Problem: I know being a good parent is one of my goals and one that I think has been very difficult. My background is one that has been traumatic, and I think I have transferred some of my trauma to my children. My family was cold and seldom, if ever showed emotion. You were more likely to get scolded and yelled at for making a mistake, never that I know of for doing good. I never knew where to turn as you could get a good tongue-lashing for just about anything.
I loved my parents but I don’t think they were loving people. I swore when I had children it would be different. I don’t criticize and I think I am good at telling them they did a good job. I fail at the emotional side of things because it is so hard to show emotion. I am not a warm and cuddly person; I so craved that when I was a child. Now I feel so inadequate in showing my children how much I care. It does not help that my husband isn’t much in that department either. Will my children be scarred like I was from such distant parents?
Discussion: The question is how much are you willing to learn about showing emotion. You don’t sound like you are at the end of your life, so you still have chance to learn how to do what you were not taught to do. The will to learn something is half the battle if you look at it that way.
Many of us were not raised to know how to do a lot of things, but our history is just that—it does not mean our future has to be as our parents taught us. The Internet is always a wealth of information. A good counselor is also a way of sharing and learning new things that are pertinent to our lives. It would be a shame to know you have a problem and not seek a way to fix it. You must care about your children and know that they have a need to have parents that are present for them, not just physically but emotionally.
I would start off slowly by displaying loving touch, a hand on the shoulder when you say good job. You could do a small hug when you say I love you. It would be a good thing to learn to say I love you. Most of these small gestures make a big impact. You do not want them to grow up without this emotional support, so look for some answers, talk to your husband, figure out how you both could learn to be more affectionate and affirming. Do not give up on this as it does seem very important to you. If you had some impression as a child that what you would have most wanted was X, do that first. Practice until it becomes second nature.
Tip: Learn a little and practice a lot.
To submit problems, contact Juanita Sanchez, psychotherapist, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact High Plains Journal.