Parenting, Infancy and Trauma: (Part 2)Jan 23, 2023
Infants and children cannot come out of distress without the assistance of a regulated adult. Following our biological instinct to respond to our child’s cues and needs is a very natural and organic way of parenting.
As the child grows, they experience emotional growth and develop emotional intelligence, and they learn to experience feelings rather than suppress or hide from them. Each time we meet the needs of our child, they learn their needs matter and that they matter.
That they are supported, cared for and loved. This results in a child who feels safe around other human beings, a child who feels safe to connect, and who can have trusting, loving and honest relationships based on vulnerability and intimacy.
A child who is nurtured and loved in this way develops a sense of basic trust in life.
The holding environment they grow up in supports their natural growth; it meets their needs and supports them, and as a result, they develop a trust in human beings and a trust that the universe is inherently good and will look after them.
This trust becomes the foundation from which they live their life. The more a child feels held by their parents and environment, the more they internalise the sense of being held and carry that with them throughout their lives.
So many of us experience the opposite. We are terrified of intimacy, guarded from vulnerability, distrust life and those around us, and we have a general feeling of fear and not being safe. We also lack the capacity to feel genuinely held. Our basic trust in life and people has been shattered because, as children, we were forced to disconnect and abandon ourselves to survive.
The child who does not feel held, loved, secure or safe and who does not have his/her needs met will abandon themselves to maintain some sense of feeling loved. The holding environment, or lack of it, is one that is based on survival rather than nurture, and this results in a nervous system that is oriented towards protection and survival.
As children, we internalise our environment. We internalise our relationship with our parents and this becomes the structure and filter through which we view the world.
This is not only a psychological phenomenon but a physical wiring of the brain and nervous system; we are imprinted with a vast amount of reactive patterns that govern how we respond to our environment and the people in it.
Today, many forms of science considered absolute truths are often later debunked or disproven, disagreed with by other professionals or considered pseudoscience by others. Navigating today’s world is dominated by notions of us versus them, opinions parading as facts and the need for everything to be “evidence-based”.
Professionals in any given field do anything to keep their stranglehold on the industry. Nothing is 100% trustworthy anymore, but how is a parent to know? How can we know whom to trust with something as important as parenting our beautiful children?
We are constantly presented with the damages from what was presented as science and fact 50 years ago. The world is information mad, and the consequences of this surface as a disconnect and suppression of instincts and a mechanicalisation of something that is supposed to be completely natural, spontaneous and beautiful.
Look at what we have done to the birthing process itself. We have turned something as natural as a tree growing in the soil into a sterile and mechanical procedure. All of this stems from the same basic distrust in life mentioned earlier. From a feeling that if we do not manipulate our environment, we will not be taken care of.
Parenting is by far the most important job in the world. It can be extremely difficult and triggering. At times, we can be overwhelmed with feelings of anger, guilt, fear and worry.
The best thing we can do is learn to contain and hold ourselves, which fosters a connection to ourselves and our bodies. The more connected to ourselves we are, the more natural and connected we are with our children.
The safer we feel and the more held we feel, the more we create an environment that helps our children feel safe and held. It starts with us and passes down to them.
We are the environment our children internalise. The more we are attuned to our inner landscape, the more we trust ourselves. And the more we develop an ability to stay connected and present, the more we can offer these gifts to our children.
As Gabor Maté says: “Children swim in their parents’ unconscious like a fish swims in the sea”.
So, who can we trust as parents? We must learn to trust ourselves, not the judgemental voices in the head but the intelligence of our body. We must attune to our own instincts, impulses and heartfelt love for our children and let that love guide us into action.
Parenting starts with reconnecting to ourselves.
By doing this, we can learn to follow the internal guidance systems that exist thanks to the evolutionary intelligence of life itself. When we are connected to ourselves, things happen according to a higher intelligence that is beyond the confines of the will of the personal ego.
Peace & Blessing,
Matt Kay (Co-Creator of Embodied Processing)