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My mom asked me to name the top things I wish she would have done better as a parent. My answer might surprise you.

 

Because I work in the field of child trauma and ACEs science education and prevention here at ACEs Connection, I end up talking about the subject nonstop. I am passionate about this field and making change so I enthusiastically share what I'm reading and learning with everyone who will listen. Those who will listen are often my parents.

(This blog, by the way, is a personal piece of writing and does not necessarily reflect the views nor represent ACEs Connection.)

I know not everyone's parents are enthusiastic to talk about all the myriad ways they may have gone wrong, adding adverse childhood experiences to their child's score, or increasing the stress and chaos at home. So it's a rare and valuable gift that mine are. 

But I have learned a few things about how to have conversations that heal rather than conversations that hurt so my response to my mom's question about what I wish she would have done differently may surprise you. My hope in sharing it, during one of my Mental Health Check-in events I host twice weekly on Mondays and Thursdays at 4pm PT on FB live (you're welcome to tune inβ€”they're open to anyone), was to inspire people to have bold and honest conversations about trauma with people they love. My mom offered a generous and kind-hearted gift by engaging with me on this subject. She is saying, "let's heal together and grow stronger." If you are a parent reading and watching this, I hope to gently nudge you to start these conversations. I promise that more good will come than pain. As they say, "the truth will set you free." The guilt and shame we carry from our past perceived mistakes can weigh a mighty amount. 

Photo is me at Christmas/birthday 1987 at age 3 in Arroyo Grande, CA. 

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@Mark Rock posted:

Thanks for sharing this. One of the biggest challenges to the trauma informed approach is this inability to turn and face anger, rage, pain, and grief over the trauma. I don't think anyone can heal till they open the wound and let it bleed in a safe environment. 

I liked that you recognize that your experience of trauma and sharing it with your mother could be a trauma for her. This should never be a barrier. You approached that with sensitivity and compassion, But most importantly a heart open to the vulnerability that that sharing brings.  

Hi Mark,

Thanks so much for watching and for the kind words. For sure my inability to feel anger has been holding me back. It's been my big work this year: feeling past rage and it's not really fun during...after though I have been feeling so much more present, less numb. I agree 100% when you say, "I don't think anyone can heal till they open the wound and let it bleed in a safe environment."

Thanks for saying that about recognizing that the conversation could be a trauma for my momβ€”I think when we're trauma-informed and trauma-empowered we can take on the responsibility of healing with gentleness, even with those we feel may created our suffering. I know it's a fact that my parents did their very best. So, yeah I really see it as a 2-step process that are somewhat separate: feeling the anger and rage, maybe with a therapist or in a peer group, then having the restorative and healing conversations with our caregivers or others to heal those past wounds together. 

-Alison 

Thanks for sharing this. One of the biggest challenges to the trauma informed approach is this inability to turn and face anger, rage, pain, and grief over the trauma. I don't think anyone can heal till they open the wound and let it bleed in a safe environment. 

I liked that you recognize that your experience of trauma and sharing it with your mother could be a trauma for her. This should never be a barrier. You approached that with sensitivity and compassion, But most importantly a heart open to the vulnerability that that sharing brings.  

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