Parent-child Relationship is Key
Considering the number of sexual assaults committed against children and the quadrupling effect on loved ones who become secondary victims, this remains a significant area of concern (Clevenger, 2016). Protective parents exposed to this traumatic situation are especially vulnerable to PTSD which can negatively impact parenting behaviours and the parent child relationship (Crnic et al., 2005; Salloum, Stover, Swaidan, & Storch, 2015). The environment in which a child recovers has shown to mitigate or intensify the psychological symptoms of the child’s recovery (La Greca, Silverman, Vernberg, & Roberts, 2002). Researchers have advocated that parent posttraumatic appraisals contribute to the development of posttraumatic stress disorder in both parents and their children following their trauma exposure (Schilpzand, Conroy, Anderson, & Alisic, 2018). Therefore it is important to seek support to restore and keep a positive parent-child relationship.
Seeking parenting support is important, whether you engage in support with Bravehearts, Blue Knott, Act for Kids or see a psychologist to assist yourself and your child in your recovery is important. Focusing on rebuilding the parent-child relationship is vital as this relationship may ameliorate some of the negative effects post child trauma (Hooker et al., 2016).
Wanting to support your child’s recovery is normal but remember your child is resilient and able to cope and rebuild when you are. Dr Judith Locke suggests that over parenting, is an extreme responsiveness to children’s perceived needs that is not age appropriate.
The Bonsai Child is worth reading and will explain with practical strategies how to assist parents in raising resilient children. Over parenting she reports results in poor life skills, reduced resilience, anxiety, perfectionism and a sense of entitlement. Despite your child having been through a traumatic event it is important to help them realise that they can cope with adversity and future difficulties. If we over compensate or suggest that they lack to skills to face challenges independently they can become despondent and those feelings of helplessness may linger unnecessarily. The importance of empowering children and asking them what they need to cope in their difficult situations will empower them to not give up and find competence, strength and hope for their futures to unfold.
Recovery from trauma is possible and children are like precious caterpillars who may feel trapped in a dark cocoon. However, given time, love, empowering them to take courage and fight against things that are difficult for them will build strength and resilience allowing them to emerge to become all that they are destined to be. Remember if someone trys to help a caterpillar out of the cocoon to soon or gives to much assistance the caterpillar does not get the chance to develop its strength.
Dr Judith Locke: http://judithlocke.com.au
Justin Coulson: https://www.justincoulson.com