Processing My Childhood Trauma While Parenting
For the last year or so, I have been doing a lot of work to process my childhood trauma. I've been in therapy, I've been taking psychiatric medication, I've been doing outside reading, and my therapist and I even found a way to work one of my favorite TV shows into my trauma work. In general, I think it's going really well, except for one problem: parenting. I don't know how to avoid causing my son the same trauma that happened to me.
Parenting Challenges Are Amplified by Unprocessed Childhood Trauma
My son is only 11 months old, so up to this point, my childhood trauma issues haven't played a huge role in my parenting. I feed him, rock him, play with him, and everything is fine--nothing triggering there.
But recently, my son has started becoming more independent, and as a result, he's been doing things he's not supposed to do. The big ones right now are climbing on the couch and refusing to drink a bottle unless it's 4 a.m. These problems can't be rocked or snuggled away. These problems require discipline and structure, and I have no idea how to provide them without recreating my own trauma.
My childhood was full of rules and expectations. Not necessarily about my achievements or grades or anything specific like that; it was more about being the right kind of person, existing in the world the right way. Failure to do so was met with mockery, yelling, dismissal, and more. Unfortunately, I existed the wrong way. I am a sensitive, dramatic, emotional being, and that wasn't what my family expected. I was a very well-behaved child, but it was largely because I was terrified of my parents and how much they so clearly disliked me.
I couldn't have put all of that into words back then, but as I process my childhood trauma, this is clearly what was happening. I don't think my parents ever did this intentionally. Our whole family existence was unintentional, and that's exactly what I'm trying to avoid. I want to make sure my rules and structure exist because I intentionally thought them through and think they are truly beneficial to my son, not because I haven't processed my trauma and want to subconsciously recreate it with my son.
There Is Limited Reading on How to Be a Parent While Processing Childhood Trauma
Usually, when I run into a problem, I look for a book to help me. But I've found that books about being a parent with a history of childhood trauma are few and far between. Amazingly, after a very rough evening with my son, I was scrolling through my phone and saw someone talking about a book called Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind, Confident Kids. It felt like a miracle. I ordered the book immediately, but it hasn't come in yet. I'm hoping it can provide me with the kind of gentle guidance I need.
Do any of you struggle to be a parent when you have a history of childhood trauma? If you've read any good parenting books that address this issue, I'd love it if you'd leave a comment below.
Griffith, M. (2020, October 20). Processing My Childhood Trauma While Parenting, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, December 6 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2020/10/processing-my-childhood-trauma-while-parenting
Author: Megan Griffith
I think there will be quite a few parents out there who will not only relate to this but feel some relief to know they are not the only ones. Parenting is one of those funny things that we don't necessarily expect to trigger things like trauma but it so easily can. This can be a beautiful healing experience not only for you, but for your children. Thank you for so bravely sharing this and doing this work!
Aww, thank you so much. Yeah, I love being a mom, but it is HUGELY triggering. I'm working on it.