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Generational Trauma…?

Let us start by clearly stating I am not an expert in the field or topic. This is mere opinion. I know most people talk about subjects online as if they are subject matter experts but being mad at your parents for not “gentle parenting” does not make you an expert (sorry, not sorry). has an excellent article on the topic, and like ANY TOPIC, I strongly recommend researching any issue, concern, topic with what true leading experts in the field of research on the topic – qualified PhD educated academics in the fields – are saying and researching and writing in those fields. Too often, we look at others’ opinions as experts but let us not forget the classic American saying, “opinions are like assholes, everyone has got one” (and if you don’t, please contact a medical expert).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand what generational trauma is. What I do not agree with is how many people on social media are applying it to their rhetoric. I see a lot of people making statements like, “asking our parents for apologies for generational trauma.” Friends, if you have generational trauma (which we all do, one way or another), your parents do too. Generational trauma does not work in an isolated generation, it is intergenerational. Meaning the trauma did not come from your parents, but was an unfortunate element of their upbringing, and those before them, passed down through generations. So asking for forgiveness is turning a blind eye to the trauma they endured. While many older generations will refuse to acknowledge they suffer trauma, you should consider that the denial to trauma is a part of the trauma itself. It is something so deeply engrained in them that it is almost part of their DNA at this point.

Asking our parents for apologies is assuming that when they were raising us they knew better. How would they know better? It is easy to say they should educate themselves when we neglect to realize that education (especially prior to the advent of the internet) was a privilege accessible to only those with the means and access to it. Then we have to consider that education, we have learned only in recent years, is greatly biased against many social topics – skewed based on misogyny, racism and economic status.

The increased conversation around the topic of generational trauma has been highlighted by movies depicting older generations (parents and grandparents) learning the error of their ways. We see this in movies like Encanto and Turning Red. Interestingly, two of the most notable movies with generational trauma messaging, are also movies where the families are of minority races/ethnicities. I had so many people flooding my inbox wanting to discuss Latin family generational trauma that I finally started responding with, “so you tell me you believe white people don’t have family issues or need therapy?” I am not discounting the life experiences of my people or those of other countries, but let us not pretend this is exclusive to non-white families. The pure notion of this is not only laughable but really highlights just how deeply engrained racism is in our society – the audacity to not believe that white people have messed up older generations is quite frankly, not narrow sighted but in fact just willfully blind. But I digress…

While I fully support the notion that older generations should be included in the conversation of how society has changed, what norms are oppressive, and help strive to be ever-growing/evolving so long as we are alive, it would be narrow-sighted to expect people who have known the world in a different time, different generation, to fully change their worldview. Especially when some of the changes in society turn their worldview entirely upside down. We often think about the negative aspects of life and conclude they are to blame, but we don’t talk enough about the positive aspects of life that they are also responsible for.

Generational trauma should also be considered with the social environment that led to the beliefs and actions of that generation. We would not have certain behaviors if it wasn’t for the social elements that influenced them – political climate, religion, racism, and misogyny. I would honestly venture to guess that religion and racism are at the root of all social problems. But I would also guess you already knew that…

The question then arises – how can I be a Christian knowing what I know about what religion has done to the world? When I say the term “religion” I do not mean the belief system of religion on its face. Religion is like a feeling, it cannot harm another person, but your actions as a result of that feeling can. Religion can not on its own harm people or make people do anything. People make the conscious choices to act in the name of religion, and unfortunately often the actions are wildly misguided, misinformed, or deliberately using religion as a scapegoat for bad behavior/to cause harm. Then let us not forget the charlatans who use religion to peddle their lies and sell you their snake oil, so to speak. Religious leaders who are drunk on power and control, using religion to gaslight people into bad behaviors, hate, bigotry, and war. The bible is merely a collection of stories, parables. A short narrative used to illustrate some sort of spiritual lesson; not a message to be taken literally. If all religious stories were literal, then the application of the rules would in modern day be impossible! But again… I digress…

Generational trauma. A tale as old as time. Much like my approach to depression and PTSD, I wake up every morning and choose to be happy. I choose to look at the positive side of things. I choose to look at my culture and embrace and adore the customs as a colorful reminder of my ancestors and family. I choose to accept my family for who they are, flawed (as am I), with their trauma much like I have my own, and love them as they are, not as what I wish they would be. I choose happiness, love and therapy. I firmly believe it is not the challenges we face that make us who we are, it is how we respond to them, and I refuse to be defined by what has happened to me. The world doesn’t happen to me, I happen to the world! xoxo

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