The Aftermath of Childhood

The Aftermath of Childhood

Growing up there was one person who got to get angry in my family. Dad. He did not have skills for self-management, communication or stress-reduction so his anger translated to outbursts of rage. 

My Dad is gone so why is this relevant now? 

Many of us have grown up with a parent who raged or have been in an adult relationship with someone who rages. Perhaps you are that person. I want us to consider some of the common long-term impacts. Sometimes simply connecting the dots between old experiences and current ones can bring us both insight and freedom. 

There are many ways to react to rage - it can trigger your own rage or it can shut you down. My path was the latter so that’s what I will share on today. I know I’m to alone. 

So, a parent rages and what does the child do? The child interprets the anger as accurate, at least when younger and owns both unrealistic responsibility and blame for the anger occurring or a belief that maybe somehow they could have prevented this angry outburst. We call that magical thinking in ‘psychobabble’.  

What develops? An adult who really wrestles with people pleasing. An adult that has a hard time knowing and/or expressing their own opinion. Because we grew up with an adult that was lacking in emotional intelligence we grew up with a parent we couldn’t adequately please. We could never make them happy enough. We owned a false belief that if we were sweet enough, quiet enough, smart enough, skinny enough, funny enough, etc. that they would not be so angry - that they would like us and love us better. 

Since that need to be loved unconditionally did not get met we end up still looking for approval, often in authority figures in our lives. It is harder to be assertive. It’s hard to disagree with someone who has authority. It can really be traumatic when someone gets mad at us or isn’t happy with our performance. 

The tricky part is in the childhood logic that gets seared into our thinking. We thought we were responsible for the happiness and well-being of another human being. They helped to teach us that because they did not know how to find peace and happiness. They likely blamed you and every other person in your family for things that they should have taken ownership for. 


Even though our head tells us differently as adults that faulty thinking is lodged so deep we are often acting without awareness of its influence. We are vulnerable to people in authority who have the matched set. They too are looking for approval, to be respected, have their egos stroked and, sometimes, simply want power. There is a magnetic pull here but it’s not healthy. It keeps the unhealthy pattern going for both parties. At the extreme, this is a formula for abusive life partnerships. 

So, what is the answer? How does the freedom come?  

The very act of being more conscious of the pattern is progress.  

* Take time to journal about how you learned the pattern that you now see as an adult.  

* Find a professional to talk to about the pattern and unpack the origin so that it loses its power. 

* Notice where the discrepancies are between how you’d like to function (at work, in relationships) and how you actually do. 

* Start with ‘baby steps’ towards showing up more boldly. 

* If you find yourself currently in a relationship with someone who expresses anger in ways that are scary - get some professional help!!! 

* If you are that person who expresses anger in ways that create fear and shame in others - get some professional help!!! 

There are very few people in this world who grew up with healthy examples of adults communicating their anger in non-destructive ways. Let’s all work to change that for the next generation!!! 

Until next week, 


1 comment (Add your own)

1. Tina wrote:
I'm not clear on what you mean by this, "We are vulnerable to people in authority who have the matched set." Can you elaborate, please?

Tue, September 6, 2016 @ 9:06 AM

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