July 29, 2019

Why Parents of Trauma Survivors need to set Boundaries.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Elephant Journal (@elephantjournal) on

As a parent of children who have lived through extreme trauma, I want you to know, I see you.

You have endured gut-wrenching times.

You have lost yourself.

You have given more than you have to give.

To those who say you can’t give from an empty cup, you know that is pure bullsh*t—because you have given and given and given and given, and you have no idea what a drop in your cup even feels like.

To those who know exactly what I am talking about, I feel you.

That sweet child who was forever impacted, who was a victim, and as a result lost their voice—they were terrified, they were not ready to ask for or receive the support that was offered to them. They found a way to carry on and somehow survive things that we might never have been able to ourselves.

And you have been the one to pick them up when they have fallen.

You have lived off of nothing more than a moment’s sleep for years and years. Those people who complain about their three-month-old only sleeping a few hours at a time…you’d like to shake them. What you would give to know your child was safe and sleeping soundly for a few hours. 

To you, I bow. I know you too.

That sweet child has been frustrated with feeling safe to express their feelings. They bear a weight that we will never understand. They’re always unsure if they are truly safe, and are forever guarding themselves just in case.

You have been the emotional punching bag, the one they’ve lashed out at, and the one who—no matter how much you have done, how many tears you have wiped, and how many times you have protected them—they come back to. And sometimes, their trauma smacks you down one more time.

Their pain is a way of life. And their need is to matter in this world, to be seen, heard, acknowledged, and protected. They deserve all of the things that most take for granted, things that are their right, but that were stolen from them,

You know the words “you never,” and “you always,” will be followed up with a lineup of all the ways you have failed them.

I’m here to take your hand and say, it has nothing to do with you. It’s not personal—but hell, do I know how personal it all feels.

I’m here to give you permission to say “no more” when you need to. Yes, you are allowed to draw clear, concise boundaries and say, “I see you, I hear you, and I am here for you—but I will not tolerate this sh*t any longer.”

To love a child who has survived a trauma and has not been able to accept support in healing is by far the most painful experience I have lived as a parent.

There is no rule book stating that to be a parent of a traumatized child is to forever be their emotional punching bag. Nowhere does it state that we must sacrifice ourselves for the rest of our lives.

Nowhere have I read, as a parent of a traumatized adult child, that I am forever responsible for their choices to accept or not accept support, and the impact that choice has on their lives today.

What I do know is that:

As a survivor of trauma, it is the individual’s responsibility to themselves, to their future children and partners, and to anyone in their lives to heal their wounds rather than to continually bleed.

As a parent of a trauma survivor, it is our responsibility to support, not enable, to draw clear and concise boundaries, and to say “this is not okay for me”—and to feel worthy of doing just that.

I see you, I love you, I am you.

Read 8 Comments and Reply

Read 8 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Angela Peladeau  |  Contribution: 1,320

author: Angela Peladeau

Image: Pixabay

Image: @ElephantJournal

Editor: Catherine Monkman