Trauma Parenting: Facing Your Own Giants
Face your own giants to help fight your child’s giants.
Many of us have giants of some sort in our own lives. Unresolved issues that have grown until they seem larger than life. We feel tiny in comparison as we live with the impact of these “giants”– the buried wounds and baggage from our pasts lurking below the surface, just waiting for a trigger to make them appear. Sometimes, we can see the giant clearly, but often they are buried so deeply that we are unaware of their presence until something (or someone) suddenly cause them to surface.
Our precious children can be that trigger.
Parenting, in general, can be an emotionally charged experience, but much more so in trauma parenting. When emotions run high in children they can trigger our own reactions– sometimes, reactions we didn’t know we were capable of.
Any unresolved issues will undoubtedly surface as you parent a child impacted by trauma.
The more can you can deal with your own hurts before you take on those of a wounded child, the better chance you will have of helping your child heal. Unresolved problems from your past are bound to have a negative impact on your parenting, therefore, on your child. Our reactions are not our children’s fault, but they may feel like they are when we are overreacting because of their struggles. Our fears, wounds, and feelings of inadequacy often come out as anger. Face your own giants before they turn you into a giant toward your child.
If you already have a biological or adopted child impacted by trauma or are considering adoption or foster care, please, take a look internally and honestly assess where you might have some giants lurking.
Questions to consider:
- Did you grow up in a broken family?
- Has your relationship with your parents been strained?
- Do you feel the need to control people or circumstances?
- Do frustrations lead you to explode in anger?
- Is there someone in your past you need to forgive?
- Do you need to forgive yourself?
- Do you isolate or withdraw when you feel you have been wronged?
- Is emotional connecting difficult for you?
- Are you uncomfortable with physical affection?
- How do you respond to conflict?
- Have you ever experienced physical, verbal, or emotional abuse?
- Is it difficult for you to ask for help? Or to admit that you need it?
- Do you struggle with feelings of inadequacy? (Maybe an unfair question– don’t we ALL?!)
Thinking through these questions should give you some insight on what your possible issues may be. Working on yourself will not only benefit you but your child and entire family as well. Dealing with your own wounds and triggers will help you to become more emotionally present for your child.
When your own issues keep surfacing, it’s hard to focus your attention on helping your child heal.
Tips for facing your giants:
- Be completely honest with yourself and admit exactly what kinds of giants you need to fight.
- A good starting point may be to journal about those issues and what caused them. If you’re still uncertain about why you’re reacting in certain ways, keeping a journal of when things happen may help you see a pattern so you can pinpoint your triggers. Putting things down on paper can help to gain clarity and perspective. If the issues and thoughts are left swirling in your mind, it’s much harder to release them or develop a plan of action.
- Practice accurately identifying your emotions and admitting them to yourself and others.
- Confide in a trusted friend. Sometimes, just talking things through and admitting them out loud can help immensely!
- Depending on the type and how deeply rooted your wounds are, it might be wise to seek professional counsel. The right therapist can help you wade through the murky waters and see more clearly as you navigate through your emotions and reactions.
- Talk to God and ask Him to reveal those places that still need healing. God is the ultimate counselor and healer. He will help you fight your giants if you let Him!
“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” Exodus 14:14
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He guards all of his bones; not one of them is broken.” Psalm 34:19
“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.” Isaiah 40:29
- Realize you don’t have to be perfect, just aware and willing to keep working on things!
It is important to remember that regardless of how much you work through, things WILL still surface.
I constantly find myself assessing whether my reaction to something my son did is really about his behaviors or my own issues. Sometimes it really is about him, but often, I’m overreacting based on my own experiences, filters, and expectations. With increased awareness and lots of practice, it does get easier to step back, look objectively at the situation, and deal with the real issue at hand, whether it’s my own or my son’s.
If you have also found your own issues popping up, please, find the courage to take the necessary steps to work through your hurts, anger, and fears.
Admitting you have unresolved issues is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.
It takes courage and bravery to face painful experiences, but in finding help for yourself, you are finding help for your child and entire family unit.
By fighting your giants, not only will you be giving your child the gift of a more stable and equipped parent, you will also be leading by example as you demonstrate your willingness to face and work through the hard parts of life.
Standing with you and cheering you on,