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The Seeds We Plant

The phone call began with the following statement, my son hates me. I listened patiently and quietly as the collar relayed their hurt and pain behind that statement.

The Caller stated their intentions were only to help their adult child. So quickly the attempt to convey concern, worry and fear for their child’s safety was met with contempt. The caller was completely devastated the pain of disbelief and rejection emanating in his voice.

The relationship between parents and children is complex and one of the most significant in life. Our children will always love us, esteem us, value, forgive and never reject us. We often believe that readiness to be a parent is based on the following: a) love b) ability to provide, c) financial resources d) responsibility.

Sounds good right? Unfortunately we now know more about the underlying qualities that are critical to establishing healthy emotional connections with our children. Qualities include and are not limited to:

  1. Emotional stability

  2. Love

  3. Nurturing

  4. Acceptance

  5. Understanding

  6. Communication

  7. Quality time

  8. Patience

  9. Emotional connection

  10. Ability to protect and provide

  11. Values

  12. Prioritizing the child’s emotional and physical well being

How does a parent and an adult child find themselves on opposite sides of contempt 25 years later?

Consider these observations:

1. Pregnancy does not fix years of childhood trauma.

2. Emotional triggers from hurt and pain do not discriminate.

3. Perceived rejection from a child feels exactly like rejection from a parent.

4. Our bodies and brains do keep the score causing parents to react or respond to the challenging relationships with their children in ways that may not convey love, acceptance and connection.

5. Mom and dad’s relationship and emotional connection, communication and co parenting relationship does critically impact the child.

6. Poor boundaries in which the one parent over compensates for the distance, harshness, disconnection with the child from the other parent.

7. Value and importance of the relationship with the child and acceptance of who they are as a person.

Seeds of contempt begin early and can start with the alliance one parent has with the child exclusively. The other parent may suspect and even confront the relationship which may cause further divide.

The distraught caller was advised to have a conversation with his wife. He needed her to create a path to his son. First the parents had to acknowledge and own the seeds that were planted so many years ago.

Parents, your children do not belong in the space between you and your partner/spouse. Communication, difficult as it may be is critical because when one of you connects with the child in this type of alliance the child everyone loses. Children are not built to carry this load.

For additional resources and tools to improve communication with your partner or child. Visit my website


Tammy Austin

Therapy Unchained

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