What are we passing on?

What are we passing on?

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There’s been so many reminders of this recently in my life. What we pass onto our children is lifechanging for them – either in a negative sense or positive. Whilst writing this I’ve just watched a drama on TV called TIME which follows the lives of women in prison. The depiction of generational trauma is very powerful and has only confirmed to me what I already know. Trauma passes down to our children. What we experience as children and then as adults CAN pass onto our children through the way we parent and the legacy of challenges from our own limitations.

Not a very uplifting topic maybe! But one that is very real and, unfortunately, we see the impact in the children under our care. You may be living with a child who has experienced early trauma, you may be working with children who are showing signs too, or you may have experienced the impact of parents who weren’t able to parent you due to their own traumas. It is such a cycle. We all experience trauma sometimes – to some degree.

Trauma means an open wound.

That’s what it feels like for some. That gaping, open wound that stays open for years. For others they seem able to find things that help to heal that wound and they then may end up with a scar. We all can pick up scars over time.

Arian Samouie calls trauma distress without resolution. Something that again all of us may be able to identify with in some ways. There is so much in the world that is distressing and there seems to be no answers or resolutions. Wars, poverty, redundancies, childlessness, relationship break downs, ill health and of course death. So much to be worried and anxious about all the time and so much that is out of our control!

I’ve had a day off today and went for a walk in the glorious autumn sunshine up a local hill and it was amazing. I had that feeling of euphoria that just comes over you sometimes and you can’t explain it. With all the stresses around (and some within my family too) something was able to creep through and show me that there’s lots to be grateful for, there’s lots I can control and there’s lots that has been resolved or healed over the years.

I was fortunate to have brilliant parents who were good enough at meeting mine and my brother’s needs. What they passed onto us was a legacy that has enabled us to do things we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do. They weren’t perfect of course and we certainly aren’t either. But when I watch programmes like TIME or hear of other stories of real trauma and pain, I am reminded of just how difficult this life can be.

We all have choices as adults of course and it’s a constant question in my mind of when do we become accountable for our own actions? My children at 20, 21 and 22 are still processing that open, gaping wound from their past. It is healing and over time and with intention I believe it will heal. We must be patient with ourselves and with each other.

We can be mindful of our own traumas and those of others in our daily interactions. We can give each other a break sometimes. We can help each other to be aware and to stay focused on healing.

When I think about young children and their open wounds it helps me to understand where they difficult behaviour may come from sometimes. They are smarting from that wound when it’s touched or brushed by a nasty look or word from another child or from their own internal shame. They may not be aware of that wound but are just reacting to the pain of a yet to be healed deep wound.

Final word – here’s a song that helps to put things in perspective. It’s by an artist called Philippa Hanna and talks about us all having things we must cope with, traumas we face that others may not be aware of. Let’s be compassionate to others when we can!! And with ourselves too!!.

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