Parenting Through Trauma

Parenting Through Trauma“Mommy, I hungry.”

It’s a sentence you’re used to, one that peppers your every single day. It’s a request that is a part of a routine: an offering of snacks, a reminder that it’s almost time for the next meal, or a conversation about how ice cream is not a breakfast food.

But on this particular morning, these words weigh on you like an impossible burden.

Because whether you were up all night watching the minutes tick by, or you’ve been asleep since well before the sun went down, the idea of doing something that used to be so routine seems impossible.

At least, it can, when you’re experiencing trauma. “Trauma” on your favorite television show usually involves explosions, fires, and massive catastrophes. In reality, though, those traumas can take another form: Death. Betrayal. Infidelity.

Whatever label your heartache takes, it can be jarring to realize that though your world has stopped, the players around you have not. Dealing with trauma alone can feel like an arduous task. Adding parenting on top of it can seem impossible.

So when you hear that little voice pipe up, making what previously had been a much less daunting request, here are the ways to help you tread through today when you feel like barely keeping your head above water:

  • Give yourself permission. You might have ideas of what a “good mom” looks like, whether that is limited screen time or made-from-scratch organic foods for every meal. When it hurts to breathe, take out the extra. Let PBS do some parenting while you get a good cry in, order a pizza when it’s time for dinner. Your energy is finite, and you’re using up a lot of it on healing.
  • Let your kids see your sadness. You’re a person, and it is so beneficial for your kids to know that. They don’t have to know the intimate details of what caused you pain, but a simple, “Mommy’s feeling sad right now, and sometimes when Mommy’s sad, Mommy cries. It’s okay to cry when you’re sad.” Modeling emotion and acceptance of hard emotions not only allows you to process your difficult situation rather than stifle it, but also gives your children permission to acknowledge their hard emotions as well.
  • Ask for support. Call up your friends/family/carpool partner. You don’t have to share the details of the situation—a simple, “Something just happened and I’m in a really tough spot right now, and I could use some support.” It’s so hard to ask for help, and being vulnerable can be scary. Vulnerability is courage, and in letting our walls down to those who care for us, we increase our connections and are strengthened by our village.

If you are parenting through a personally difficult situation, remember the oxygen mask instructions on an airplane: It is important to put on your mask before you help someone else with theirs. You are worth taking care of.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

Tags: , , , ,

Comments are closed.