Be the Calm

Being the calm in the storm of our children’s life is one of the greatest gifts we can give as parents. When parenting children who have experienced pre-birth and early life complex trauma, being the calm in the storm is crucial and at times difficult. Their storms can trigger our own storms. Their early life experiences can lead them to being so sensitive to stress, rejection, abandonment, and at times terror because they feel their survival is threatened. At deep level they literally feel their life is in danger.

Trauma does this.

Trauma can lend a person to feeling that their life is being threatened even when the threat is no longer present. When our children are triggered in this place of terror or when their fears of abandonment, rejection, and shame are activated, it can trigger the same feelings in us. Their wounds can open our own raw fears, terrors, and insecurities. Sometimes they come at us with foul, hurtful language. They push us away with attitude and threat, and sometimes physical aggression, property destruction and self-harm. Finding the space within our hearts to witness their pain, to accept them where they are, and to embrace their reality, all the while maintaining our own internal peace, is challenging to say the least.

Sometimes it feels like they come at us, the very ones who are trying to love them, with full on assault. They curse us, as we try to create safety and shelter from the storm. They fight us when we try to hug or touch. The level of injury and distrust that trauma creates is deep in the heart of these children. I find myself saying, “defended tender hearts,” as I listen to the stories of children who have experienced early life complex trauma.

Many people don’t believe parents when they tell these stories. They punishment will put an end to these behaviors. Some blame parents and say things like “if you were more consistent in your consequences this behavior would end.”

I’m here to tell you most parents raising children who have experienced early life complex trauma are the most dedicated, consistent, dependable, committed parents you could ask for. What most do not understand is how pre-birth and early life trauma changes the brain.

I’m perplexed at how society continues to misunderstand this. We can have understanding for a war veteran who is terrorized at night, or avoidant of loud noises and other things that resemble their traumatic experiences; yet we somehow expect children, babies at heart, to connect, relate, trust, love, reciprocate relationship when their early life experience was marinated in trauma; being beaten for crying, left with tiny broken bones and head injuries, being used for adult sexual gratification, born drug addicted because of a mother drug use, having rarely been held in safe arms, having felt the pain of hunger over days, being left to cry until there are no more tears and no one to soothe.

This is real.

These are the wounds our babies have survived.

Go gentle brave parents. This is a life time journey. Resist the temptation to “fix”, and embrace the simple moments of joy. Be kind to yourself, heaven knows the kindness may not come from your child or from the world. Create ways to love and care for your beautiful self. You are a precious warrior of love. Foster that part of you that is filled with love and security. You are needed. You are the calm in the storm.

Post-Institute-Kristi-SaulKristi Saul, MEd
Head Parenting Coach:
Founder: Parenting Traumatized Children