We're waiting for an apology and a chance to be seen by our parents.
Child: "When I was little, you did that to me. You treated me in ways that all those words and actions really hurt me."
When a child mustered up all their courage and told their parents the trauma from their childhood, it wasn't because they wanted to blame the parents but because they wanted to fix their relationship. They wanted to make a new connection with their parents by being able to trust and rely on them again.
This is a brand new chance for parent-child relationship.
How amazing would it be if parents were capable to just see their hurt and frightened child who just wanted comfort and hugs from their parents who now had the empathy to understand all those trauma they've experienced.
Parent: "Why are you so petty? You actually wrote down all my 'wrongdoings' in a notebook?" , "Your memory is so distorted!" , "You're just wrong, period. It was because of this so I reacted that way to you!"
The child once again experienced how their parents can't see their hurt, sadness, and misunderstanding.
Losing the connection with their parents, the child retreated back to their own shell yet again.
This is a story told by many, many children.
This is a story that repeatedly happened in many, many families.
Parents aren't saints. It's impossible to check their emotions and control their tempers every single parenting moment.
Just like this picture book #Schreimmutter by Jutta Bauer, one day mommy penguin carelessly lost her cool and screamed at her child.
Little penguin was so frightened that his body parts broke into pieces, scattered to the different corners of the earth.
The only thing that was left of the little penguin were just his feet.
Moving onward, little penguin's feet wanted to find all his scattered body parts but to no avail.
Just like a child who has encountered childhood trauma from their parents, they become orphans with living parents.
They lost their mouth because they knew that no matter what they say it's of no use, so they became silent and didn't ask for help anymore.
They lost their head and couldn't think or feel for themselves.
"My thoughts aren't important, and no one would listen anyway."
"My feelings aren't important, either. It's better if feelings are nonexistent."
They didn't know why they're here and what they're living for.
Their wings were gone also. They lost their ability to fly, falling into a spiral of self-doubt and gradually closing in on themselves.
All that's left were feet, they marched forward nonetheless. Just like those kids surviving traumatic childhood experiences, grinded their teeth and forced themselves to grow up quickly so that they no longer needed to reply on their parents. They gave up on being a child. It's a sad kind of strength that they had to have.
But no matter how hard little penguin tried, he couldn't find his lost body parts on his own because the wound from relational trauma needs true acceptance and love to be able to nourish and repairs those injuries.
And this wasn't just something he could do by himself.
After mommy penguin calmed down, she helped find little penguin's body parts and tried to put them together.
But there's one body part that mommy penguin couldn't find - little penguin's feet.
This means that even if parents wanted to mend their torn parent-child relationship, the child needed to be willing to come to their parents as well.
Because no relationship is ever just an one-way street. It requires both sides to reconciliate.
Mommy penguin said sorry.
This apology has nothing to do with what the facts are or who is right and who is wrong.
This is an apology that represents the parents' understanding of their children's emotional distress and internal duress.
This is an apology that many children have waited for years, even for their entire lives. Many children grow up to be injured adults and even with their parents passed away but have never gotten their apology or understanding.
All children want is to be loved by their parents, unconditionally.
No matter how old you are, there is a wounded child inside with a desire to be loved.
In the end, mommy penguin helped little penguin sew his little feet back.
Little penguin was now complete.
Schreimmutter by Jutta Bauer is such a simple children's book with beautiful illustrations, but it's actually such a profound allegorical tale of generational trauma.
It details the path of finding self-acceptance and love as well as empathy and understanding from the perspective of both the parent and the child.
The original language is German with the title Schreimutter, which translates into "Screaming Mother." In Italian, the title is Urlo di mamma, Madrechillona in Spanish, Maman colère in French, and 大吼大叫的企鵝媽媽 in Mandarin. It's incredulous that this book hasn't been translated into English thus far.
How will you start your conversation with your parents?
Our board game Empower Empathy has 160+ real-life scenarios and 80+ discussion questions that are perfect prompts to talk with your family in a non-threatening and enjoyable atmosphere. Many parents and adult children are pleasantly surprised at how amicable they can be during the gameplay to discover and understand more about each other as they address their past issues and misunderstandings.
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