One of the most compelling research studies that relates to trauma are the Adverse Child Experiences (ACEs) studies. Unfortunately, a rather significant number of individuals in America have had adverse child experiences, as you can see from this following chart from the ACES Too High website.
The chart shows how significant these ACEs percentages impact health, relationships, addictions, stress, anxiety, depression, and even life expectancy. Overall, the ACE research reveals the way we treat our children has an impact on our whole society and the condition of our communities.
I am convinced we must strongly emphasize educating our parents.
Parents need to know how to provide a safe and healthy emotional and relational environment for our children.
Whether there are family or community issues, parents really should make sure that each member of the family has a safety plan in force.
Parents also need to know how to discipline without being cruel or punitive. They should understand child development so as to create expectations are appropriate for their children’s age and stage.
They need to be effective observers, listeners and communicators with their children to ensure clarity on the needs of their children.
Further, they need to own their destructive transgenerational legacies and loyalties like anger, fear, addictions, and mental health issues. Transgenerational legacies are issues passed from one generation to the next. So, these issues must be processed instead of being passed to our children.
Parenting is a difficult job without contributing factors.
However, if there are contributing factors (such as ACEs) that create danger or dysfunction beyond the family boundaries, support and mentoring is required to help parents overcome these life-dominating difficulties.
Parents need training, peer support, and resources for the issues that can derail their children from a healthy life. We still have done very little to provide communities of care for parents. It is why in any trauma model of care, we must provide training, resources and help for parents.
As we understand the impact of parenting and home environments on our children in research like ACEs, we realize all the more our need to give as much attention to prevention as we do intervention. In so doing, we can circumvent devastating statistics that could happen in a child’s life and continue to impact their adult life, health and well-being.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO