The way we were treated as small children is the way we treat ourselves the rest of our lives: with cruelty or with tenderness and protection.. ~ Alice Miller
Sometimes people who are outwardly successful in most areas of their lives, still do not feel good about themselves. No amount of external success can change that. Often the roots of this problem go back to the way that person was treated as a child. Obviously childhood abuse leaves scars.
Even if the child was not abused, other subtle forms of devaluing may continue to haunt an individual throughout life. Being ignored, rejected or left out in the early years creates a deep sense of not being good or important enough.
Even more subtle are the negative effects that occur when parents project their feelings, ideas and dreams upon their children. In order to survive and be loved, the child learns to obey: to try to be the person the parents want him or her to be. This requires that the child repress his or her own feelings, and stifle attempts to be himself or herself.
The result, too often, is depression , reduced vitality, and loss of self. This is particularly noticeable during adolescence, when the child’s biological imperative is to explore and experience his or her individuality and uniqueness. This begins with a need to differentiate from one’s parents. What appears as teen conformity is the group effort to distinguish itself from the previous generation. Having done that, individuals will then make an effort to express their uniqueness within their group.
Rather than honoring the child’s right to be oneself, and in their well-meaning attempts to “train” children, parents often instill humiliation, shame fear and guilt. They inadvertently reduce the child’s ability to make crucial perceptions later in life. Ironically, the adult ends up either feeling guilty for expressing true feelings, or lives a life trying to please others.
As adults who were not honored as children, we need to begin the process of learning to honor our true selves. As parents raising children, we need to be very conscious—and may need to revise some of our methods of child rearing and our traditional views about it.
Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.
Related MP3s Available:
My Special Friends (for Children)
Go Away Monster! (for Young Children)
A World of Kindness
Creating Balance in Your Life
Thinking for Yoursef (Empowerment for Youth)