Many of us are fortunate to remember a childhood full of love and fun stuff. For others, their early years were not much fun. My own childhood was not particularly good and that is a big part of the reason why I became a Psychologist and Counsellor.
I wanted to understand the world. I hoped that knowing why people behaved in the way they did would help me to either fix them or at least be at peace with their actions.
To some extent this has come true (the latter not the former).
An important strategy in overcoming an unhappy childhood is to separate your sense of worthiness from the way your parents treated you. You are not unloveable or inferior because your parents told you that you were or because they treated you in a way that lacked love and care. They were ignorant – forgive them. Time and time again I hear clients say that their lives are ruined because of what their parents did to them or told them. This belief system allows parents to continue to have a hold of their children, even when they are long gone.
Enough. As we mature we realise that our parents didn’t know everything and were fallible human beings. It is not a comfortable realisation but it is a necessary one in order to release their grip over our lives and our attitudes.
Many clients who were ill treated feel they deserved the treatment and that somehow there must have been something wrong with them. Incorrect. Adults should know better – they are after all, the ones that are ‘supposed’ to have learned a few things in life.
Sadly some people never learn the lessons and you have to learn to detach from them and make your own way.
When I realised that my parents did the best they could with the knowledge they had at the time, I began to feel more at ease. I realised that my happiness was now in my own hands and that I must take full responsibility for it.I never wanted to see myself as a victim.
Hopefully I have learned the lessons and have not repeated many of the dysfunctional ways of my parents with my own son. That is enlightened parenting. I get it wrong many times too but I am constantly conscious of how my attitudes and behaviours affect my son.
Children need love, positive regard and stability. They are pretty resilient when it comes to life as long as they know they have parental back-up.
Give them love, separate the behaviour from the child (the action is bad, it is not the child that is bad) and your children will thrive.
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