Creating the future: safe and healthy relationships for our children

IMPORTANT: This blog is not a substitute for therapy, but provides evidenced-based education for the purposes of self-help, or to compliment the therapeutic process. ​ ​This blog is non-monetized.

As parents, our deepest wish is for our children to grow up feeling safe, loved and equipped to form healthy, fulfilling relationships. However, without even realizing it, we unknowingly pass on the patterns from our past, that against all of our best intentions, do the opposite. A common analogy is a house with an unpredictable foundation – it’s sometimes stable, but sometimes not. This analogy can mirror a child’s experience in an environment where emotional safety is inconsistent. If the emotional safety is inconsistent for too long – and children and youth are left to on their own to figure it out, the possibility for attachment trauma arises.

This is where the concept of conscious parenting can come into play.

Attachment trauma: Understanding the shaky foundation

Attachment trauma might form when children find their caregivers—their primal sources of both physical and emotional safety—to instead be sources of fear, anxiety, neglect, or confusion. 

Instead of a secure base, children come to experience relationships that unpredictable, chaotic, or dangerous, like living in a house always on the verge of collapse, as a normal state of affairs. This can happen even in well-meaning or unintentionally inattentive households – caregivers might be emotionally unavailable, inconsistently affectionate and attentive, or even more directly, outright harmful. These experiences inform children that to stay safe, they must either cling desperately to their parent, for any sign of affection, or to push people away, for fear of being hurt.

Understanding different parenting styles

Below are some relatable archetypes, representing parenting styles you might recognize, and how these styles can impact your child.  It’s really important to note, no parent is perfect. We can all bounce through these styles of parenting from time to time. If we aren’t yet questioning our parenting style, yet struggling in relationship with our kids, we might be missing an important opportunity to know ourselves and our kids better.

When we recognize parts of ourselves in these descriptions, seeking therapeutic or coaching support can be a valuable step in breaking cycles of generational trauma and building a future with more nurturing family dynamics. 

Pleaser Parent

A pleaser parent constantly seeks their child’s approval by avoiding conflict and setting few boundaries. Impact: This can lead to the child having a skewed sense of entitlement and difficulties handling disappointment.

Fixer Parent

A fixer parent attempts to shield their child from all distress, solving problems on their behalf. Impact: The child might lack autonomy and struggle with self-efficacy, becoming overly reliant on others.

Fawner Parent

The ‘fawner’ parent overly accommodates their child to avoid conflict or disapproval, often at the expense of their own (and their child’s needs). Impact: Children learn what is modelled for them; this can teach children to suppress their own needs and desires, leading to difficulties in asserting themselves and potentially developing people-pleasing behaviours.

Helicopter Parent

A helicopter parent is overly involved in their child’s life, closely monitoring and controlling their experiences. Impact: This may result in the child struggling with independence, self-identity, and developing anxiety or perfectionism.

Emotionally Unavailable Parent

An unavailable parent is often physically present but emotionally distant, offering little emotional support or warmth. Impact: Children might struggle with feelings of abandonment, low self-esteem, and difficulty forming secure attachments in relationships. They may also become overly independent or seek approval and validation from external sources.

Emotionally Detached Parent

Similar to the unavailable parent, an emotionally detached parent is not responsive to their child’s emotional needs, often appearing indifferent or disinterested. Impact: This can lead to our kids experiencing challenges in understanding and managing their own emotions, a deep sense of emotional isolation, and difficulties in trusting the interest or attentiveness of others.

Freezer Parent

A freezer parent responds to stress or conflict by withdrawing and becoming emotionally unavailable or shutting down from their closest relations, including their own children. Impact: Children may feel neglected or learn to suppress their emotions, struggling with emotional expression and intimacy in relationships.

Authoritarian Parent

Authoritarian parents enforce strict rules and expect obedience without question, often valuing discipline over dialogue. Impact: Children raised by authoritarian parents may exhibit low self-esteem, anxiety, and a tendency toward conformity or rebellion. They might also struggle with decision-making and critical thinking, as they’re used to being told what to do without room for their input.

Diva Parent

A diva parent tends to focus on their own needs and desires, often overshadowing their child’s needs or using their child to fulfill their aspirations. Impact: The child may grow up feeling secondary to their parent’s needs, leading to issues with self-worth and seeking unhealthy ways to gain attention and approval.

Transactor Parent

This parent treats relationships within the family as transactions, expecting something in return for love or care, often material or achievement-oriented. Impact: Such children might develop a sense of conditional worth, believing love and acceptance are contingent upon meeting specific criteria or achievements.

Worry Wart Parent

A worry wart parent is excessively anxious about their child’s well-being, safety, and future, often communicating this anxiety to the child. Impact: This can lead to an internalization of anxiety, making children excessively fearful, lacking in confidence, or overly reliant on their parents for reassurance and decision-making.

Conscious Parenting: Laying a New Foundation

Conscious parenting is the act of mindfully shaping the emotional environment of our children. It’s about being present, intentional, and embodying awareness about the impact our OWN life experiences on us, and how our behaviours then impact our children through our parenting styles.

When we take the broader view of the whole parent-child system, can intentionally build our parenting style to ensure our children’s future is built on a foundation of safety and healthy relationships.

The goals of this work include:

  • Healing Our Own Traumas: We begin by looking inward. Understanding and healing our own past traumas are the first step to preventing the replication of unhealthy patterns. This growing self-awareness paves the way for healthier family dynamics.
  • We Become Emotionally Available: We prioritize being present and responsive. Our emotional availability builds trust and security, helping our child understand relationships can be safe and stable.
  • Ensure Consistency and Predictability: We work to create a more predictable environment with consistent routines and clear boundaries.  Such stability is key to fostering a sense of security and belonging. If consistency is hard, we help identify and build those skills.
  • Encourage Open Communication: We learn how to foster an environment where feelings and thoughts can be freely expressed. This openness prevents conflicts from escalating and teaches healthy emotional expression.
  • Model Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Our children learn to handle life’s challenges by watching us. We explore how we can demonstrate healthy ways to manage stress and emotions, showing them it’s okay to seek help and express vulnerability.
  • Practice Self-compassion and Forgiveness: We show ourselves and our children that making mistakes is human. This teaches compassion and the importance of forgiveness – important relational skills in maintaining healthy relationships.

By consciously choosing to be the architects of a new foundation for our children, we can help them grow into adults who know what safety feels like and what it means to have healthy relationships.

This journey begins with us — our kids blueprint for understanding the world.

It’s good to remember when we feel like the deck is stacked against us, the one thing we can do is look at what our own controllable’s are.

Parents can work on healing their traumas or stuck points, understand the roots of our own behaviours, and learning healthier ways to support our child’s growth and development. This might involve the hard work of figuring out what might be more appropriate boundaries based on your goals, allowing your children age-appropriate independence or chores, and embracing opportunities for children to learn from their own mistakes and challenges.

Recognizing the unhealthy patterns or expectations that continue to run through our generations, is crucial for parents who wish to foster healthier relationships and support their children’s growth into emotionally resilient and independent individuals. This work is not about blaming or attacking our parents. This is about awareness, understanding and shifting our own formed attachment styles to understand more deeply how these patterns affect our relationship with our children.

We can build a future where our children can thrive, grounded in love, security, and emotional health.  

Interested in learning more?

Meet Sabrina Belo, our team Clinical Counsellor and Certified Conscious Parenting Coach, to begin your journey to navigate this transformation, for both your own well-being and to foster a healthier, more balanced relationships within your family.

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Picture of Sabrina Belo CC, CCPMC

Sabrina Belo CC, CCPMC

Sabrina is a Clinical Counsellor, Certified Conscious Parenting Method Coach, End of Life Doula & Certified Grief Counsellor with Dig A Little Deeper, Psychotherapy & Counselling. Sabrina works with individuals and families to help heal and to move forward together with renewed connection. Connect with Sabrina by email, or through her socials, found on her Bio page.

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