- Why you can blame them
- Why you cannot keep blaming them
- What are adverse childhood experiences
- Why blaming is important
- Why not focusing on the blame is also important
- How to heal
Why you can blame them
Many factors shape a person’s character and life experiences – temperament, environment, and other relationships formed are all significant.
Therefore, your parents may not be entirely to blame for all of your negative experiences.
However, when you were a child, they shaped your world, while you had no control over what you went through.
They were responsible for providing you with a safe and nurturing environment.
They were to protect you, physically and emotionally.
Children with difficult temperaments, adverse experiences, or other risk factors can still do well if their parents step in and help them emotionally.1,2
If your parents failed to do so, or worse, if they were the source of adverse experiences, they played a part in your struggles afterward.
Science has established a link between adverse childhood experiences and various adult-life issues.3
Parents can’t evade this responsibility, no matter how often they argue, “You can’t blame your parents for everything.”
Therefore, you can blame your parents for problems in your life if they contributed to your adverse childhood experiences that led to those problems. However, you cannot blame your parents for your problems remaining that way because it is now up to you to change them.
Why you cannot keep blaming them
Identifying the root causes of your problems and placing the original responsibility where it belongs is an essential first step toward healing from trauma.
But once you recognize this, the onus to improve your life shifts to you.
To blame is to hold the people responsible for your suffering.
It’s not about making your parents feel sorry or pay for what they did, nor is it about absolving yourself of the ongoing issues you encounter.
It’s about understanding the reasons for your behaviors and challenges and making sense of your past.
With this understanding, you become empowered to take charge of your future, a responsibility you cannot pass back to your parents.
No matter the extent of their wrongdoings, they can’t walk the path of recovery for you.
Only you can.
What are adverse childhood experiences
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that occur in a child’s life during childhood and adolescence.
These can include various forms of abuse (physical, emotional, sexual), neglect (physical, emotional), or other arduous circumstances such as witnessing domestic violence, having a dysfunctional family, or experiencing parental alienation during a hostile divorce.
It’s important to know that trauma is perceived differently among individuals.
What may be traumatic for one child might not be for another.
Actions or remarks perceived as harmless by parents could create hurtful feelings in a child.
Adverse experiences, such as abuse or neglect, can have a long-lasting impact on a child’s life.
They can disrupt neurological development, learning, and behavior.
These children are at a higher risk of mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).4
They may struggle with alcohol addiction or drug abuse.
Trauma in childhood is also linked to physical health problems such as heart disease.
It can make forming good social relationships difficult.
Adversity can also be transmitted from generation to generation, as those affected may inadvertently create adverse environments for their children.
Why blaming is important
Social acknowledgment is strongly associated with fewer symptoms following trauma experiences.5
That means being acknowledged for the pain you suffered can protect you from the negative impact of childhood trauma.
However, there’s a tendency in society to overlook or dismiss attachment trauma inflicted by parents.
A prevailing “you should not blame” attitude exists, which unfortunately can position the victims, in this case, the adult children, as antagonists in identifying the source of their trauma.
This mindset can worsen the emotional pain for people simply looking for validation and understanding for the trauma they endured.
Why not focusing on the blame is also important
Finding out what causes your life challenges is crucial, but being fixated on them is detrimental.
Your ultimate goal is to live a happier and healthier life rather than getting ensnared in the painful memories of the past.
Recognize the issues without focusing on blame so you can move forward.
You can build a better future and allow yourself to grow.
Allow yourself to move beyond the adversities that once held you back.
How to heal and move forward
Recovery is all about understanding your past and making positive steps toward the future.
It starts by figuring out the root of your problems and then taking action to address them.
Even with a tough past, you have the power to change your story.
Human brains are plastic.
Given new life experiences, they can change and adapt over time.
New experiences are needed to help you rewire the neural pathways.
The process might be slow and sometimes challenging, but with a caring support system and a bit of determination, you can make real progress.
It’s all about embracing the new possibilities that come with change.
Here are some practical steps to help you get started.
Your parents are unlikely to acknowledge or apologize for causing you pain as a child.
So, it’s best not to expect them to admit their faults or agree with you.
Instead, focus on validating yourself.
Your feelings are valid, whether or not they acknowledge their wrongdoing.
Identifying the Issues
Begin by reflecting on your past experiences and recognizing the areas of your life that have been affected.
By acknowledging the impact of childhood trauma on your current situation, you can move towards creating a change strategy.
Once you’ve identified the issues, envision what changes you want.
Consider the behaviors, thought patterns, or circumstances you wish to alter.
Setting clear objectives will provide a roadmap for your healing journey.
Actively work on yourself by learning healthier stress-coping mechanisms, engaging in self-compassion, and fostering positive relationships.
This is a difficult step you must take to improve your life.
It can be helpful to seek psychotherapy with a qualified therapist, especially if you are also dealing with problems such as anger issues, drug addiction, or an abusive relationship.
Recovering from childhood trauma can be a long and challenging process.
But with the guidance and support of mental health professionals, you can navigate this journey successfully.
- Therapy options include live video, voice chat, and messaging
- Diverse tools include yoga, journaling, worksheets, and activity plans
- Parenting For Brain visitors get 20% off the first month
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- 1.Slagt M, Dubas JS, Deković M, van Aken MAG. Differences in sensitivity to parenting depending on child temperament: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin. Published online 2016:1068-1110. doi:10.1037/bul0000061
- 2.Zimmerman MA. Resiliency Theory. Health Educ Behav. Published online July 17, 2013:381-383. doi:10.1177/1090198113493782
- 3.Zarse EM, Neff MR, Yoder R, Hulvershorn L, Chambers JE, Chambers RA. The adverse childhood experiences questionnaire: Two decades of research on childhood trauma as a primary cause of adult mental illness, addiction, and medical diseases. Schumacher U, ed. Cogent Medicine. Published online January 1, 2019:1581447. doi:10.1080/2331205x.2019.1581447
- 4.Ballard ED, Van Eck K, Musci RJ, et al. Latent classes of childhood trauma exposure predict the development of behavioral health outcomes in adolescence and young adulthood. Psychol Med. Published online July 7, 2015:3305-3316. doi:10.1017/s0033291715001300
- 5.Maercker A, Povilonyte M, Lianova R, Pöhlmann K. Is Acknowledgment of Trauma a Protective Factor? European Psychologist. Published online January 2009:249-254. doi:10.1027/1016-9040.14.3.249