How would you parent yourself, if you were the parent of a child like you?

This post has inspired me to do some research (when I can handle it) because how does one even begin to help a child who has been sexually abused?? I don't know the answer to that question, but I'd like to find out. In college, I was initially majoring in childhood development because I wanted to learn how to help kids like me. This post has reminded me of what's important to me, so thank you for that.

I do have some idea of what I would have liked my parents to do. My parents never seemed to notice or care that something was wrong with me, even though I showed clear signs of trauma. To them, I was always dramatic, silly, sensitive, misremembering, or making a big deal out of nothing. I hid my interests and any other information about myself from them because when they would try to inquire about them (I think to connect?) I would feel like they were mocking me. My parents rarely praised me. Any time my behavior was mentioned, it was to tell me that I was doing something wrong. I could never confide in my parents about anything serious because dad would get so stressed that he would give me a secondhand panic attack, and mom never knew how to show that she cared or pretend that she cared (one of my therapists suspected that she's on the spectrum). They were not emotionally safe, caring, or stable people to turn to. Both of my parents did a poor job of dealing with their emotions and ended up taking them out on everyone else.

So, I would have done the opposite of all that. lol. I would have gone to therapy to get my shit together before I had children. This really shouldn't be in past tense because they are exactly the same now.
I was the scapegoat child of a narcissistic mother, if I wasn't being blamed, berated, bullied or generally made to carry the can then I was literally being ignored, as in I didn't exist for her. I was only there for twisted amusement.

It gave me a very warped view of parenting, to the point that I'm glad I never had children, because I really wouldn't know how to parent. To me, raising children in a stable, loving home is as alien as living on another planet. I wouldn't know how or where to start.
This post has inspired me to do some research (when I can handle it) because how does one even begin to help a child who has been sexually abused??
For me, it would be asking questions. And highlighting what I was doing. I.e asking me about why I was hiding rotting food. Asking me why I was withdrawn. Asking me why I stopped washing. Noticing and asking why I was drinking. Noticing and asking why I did do homework.
Noticing, asking, being there, talking, recognising.
I often think what would it have been like to have someone intervene and actually ask. Would I have said? Idk. Maybe? If they explained things and made it safe to.

I was the scapegoat child of a narcissistic mother, if I wasn't being blamed, berated, bullied or generally made to carry the can then I was literally being ignored, as in I didn't exist for her. I was only there for twisted amusement.

It gave me a very warped view of parenting, to the point that I'm glad I never had children, because I really wouldn't know how to parent. To me, raising children in a stable, loving home is as alien as living on another planet. I wouldn't know how or where to start.
Yeah, I feel a lot of what you right. I wasn't the scapegoat, but the 'lost child.' worked hard to not exist.

I'm glad I'm not a parent.
Break the cycle by not having a cycle.
"What were you like as a kid, and how would you reflect on a child who was brought into your care (not even that you were necessarily your own biological parent) that was similar in many ways to what you were?"

The kid
: I was extremely shy around new adults, hiding behind my mother's skirt! Otherwise very imaginative and playful and energetic. I was loud that I constantly got in trouble at day care and at school! I look back and realize how full of vitality and life I was. The world wasn't big enough for me even in preschool. Always learning always playing out scenarios. Loved to play pretend. Never enough toys. Wouldn't stop playing even to go to the bathroom or to eat. Loved to play outside even alone. I could entertain myself for hours and would talk and sing out loud and make up complex stories that I would return to when alone again. But I also loved playing with others and had some close friends with strong bonds.

Sadly, I often played too hard and didn't know my own strength. I accidentally injured people and broke stuff throughout my childhood and felt really bad about it. The world was my lab and it's like all those glass beakers I would go on to break in chemistry lab in college...

Even as a kid I had a chemistry set and I didn't keep to the instructions and decided to mix or create hydrochloric acid (?) with something else I don't remember based on some theory I had and prior experiments. Things happened so fast there was so much pressure building and I had to run outside with the tube and throw it down. It burned a hole in the concrete and left a stain that was still there over a decade later. A friend who was present still laughing about it to this day. That was a very "me" moment apparently. Lol

I wasn't exactly a rule follower and would only follow rules I understood; if the manual had told me not to mix those things and explicitly stated why not to, then I would make up my own mind based on the facts, and if those facts included potential injury and serious property damage and explained how that would happen (so that I would believe it) then I think I would have agreed not to. And yes, I did read manuals. In fact, I enjoyed them. Encyclopedias too. But I often noticed things were not as detailed or expansive as I would like. That chemistry set manual and mini textbook just left me with more questions. And there was no internet back then to look stuff up. So I spent so much time looking things up in books and trying to understand the world around me only to be frustrated that the books would talk around the very unanswered questions I had. I found out in graduate school that this is usually because a question is genuinely still unanswered and a good author will explicitly point this out and invite the reader to pursue it.

Often I would just get so easily carried away with whatever I was doing and wouldn't notice my surroundings. I seemed to have a certain level of social blindness and was often absorbed in whatever task I was doing. I couldn't brush my hair because it hurt too much and couldn't wear many normal clothes because they were too uncomfortable. Other kids often thought I was "weird" and couldn't understand why I didn't care as much about fitting in or why I seemed oblivious to social rules. It was as if everyone else "got the memo" and I just didn't. I was eventually diagnosed with autism.

I was sick a lot from illnesses that we now know to be chronic and potentially debilitating and are genetic.

I could spend hours talking to adults and they would comment to my parents how articulate and engaging I was. I enjoyed long and interesting discussions about life with adults. When I was removed from other kids and in the company of a mature adult, I was apparently a pleasure to converse with. It was like a genuine little grown up inside that would just appear and from this I knew that I could clean up well and be sophisticated and civilized when not at play. I had a serious studious side as well. This was important. But when left to my own devices or to be with other kids, well, things would break. Lol

How to parent: Kids need boundaries and to be reminded of their own power and limitations. I needed adults to help me with that and they did.

Loudness: I disagree with how some of them handled my loudness. Punishing me and saying some of the things they did was wrong. The best adults simply spoke to me in a firm voice and reminded me to be quiet and if I was wearing their patience thin they would explain to me WHY I needed to be quiet and what the consequences would be if I didn't. Clever ones avoided the situation altogether by figuring out what situations lead to me being loud and then providing activities that would make me more quiet. I would do all those good things.

For hurting others and breaking stuff, I would do the good things modeled for me in my youth. If a child accidentally hurt someone I would help them to help that child and learn to channel their natural guilt and empathy into positive action and help them to see how this contributes to bonding and relationship building. I was given those opportunities and it helped me to deal with the guilt of seeing that I hurt someone.

Regarding how I needed to understand rules in order to feel invested in following them: I would explain rules as part of how the world works and help the child relate them to broader systems. For instance, my niece didn't seem to be able to learn not to pick her nose. I explained to her that picking her nose could make her loved ones sick by spreading germs, and that people are generally grossed out by that for good reason, and when she gets into first grade the other kids will not want to be around that for good reason... I told her the importance of using tissues and washing hands to help stop spread of disease. Talked about epidemiology. Kids seem to have a natural love of science. This worked for her. I realize it may not work for all kids and sometimes we have to be harsh and add more understandable and immediate consequences for things. But it's important to eventually pair that action with explanation, and grounding. Help the child learn to see how the world works and how they fit into it.

Now that I know what autism looks like I would be more on the lookout for it and try to give the child more help than I had. It would have been soooo nice to have a support group of other girls like me with female adult role models with autism. I think this could have helped me tremendously with self-concept and self-acceptance. And to have tips and tricks for dealing with certain sensory issues would have been amazing. And I would have really loved to have studied the social rules that I didn't pick up on explicitly and then choose which ones to adopt for myself. This idea that some of us need to learn social and cultural rules the same way we learn math and grammar (from a book that explains it all and breaks it all down) really resonates with me, and when I was given a book like this meant for autistic adults, it was a relief. If only "the memo" I didn't get was a literal thing which could be forwarded to me. Lol

But just knowing that I need that extra help and someone to kind of guide me is enough to not only do well in life but perhaps even better than someone who doesn't have to consider these things. To be aware of this and helped with it as a child would have been life changing for me. I might have done more and grown more and accomplished more at a younger age. But because of this limitation along with the limitations created by my trauma and PTSD, I was "lost" and my abilities were (edit: too often) overshadowed by disabilities. How many other kids are currently lost in this way? What talents skills and abilities are not being put into this world because of the lack of knowledge or support for developmental issues including autism and trauma and more? I think we've only uncovered a small amount of human potential and much of it is obscured by these difficulties. I think a lot of kids are smarter and more capable than they think and it is up to adults to help them find their unique gifts and cultivate them. I would help my child to see clearly both their abilities and their limitations, and to celebrate their abilities while being patient with and accepting of their limitations. And help them to cultivate a sense of agency and choice about how much they fit in.
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It seems silly to say basic things like "I wouldn't hit my kid for eating garbage off the ground because I failed to feed them," but y'know. I wouldn't. This seems like an interesting exercise. As not necessarily what you think your parents could have done better, but what you would do, if faced with a child like yourself. For me, I internalized quite early on that I was a bad kid who deserved to be mistreated.

But when thinking of it in these more rational scenarios, it becomes clear that in reality I would advocate for such a child to be treated with compassion and care. That the focus should be on rehabilitation, reintegration, socialization, play, allowing their physical and developmental needs to be met, working on fostering a healthy sense of attachment, focusing on teaching empathy and modeling empathy and all of that stuff.

My therapist gets so focused on the things that happened from like 0-6, even though I frequently dismiss them due to not having many negative feelings about it. But she calls what happened "extreme" and in our very first session she brought up RAD by name before I'd even spoken about it (her words were, "it sounds like there was some attachment..." and I was like "yup," lmao.) So it's interesting to me that this stuff is some of the worst for her even though I've talked about being forced to cut off someone's fingers as a kid.

The most compounding part of it is that the person who did this (the 0-6 shit, not the spoilered stuff) to me, is someone I still maintain a positive relationship with && have forgiven. Yet, ignoring its effects on me has not been beneficial. && thinking about it like this, in terms of how I would do things differently if I had a child like me? Even presuming I got the kid at age 6, who already had ADHD, RAD and the beginnings of structural dissociation? (I didn't get the PTSD until 16, it was very delayed-onset.)

Even if I did get the Beth Thomas kid, I'd still work on developing a rapport based in compassion and rehabilitation. Instead of what did happen, which was seeing professional after professional who concluded I was just "oppositional-defiant" and "a bad kid." The last therapy session she brought up Romanian orphanages completely unprompted and then told me I should consider if I read a news article about a 4 year old being locked in a room and starved, how I would feel. And because I don't lie to her I had to say well, I probably would not feel anything, but I would say that is an egregious case of child abuse.

Anyway, this was something posited on a Reddit thread in the ASPD subreddit that I thought might be an interesting exercise to reproduce here. On that subreddit the focus was on how you would parent a child who had significant conduct and behavioral issues, but in this space I would expand that to a much more general criteria. What were you like as a kid, and how would you reflect on a child who was brought into your care (not even that you were necessarily your own biological parent) that was similar in many ways to what you were?

It's been intriguing to realize that even if I was looking after a stereotypically "bad" child, I would not blame them or accuse them of being bad, I would work as hard as I could to help them socially rehabilitate and develop age-appropriate emotional and empathetic responses. && I know this because my younger sister N, struggled with ADHD and ODD, and I never mistreated her or accused her of being bad. I worked as hard as I could to model behavior for her and engage with her and help her mother obtain assessments for her and educated her mom on various treatments for both that didn't result in her being an over-medicated zombie child who blamed herself and lashed out at others.

Now she's a volunteer firefighter. M, my other sister, never had the same issues, she internalized, but she still talks to me and trusts me because I didn't yell at her as a kid and I protected her from my dad. So I know that is what I would do because I did it. Which means that if I were faced with a kid like me, who was frankly a "special needs" kid, I would try to do the same thing && would be moved even further to assist them because I know exactly what it's like to be in those shoes.

How 'bout that, eh? 😖
That is great you were able to help them even with you struggling with your own things as well. I feel some times we who suffer with things understand others who suffer the most. I have a child who is grown now who has ADHD, ODD, bipolar, and aniexty. He may be having more things surfacing as well. Or it may be drugs and alcohol making him worse than he already is. I have been trying to help him his entire life. I pray and hope he get better than he his now. It breaks my heart to see him suffering. It hurts me to see anyone suffering.
As a kid I was easy. Too easy, so as a parent I’d notice the maturity level and instead of thinking how nice that is I’d question what caused it. I’d spend more time with me and know some of my easiness were red flags for signs of abuse then I’d find ways to get me talking until I finally told and it could be taken care of before it got so far.
Likewise. So disinterested in my fellow male-type peers in schools. Parents expected strict behavior and emotional fury from Dad.
Punish mom for everything. Etc.

A teacher pulled me aside in high school and asked why I couldn’t make a decision on a science project. Couldn’t explain that making a decision without ingrained expectation to be unfairly corrected or so much time guessing what my abusers and bullies wanted out of me….was dang near impossible. I was 16 when I noticed I was going “in and out” freeze ptsd wise despite top test marks etc
We know much more than our parents did and have far greater services, medications and general help.

The cycle of abuse is a practice of those who are unwilling to address their own trauma.

Breaking the cycle of trauma was most important to me and a reason to not have children until I believed I could.
My complaint about my mother is pretty mild compared to what a lot of people here have had to put up with. It still effected me badly, so here goes:
I wish she had been more balanced in terms of considering my emotional/mental state. She never wanted to hear from me, but always had to be sure I was dressed the way she approved. In Junior High I started seeing people as generally being judgmental and superficial. I think I absorbed this idea from her that the only thing people are paying attention to me is on my appearance
I also wish she hadn’t messed up my self confidence by questioning all my decisions all the time. It was almost like, it has to be wrong if it is something I am thinking of. It still messes me up as an adult who is supposed to do adult things. How the hell do you think I come across in job interviews?🙄
I actually got a chance to do something like this. My Neice was having a hard time (6-8 yrs old). Her mother was very upset with her about something, so she ran upstairs to her room. My own mother went up to talk to her. When my mom came back downstairs, I watched her closely, and her expression was....missing. Sounds weird, huh? So I went upstairs to see what I could do. I told my neice just what she needed to hear- like I would have needed, if I was her. She felt much better, gave me a hug, and we both went downstairs and went on with our day.

After seeing my own mom with so little expression and lack of love or support, it helped me take some of the blame off myself for being how I am-at least with my family around. (I explained to my husband that I "put on a mask" when I'm with my family)

After writing this about myself, and even thinking about it now, gives me a better feeling about how I see myself.
I wasn't the scapegoat, but the 'lost child.' worked hard to not exist.

I'm glad I'm not a parent.
Break the cycle by not having a cycle.

I did the same thing. I try to be invisible-especially with my family. As the "odd, trouble maker", I am treated very differently than my brother and sisters. After all the problems growing up in my family, and added to all the abuse outside of home, I made the decision to never have kids. I don't want to bring another human being into my terrible world.