Rejection From Dad Can Lead to Social Anxiety Later In Life

It goes without saying that the child-parent relationship has a great impact on many different aspects of child’s development. Parents play an essential role in their kids’ physical, psychological and social development.

Rejection from Fathers Can Cultivate Feelings of Loneliness and Social Anxiety in Teenagers and Children

Penn State researchers claim that healthy relationships with parents play a significant role in children’s well-being and development. They also point out that rejection from fathers can cultivate feelings of loneliness and social anxiety in teenagers and children.

The study — carried out by the doctoral student of human development and family studies at Pennsylvania State University, Hio Wa “Grace” Mak — analyzed how the overall well-being of the family unit and parental rejection were associated with changes in teenagers’ and children’s feelings of loneliness, friendships and social anxiety. The doctoral student worked with Mark Feinberg, research Prof. of health and human development, and Gregory Fosco, associate Prof. of human development and family studies, at Penn State’s Prevention Research Center.

The study included 687 families comprised of a father, mother, and adolescent kid. The researchers analyzed the family dynamics at 3 time points — as the kid moved into the 6th, 7th and 8th grade — which enabled them to measure rejection.

At each time point, they asked each parent about their feelings of distrust, love, and dissatisfaction with their kid and the overall family climate to measure rejection. Also, the kids reported on their own feelings, as related to quality of friendships, loneliness, and social anxiety.

After evaluating the data, the researchers concluded that all 3 aspects — the overall family climate, father’s rejection and mother’s rejection — affected the kid’s quality of relationships and loneliness. They concluded that a positive family climate contributed to greater quality of relationships and less loneliness, whereas parental rejection—whether it be father’ or mother’s rejection—resulted in poorer social adjustment.

They also concluded that father’s rejection in 6th grade was related to increased social anxiety in 7th grade, and kid’s social anxiety in 7th grade contributed to an elevation in loneliness in 8th grade.

This means that father’s rejection may wreak havoc on a kid’s psyche, leading to social anxiety and loneliness later on.