Transgenerational trauma refers to the trauma that gets passed on from one generation to the next. It states the idea that traumatic experiences not only affect an individual but the effects can be passed on to the next generation through parenting behaviours.
Many factors can contribute towards forming transgenerational trauma in a family, especially traumatic events experienced by an individual in their childhood. The truth is that countless people may relate to having experiences from childhoods that affect their adult lives and so would also interfere with their family lives later. But it all depends on whether the person has been able to resolve the issues they had been facing.
So, a positive fact to keep in mind is that past experiences will not stand as an obstacle as long as they are resolved and gotten over. Here’s how you can break the cycle of transgenerational trauma and prevent it from affecting your child.
1. Find Your Therapist
The first and foremost solution to take into consideration is seeing a therapist. They are licensed professionals who can help people cope with their emotional difficulties and guide them to better ways of thinking. Transgenerational trauma is categorized under PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) and so one should seek help from a therapist specialising in treating PTSD. Though one should make sure that their therapist is suited for them and that they are comfortable with the method and pace of the therapy. Otherwise, it is best to keep looking.
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There is a common misunderstanding among people that seeking such help is only for the mentally challenged and that people would start judging them. Prejudice and aversion towards mental illness have always been a problem in our judgemental society and it has prevented many from reaching out for the help they need. Having trouble coping with one’s emotional challenges is completely normal, experienced by literally everyone at some point in their lives. Whether it is a mental illness or just a disturbed mind, either way, it is imperative that proper help is sought. People don’t have to be mentally ill to reach out to a counsellor or therapist. It is normal to just consult someone to sort out your problems, and it is always easier to open up to a stranger who wouldn’t judge you or interrupt you.
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2. Adult vs Child Coping Strategies
Adults should also try finding coping strategies themselves when faced with difficulties. One good step is to question your past and retrospect on what all you have picked up from the people around you.
One of the mistakes that parents make is expecting their children to understand their problems and give them the emotional support they need. Confiding in young children and trying to turn them into adults is not the best practical solution to a problem. Children have their own stages of mental development with a pace different from that of adults. When exposed to the complicated world of their elders at a young age, it brings in unnecessary fear, anxiety, and stress into their young minds which can add up and later interfere with their adult lives. What children need are people that make them feel safe and protected and not those who make them feel unsafe.
Reassure your children as much as you can, because it is quite common for children to think that their parents are upset because of something they did. While the person might be reacting over something else, their child might overthink and come to the conclusion that maybe it is because they misbehaved or were not good enough. This can later make them feel anxious when attempting to do or learn something and the chain reaction starts.
4. Create a Strong Support System
Support is what children need the most from their parents which could then allow them to grow into strong adults. The lack of this support or care from emotionally distant parents disrupts the whole base of their character. A person might be going through a difficult time, but venting out to children will only leave them clueless and overwhelmed. Once they grow to be mentally healthy adults, they will be prepared to face their problems in a better way and they can avoid the mistakes their parents had made. This will break the cycle of transgenerational trauma in the family line.
5. Avoid Incidents That Create Anxiety
Poor parenting patterns impact the thoughts of the younger ones because they pick up what their parents do and imitate them. When the adults act anxious or overprotective in front of their child, it induces the same anxiety into the minds of the children, who tend to imitate what their elders do.
These might sound too simple or cliché, but these are the minor details that many parents ignore and then brush off the consequences. The significance of caring for mental health is yet to be recognised in Indian society and so many parents dismiss the impacts of their poor parenting as trivial. Children are also individuals with their own identities and lives ahead of them. Seeking help or assistance for one’s own unhealed trauma, and preventing it from seeping into the lives of the next generation is by far the best solution one can consider when it comes to transgenerational trauma.