopelessness with their heart. Children are innately empathetic; they can sense the sincerity and true feelings of others. Indirectly they will also experience less than 100% of who their parent is. The parent may direct at least a portion of those feelings at their children. They may even blame the children for bringing about at least in part inability to live their lives.

What are the possible unlived lives we are speaking of for parents. They may be unpursued education, career opportunities, hobbies, social relationships, or romantic relationships. In many cases such pursuits are postponed partially in the name of parenthood and its demands. Carl Jung tells us that making such choices for the benefit of our children will harm them psychologically.

Perhaps I assume that they will harm them, therefore let us state that deferring life choices will ultimately strongly influence children. The single quote, taken from its context is all that I have now. Nevertheless, I logically assume that the strong influence would be a negative one.

What life have I not lived that maybe harming my son? Social relationships stand out as a deficit that I sometimes long for. To be honest that “life” went unlived after marriage, long before my son came along. Therefore, I can’t even logically blame his existence or demands of my time for this life deficit. Nevertheless, I could, ultimately for his benefit and that of my wife, seek to develop a portion of this unlived life. We may all become more complete as a result.

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