Toxic parenting style is passed from one generation to another mostly in the form of dysfunctional beliefs and effects of mental health issues generated from toxicity. This legacy runs in a generation unless one person recognizes it and stands up against it. This “standing up” and taking action against is possible when there is selfless love towards the next generation and education about the dysfunctional relationship dynamics taking place in the family.
The first thing that you need to recognize about this legacy is that you had abusive parents. Abusive parents can be abusive knowingly as well as unknowingly.
It takes a lot of courage to accept the fact that you had abusive parents especially if they have done a lot of sacrifice for you or are very controlling and you fear them or both(which is the case mostly).
Accepting that you had an abusive or painful childhood can make you go through if not memories then emotions that are hard to bear. Most of the adults with painful childhood experiences are made to forget them by their brains so that they can survive.
Dr. Van Der Kolk, in his famous book on Trauma, “Body keeps the score” explains that our brain suppresses traumatic memories so that we can survive. He says that when going through an immense tragedy or trauma we dissociate(detach ourselves from the reality of what is going on with us and what we are physically and emotionally feeling about it). Our body uses his mechanism so that we can survive at that moment.
When someone goes through a prolonged period of severe physical, emotional, sexual, or verbal abuse or when someone is neglected by their parents on physical or emotional or both levels then they detach themselves from reality whenever there are intense emotional experiences. This is the reason why adults of childhood abuse don’t remember most of their childhood. On top of this what is worse is that some parents not only abuse their children but also they force them to believe and accept that they had a wonderful childhood and are a part of the perfect family. This is done to save themselves from unbearable guilt and shame.
Children raised with this twisted belief about a perfect family never understand what a normal family is. They unconsciously repeat this pattern in their own family and parenting style and then again their own children go through the same pian. Members of such families are very careful about how they deal with each other in public and even in front of their own spouses. Everything about “social image”. The only motto of every member is that the image of family and relationships should look “perfect” in the eyes of society.
If luckily a member, especially an adult child gets an education on dysfunctionality they immediately get sidelined by the entire family and are labeled as the disloyal family member. However only this member can break the legacy of this dysfunctionality.
This member though becomes the family scapegoat, is the only one who has taken the first step towards healing and change.
Only when you recognize the dysfunctionality and parental abuse, you can heal, and only after you start healing you can stop the legacy of abusive parenting and family dysfunctionality to your next generations.
If you keep believing that the severe abuse or neglect you went through is a normal part of healthy parenting, no one can stop you from doing it to your own children.
In order to recognize and accept parental abuse, you don't have to hate your parents or keep a grudge against them because they too received this either as a legacy from the previous generation or from effects of any mental health issues they had or both just like you. In order to heal completely, you need to forgive your parents for what they did to you and forgive yourself for what you had been doing to your own children before you got educated and became aware of this.
Just as accepting reality doesn’t mean you should hate them or yourself as parents, similarly forgiving them or yourself doesn’t mean the abuse was or is okay. It is advised to maintain some distance because healing is not possible while still being controlled and abused by your parents even at this stage.
Just for the sake of false family honor or to feel superior and better in front of someone like your spouse who has a dysfunctional family themselves, don’t idealize your abusive parents. For moments of sense gratification, you will ruin your coming generation. After reading this article and the other two, whose links I have shared in it you very well understand that you had abusive parents and you have all the rights to heal from them.
Please consult a licensed therapist from your area and discuss your case. They can help you understand what is going on in your life and with their help, you can heal and find a better life for yourself as well as your coming generations.
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