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Why Your Childhood Trauma Makes You A Better Parent

Written by: Maria R. Riegger, Esq., Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Many parents tell me that they feel broken or defective because they endured childhood trauma. They feel unworthy as parents because of their traumatic past.

Mother teaching daughter do homework by using tablet device for homeschooling.

If that is you, I am here to tell you that you are not broken or damaged because of your past trauma. In fact, your abusive past may be the biggest factor that contributes to your healthy, iron-clad relationships with your own children. And it makes you a better parent. Read on to find out how.

Revisiting our past trauma in order to heal is painful. The good news is that your trauma serves as a basis for having the BEST relationship possible with your own kids. It’s not only possible; it’s highly likely.

How can we come out from the other side of childhood trauma and pain to become a better parent? I have spent much of my adult life reparenting myself and doing just that.

Come to terms with your abusive past

First, you must recognize that you were the victim of trauma. The healing process from childhood trauma is especially tough. As children, we were vulnerable and dependent on other people. It is difficult to recognize that the people that were supposed to take care of us, love us unconditionally, and fight for us did not help us. On a deep psychological level, they even wanted us to suffer as they suffered. You need to recognize that you were a victim and allow yourself to grieve and be angry.

Make the decision that the trauma ends with you

If you do not recognize that the trauma was harmful to you, you are likely to perpetuate the same trauma in your relationship with your children. I have seen that in my own family. Your decision not to carry on the negative conditioning is extremely powerful. When you make that decision, you are already on the path to being a better parent.

Once you have started that healing work, you will naturally have a stronger relationship with your kids, and here’s why.

You trust your parental intuition

Once you start to undo your negative childhood conditioning, and learn to trust your own intuition as a parent, you become near-unstoppable. You no longer feel the need to justify your decisions to others, including friends, family members, and your children’s teachers. If you feel like something isn’t working, or like something isn’t right with your child’s school, you trust your judgment. You investigate. Even if you cannot articulate exactly why a situation does not sit right with you, you trust yourself to make the right decision. You ask questions. You do not let your fear of upsetting others stop you.

Sometimes it is easier to advocate for others, including your kids, than to advocate for yourself. Trusting your own intuition makes you a powerful advocate for your children. In turn, your children learn that you always have their back. This is the basis of an unbreakable relationship.

You practice radical acceptance

You accept your children as they are. You understand the painful consequences of not being accepted for who you were. You do not deny who your kids are. You do not invalidate or belittle their feelings and preferences.

Those of us who experienced childhood abuse were accepted for who we are as individuals. We were belittled, laughed at, and told we were not good enough. We were made to conform in order to be “accepted.” I find that adults who are working on healing from this abuse are usually very good at accepting their children exactly as they are. They understand that their children are testing life out, and may go through phases of, e.g., different styles of dress and different activities. And that is perfectly okay. You guide your children and allow them to experience life.

You advocate for your child

You are passionate about taking care of your child’s emotional needs, and making sure that your child feels heard and seen. You allow your children an age-appropriate say in their world and what happens to them. You value the connection with your children over their obedience. You allow your children to self-champion and set their own boundaries, especially physical boundaries, such as being touched and hugged. You know that when you do this, your children instinctively know that you are their advocate and that you accept them. As such, your children naturally want to cooperate with you and take guidance from you.

You trust your child

You know that trusting your child is vital to the relationship. When trust is broken, the parent-child bond suffers. Your default position is to believe your child instead of outside people, such as teachers. You know that people who are unable to trust are inherently not trustworthy. You know that if you want trust, you must give trust, including to your children. When parents assume that children are untrustworthy, the result is that the children do not trust their parents and do not share things with their parents. This lack of trust damages the parent-child relationship. After all, how would you feel if someone questioned and disbelieved everything you said?

If you catch your child lying, you sit down with them and calmly talk about why they felt the need to lie. Your default reaction to lying is not to punish, but to instead seek to understand and repair the parent-child connection. You know from your own childhood experiences that kids usually lie in order to avoid parents’ emotional overreaction, parents’ anger, or to avoid punishment.

You make the moments count

You know not to sweat the small stuff. And eighty to ninety percent of what happens in life is small stuff. You know that there is little value in harping on mundane crap. You allow your kids to learn from natural consequences and rarely, if ever, impose punishments or logical consequences. You know that all punishments do is get kids to conform to a certain behavior. You know that teaching children through natural consequences better prepares them to cope with life.

You feel free to have fun with your kids. You know that doing fun-filled activities and creating positive moments are some of the most important ways to bond with your children.

You prioritize positive connections

You always prioritize connecting with your children over compliance or correction. If your child shares something with you, you let them know you are grateful that they are sharing with you. You recognize that moment as a bid for connection from your child, and do not use it as an opportunity for correction or criticism. When you do give your children feedback, your interaction comes from a place of guidance, not correction or criticism.

You protect your own boundaries

You know to give yourself plenty of breaks and you learn to say “No.” This step is a lifelong journey of setting and reinforcing boundaries. You also know that reinforcing these boundaries takes a lot of your energy. Therefore, you know to allow time for rest and relaxation. It takes longer for some of us to implement this step because we feel as if we have to do it all. But we eventually get there. And it feels so good to rest and reparent ourselves that, once we start, it becomes a regular part of our routines.

When you protect your own boundaries like this, you are teaching your children that protecting their own time and energy is important. This sets them up to maintain healthy boundaries as adults, so that they do not burn themselves out by doing it all.

These topics are a few of the MANY that we cover in-depth in the Thriving After Trauma one-on-one coaching program. Learn the steps and scripts to recognize and heal from your childhood trauma and have the best relationship possible with your children. For more info, and to see if the program is a good fit for you, click here.

You can also email me directly at or check out my free parenting content on YouTube.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and visit my website for more info!


Maria R. Riegger, Esq., Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Maria Riegger is an author and parenting coach, who specializes in reparenting from childhood trauma. A rocky childhood, involving the death of a parent and narcissistic abuse, led Maria to consider how to be a better parent in a crazy world. In short, more laughs and positive connections and less dictating and criticizing. Parents should parent with the child's particular needs in mind, rather than the parents' ego needs.



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