How Grandparents Make A Difference For Kids Who Suffer Trauma
BY KATHY BRODSKY
As children, we’re subjected to our families of origin.
We’re born, grow up – that’s our job – at times it’s hard to grin.
We watch and learn whatever we need to get out of there alive.
Happily, most of us do just fine. We bring along skills to survive…
But what about kids who aren’t surviving well? What happens to them?
Grandparents can make a difference!
Often trauma happens at a young age, and the younger it occurs, the harder it is for people to be happy with themselves as they get older. These people have to work harder just to be okay. Self-esteem suffers, relationships suffer, jobs suffer, etc. These people often suffer their entire lives, and then they get involved with others similar to themselves. They have kids and the cycle continues.
However, if we can reach and help kids when they’re young, then fewer of them will end up seeing therapists like me when they’re older. We are the role models for our children, positive or negative, and what they see going on at home is how they assume life is.
“We don’t want to pass on unresolved “stuff” because without meaning to, the recipients will be our kids and grandkids.”
That’s our cue. We grandparents can step in and make a difference. Often, I’ll see clients in my therapy practice who had very difficult childhoods and I’ll ask, “How did you make it through all those years?” Many times they’ll respond…”It was my grandparents.” One or both made a difference. Grandparents were the haven in the child’s storm, and those relationships made a huge difference in that child’s life. Unconditional love. No strings attached.
“We need to confront the past to heal once and for all.”
Today, with single parents or with both parents working, often grandparents are taking on larger roles. Affection between grandparents and grandkids is a two-way street. YOU are giving a great deal to your grandkids – probably more than you’ll ever realize.
What if our own childhoods were bad or scary – things like alcoholic/ drug-addicted parent/s, any kind of abuse or abusive people in our lives who made us feel bad about ourselves, or did things to us that we weren’t supposed to talk about? How do we deal with those issues and become positive role models?
What if we notice our own childhood demons getting in the way of current relationships? Maybe we haven’t been able to get rid of unresolved issues until now, so is it time for counseling to deal with our difficult childhood past? We don’t want to pass on unresolved “stuff” because without meaning to, the recipients will be our kids and grandkids. We need to confront the past to heal once and for all.
Then our current relationships will be healthier. We will be bringing our best selves to everything we do and we will be completely present with our kids and grandkids every step of the way.
That’s how we grandparents make a difference!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
In addition to being a parent, grandparent, and clinical social worker for over 50 years, Kathy Brodsky is a national award-winning author of children’s picture books that are timely, visually exciting, educational, and fun to read! The books contain positive messages with discussion questions about life events similar to those children themselves are experiencing. An excerpt from the poem “An Anachronism” is from Brodsky’s book Moments in Our Lives. For further information, please visit her website at www.kathybrodsky.com.