Have you ever realised that you have different attitudes in bringing up your children than your partner? I bet you have, otherwise you might be partly in denial or not be too involved in the education of them. The reason why the attitudes differ might be connected to the differences in your unresolved childhood issues.
Through my experience in therapy, it has become very obvious that many of our attempts to ‘do the best for our children’, be it by teaching our children, supporting them in finding their own way, showing them the right way to act, being mindful of our fellow human beings etc are a way to resolve some of the unresolved issues of our own childhood. This obviously does not just apply to child-rearing; we could in fact look at many other areas in life and find the same pattern operating.
Let’s have a look at an example: John is taking care of his 14-year-old step-son Mark while his wife Julie (the mother) is at work. Mark asks to go to a friend’s place to which John agrees under the circumstance of Mark returning at 5.30 pm. When Mark has not returned home by 6.30 pm John is worried and mentions to Julie that they should pick him up. Julie does not see the problem in Mark being out at this time and does not understand John’s worry. They start to argue the point to which in the end Julie storms out the door and goes to pick up Mark.
So what happened underneath the surface? John was attempting to heal and work through his unresolved childhood wounds. Having experienced situations in his upbringing where he felt pain and humiliation where he perceived himself staying too long at a friends’ place and interfering with people’s plans John wants to make sure this does not happen to Mark. Julie on the other hand has no such comparable preconceptions or past history of Mark’s presence potentially disturbing other people’s plans.
Basically, John and Julie are unconsciously comparing their perceptions of reality based on their differing filtering system. These filtering system, also referred to as ‘cognitive distortions’, are the basis of how we view the current situation based on what we’ve experienced in the past.
Next time you realise a situation is coming up like that, ask yourself: What part of my history do I want to heal here? Which ‘younger self’ of mine does need understanding, support, nurturing or forgiveness of having done something apparently wrong by doing the best he or she could with the resources present at the time? This is bringing the unconscious pattern to the light of consciousness.
As many famous psychologists, writers and therapists say: ‘It is never too late to have a happy childhood.’
Start re-writing your history now.