‘BEING HEALTHY PARENTS’ Resolving Identity Trauma
‘BEING HEALTHY PARENTS’ Resolving Identity Trauma
You’re in the Hive Café, HOVE, run by lovely Lara, for the community in the local Stoneham Park.
Your eyes glance on a workshop leaflet on the counter: ‘Being Healthy Parents’ – all about a morning workshop on Identity Trauma -personal and trans-generational in the family system. And… well it sounds a bit loaded, doesn’t it ?
You’ve just done the school run and you say:
“Oh no, not more pressure on me to be a perfect parent. I get my kids up in the morning, make sure they have breakfast, get them to school on time, go to work, pick them up, wash their laundry, remind them to hang their coats up, cook their tea, open e-mails from the school, sit down and help them with their homework, and, if I’m lucky grab an hour at the end of the day (by now probably late in the evening) for myself. It feels every hour is accounted for. I’m exhausted enough and do my best. I don’t want to take on another class or workshop about ….what is it…did I read that right….resolving my own early possible trans-generational trauma …give me a break!”
And you are right. Sometimes it’s hard to be just good-enough, let alone perfect. The social pressure to be a perfect parent is taking its toll. And what pressure for your kids if you were perfect – just imagine!
Children have their own unhealthy social pressures. In some secondary schools now, children have to attend school when they are ill to get points. All the research on stress and ill-health has not yet reached our educational school managers, let alone the psychological damage of creating a generation of children whose identities are as objects of school league tables and funding. Collective identity trauma, for sure. Certainly each generation has a way of not giving children space to be themselves in the ever-present economic need to achieve. Perhaps it is preparing us as we sit on the cusp of a robotic society.
So no, the aim of this Identity Constellations workshop is not about mounting more pressure on you but giving you time to be with yourself, be curious about who you are, have space to connect with younger embodied, abandoned parts of yourself (trauma parts) which get triggered and cause unconscious survival parts to react, argue, or perhaps freeze in passive, suppressed needs. To give voice to what was unvoiced.
These parts play out in our life everyday with our kids. In finding connectedness with our own inner psyche (life force you could say) through an Intention constellation, we learn more about ourselves. This can transform our close relationships. Shifts in our body-psyche begin to bring healthier connectedness and greater intimacy to our children and our partners.
This is essential at a time when technology is creating greater communication but not greater intimacy in connection with each other. And yet we yearn for that in an increasingly lonely society.
That is the beauty of Identity Constellations. It is not about how to do be a perfect parent. It is about you, who you are, what your needs are and how you give voice to them. It is about understanding and being with the parts of yourself emotionally suppressed in your own upbringing, about the roles you played and how you had to be to survive. This is Identity Trauma: it is about not being seen for yourself – having to survive to fulfil parent and family needs.
When we explore this through a constellation, we make an Intention for ourselves – something we want to look at. We then work with the words of the intention. As we resonate with these words through somatic, embodied experience, we meet different parts of ourselves – the intra-psychic splits of our inner world – and claim back these parts – integrate them.
This integrative process helps us become healthier, clearer and more balanced in coming together and drawing away in relationship – the symbiosis and autonomy – that children also need as they grow. It is about developing our own emotional connection to ourselves and others.
The childhood problems of today – ADHD, OCD, bed-wetting, insomnia, over / under-eating, anxiety, self-harming – of course are partly about external social pressures, which none of us can do much about without a mass movement.
However, they are also about family systemic trauma – a lot of it trans-generational – and we can all, as parents, take responsibility for finding out who we are in order to become healthier parents and have healthier children, whatever age they may be.
We think we know who we are and the child takes on the problem for us, for the family. But actually do we truly know who we are? Or is it just a construct in our heads? Are we a story we tell ourselves? Do we heal our trauma now or do we pass it on to the next generation?
Only you will know if this is the right time to explore this for you, your partner and your family. If you’re a mother or father, be kind to yourself – it may be and it may not be.
Kate Collier MBACP / AAMET
Identity-oriented Psychotrauma Therapy