This post was done in partnership with Stress Health, an initiative of the Center for Youth Wellness, but all opinions are my own.
As a child, the environment you grow up is normal. It doesn’t matter if you grow up in a loving family or if you have to deal with a difficult childhood. The way you view what is normal in life is defined by how you were raised. Without healing from your childhood, it is hard to change the patterns and experience of your past so you don’t pass it down to your children.
Recently I was talking to a friend about how I learned two things from going to Celebrate Recovery and hearing other people share their experience. First, I learned many people experience hard things and that we often deal with our problems in similar ways. Second, I learned some of the things I grew up believing were a totally normal part of life actually are not normal at all.
Learning about my past
I had already been led to understand that families do things differently. My husband and I have been married for over 10 years, and we quickly learned that each family does things differently. But it wasn’t until Celebrate Recovery that I realized that even though some families do things differently, that doesn’t mean that all the things I learned from my childhood were healthy.
Because we take things from our childhood into our adulthood that may not be healthy or normal, we can easily pass down these negative behaviors to our children without even realizing it. Maybe that is why Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are so high and so few people know about them. And there are so many events that can cause toxic stress outside of a parent’s control. While we may not be able to control everything and may have to work hard to change the future for our kids, parents are the key to helping kids deal with ACEs.
Parents play a huge role in helping kids overcome ACEs
When parents consistently give their kids care and offer support, they can make their children feel safe. When kids feel safe, this feeling of security can help protect them from and can sometimes reverse the effects of ACEs. Other things parents can do to help their kids are to see that they eat healthy, get exercise, develop good sleep habits, make friends, practice mindfulness and get mental health support when needed. These practices are just as important for parents as for the kids they are trying to help protect – and it’s important to serve as a model for your children.
When adults work to overcome the things, they experienced as children, it has a ripple effect on not only their lives but the lives of their kids. Parents play such an important role in their children’s lives. And when they get healthy, it means a better life for them and the rest of their family.
Healing Brings Positive Change
Growing up I knew that some of the things I experienced were hard. When I started to act out the same way my parents had when I had children of my own, I knew that there was something wrong. I had to reach out and get help. I needed to change myself for the better so that I could help my kids by teaching them new habits and changing the mold I grew up in.
I never would have considered getting help for my past before having kids. The internal struggles I faced from my deployment were something I could handle. I thought that I had overcome my past. But the stress of parenting made me realize that I needed to change. And I couldn’t do it on my own. You are the most important asset for your kids. If you don’t want to change for yourself, do it for them