The Montfort Group

How Does My Childhood Upbringing Affect Me Now?

A trending topic, both professionally and personally, in the past few weeks, is the issue of parenting: the manner in which children are parented, does it affect the person you are today,  and the ways parenting affects a person’s strengths, challenges, and limitations?

No matter if you are currently a parent or not, our childhood upbringing affects us. How we are parented and form early bonds with others touches every aspect of our lives- in our relationships, our professional lives, and ultimately in how we parent our own children. The very first way we learn about connections with others is through the example of our parents. When our first relationships are not healthy often we too lack the adaptive behaviors for relating to others in the future. 

What is the Mother Wound

If our parents received unhealthy modeling from their parents, what they have to give to us is the same unhealthy modeling, unless they engage in their own form of healing. When a parent’s childhood upbringing trauma is not addressed, they tend to interact with their children in the same ways, resulting in a wounded child who becomes a wounded adult and the pattern continues.

The relationship with our mother is the most impactful because mom is a child’s first relationship. Children are fundamentally dependent upon their mothers and naturally internalize their mother’s beliefs, coping mechanisms, and the way she engages in relationships. Eventually, a  child’s internalized way of feeling about themselves combined with their mother’s pain, wounding, and trauma becomes the child’s way of relating in the world. 

When a mother has unprocessed trauma she has a shorter bandwidth of sensitivity to the pain of their children. A mother who is wounded may be highly critical, unable to model self-care and meet the emotional needs of their child. Other signs of a wounded mother are one that looks to their child to meet their own needs, solve their problems, or who tries to live life vicariously through their child.

The mother wound “creates dysfunctional relationship patterns, body insecurity, low self-worth and issues with codependency” creating a tendency “to neglect ourselves in order to be chosen by others.” Adults who have internalized childhood upbringing, a mother wound, may notice themselves spending their adult life trying to be the fixer, rescuer or enabler.

An adult with a mother wound may: 

  • Be unable to effectively set boundaries 
  • Experience issues with co-dependency 
  • Be unable to self soothe in healthy ways 
  • Have a fear of abandonment, chronic self-judgment/self-criticism/self-comparison
  • Have a fear of displeasing their mother
  • Lack of self-trust. 

The good news is adults can choose to break these types of generational patterns and childhood upbringing through awareness, processing the effects of old beliefs, working to replace unhealthy beliefs/ behaviors and practicing new healthier ways of being. 

What can you do? 

  • Change begins with awareness of the behaviors you want to be different 
  • Identify ways you are challenged in relationships and in communication with others 
  • Acknowledge yourself, name the the hurt, and recognize the wishes and desires for a mother you did not have
  • Try to see and accept your mother for who she is and not who you wish she could be
  • Practice setting  boundaries and holding them
  • Surround yourself with a community of supportive individuals that inspire you
  • Cultivate a self-care practice where you spend time engaging in activities that are just for you
  • Recognize and honor your opinions even when they are different from others

This practice over time, allows you to begin to heal limiting beliefs, to see yourself as an individual, not as a reflection of someone else, and to connect with yourself and others in a deeper way. 

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