You love your children, and you want the best for them. As a parent you are dedicated to meeting their needs. It is probably hard for you to imagine anything that is more important than raising your children well, yet sometimes you struggle. All parents encounter difficulties in raising their children---that is normal and expected.
If you were maltreated as a child, raising your own children may present with additional challenges. That too is normal and expected. The map you inherited from your parents about how to raise children may be distorted, making it hard to read the signals and cues of your child accurately. It is common for adult survivors of abuse to find it particularly difficult to parent when their child becomes the same age they were when the abuse started. Seeing the vulnerability and innocence of your child may awaken dormant feelings and memories, and you may find yourself reacting in unexpected ways.
The following quiz is a good first step to discovering how the trauma you experienced is impacting your parenting. As you probably understand, this is not a clinical assessment. It is a tool for to help you think about your relationship with your children, and what you might need some help with.
The statements below can help you figure out if the maltreatment you experienced is causing challenges in your parenting today. Every person is unique, and there are many aspects to parenting. However, most commonly parents who have been traumatized have difficulties in the areas of setting limits, and responding when their child is frightened, hurt or wanting to explore. These statements may make you think about interactions in ways that you haven’t done before. Please take your time, and think carefully about the situations described. If you feel guilt or shame as you read the statements, please be kind to yourself. Remember that everyone makes mistakes. It doesn’t matter what you have done, only that you are willing to learn something different now. If you have more than one child, please think about your interactions with the one you are most concerned about.
Simply read each statement and circle True (T) or False (F) for each. Then, read on to learn more about what your responses indicate. This quiz focuses on children aged 2-6.
I tell him/her to buck up--there is nothing to be scared about!
I tend to distract him/her with toys or other activities.
I comfort him/her, but it doesn’t seem to calm him/her down.
I feel scared too, and don’t know what to do.
I don’t want him/her to be too needy, so I tell him/her to get over it.
I help for a little bit, but then we quickly move onto other things.
I try to help him/her, but it seems to make things worse.
It cuts me to the core when s/he is even a little hurt.
We play a lot, but we don’t snuggle much.
I like him/her close to me, cuddling instead of exploring/playing.
I get scared easily when he/she explores.
He/she doesn’t seem to play/explore much.
I’m super firm. He/she needs to do as he is told, immediately.
I get confused easily about when to set limits.
When my child refuses to comply, I tend to back down.
I let my child do his/her thing. I don’t really believe in limits.
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