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How Unresolved Trauma Affects Your Children

Trauma comes in many forms and can occur at any time. However, while trauma is an incredibly complicated personal battle, its effects extend far beyond a single person. Regardless of the isolating feelings created by traumatic experiences, one's family, and especially one's children, can be greatly impacted by one's traumatic experiences if they go unresolved.

Nothing about overcoming trauma is easy, but understanding the effects it has on one's children is crucial when determining the best path to healing.

The Many Different Forms of Trauma

we all have trauma scars

“Trauma” is a very broad term, with each individual's experiences and perspective defining what “trauma” means to them. For some, traumatic experiences come in the form of exposures to violence or disaster, such as being around tense, armed situations, being the victim of physical abuse or assault, or vehicle crashes. Others may experience trauma as a result of natural disasters, such as floods, tornados, or any other events that create their own physical and emotional injuries.

Trauma does not necessarily have to include an element of physical harm to be wholly traumatic and impact one's mental health and worldview. The death of a loved one, verbal abuse, threats on one's life, threats of sexual violence, or witnessing traumatic events happening to others can all leave a massive mental and emotional impact that reframes how an individual perceives the world.

This kind of trauma is incredibly detrimental, but it is not the only kind of trauma that one can suffer from. Trauma comes in two distinct categories – “Trauma,” spelled with a capital “T,” and “trauma,” with a lowercase “t.” This lowercase trauma has its own manifestations that can be equally as detrimental for one's mental and emotional health.

This “trauma” can encapsulate things such as the loss of close relationships. Some situational examples can include moving away from a best friend, being teased, bullied, or not having one's birthday celebrated. These kinds of traumas may not carry a direct physical trauma, but can equally reshape one's perspective of the world and one's self-confidence and sense of self-worth.

First responders can be at an increased risk of trauma. They may often be involved with high-stress and violent situations or directly helping victims in the aftermath of disastrous scenarios. With all of the different forms that trauma may take, it can feel like an overwhelming and isolating presence. However, without a way to process one's trauma, it can affect one's children in a number of ways.

Creating a Parenting Style

mom parenting child

Trauma influences one's worldview and thus influences how an individual may raise their children. However, the effects of unresolved trauma can have many negative effects on one's parenting styles. Those who have lived through disaster may develop unhealthy, even antagonistic views, seeing every corner filled with potential risks and dangers regardless of how unreasonable they may be.

This introduces a very fearful type of parenting. Such parenting imparts not only a wholly negative view of the world filled with fear and anxiety, but also may lead to an overbearing, overly controlling parenting method. While one's intentions may be to protect one's children, without resolving this trauma, this can lead to isolating the children from their social needs. Furthermore, it may create an atmosphere of anxiety and depression that can become pervasive throughout a child's developmental years as they suffer from unreasonable worldviews and ideas.

Compromising Your Emotional Availability

Trauma is an overwhelming experience, and no part of processing trauma is easy. However, as trauma continues to fester in one's mind without proper outlets, it can compromise much of one's emotional being. It can even create a jaded or emotionally unavailable mindset.

For children, this creates an emotional barrier that has its own isolationist consequences, and children may feel emotionally abandoned by their parents if they are not emotionally available to navigate the regular difficulties of growing up.

The Perspective of Unhealthy Coping Strategies

family holding hands walking and coping

The stress, anxiety, depression, panic, and much more that trauma creates can cause an individual to seek out various unhealthy coping strategies to push down these negative feelings. The use of drugs and alcohol is a common way to attempt to mitigate these symptoms, without regard for its long-term negative effects on one's health. However, the prevalence of drug or alcohol use also has several destructive effects on one's children.

The use of addictive substances has a number of immediate effects, with being drunk or high actively compromising one's ability to aid or interact with their child. However, it also has lasting effects that can continue to impact children throughout their development.

Keeping drugs or alcohol in the house can create unhealthy normality surrounding their use, creating a perception that these substances are less dangerous than they actually are. Their availability in the house can also cause children to begin experimenting with these substances from a young age. They may incorporate their use into their developmental years, thus increasing the chances of addiction developing in the future as the parent continues to struggle with their own unresolved trauma.

Unresolved trauma can have a myriad of negative effects on your personal, parental, and professional lives. At Chateau Recovery, we understand the effects trauma has on your life, and we are prepared to help you address and overcome this difficult time in a way that helps you achieve your goals.

Located in Midway, Utah, we are ready to personalize your time with us to address the unique ways that trauma has affected your life, with a variety of proven therapeutic techniques available for you. Writing, art, music, mindfulness practices, nutritional guidance, yoga, meditation, and much more are all available, with individual, group, and family programs to help you and your family heal together.

For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, or to speak with a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation and how trauma has impacted your children, call us today at (435) 222-5225.

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