August 28, 2013
Let’s speak about a very big issue in our society which is extremely uncomfortable and I believe goes unspoken about in relation to the trauma it causes. It is with great difficulty that I write this today because it’s a hot button issue not only for myself but for the majority of the people who come to us for Life Coaching. I want to bring some clarity to childhood emotional abuse and the fallout it brings to a child’s Spirit and mental health. There are very few people in our society who have had a “Leave it to Beaver” childhood which means that most people these days have suffered some form of abuse but for some reason we think of emotional abuse as “no big deal”. I’m here to say that it IS a big deal and the trauma from this kind of abuse goes unrecognized for the most part due to the fact that there are no marks or bruises to say “someone is hurting me”. There are many parents out there who have fallen victim to emotional abuse as children and don’t realize how deep the pain and abandonment go so it continues to be passed down from generation to generation. When one suffers from emotional abuse they learn that Love=pain which means their Blueprint is upside-down. An emotionally abused parent finds a precarious path when parenting solely based on what NOT to do so I would like to bring some insight into this type of abuse. I would like to preface this by saying not all parents who “emotionally abuse” their children are bad people rather they are just as lost sometimes as the children they are raising.
As parents we need to understand that no matter how low our self-esteem or deep our insecurities our children look at us as their Creators therefore, to them, we are Everything! Parents are “Gods/Goddesses” to their children and when a child suffers from emotional abuse it creates the deepest kind of trauma. It is a most intimate form of violation when we raise our children in fear, anger, guilt, judgment, neglect, discouragement, indignity, scorn, shame, lack of communication, ridicule, jealousy, criticism, and/or resentment. Our children are never “consequences” of bad decisions or bad relationships and it is most unfair for a parent to lay this kind of emotional burden on a child. It’s equivalent to asking a child to hold the weight of not only their world but the weight of the parents world on their shoulders and this clearly can’t be expected of a child. Our job as parents is not to create a “mini me” who represents all of our ideals rather we are here to mentor their Spirit so they can find their own Gifts and their own way. It is not for us as parents to Live vicariously through our children by putting our “rules” and expectations on them when we Live in a Limitless world. We are there for guidance, safety, and consistency so that they can feel Safe and Loved which brings Balance and Self Worth. We speak of bullying in school but we how often to we stop and question where it begins, and it Always begins at Home.
The most common traumas that are induced from emotional abuse are low self-esteem, abandonment, and an extremely intense fear which sometimes manifests itself as anger. The way we treat our children is a direct reflection of how we feel about ourselves making it a guilt-filled journey for parents who are emotionally abusive to their children. This is why it’s so difficult for them to look at the wake of damage being done up close and personal. It’s an endless cycle of emotional manipulation, projection, and deflection which leaves the child longing for some form of validation and consistency. Parents who neglect or abuse their children emotionally are typically in a strong “victim” mentality therefore they cycle between abuse and guilt always looking for a reason to play the “victim” once again. Most people that are in “victim” mentality refuse to recognize that they are projecting their emotions onto their children this way, complicated by the fact that many of them were also emotionally abused. It takes the “victim” to recognize that they were a victim at some point or another and begin to deal with the pain and trauma surrounding the “event”. Most emotionally abused parents who are also emotionally abusive are despondent, disconnected, distracted, and “weary of parenting” when most likely they never learned to care for themselves the proper way – much less a child. They fail to understand that a parent is more Valuable than anything else in a child’s Life and that their Positive, Loving influence is crucial to the child’s emotional development. The “abused/abusive” parent may not feel Worthy of the Love the child brings if they also learned that Love=pain. Many use their children as the excuse to be a victim because they are stressed out or tired of “dealing” with the child because the child becomes a glaring mirror of what the parent doesn’t want to see in themselves. They tend to look away rather than face the Truth which is compounded by the empathy and intuition almost every parent has at their disposal. The real tragedy is that the parent is so consumed by having their own emotional needs met instead of focusing on the needs of the child, emotionally and otherwise. I want to reiterate that because it is VERY important…the parent is consumed with having their emotional needs met above the needs of their child! An abused child cannot help but feel abandonment and as such it becomes a continuous cycle of searching for Safe Love and in turn pushing it away to make sure it will come back. The child becomes detached and alone leaving them to tread water in an endless sea of darkness yearning for the parents Love and approval.
When a child is emotionally abused it is the tendency to begin to act out and look for attention which they falsely mistake as Love. They become so used to negative reinforcement at home that they begin looking for it in all areas of Life including school and relationships. Once the child reaches an age of “accountability” the abusive parent typically begins to “give up” on the child due to the child’s destructive and angry behavior. When this happens the abuser, aka the “victim”, now has every excuse to continue the abusive behavior because the child is acting out and now they can “blame” the child for the mess, even though the behavior was incited by the abusive parent in the first place. The child feels alone and feels as if there is no one they can count on to “have their back”. The child is acting out because they are treading water, terrified, and screaming for help in whatever form it comes. They literally have their hand up and are screaming for rescue in the form of that which they do not understand – Unconditional Love. The more abandoned the child feels the more intense they will act out because their ultimate goal becomes pushing the parent away to find some sort of Trust in the parent/abuser. There are no physical marks or scars so the child senses something is off but doesn’t understand what it is since they learned these things from Birth. Emotional abuse is a slow, chronic process that eats away at the psyche of the child leaving a trail of broken promises behind for the child to reconstruct without the proper tools to do so. The cries for help intensify as the child grows older if they cannot find the emotion of Love and Acceptance from the abusive parent. These children will look for “love in all the wrong places” and when they find it they tend to push it away to avoid the pain that comes with their perception of what Love really means. They learn that Love is inconsistent and has all kinds of “conditions” and oftentimes will become “addicted” to seeking and winning approval from the abusive parent even to the extent of rejecting other people in their Lives that Truly Love them.
It’s much easier for the parent to Heal and begin to parent their children from the Heart than it is for the child. The child suffers much longer due to the endless quest for Love=pain provided the parent doesn’t begin to teach them they are Unconditionally Loved. Neglect is also a form of emotional abuse and comes in the form of not nurturing a child and/or their emotions. Abusive parents are inconsistent and as such the child is left to “walk on eggshells” because the abuse usually alternates between the parent’s Loving presence and the “victim” who presents themselves as the abuser. A child is a “Godlike”, Spiritual presence in their Innocence and their Love for ALL but abusive parents literally steal their children’s Soul like a blood thirsty vampire. What a parody of extremes when a child Loves a parent and is utterly terrified of them at the same time without Truly understanding where the fear comes from. The marks, bruises, and scars are evident only to the child who is left confused and unable to comprehend their fear. Neglect and abuse come in many forms including unreasonable expectations, anger, excessive punishment, physical and emotional neglect, lack of communication, bullying, name calling, Parental Alienation Syndrome (which involves a parent “bashing” another parent to the child - http://moonhippiemystic.com/2012/10/06/what-is-parental-alienation-syndrome/), and negative reinforcement. It’s so important to talk to our children about their thoughts and feelings and to spend time interacting with them free from the distraction of television, computers, or phones. Abused children don’t understand how to express their emotions the proper way because they don’t understand the emotion of Love and the abusive parent doesn’t leave room for the child to express themselves in any way, shape, or form. The child learns that emotions are “weak” because they don’t have the forum in which to express themselves even though the parent is expressing themselves in the form of the abuse or neglect. The parent usually suffers from their own childhood trauma and/or depression, alcoholism, or some form of addiction even if the “addiction” is the abusive cycle itself. The “parent” is then replaced by a victim who enables the child to “raise themselves” due to the parent’s overwhelming guilt and the lack of emotional intelligence needed to face the consequences of the damage that is clearly evident.
A child’s needs are the same as anyone else’s wants in terms BEing seen and heard. In other words, from an emotional aspect, what the parent may “want” the child actually Needs. A child literally Needs Love to Survive and without it they become an empty shell longing for something they can’t even begin to put their finger on. They generally grow up to lead a very lonely, perplexed Life resulting in an endless cycle of searching for Love and validation gaining momentum at every turn or “trauma”. It’s imperative that a parent listen to their child, learn about their Hopes and Dreams, and Encourage them to pursue a Positive and Healthy Life. A child should Always know that they are Safe and Loved Unconditionally. It helps immensely if they are on a schedule so they know what to expect in their day as it helps keep them Balanced and shows the consistency they so desperately yearn for. They Need Soul nourishment which can be accomplished by teaching them Happiness – yes, we actually have to teach our children how to be Happy. There’s a great book written just for kids by my friend Patrick McMillan called “Discover Your Happiness Guide” which can assist in beginning the process of Teaching Happiness to our kiddos (http://www.amazon.com/Discover-Your-Happiness-Guide-Just/dp/1481191659/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377702711&sr=8-1&keywords=patrick+mcmillan+happiness) . A child, by definition, is Joy and when they aren’t able to feel Joy or feel that they bring Joy to their parents they are unable to find Happiness. Martial Arts is also a great forum and form of therapy for children who are emotionally abused or bullied as it teaches them discipline, inner strength, philosophy, meditation, and anger management. Most of these children are extremely angry and it does them good to have a forum in which to express themselves. Positive reinforcement is key as is learning how to talk to the child in order to get them to express their emotions. There’s nothing easier than seeing Life through the eyes of an Innocent child and the wonder they bring to everything they see or touch. Another necessity is learning to communicate with the child as most abused children are terrified of making any kind of mistake and often view every mistake as a “failure” which is why they tend to lie about small things fearing the will get in “trouble”. This way of thinking is brought about because the child gets in “trouble” for unreasonable things and is, on most occasions, punished excessively by verbal abuse, yelling, spanking, or “alone” time that goes longer than is necessary. It is important to observe the child and their behavior because a parent can gain much insight into the patterns and begin to learn what the child’s “triggers” are in order to adjust accordingly.
There are so many sayings and quotations about Unconditional Love but the words are lost on those who have never experienced the Emotion of it. We can talk and talk for eons about Unconditional Love but until the child and/or parent Allows themselves to REceive Love the words will fall on deaf ears. The most important thing to remember is that it takes time, patience, and consistency to undo the damage. It’s a process in teaching the child about Love, Trust, and Happiness which can only be proved by allowing the child time to adjust and room to “act out” their fears and insecurities. The child needs to feel they have a Safe place to express their emotions because most of the emotions will be fear and anger based which makes it “uncomfortable” for the parent and others who are close to the child. As the parent it is important to learn Emotional Intelligence in order to be a Calm, Loving, Consistent presence in the child’s Life. It’s important for the parent to Forgive themselves if they are to make changes because without Forgiveness the cycle will continue due to the emotion of guilt that the parent typically carries with them. The Truth is, in a Spiritual sense, we are ALL Worthy of Love and Forgiveness and it’s never to late to Begin Again. If you are in a place to Begin Again, please do so, you and your child are Worth finding Love, Peace, and Happiness in Life. Make it so!