seems to be a theme running through a lot of your discussions which throws
a lot of weight on what the parents did wrong during a persons formative
and developmental years to cause his/her grown up illnesses, psychological
states, issues, behaviors, shticks, personalities, what have you
know this better than I but to cite but one example: Your own inner
pain must be understood through the psychotherapy, not hidden away with flashy
slight-of-hand. In essence, it will be necessary to learn to treat yourself
with the honest, gentle, and compassionate true love that your parents never
gave to you.
always what a parent did wrong that informs a persons
I have a wonderful [age deleted for confidentiality] son who is very
close to me but still finding himself and dealing with issues of life choices;
after growing up in a terribly dysfunctional home in which his mother/my
wife (ex) had so many problems that I was unable to cope with and which in
turn led to instability, chaos, and a 10 year war of the roses
divorce; so I know of from parents doing wrong.
why the seeming assumption throughout your discussions that this is a given
to every persons problems?
es, what I say about a persons
psychological problems deriving from parental failures in childhood is true
for everyone. A fundamental axiom of psychology is that whenever children have
psychological/behavioral problems, look to the parents for the cause of the problems.
Children intuitively understand the truth of this; parents, understandably so,
shudder at it.
Trauma Kept Secret
The sad truth is that many parents have
experienced child abuse as children, or have experienced other traumas in the past,
or have experienced emotional wounds in the past, but have not sought
healing; instead, they have
hidden their emotional pain and have tried to keep it secret.
“It’s all in the
past,” they say. “What’s the point of talking about it? Nothing can change it.”
Well, it’s not all in the past. It’s still alive, even now. It still lives in
the unconscious where it exerts its pernicious, hidden effects on everyone who
gets close to it.
Consequently, because of their
unconscious anger, parents who keep their emotional pain
secret will not be able to give healthy attention to their children’s emotional
experiences and so they will inflict trauma on their children; that is, the children’s
lives will be disturbed by the hidden pain of the parents, but because its all
unconscious the children will not be able to articulate
it. Instead, the children will express the emotional pain through their behavior. They
may be plagued by terrifying dreams;
they may become depressed or anxious,
argumentative, disobedient, or self-destructive; they
may abuse alcohol, use marijuana or other drugs; or they may engage in criminal
activity. It’s psychologically inevitable—until someone says, “Enough. This has to
And how will it stop? Well, either the
parents will go into psychotherapy or the
children will go into psychotherapy, but either way, if the truth of the parents
emotional pain is brought out into the open, the children will finally realize that
the torment was real and that they werent crazy for feeling so disturbed all
Getting to the
Nevertheless, I sympathize with you,
because both you and your son have had to cope with considerable
emotional turmoil over the years. From what you describe, its clear that
the dysfunctional home of your sons
formative years will be an on-going influence on him.
But that isnt the whole
story, is it? In trying to understand what has happened and what its consequences
will be, we need to consider any positive influences in your sons
environment. You havent said it directly, but it could be asked,
What about anything you have done that has been helpful to your son?
What influence did that have on him, and what influence will that have on
To begin to answer these questions,
lets ask another question: What exactly does it mean for a parent to
love a child?
So, What exactly
does it mean for a parent to love a child? From my clinical
experience, I have learned that most parents do not know the true answer
to this question. Some parents think that because they have feelings of affection
for their children they must love their children; but love is more than a sentimental
feeling. Some parents will say something like, “Well, I tried my best; I gave them
food and shelter, so that means I loved my children.” All of this really amounts to
more of a defense than an answer. The defense hides a truth, and the truth
is not pretty, for the truth is that the parents failed to give their children
everything the children really needed.
“giving the children everything they need” requires some definition. To give
children every “thing” they need is impossible. No parent can do this, and it’s
foolish to even think that it’s possible.
of Real Love
Real love, though,
is possible because real love is not about giving
things. Real love for a child means that a parent is
willing to go to any lengthsto do anything it takesto
be emotionally genuine with the child. That is
not easy because it means that the parent must give everything of his or
her own being.
if, during a family crisis, a father were to take his son to a sporting event,
the father would be implicitly saying, This is how I hide my emotional
pain behind illusions of grandeur and triumph. In contrast, if the
father were to take his son for a hike and were to talk about his current
helplessness, acknowledging what the son needs from life and admitting that
he cannot provide those things for the son right at the moment, and explaining
how a dedication to acts of patience, kindness, and forgiveness will get
them both through a difficult situation, the father would be offering a profound
model of healthy coping skills.
The Rarity of
that I said that real love is possible. Yes, its possible, but its
also rare. Its rare because most adults are too terrified to be emotionally
genuine, and they are too terrified to look psychologically deep enough inside
themselves to become emotionally genuine and to give of themselves honestly
in real love. Why? Well, most adults have suffered the emotional pain of
having parents who were not emotionally genuine. Most adults were not loved
by their parents, and so they are terrified of loving
their children. And so we come full circle: emotionally crippled children
come from emotionally crippled parents.
Note that this
does not mean that parents have to be perfect. We all make mistakes, but
if parents are willing to admit their mistakes
and learn from them and keep trying to do what is good for their children,
then real love will be possible.
Giving of Yourself
So, if youthe
parentwant to know what good you have done for your children, look
not to the things you did for them but to the way you gave of
yourself genuinely to your children. If anything
falls short, then resolve now to do anything
it takes to remedy your failures of emotional genuineness: study this website
like a textbook, learn about the
psychology of the unconscious,
scrutinize your inner motivations, overcome your
fear of emotional honesty and humility,
and seek out healing for your own childhood emotional wounds,
even if you must enter psychotherapy. In short,
be willing to do anything it takes to help your children, now, while you have the
A treasure of a resource for psychological and spiritual healing. Information
gathered from my websites (including this webpage) is now available at your fingertips
in book form.
Falling Families, Fallen Children 2E by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. Do
children see a mother and a father both living in contemplative love for
God with a constant awareness of His presence and engaged in an all-out battle
with the evil of the world? More often than not children don’t see living
faith. They don’t see protection from evil. They don’t see genuine, fruitful
devotion. They don’t see genuine love for God. Instead, they see external
acts of devotion as meaningless because they see all the other things that
contradict the true faith. Thus parents lose credibility—and when parents lose credibility,
children become cynical and angry and turn to the social world around them for
identity and acceptance. They are children who have more concern for social approval
than for loving God. They are fallen children. Let’s bring them back.