Parent’s Ghost of Childhood Past
Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT – Is Your Past Affecting Your Family?
Many mothers and fathers had first-hand experience of being parented poorly by their parents. When a person has had a lousy childhood (alcoholic parent, absent parent, verbally or physically abusive parent, death of a parent when young, molestation etc.), it can be difficult to know how to rear children healthfully because there may have been no role models. I once had a counseling client who told me that, although her childhood was horrific (including being locked for long periods in a closet), she had promised herself that she would rear her children with love and consistency like Mrs. Brady on the TV program The Brady Bunch and she did! A TV character had taught her the skills she needed. Sometimes though there is nothing to draw from and the poor parenting skills get passed on to the children,and the cycle repeats itself.
Some time ago I was counseling a tween girl who was being teased a lot at school due to her appearance. When I met with her, I found her depressed and angry. Her mother said that her daughter at times was so disrespectful and defiant at home that she hated her child. She even admitted that after seeing some failing grades online that she had called her daughter a %*&# stupid idiot. The mother said she knew she shouldn’t say such things, but said she was talked to worse when she was a child. Her child is undoubtedly a difficult child, but she was adding salt to the already open wounds.
As I continued to try to equip both mother and daughter with skills to help them, I continued to worry about the girl’s depression and suggested they see a psychiatrist for the possibility of short-term medication. After their visit to the doctor, I was told my both mother and child that the psychiatrist had told the girl she was a pain in the “xyz” to her parents!
Now I’ve got to pull this child back together from the hurtful words from two adults who should know better. I guarantee that until she dies, this girl will remember these words said to her by people who professed to help her.
It’s good and right to correct our children (using loss of privileges) and expect responsible behavior, but people, please let’s use appropriate words and never call anyone a mean, bad hurtful name.
Copyright © 2011, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.
P.S. Please see my other column The Best Things in Life Are Free.
The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.