This post is made possible with support from the American Academy of Pediatrics through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All opinions are my own
Parenting is not easy. We all know we are all going to make some mistakes while raising our kids. Our parents made mistakes, and some of their mistakes might haunt us now as adults. However, we are not destined to make the same mistakes with our kids. At least, I want to believe that.
I have shared before about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) because I am very passionate about this topic, and I want to share it again. ACEs are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years) and that can lead to chronic diseases and other issues during adulthood.
As a parent, I always worry about making some of the mistakes my parents made to which I attribute the need for having to see a therapist today. I grew up in Colombia with a very protective dad. Like most Hispanic dads, he was raised believing in physical punishment to teach lessons. Whenever we were not “behaving,” we got punished with a belt or with a shoe hitting us on the arms or our butts. Sometimes we got hit with whatever he had in his hand because when he got upset, he threw it at us.
Although back then I was relying on a few adults for support, there wasn’t much they could do for me. I grew up with anger and fear. I grew up learning that reacting with anger was the way to protect myself and that has affected my relationships to the point that I sought help from a therapist to learn how to communicate with people without reacting aggressively.
Right now, I understand that it was not my dad’s fault. He did what he saw his parents do. But I also understand that I can break the cycle of ACEs across generations and have learned that giving my son timeouts or taking away toys that he loves are great ways to correct my son’s behavior. What else am I doing to help my son? I am making sure he has a support system of grown-ups to talk to and help him through difficult times on those occasions when he might be frustrated with me. Those support systems provide safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments (SSNREs), which every child needs to buffer traumatic experiences.
While talking to my friend about ACEs, she told me that we all suffer trauma when we’re kids, and she doesn’t see how those things that happen to us as kids would still affect us as adults. She thinks as we grow up, we can just shake off those memories and move on. I showed her a video that shows that many who are incarcerated have been affected by hardships and adverse experiences in their childhood. She couldn’t believe it. Now she is interested in learning about ACEs and learning how they can be prevented. Here is the video I shared with her (warning, have tissues with you while watching it)
I guess until this point, this post has been sad and depressing. I get it, but I needed to make you feel that way before telling you the good news. I am sharing with you one of my favorite quotes from Peter Levine: "Trauma is a fact of life. It does not, however, have to be a life sentence". You aren't destined to repeat the same mistakes your parents made. You can get support to break the cycle of ACEs across generations in your family. ACEs are preventable!
The other good news is that you can help change someone’s childhood. You can become someone’s three and support them. When you become someone’s three YOU play a role in building a safe, stable, and nurturing relationship for them.
You can also help your kids find their three so they can talk about their issues. Be proactive—you can help prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) !
3/31/2021 10:52:18 am
This is always important to know as a parent. I try to talk to my son and spend time with him as much as possible
3/31/2021 11:53:39 am
It is always sad when kids go through tough times. I do try to make sure my teens are happy--we talk daily!
3/31/2021 12:49:42 pm
I'm so glad that you're shining a light on this. These kinds of experiences are all too common with kids, and they can be very scarring.
3/31/2021 03:53:02 pm
This post is really informative. This is so important to know as a parent.
3/31/2021 04:39:50 pm
I think we all just have to do the best we know how. No one is going to be perfect I know life is perfect.
3/31/2021 06:15:00 pm
You had a great realization. Glad you find a better way to discipline your kid. God bless.
4/1/2021 05:46:50 am
It is okay to punish a child when they really wrong or even not listening or changing their behavior but not totally to hurt them much because it lives trauma to a child's mind and personality. I grew up in very strict parents but never experienced that at all. I am glad that you knew a better way of raising your child.
4/1/2021 07:27:06 am
The things children go through when you can have an impact on adult life. It's good to hear you sought help.
4/1/2021 09:09:40 am
Glad you managed and got through in that with your kids. God bless your family. It's really helpful to have a closer relationship with your kids to know them better. And for greater understanding. You're so amazing for knowing better things raising your kids. I learned so much in this.
4/1/2021 09:55:04 am
Love this! Talking is so important. I think a lot of parents "tell" rather than "talk" and actually listen to their kids.
4/1/2021 11:20:11 am
This is a wonderful read. I really thinking talking with your kids can make a big difference. I'm glad you were able to share this with us.
4/1/2021 02:20:24 pm
I feel like this is such an important thing to talk about! I love your tips: have meals together, do things that you both enjoy and talk with your teens!
Rose Ann Sales
4/1/2021 10:01:18 pm
I love this. And there's always a better way to discipline kids.
I think everyone responds differently to how they were raised. I know of some people that didn't have a good childhood, but they are thankful for it because it made them the person they are today and have the ability to help many other people. I also know others that have a very hard time as adults because of it. It is a very interesting topic.
Mama Maggie's Kitchen
4/2/2021 03:23:16 pm
I am really grateful that you have shared this information. A great way to spread awareness to every parent to know more about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
4/3/2021 05:52:24 am
These are some great points, its so important to talk to our kids
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