Children as Motivators For Healing

Parents and baby

“What lingers from the parent’s individual past, unresolved or incomplete, often becomes part of her or his irrational parenting.” – Virginia Satir

A lot of new research has illuminated how the brain works and how the brain develops in childhood.  The first few years of life are critical in the development of a healthy secure attachment and strong self esteem.  According to Dr. Dan Siegel, parents who have made sense of their lives, as revealed in their coherent life narratives, will be those that somehow offer their children patterns of communication that promote well-being.  In the alternative, parents who have fragmented or incoherent life narratives will be challenged to offer their children such patterns of communication that promote well being. As such, the motivation for parents to integrate their own neural networks is significant.

One of the most important tasks we have as parents is to help our child create a coherent narrative.  In order to play this role in co-creating their sense of self, we must be receptive to our child’s mind and communicative signals.  When we have suffered from trauma, abuse and/or neglect, our ability to attune is negatively impacted by our wounds. The early days of becoming a mother can also be so turbulent and traumatic that it can make it even more difficult to be capable of healthy attunement with our children.  Lack of sleep, extreme hormone shifts, hyper-sensitive sensory awareness often intensify reactivity and exhaustion.

Finding ways to heal from trauma, abuse and /or neglect prior to planning your parenthood can help provide a healthy foundation for the new addition in your life.  However, if you have missed that window, it is better late than never.  Children are much more pliable than adults.  The act of relating to your child in healthier patterns at any point can offer healing and increase the likelihood of developing strong self esteem and a coherent life narrative for your child.


About Karin Matthews

I am a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Upper Queen Anne Seattle. I love supporting women move through the various stages of their life journey. I am particularly passionate about helping women transition into and through their experience of motherhood. My husband and I support couples who are looking for ways to reconnect with each other and strengthen their relationship.
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