Yesterday, we celebrated Father’s Day as a family. We had our usual church-lunch-play/naptime-dinner and in between these family activities, one thing wasn’t usual- tantrum. For the first time (in forever) my lil’ Ms. GJG had an overwhelming feeling of emotional distress switched right on after a moment of realizing she couldn’t get what she wants. What she wants was to play at Gymboree after having dinner. Despite riding the kiddie train thrice she still wanted to play. Why? Because she expected it early on even before we left for dinner, she gladly brought her Elsa socks with her.
She froze, gave us that stern I-am-so-not-gonna-move-in-this-place look and growled at us. We called her twice, thrice but to no avail. To pacify, we told her she and her shoti can play at Tom’s World instead. Gymboree, was right beside Tom’s Worlds so when she saw it was already closed, it gave her a sense of contentment and we all came home happy and satisfied, or so we thought.
In the car, the real reason behind her tantrum was revealed. She told us how sad she was that she doesn’t have the same hooded shirt as her shoti. Wait, what? I thought this was about not being able to play at Gymboree?!
Hooded shirt? Where did that come from? Then I remember I went home last Wednesday with a bagful of their clothes which I shopped from H&M because they were on sale and my lil’ Mr. GJG outgrew most of his shirts. I got him about 3 hooded shirt/sweater while I got lil’ Ms. GJG a dress and a cardigan. I was really surprised to know that her anger and frustration stemmed from that Wednesday night.
When we got home, she went back to her tantrum mode. That stern I-hate-you look that I haven’t seen in the five years I raised her was something that bothered me. What was happening to my lil’ Ms. GJG?! Why suddenly go on a fit all for a hooded shirt?! This was the first she had ever compared things I buy for her and her brother. I guess there’s always a first time for everything and wondering why it’s not always fair (as what she puts it) will always be something that’s hard to explain.
“You know Mom, sometimes when I feel cold and my head feels cold, I need to wear a hooded jacket.”
“It’s not fair, why didn’t you buy me any hooded jacket. Why does Juro have a lot and I don’t?!”
See how very different these two statements are? The first one was lil’ Ms. GJG’s reaction when I showed her the clothes I bought last Wednesday. The second one was from last night, when she remembered how much she hated the fact that (I didn’t bought her) she doesn’t have a hooded jacket.
My instinctive reaction towards this issue of hers was to explain that she already has two hooded jackets then we both close the issue and move on. No more confrontation, no more tantrum, no more scolding. That’s it. But then I remembered what Christine Foong-Wong discussed last Tuesday about childhood trauma, which reminded me that I should be more cautious when it comes to explaining things to my children. That Sunday night moment could’ve been a trauma if I had decided to shrug it off and just resort to say that I’ll just buy her a hooded jacket so she can forget about the issue she had. If this is how we resolve things, she would always remember how her feelings were disregarded and how she can use her emotions to get what she wants. This was the easy way to do it & if I had done this, she would always play the tantrum card on me and she would never understand how there would be times, she would not get what she wants.
Trauma is associated with emotions of helplessness and the lacking of any protection. There’s no security and most of the time, there’s uncertainty. It’s an injury or a wound that has scarred a person, making one unable to function properly or at the very least carry an emotional stress for the rest of his/her life.
Trauma can be caused by unique events (accident, catastrophe) or by long lasting situation (domestic violence or physical abuse). Trauma is an injury, not only physically (body) but also physche (mind) and social relationship. It’s when a person has a deeply distressing or disturbing experiences. Some of these traumas aren’t too obvious to know they are one until that person realises that a certain event in her childhood or in her life lead her to react or decide on things because of the trauma he/she has experienced.
I didn’t know she was having a deep distress going on inside her. She broke into sobs after telling me about the whole hoodie incident. Instead of me telling her it’s okay and that she should stop crying, I told her to let it all out. I said how sorry I was that I didn’t know what was really making her sad and angry. That suppressing her anger in the mall is me preventing her to express how she feels. I told her that whenever she feels so angry and so sad, she can always tell me & when she really needs to let it out and throw a fit- she can scream, cry, punch the pillow, stomp her feet, growl to release the overwhelming feeling that consumes her right at the moment but she can only do so at home.
According to Christine, psychological trauma is the most difficult because many people don’t talk about it. Negative emotions are still emotions that need to be expressed and discussed to be understood. Did you know that like genes, emotions are also carried from one generation to another? Multi-generational pscyho traumatology (MPT)- at least three generations will impact one’s life. What your parents and grandparents may or may not have done consciously or unconsciously can really affect you and the scary thing is you may or may not know it.
This is where Christine Foong-Wong steps in. She’s a Psychotrauma Therapist based in Singapore. She’s like Coach Pia,a life coach, but she focuses on one’s trauma particularly childhood. The scary thing about trauma sometimes is not the trauma itself, but the effects it gives to one person and to his/her immediate circle (family & friends).
Growing up, whenever I have a fit or would cry because I want something (not necessarily a material thing) my parents would always hush me and would ask me to stop crying. I never fully understand why they do it. All I know back then is to just follow what they say. Why? Because they said so and because they’re my parents. I feel confused and to be honest, unsafe to show my feelings and emotions. So when I became a mom, I vow not to do this. Consciously, I said I wouldn’t resort to using the words NO, STOP, DO NOT to reprimand or to pacify my children. I also said I wouldn’t use spanking as a form of discipline. Most days, I stick to my vow but on stressful days, I catch myself doing exactly what my parents did to me when I was a child. This is what Christine calls as a form of bonding. There are four types of bonding: safe, unsafe and ambivalent, unsafe and avoid ant and chaotic bonding.
When we are suffering the same way with our parents, we are bonding with them. You see, consciously I know I want to put a halt to the traditional way of parenting in my family and I want it to stop at my generation because I want my children to become better parents than we are and for them to be progressive ones. But unconsciously, I see myself doing the same thing my parents do. My learning during the BetterMe session was my trauma. After evaluating what happened to me when I was kid, I see how I was doing with my own children.
So it is really important to know your trauma. Ask yourself: What happened to me when I was young? It’s really hard to decipher especially if you had a happy childhood but like what Christine said, everyone has a trauma, it’s a matter of knowing what it is so that you can prevent passing on the emotional baggage to the next generation.
I picked up a lot from the #BetterMe session with Christine that happened last Tuesday at Baron 3 Gardens. If you’re interested to know more, come and participate in her workshop on understanding childhood psychological trauma and its effects on parents and children.
There’s an ongoing promo so if you and your better half (or friend) want to attend together, go for the buy 1 take 1 promo. You can register at bit.ly/spectrumeducation type GOJACKIEGO at the referral/discount code box to avail the P6,500 buy 1 take 1 ticket. That’s P3,250 per person, worth every buck as you get to really understand and learn about your childhood trauma– so you can be a better person for yourself, your family and for others. It’s really an eye opening workshop and I hope you take time from your busy Saturday to attend. Those who already did the workshop in Singapore such as power couple Harvey & Tin Dychiao (aka Manila Fashion Observer) attest on how it was a mind blowing experience for them.
You can also register online through http://bit.ly/1fe3OcN. This is a good Father’s Day gift to your spouse and a post Mother’s Day gift to your wife. Wouldn’t it be great to raise children who have self-awareness and in tune with their overall well-being? I bet the world would be a better place.
Wouldn’t it be nice that you were the parents who made this possible? Thank you so much Christine Foong-Wong for the very insightful session you gave us. Thank you also Kris de Guzman of OC Mom in Manila, Tin Dychiao of Manila Fashion Observer, Jen Tan of Next9 and Carl Dy of Spectrum Education for letting us get a preview of the workshop. Thanks also to Cesar Wee for letting Baron 3 Gardens be the venue of the session.
Happy Father’s Day to my better half Mr. GJG! Thank you for going above and beyond in providing for our family and for being there for your children. You are the best dad for these lil’ human beings!
Mom, I think I’m feeling much better now.-lil’ Ms. GJG after crying her heart out last night.
Thank goodness, I was able to make time to attend the #BetterMe Trauma Session, it has really helped me understand my children more and focused on becoming a better parent.