These battle scars don't look like they're fading. Don't look like they're ever going away. They ain't never gonna change…
These Guy Sebastian lyrics pumped out of the speakers into my eardrums as I worked out at the gym this morning.
I began to think of the responsibility involved in raising children and the battle scars our parents and our parent’s parents leave on us. The family we grow up in can often leave indelible marks on our beliefs, thoughts, emotions and behaviours. Some of those marks are positive and functional but some of them are dysfunctional and toxic.
Sometimes we grow up with unfair labels put on us such as “difficult child” or “clumsy kid”. Sometimes we live in families that don’t allow negative emotions such as sadness to be expressed, “You will be fine, just get on with it”. There are hundreds of possible dysfunctional patterns that become a part of our template for raising children as we start our own journeys.
As I cycled faster and faster, I started to wonder if the battle scars ever do go away. Some people seek therapy in the hope that dysfunctional patterns that they may have taken on from their own parents, might disappear through awareness and changing behaviours.
Through my own experiences parenting and raising children and through having the privilege of working as a counsellor with many new parents, I see battle scars a lot. But I rarely see them going away. I see people attempt to get on top of them but then the counselling process gets too scary, I see people who make great progress only to slip back into unfamiliar patterns once again and I see people who make noble changes in their belief systems and behaviours yet struggle on with those giant battle scars, in the background threatening to rear their ugly heads again.
I do think it is possible to come to terms with old scars using awareness and acceptance but for most this is a challenging, arduous and ongoing process. They don’t go away completely those battle scars – they stay with us as testimony to what we came from and how we want to make things better for our children.
About the Author
Melanie Strang is counsellor who specialises in working with new and expectant parents. She completed a Bachelor of Medicine and worked as a Medical Practitioner in General Medicine, Psychiatry and Public Health. She has practised as a Registered Doctor in several Psychiatric Hospitals around Melbourne. Melanie has since completed a Diploma of Counselling.