How untreated childhood traumas can affect your relationships

As a relationship coach, I have more than once encountered people who have difficulty building serious relationships. This happens for many reasons, for one they are insecure in themselves and don’t feel they are suited to build a serious relationship. On the other they exhibit trust issues and constantly doubt their partner. There is also another point at which it is possible that a certain person is afraid of commitment because they are emotionally unavailable and cover this up by changing partners frequently. 

Some people I’ve worked with fail to figure out what the thing is that is stopping them from building a serious relationship and label it as “bad luck”, “didn’t happen to the right person” or “I’m not ready”. 

I’ve also worked with people aware enough to identify the reason that prevents them from embarking on a serious relationship. However, there are very few who recognize the obstacles as the result of unhealed traumas received from their childhood. 

Childhood is the period of our lives during which we are most vulnerable. It is then that the role of our parents is very great, and the examples and models we draw from them have a great influence on the way we build relationships as adults. 

As hard as it is for us to admit it, our parents are responsible for a very large part of the trauma we experience. Sometimes we don’t realise how their behaviour and the patterns we have borrowed from our family life put a black mark on our emotionality and ability to connect with other people. 

Childhood trauma can have a profound impact on your relationships as adults. When you experience trauma as children, it can affect the way you relate to others throughout your life. By trauma, we don’t just mean physical or sexual trauma, but also the negative way our parents treated us. 

Many examples can be given of negative attitudes that have a real impact in the most important years of your life when you are being formed as an individual.

Examples of parental attitudes that lead to trauma in adulthood

To give a clearer picture of which parental behaviours can be most influential in the acquisition of trauma, we will look at a few of the most common examples. 

Child neglect 

Parental neglect causes children to constantly do different things to get their attention. For one reason or another, many children get neglected by one or both of their parents, which can make them shut down. This can lead to toxic behavior and the constant need for validation that our partner loves us. 

Overbearing parents

Overly overbearing parents prevent the child from discovering their own potential. Most often, children with overbearing parents either remain too closed off or become rebels who don’t follow rules and reject authority. Children who have this trauma become adults who are either too closed off and don’t let anyone near them or don’t accept anyone too close to them so they don’t feel the power their parents exerted over them.

Ignoring or belittling the child’s needs

This behaviour on the part of the parents shows the child that their needs are not important. Belittling needs teaches the child that there is no point in trying to show their loved ones what they need. This child becomes an adult who cannot express his needs but suppresses them. 

A violent method of upbringing

Violence begets violence. Very often domestic abusers have also encountered this behavior in their home. Parents who use a violent method of parenting are also bringing up violence as a way to solve problems. Thus, a child is much more likely to become a bully when they grow up. 

The child sees how one parent often plays the role of victim

The victim role is a way of manipulation that many people use. Once the child sees this, he or she assumes that this is one method by which he or she will always get what he or she wants. This behavior is very likely to remain even when the child becomes an adult. 

Passive aggression

This mode of communication is inherent in many people. If parents use it with each other children see it and decide that this is the normal way of communicating between two people in a relationship/in a family. Since they have not seen another example, they also use passive aggression in their relationship without understanding how toxic this behavior is.

Emotional outbursts

When either parent is more emotional and often cannot control their emotions during an argument, the child also learns that this is the correct behavior to resolve conflict. Developing a child’s emotional intelligence is one of a parent’s most important tasks. Most often, this can happen by example from parents who are emotionally intelligent and avoid expressing harsh negative emotions to their children. 

Blaming the other parent 

When one parent blames the other in front of the child, the child learns that blaming and planting feelings of guilt are normal. This behavior can also set the child against either parent and his or her role in the family. 

Failure or lack of knowledge about setting healthy boundaries

If some parents do not respect or have healthy boundaries it shows the child that it is not important to set any. In such cases, once the child becomes an adult, he or she does not see the point of setting boundaries and does not understand why it is important.

Demanding parents

Demanding parents are a lot like overbearing parents except that they expect their children to always be the best. Many parents use demands to make their children fulfil a definition of their ambitions. This leads to the development of the child as an individual and the normalization of their potential. These children become just as demanding individuals as their parents.

Lack of emotionality on the part of the parents 

Lack of emotionality on the part of parents leads to the child’s inability to know and express his emotions. Lack of conversation between parent and child about feelings the parent has for the child makes the child cold and perpetually doubting their partners.

Overprotective parents = raise their children like porcelain dolls or written eggs

These parents look at their children like written eggs by not allowing them to make a single decision on their own. In this way, the child never reaches maturity and cannot manage his life on his own without parental intervention.

Behaviours triggered by childhood traumas that prevent us from building serious relationships

Trust issues: if you experienced abuse or neglect as a child, you are likely to have difficulty letting another person near you and trusting them. You may be afraid of being hurt again, and this fear may prevent you from opening up fully to your partners.

Attachment style: Attachment style, or the way you relate to people with whom you have relationships (intimate or friendships), can be influenced by childhood trauma. People who have been neglected or constantly cared for may develop an anxious attachment style, and those who have been abused may develop an avoidant attachment style.

Emotional regulation: Childhood trauma can affect your ability to regulate your emotions, which can lead to difficulties in relationships. You may have difficulty expressing your emotions or regulating your reactions to your partner’s emotions.

Communication: Trauma can affect your ability to communicate effectively with your partners. You may have difficulty expressing yourself or have difficulty understanding your partner’s point of view.

Self-esteem: Childhood trauma can have a significant impact on your self-esteem.  If you were told as a child that you weren’t good enough, or were constantly criticized, you may struggle with feeling inadequate in your relationships as an adult.

Seeking a partner to take on the role of parent: People who have experienced childhood trauma may be looking for a partner to protect them and provide care, similar to the role of a parent. This can lead to dependency in the relationship and can interfere with equality and mutual support.

Lack of initiative and own opinion: People who were constantly criticised or controlled in childhood may feel insecure in expressing their own opinions and making decisions. This can lead to passive behaviour in relationships, which can lead to dissatisfaction on the part of the partner.

Lack of maturity and independence: People who have not received enough support and encouragement to develop their skills and be independent in childhood may have difficulty taking on responsibilities and solving problems in relationships. This can lead to immature behaviour and an inability to make important decisions.

What is the solution

First of all, in order to heal a childhood trauma you must acknowledge its existence. This is the hardest part for many people. They don’t believe that for one reason or another the behavior of the most important people in their lives has provoked harm to them. People who have provided the best for their children all their lives sometimes don’t realize that their behavior can have such a negative impact. 

Through therapy, you can learn to recognize how past experiences may be affecting your current relationships and develop new skills to help you build healthy and fulfilling relationships. It is possible to heal from childhood trauma and create healthy relationships, but it takes time and effort. Remember to be patient and kind to yourself as you travel this path.

If you are ready to find your complete happiness, you are in the right place. Seek out our Next Level Love personal transformation program and start on the path to personal happiness today! Sign up for the Invite Love Into Your Life program.

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