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  • Writer's pictureMaria Alda Gomez Otero

Should I blame my parents for my issues?

This is a question that you've likely pondered before. Titles like “They F*** You Up” often suggest that the root of our challenges stems from our family of origin. Many of my clients tend to attribute blame to others, with their parents being a common target. While it's undeniable that parents significantly influence our development, it's equally important to recognise the broader impact of our ancestral, cultural, and societal backgrounds. Developing a deeper awareness of these influences helps us understand ourselves better and unravel the complexities of human behaviour, whether it manifests in global conflicts, interpersonal struggles, or internal turmoil. When we gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, we become more empowered to take control of our lives and, ultimately, bear responsibility for our own well-being as adults.




parents and children

My Parents Are To Blame

YES, TO A DEGREE. It's undeniable that much of our behaviour—about 90%, including everyday actions like making eye contact, forming relationships, and tying shoelaces—is unconscious. This means we perform these actions without conscious awareness. This unconscious aspect of our lives is largely formed during early childhood, from 0 to 6 years old, when we are highly influenced by our caregivers and environment. So yes, our parents do bear some responsibility for our issues, as how they've treated us during this critical period is crucial for our development. However, if we hold them entirely responsible, wouldn't their parents be responsible for their issues too, creating an endless loop of blame? Ultimately, this mindset keeps us stuck, dissatisfied with life, and miserable.


My Cultural Legacy Is To Blame

YES. TO A DEGREE TOO. The unconscious beliefs, behaviours, and emotional patterns inherited from our parents are deeply interwoven into the cultural fabric we inhabit. Across generations, ideas, behaviours, and moral codes have been passed down, evolving and shaping who we are as individuals. Our parents were shaped by their society, just as we are shaped by ours. Among these inherited beliefs is the notion that we are inherently flawed, that the world is hostile, and that we must constantly strive to change ourselves and our surroundings. But is this truly the reality, or merely an inherited belief? If we internalise the belief that we are flawed, it can manifest in behaviours that perpetuate self-sabotage and exacerbate life's challenges. However, there is hope. Embrace the idea that you are inherently good, and you possess the power to love your life. Notice how this idea lands in your body.


Individual Responsibility

YOU ARE AN ADULT. As adults, we possess the agency to critically examine and reshape the ingrained narratives of our parents, our generation, and our culture. While our upbringing lays the groundwork for our identities, we ultimately bear the responsibility for nurturing our own emotional and psychological well-being. Recently, a client of mine had a profound realisation that I have been given permission to share. She recognised that just as she provides for herself materially with a job, food, exercise, and a home, she also needs to attend to her emotional needs independently. After all, her parents, partner, or friends aren't accountable for meeting her material needs—so why should they bear responsibility for her emotional ones? I contend that she is equally responsible for her psychological and spiritual growth, embracing all facets of human existence.


Navigating Childhood Trauma

For individuals who have endured childhood trauma, tending to their own emotional needs can feel like scaling a steep mountain. The wounds inflicted during our formative years can reverberate throughout adulthood, casting a shadow over our ability to nurture ourselves. Confronting these challenges—providing for ourselves emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually—can seem daunting. Internalised neglect, abuse, and the influence of highly critical parents can conspire against our efforts to break free from these patterns. It's as though the adult-child relationship we forged at a young age persists, with our adult selves neglecting the unmet needs of our inner child. For instance, it is typical to see a person who was neglected as a child to neglect its own needs as an adult. Fortunately, support is available. You don't have to embark on this mighty journey alone.


Empowering Therapy

Therapeutic approaches centred on empowerment pave the path to healing. When we set blame aside and assume responsibility for our wounded inner child or child parts, we begin to recognise the myriad triggers that can activate our unresolved emotions in response to external stimuli. A supportive therapeutic environment guides us in identifying these triggers and offers techniques to soothe our emotional activation or mobilise our deadened energy, facilitating the healing process. Rather than fixating on assigning blame, the focus shifts to actionable steps forward and acknowledging the inherent strength and adaptability required to bring us to where we are today. Just as one doesn't dwell on assigning blame when faced with a natural disaster, therapy encourages us to acknowledge our losses, process our grief, and embark on the journey of rebuilding. With the guidance of a skilled therapist, this journey becomes an opportunity for creative exploration and growth, empowering us to leave past hurts behind and create a chosen future with confidence.


Conclusion

In conclusion, the question of whether our parents are solely responsible for our mental health is complex and multifaceted. While it's tempting to attribute blame to our family of origin, the reality is far more nuanced. Yes, our parents undoubtedly shape a significant portion of our development, but they are not the sole architects of our psychological landscape. Our cultural heritage, societal norms, and personal experiences all play integral roles in shaping who we are and how we navigate the world around us.

Acknowledging the influence of our upbringing is crucial, but equally important is recognising our own agency as adults. Despite the challenges posed by childhood trauma and ingrained belief systems, we have the power to rewrite our narratives and reclaim our emotional well-being. Therapy offers a transformative space where we can explore these complexities, confront our inner wounds, and chart a course towards healing and self-empowerment.

Ultimately, the journey towards a thriving mental health is a deeply personal one, guided by introspection, self-awareness, and the support of a skilled therapist. By embracing responsibility for our own emotional and psychological well-being, we can break free from the cycle of blame and victimhood, paving the way for a future filled with resilience, authenticity, and inner peace.


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