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Do Parent-Child Relationships Make Or Break You?

It’s a known fact that what you’ve gone through in the past contributes to who you are today. It shapes your perspective on life, relationships with others, and yourself -all foundations that make up a person. Even from birth and when we bring childhood trauma into the mix, that makes things even heavier. Childhood trauma can mean a lot of things. According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, trauma is defined as “when a child feels intensely threatened by an event he or she is involved in or witnesses.”* As a result, there are various trauma types and the NCTSN list them as bullying, community violence, complex trauma, disasters, early childhood trauma, intimate partner violence, medical trauma, physical abuse, refugee trauma, sexual abuse, terrorism and violence, and traumatic grief. I honestly never knew there were so many until I did research for this post and my heart breaks for every child and adolescent that has experienced any one of these.

It’s easier said than done to completely shake it and start fresh like it never happened. Before writing this post, I thought I was fortunate enough to not go through any of the traumas listed but the more I thought about it, the more I believe I have. I’ve gone through the childhood trauma of not having parents.

It makes you wonder if everything really “happens for a reason”? The phrase is often used to bring a positive light to a bad situation but what would be the positive of a person, much less a child going through this? When things are bad, another cliché phrase is used- “the only way is up” which includes the inevitable- growth but it’s no doubt that you do bring some of the bad along with you. It’s easier said than done to completely shake it and start fresh like it never happened. Before writing this post, I thought I was fortunate enough to not go through any of the traumas listed but the more I thought about it, the more I believe I have. I’ve gone through the childhood trauma of not having parents. My two sisters and I were born knowing our biological parents who I’m sure loved us when we were born and still do. However, life happened. My dad got deported back to Jamaica when I was 2 and his parental duties ended there while my mom, on the other hand wasn’t emotionally, mentally or financially fit to be the mother we needed. She was still around. Still is and surprises me sometimes by doing motherly duties every now and then but there’s a difference between giving birth to a child and being a parent. Fortunately, we were born into a big family so our extended family picked up the pieces and did their best to help in raising us. Despite being “parentless,” my sisters and I had a good childhood and still reminisce on the good times we had together often. However, as we began to grow up, get to know the world for what it is, face our personal challenges, there’s an emptiness where our parents should be. To be fair to them, I’ll only speak on my experience because though we are sisters, our personalities couldn’t be any farther than similar and I want to respect their privacy.

School was a good distraction and my time to shine but my intention wasn’t to outshine anyone. It was actually selfish. It was all a competition of me vs me for me. Yes it was nice to be recognized and get all the awards but I always had an endgame in mind- to make myself proud by being successful and creating a life that I love and deserved. Something my parents never gave me.

For me, I realized that I wouldn’t have parents who would be there for me as early as middle school. I was an A student but I always knew I had to be so I would be allowed access to the opportunities I needed to succeed. School was a good distraction and my time to shine but my intention wasn’t to outshine anyone. It was actually selfish. It was all a competition of me vs me for me. Yes it was nice to be recognized and get all the awards but I always had an endgame in mind- to make myself proud by being successful and creating a life that I love and deserved. Something my parents never gave me. Academics came easily to me and I always went the extra mile. Especially to get great grades in high school, ace my SAT, SAT IIs and ACT so I could go away for college. In addition to joining extracurricular activities to show my range and I’m proud to say I accomplished that. I went away for college but that came with a shock. I met kids who were naturally smart too. Who always went the extra mile and took more honors and AP classes than I did. Even came into college with more college credit than me. Academics got more challenging. On top of the cultural shock of being in a completely new place, with people from countless backgrounds, and having to decide who I wanted to be for the rest of my life right there and then. You can read more about that on my post about college.
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Then came post-college when I was really introduced to the real world. I was overwhelmed, fighting my anxiety and depression and still figuring this life shit out. With time, I figured some deep, complex things out on my own but I still have those times when I’m stuck and don’t know which path to take. For example, who’s going to give me the lowdown on life’s secrets so I can save myself some time, energy and pain? What am I going to do with all this college debt? What’s the best way to build my credit? What’s the best way to fix my bad credit when I max out my credit cards and/or miss some payments? Who’s going to teach me how to drive? What makes a good car purchase? How do I fix a flat tire? Where’s my dad to give his approval on the guys I date? Who’s gonna walk me down the aisle when I finally find the one? Who can I go to when I need help with bills? What should I look for when renting a place? How do I know if someone has bad intentions? What’s the red flags of a scam? Who will tell me they’re proud of me? Who can I go to when I completely fuck up and am disappointed in myself? And there’s so much more.

As you grow up, it’s natural to want independence to have control over the important decisions in your life but it is always reassuring to have an adult to go to for guidance because you don’t know it all. Yes, you can learn the hard way by doing it all on your own through trial and error but why not lean on someone who has has your best interest at heart and more experience to save you from making the same mistakes they made so you can live a better life than they did?

Parent-child relationships are crucial in the development of a child into adolescence and then into adulthood. If the biological parent(s) is unable to, it is important that there are other healthy parental figures in place. In my opinion, you will always need them in your life no matter how old you are but they will never fill that void where your parent should be. As you grow up, it’s natural to want independence to have control over the important decisions in your life but it is always reassuring to have an adult to go to for guidance because you don’t know it all. Yes, you can learn the hard way by doing it all on your own through trial and error but why not lean on someone who has has your best interest at heart and more experience to save you from making the same mistakes they made so you can live a better life than they did? According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “Though some amount of conflict between adolescents and their parents is normal, adolescents still rely on parents or caregivers to provide emotional support and set limits, both of which are linked to positive adolescent development.”** The consequences of this are real and should not be ignored because it shapes who they will be for the rest of their lives. It is proven that if the parent-child relationship is positive, it correlates with “higher levels of adolescent self-esteem, happiness, and life satisfaction, and lower levels of emotional and physical distress.”**

I know I have my extended family to be there but I have my moments when I don’t want to bother them because they’ve done enough. If I had my parents around, I wouldn’t feel so self conscious about asking for help. I know that’s what I deserve because I get so stressed out but I also know I’ll never have it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any “daddy issues.” Not even “mommy issues” where I project what they lack to someone else hoping that they fill their void but I would be lying if I said it doesn’t hurt to not have parents that are around for the good and bad. Parents are supposed to be your cheerleaders. Cheering you on no matter what happens. To hold you and tell you it’ll be okay when you’re sad and stand up for you when you feel alone and weak but I don’t have that. I know I have my extended family to be there but I have my moments when I don’t want to bother them because they’ve done enough. If I had my parents around, I wouldn’t feel so self conscious about asking for help. I know that’s what I deserve because I get so stressed out but I also know I’ll never have it. Trust me, I don’t hate or resent my parents. I’ve accepted them for who they are but it’s still disappointing. Sometimes I wish they were around to be the parents who my sisters and I deserved. There’s no other way to put it but I’m strong and gotten this far. Plus I’m not alone, I have a huge family that’s always growing and a good circle of friends that genuinely loves and cares about me.

I encourage myself everyday to go after my goals and dreams no matter what and take advantage of every opportunity life throws at me whether it be good or bad. My ultimate goal is to continue to make middle school me proud.

Did the actions of my parents affect who I am today? Definitely but I choose who I am and will be everyday. Does the lack of my own parent-child relationship make or break me? Ironically, it motivates me to keep going. I encourage myself everyday to go after my goals and dreams no matter what and take advantage of every opportunity life throws at me whether it be good or bad. My ultimate goal is to continue to make middle school me proud. I’m the strongest I’ve ever been and I’m so in love with myself. I also enjoy being single until I meet the person who meets my standards, shares my values and treats me like the Queen I am. I know I’ll make it and as long as I give my best, I will get it in return and I cannot wait to be my definition of successful, find a like minded partner, get married, buy my dream house, have kids and be the best mother I can be.
What do you think? Do parents make or break a person? Is the lack of a parental figure and the experiences that come with it a form of childhood trauma? If you had a similar situation, how did it shape your life? How did you overcome your adversities? If your parent(s) have always been there, has it helped or harmed your growth? I would love to hear your thoughts down below but please be respectful. You don’t know what someone else has and is going through but I am looking forward to having an open minded discussion.
Love as always,
Shantel ????
*https://www.nctsn.org/what-is-child-trauma/trauma-types
**https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-development/healthy-relationships/parents-child/index.html

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About Me

About Me

Hi Empress! I show women the endless opportunities to be themselves by empowering them to embrace and grow from their shared experiences through vulnerability and community. I help you accept that you'll always be a work in progress and complete at the same time so you can take back power over your life and reach your full potential!

Shantel

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