Parenting from Unresolved Trauma

[embed][/embed] Trauma leaves scarring that can stay with us our entire life. That’s why it is called Trauma: “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.” Part of the human experience is encountering various degrees of trauma, but when it is left unattended to, it can show up unexpectedly—even in our parenting. And why would’t it? Having a baby or toddler scream inconsolably reasonably demands a stress response in us as parents! Because a dysregulated adult can rarely help regulate or calm her child, it becomes crucial that a person who suffered from any kind of relational trauma see a mental health therapist for those wounds left unattended. It is only human to respond to a stressful stimulus the way that you were taught or modeled. We know this from hundreds of research studies based on conditioning behaviors. What we see, we emulate: healthy or dysfunctional. Sometimes individuals with painful memories stored in the backs of their memories and in their bodies (please read The Body Keeps the Score by Van der Kolk for more on that subject), can overcompensate with their children. Perhaps in facing emotional neglect as a child, a mother subconsciously avoids difficult parenting moments that demand correction, hoping that her child will escape feelings of rejection unlike what she faced. No person is a perfect parent. I’ll say it again: no person is a perfect parent. But in being an intentional parent, a person struggling to emotionally regulate in distressing parenting moments may find counseling a safe and productive way of finally nurturing and attending to past wounds that are impacting their experience of parenting. Raising human beings is one of the most difficult challenges we face. Being intentional about caring for yourself, is the first step to being an intentional parent.