On my blog entry entitled Changes in Overprotectiveness Based on Your Own Child Abuse History, a reader posted the following comment:
There’s another level to my healing that I do not know if others struggle with. Because I was ‘ritually abused’, there are many things that were used to ‘program’ me (though I still find it hard to describe what programming is to anyone else!). Those things, like your Russian dolls, were usually childhood items, especially popular Disney and other musicals, some toddler games. I find it really hard – even if not ‘triggered’ – to let my child play with or watch those games and am still really wary of them. ~ A x
I, too, struggle with this. I try to achieve a healthy balance. If something is triggering to me and will cause me emotional harm, my child simply cannot play with it. Let’s face it – children today are hardly deprived in the toy department. I can say yes to 100 things to compensate for the one no.
For example, I absolutely cannot handle seeing my son wearing a black robe. He tried on a “Scream” Halloween costume at a Halloween store. That one glimpse triggered me so badly that I was out of sorts for a week. That means no black robes for him. I don’t see this limitation as something that is going to cause him long-term damage. There are hundreds of Halloween options that don’t include a black robe.
I am age-appropriately honest with my son about why – I have told him that when I was his age, people dressed in black robes hurt me. When that didn’t satisfy him, I shared the additional information that people dressed up in black robes killed my dog. My son loves his dogs, so that made an impression, and he stopped asking for a black robe costume for a while.
My son has never had a Connect Four game because that triggers me, but we have a closet filled with other fun games for children. My son has never played with a Russian nesting doll, but he has had plenty of action figures to play with. There are age-appropriate substitutes for just about any particular item that triggers me.
I try to view this as honoring my inner child while also honoring my son. I am not going to let my son do something at the expense of my inner child’s emotional health, but I am also not going to limit my son for something that is simply annoying to me. While I do have a lot of triggers from childhood, there are many more things out there that do not trigger me. My son is welcome to play with any of those.
Photo credit: Hekatekris