I read a list of college-ready attributes a forward-thinking parent wants his children to have by the time they turn 18. The list sounded great- but absolutely overwhelming if you are a parent who survived your own childhood.
This author’s list had goals like “conversant in the arts and humanities, and cognizant of time and context.”
The list was quite a task for a truly well-adjusted, lovingly raised parent. But for a parent who survived an abusive, neglectful, or otherwise chaotic childhood of their own, that seems impossible- and a set up for failure. (Not to mention a trigger for what we’ve missed out on.)
Rather, the survivor’s list for his or her child might read something like “My kids will never experience what I did,” “No one will ever hurt my children, and “I want my kids to know they are loved.”
The basics… survival mode.
Adult Survivors of Childhood (aka "Complex PTSD") who become Parents might think about the long-term logistics of what a healthy, well-adjusted child needs in an effort to give their child/ren a better future.... only to find they have a hard time implementing these concepts in daily life.
That’s because 1) we are trying so hard not to mess them up with our own unresolved and forever current trauma that we get stuck in hyper-focus of “don’t harm,” (which is just a symptom of survival mode, and 2) we don’t know what to do instead. There is hope. We can untangle the mess of intrusive thoughts, painful emotions, behavioral conditioning, fear, parenting abilities, and other "leftovers" (like anxiety and depression) that keep us from functioning at our personal best.
Adult Survivors of Childhood can find healing for themselves and for their children. If you or someone you know needs help with this, please call.
Melinda Haynes, MA, LMFT Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist California lic. no. 102308 Serving Chico, Paradise, Oroville, Gridley The persons depicted on this site are models. Photos do not represent or guarantee results.