Our Children Need Their Story

A coherent narrative–pre-birth to the present–is necessary for people to have stable mental health. Attachment therapists, like me, are emphatic about this.  Our attachment challenged children need their stories.  They don’t need it forced down their throats, but they do need it carefully unfolded over time in order to make sense of themselves.
Let me give you a belabored and extreme example:
Child B is adopted though never told much about the details. Child B feels different to the core, loveable, ashamed, angry, distant, and ultimately disconnected from her adoptive parents.  She is reactive, rejecting, and ungrateful.  Her adoptive parents are reactive and angry because they do not understand and they cannot find help who understands.  Child B eventually becomes a young angry teen and runs away. She ends up on the streets having sex with men for money to survive.  Eventually, Child B gets pregnant and CPS takes the baby (Child C) when born in the emergency room and a report is made about her apparent lack of reality.  The baby (Child C) gets put into short term emergency foster care for a few days, then placed in a foster family. And, so it goes.
Here is the back story.  Turns out that Child B described above had a birth mother, Child A, who was raped by her stepfather when she was 14-years-old.  Child A gave birth to Child B while living in an abandoned house where a lot of runaways stayed.  Child B was taken by CPS while still in the hospital because the “birth mother (Child A) was not capable of caring for a newborn (Child B).”  The baby (Child B) was put in short term emergency foster care for a few days, then placed in a foster family for 6 months, then transitioned to a foster family for another year, only to be given 7-day notice at 1.5 years of age to another fost-adopt family who really want to start a family.  The fost-adopt family tries desperately to parent Child B, but they cannot seem to feel attached.
Eventually, Child B gives birth to Child C. And, so it goes.
When children do not know their own story, like political history, they are bound to repeat it, search for it, long for it, re-create it, and have absolutely no idea how that happened.
Your child may be like Child A, Child B, Child C or a completely different version all together.  No matter really.  The narrative is the key to changing the trajectory.  Without the narrative, there is an unconscious bio-neuro-psycho-social “spin cycle” at work that is practically super-natural.  Actually, it is just natural.  Biological processes are like this.
A coherent narrative gives us all a chance to understand ourselves in light of our history, our parents’ history, our multigenerational trajectory.  When we understand, we can choose to stay the same or choose to change.  When we are blindfolded, ignorant, or mis-informed, we are driven unconsciously to repeat the stories of those who came before us–very little choice in the matter.
A coherent narrative leads to mental health and the choice for a life worth crowing about.
Love Matters,
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Ce Eshelman, LMFT 

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