At least once a week at home or work, a child from difficult beginnings insists s/he never wants to grow up. At the same time, that child will have issues with being parented. I think the declaration is really a misinterpretation of felt fear of the world and a deep sense of incompetence that lies within many of our children. They do want to be grown up and in charge of their own lives, but they are afraid to the bone to face the big, bad, wolf world, as they know they are too little inside to make it. Additionally, traumatized children fear that growing up means somehow initiating their own future propulsion from the family.
This contradiction in children is hard for parents to understand. The constant controlling behavior and lack of surrender to parental direction and care seems like an insistence on being grown up too soon, but that is a misinterpretation on the parent’s part. Controlling resistance to parental guidance and care is really a deep seeded fear of being vulnerable to parents who have the power to hurt or abandon again.
What can be done about this fear-based push me pull you situation? Healing is all about creating felt safety at home, safe exposure and exploration in the outside world, developing perceived and actual competence in life skills, and repetition of assurance that families are forever–even for them in adulthood.
Start early and persist with this kind of life training. Our children are scared to death to be jettisoned. Make it safe to learn and grow up while under your guidance. At some point you will have to take them to the edge of the nest and show them they have good, strong wings to fly. You will feel better about this launching process if you know you have taken every opportunity to build in felt safety and develop competence in your grown up child.
The next 8 hr. Trust Based Parent Training is scheduled for April 23rd and 30th from 12noon to 4pm. $200 per couple. Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up email Jen@attachplace.com and she will register you.