Traumatic experiences can alter a child to the center of who they are and parents who are working toward healing, know this. Hurt children can move from brokenness to wholeness with healing parents who will walk alongside them in that brokenness.
A Trauma-Informed Parent is one who can “put themselves in their wounded child’s shoes.”
When a child has experienced trauma their perspective is tainted in how they view the world around them, the adults in their circle, and even how they view themselves. Their lens can be tarnished and they may view situations, people, or the world as unsafe. They may view themselves as damaged or unloved. A healing parent walks in their child’s shoes to understand what their child sees.
A Trauma-Informed Parent is will to toss aside the preconceived notions they had on how to care and parent their child.
It’s easy to form an idea of how to parent based off of experience with other children, advice from others, self-help books, or watching parents around you. But, when adopting, one needs to learn a whole new way of thinking, new skills of parenting, and new methods/styles. A healing parent is one with a teachable mind and a willing heart to learn new ways of relating to your child.
A Trauma-Informed Parent is willing to learn how to manage their own emotional responses.
Parenting in general is a challenge. Mix in trauma and a parent will face even more challenges. It is vital that an adoptive parent recognize the need for manages personal emotional responses to your child’s behaviors. Some parents may find by walking alongside their child in healing they will unveil some of their own past issues or unresolved pains. Parents on this journey need to grasp a deeper understanding of their self-awareness and practice mindfulness when responded to their child. With children who have experienced trauma, a healing parent needs to also remember to not take things personally when/if their child reacts negatively toward them. A healing parent realizes that negatively lashed out at them may come from a deeper broken place. Learning to respond with connection, love, and a fostering heart is imperative.
A Trauma-Informed Parent is a parent who seeks out help.
You have limits and no matter how much you want to be the savior your child needs; you may not be enough. You can’t help pull your child out of the deep waters if you yourself are drowning. Be willing to ask for help and recognize no matter how much you prepare; you won’t know all the answers. A healing parent is willing to be vulnerable and open with others.
*The characteristics of a trauma competent healing parent are adapted from Trauma Free World’s Trauma Competent Caregiving series, module 3. www.traumafreeworld.org.