The Unspoken Pain of Childhood

This is the core wound many of us have…and sadly pass on.

Above all else, children want to feel affection and acceptance from their parents and caregivers. This is what most parents instinctively give their new babies. I know that my instinct was to hold and cuddle, to deeply gaze at, and to speak gently to my babies. But, it didn’t last forever.

I imagine it comes as a shock to children when parents so abruptly withdrawal the affection and acceptance they once gave their small children. This happens as children grow and become less “baby-like”, when their motives can be construed as defiant, when their motives can be defined as hurtful. Are these small children intending to be hurtful? How could a parent see a small child in this way?

This abrupt withdrawal of unconditional love and affection is a crisis that some never recover from.

Image what a shock to the system it would be for a young child to go from being held and loved, to being pushed away, yelled at, blamed, (and hit)…your reality changed forever. Not only are you not safe now, YOU are the problem! What a lonely place: to be the problem, and to be unloved.  (Stop that! Get over here! Go to your room! Whack!)

Your world turned upside down, your safety no longer safe…your heart broken. So much confusion and hurt. “Why is this happening?”

As parents, we leverage love and acceptance to gain compliance because it’s what we know, and it’s effective. Many children will comply in order to fit in and feel safe. Belonging and being close to your caregivers is necessary for survival even. We are playing a dangerous game though. We are playing around with such important needs. Is there not another way? Can we not teach lovingly?

The cost?

How many of the problematic behaviors we see in children (and grown adults) are a result of them desperately trying to chase down that elusive love and acceptance? Think about the problem behaviors you see. How many of these behaviors would evaporate if that person knew at their core that they were deeply loved, lovable, and okay the way they were? What would this person do instead of being destructive?

The behaviors are calls for help. These behaviors are protests. It is a broadcasting of one’s pain. “As hard as I try, I cannot figure out how to feel enough, okay, and loveable for who I am.”

When all else fails, there is one thing left: to numb the pain. So, many people numb out with alcohol, tv, food…work. You name it.

Can you see this?

Could love, affection and acceptance actually be this powerful? What if it was. What then? How would you love yourself? How would you love your family? How would you love the world?

What would be possible and how would our world change if unconditional love, affection, and acceptance were unshakeably present in the lives of our young ones? Who would they grow up to be?

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1 Comment

  1. Andie Pask

    Love this, Drew. I think so many adults feel they “are not enough” (likely due to childhood feelings) so they soothe it with a number of things. Thanks for sharing this awesome post and giving the reminder to unconditionally love our kiddos – regardless of “what” or “how” they are doing. So good!!



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