Children act as indicators of their parents’ unresolved trauma, usually compounded over many generations. Unresolved trauma within a family system is sometimes
expressed in ‘behavioural difficulties’ or physical symptoms in children. Conditions such as AD(H)D, eating disorders, OCD, insomnia, bed wetting, social anxiety, violence between siblings and a
great many physical symptoms can be traced back to our parents' trauma biographies.
Every child is hostage to the environment they grow up in. If they cannot get a secure emotional connection to their parents, it is not possible for them to remain with their healthy self - they have to dissociate in order to survive. This results in further disconnection which leads to confusion, pain and distress which can manifest in many different ways. Some children become ‘difficult’ through hyperactive, violent or aggressive behaviour, while others may be painfully shy, introverted or become physically ill.
IoPT demonstrates that when we as parents address our own trauma, our children benefit. As we take responsibility for our own feelings and start to become aware of our survival strategies, we can have healthier contact with our children, who then feel more supported to be themselves. The important first step is to take the focus off our children as the ‘problem’ and instead see their difficulties as symptoms of their hunger for emotional connection. When parents concentrate on the health of their own psyche, they can begin to perceive the innocence of their children as well as their own innocent child self.
It then becomes possible to transform the victim-perpetrator conflict dynamic into relationships based on win-win dynamics. If we concentrate on the health of our own psyche, we move away from blaming and shaming and our children are relieved from the burden of being wrong or guilty.
As our first intimate relationship is with our mother (in utero), it is crucial that we as mothers work to get clearer in our own psyche. The benefit to our children is that we are more emotionally available during the attachment and symbiotic phases of their development. The role of fathers is also important; first in supporting the mother during the attachment/symbiotic phase of the child's life and then, in encouraging and supporting their child's healthy autonomy as he or she moves into adolescence. Healthy parenting is optimised when both parents are committed to working on their own Trauma of Identity and Trauma of Love so that they are able to provide a stable and nurturing family environment.
We do not work directly with children or teenagers. We believe that children primarily need healthy parents in order to be healthy. However, in working with parents we provide the space in which they can explore relational difficulties arising with their children. As parents increase their awareness and understanding of their own relational dysfunction, this has the potential to change their child's experience and subsequently behaviour.