I’m sharing this fascinating article on a study about the impact of a father’s trauma history on a child’s mental health.
“New research from Romania has demonstrated a clear correlation between adverse childhood experiences in fathers’ lives and their children’s development, including sleep disruption, inattention, anger, and anxiety. Fathers’ symptoms of depression partially accounted for the correlation between their early experiences and their children’s inattention and anger. Fathers’ negative parenting practices partially accounted for the link with children’s inattention.”
This is why in my parenting education and handouts my first rule for parents is: “Get your own emotional house in order.”
It seems clear that parents who are struggling with their own emotional regulation and shame are more likely to be angry and impatient with their children. Parenting takes heroic amounts of calm and emotional maturity, so a parent who did not have this experience from his parents also has no model on which to draw.
Significant amount of research shows that children learn most of their basic social and emotional skills between birth and age three.
Even parents who had good childhoods have doubts and worries about their parenting skills. Think about a parent who knows they had an unstable, neglectful or abusive childhood; they would likely be loaded with self-doubt about their ability to parent. Wouldn’t this alone make for an anxious, reactive parent?
The good news is parents can learn emotional regulation skills and self-confidence. I believe it is especially important to work on reducing your own Self-blaming or guilt. This reduces anxiety or fear, such as the fear of being a “bad parent,” or guilt over an incident when you yelled at your child. Learning to compassionately manage both past traumas and current mistakes, will build resilience to be more emotionally calm in the future.
…be kind to yourself