Madison’s reflection —
“My parents made my life miserable. I was abused by my mother and my father left when I was 11. I worked my butt off. I have a successful career, yet holding onto my childhood’s baggage. I’m struggling in my marriage and my childhood experience is a shadow tagging me around, (sic).”
Parents, in most cases, use what they have to parent themselves and their children.
“Our parents are human.” — Dr. Nicole LePera
What causes child abuse? Some parents were abused as children, lived in extreme poverty, experienced domestic violence, or had an untreated mental illness. No excuses.
In the US, for example, there is no mandatory parenting training or counseling for new couples or parents without a family. Can you imagine driving your car without taking a driving lesson!
Why can’t you move on with your life?
Is it easy to move on with life after being abused by your parents? No! Study shows your childhood experience can define how you function as an adult. But with hard work, you can change your pain and break the generational cycle of trauma.
Moving forward, think of your children, grandchildren, community, and society at large. A stable home is a stable community and society. As an adult, you can change the narrative of your life, family, and many generations to come.
Your childhood memory is real, never doubt it or blame yourself. You missed something, the hole exists and it can be healed. Yes, your parents did you wrong as a child.
Today, as an adult, you can undo the wrong, give yourself justice, do the arduous work, and move on with your life.
How would your life be if you use what you know to treat yourself the way you wanted your parents to treat You?
3 Ways you can reparent yourself. These exercises work for some of my clients.
1. You on a piece of paper:
Divide a piece of paper into two columns.
On one side, list all the things your parents did which you think were wrong. Be specific and list everything you can remember.
It is OK to be emotional. You can invite a friend or a family member for support. On the other side of the paper, list any positive things that came out of your experience. For example, you’re alive today.
Turn the paper over. On one side, list the parenting style or qualities you admire in other parents. On the other side, write down how you can use these qualities on yourself and others. For example, you like honesty because your parents were thieves.
Be honest with yourself. Have a conversation with yourself, encourage yourself, and be proud of any small steps you have made.
Can you forgive your parents and yourself? Forgiveness takes time, and it’s a choice. But it can help in proper reparenting.
Knowledge put into practice is power.
Study everything you wrote on your piece of paper. Take your time and set goals. And practice the skills on you, young children, and others. It takes time to master reparenting skills, but you can do it.
Seek professional help if you continue to struggle — we all desire a joyful life.
Sara’s confession — I lost 74 pounds by practicing forgiveness and a mild exercise. It took me about 9 months and I’m still shocked with the result. I have been overweight all my life. The thing is my taste for junk food is gone. I am sleeping well and happy with myself and others. Forgiveness is my medicine and I’m free.
2. Clutter Out:
My experience visiting clients’ homes shows how a cluttered home can be a cluttered mind. I am likely to know a client who lives in a cluttered home — you cannot locate the kitchen sink or any space on the kitchen island.
What are the things in your life that trigger your negative childhood experience?
We live what we see or experienced.
If any behavior, language, things (not you) remind you of your parents’ negativity, take it out or destroy it. Identify your true feelings, thoughts, and behaviors and work on them.
Pay attention, and be brutally honest if you want to be free.
Don’t allow your circumstance to define you. Choose not to label yourself with your past.
Do you criticize yourself non-stop as your father or mother did to you?
For example, you made a mistake at work again, and you said, “ Again, I am no good.” Next time, take a deep breath and say it out, “I can learn from my mistake and use an hour today to learn the skill for the project. Yes, I can do it.” Be your number one cheerleader.
Practice self-acceptance, and actively celebrate your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Embrace positive words, people, and the environment. And learn from everyone and everything — what to do and what not to do.
What questions would you like to ask your parents today?
3. Do Good:
Interview your parents if you would like. Prepare and ask your mom or dad direct and honest questions. Or, interview parents you admire and the ones you don’t like. Ask for a specific question, for instance, her/his parenting style, mistakes, and lessons. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section.
It is true; there is no perfect parent. Parenting is a challenging job, and it is not a job for a weak or young mind. And, it is not a job for a mother or father alone. It takes a village to raise a well-adjusted child.
With the information you gather, it’s time to do good for yourself and others.
Continue to work on yourself every day and look for a parent mentor.
Choose not to blame anyone or feel sorry for yourself. Instead, ask for what you can do or how you can help yourself and others.
Take a parenting class at your local community college. Teach a parenting class and help those struggling with childhood trauma. Write a blog or a book, and join or create a support group. Speak up against child abuse and domestic violence. Volunteer in a group home and donate to a charity of your choice.
Reflect on what to do with “you on a piece of paper” — destroy or keep it.
Take ninety-nine percent responsibility for your life. Give yourself what your parents did not give you — write your pain on a piece of paper, your thoughts, behavior, and language. And do good with your time, energy, and money.
Help yourself grow.
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