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My parent was traumatized by an experience they had as a young person, and their suffering affects our quality of life. How can I help them become less personally hindered, less fearful for me, and improve both of our lives?

11 Answers
Last Updated: 03/29/2021 at 8:29pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Lisa Groesz, PhD


With evidenced based therapies, we find the root of the problem together to implement solutions. We all face crises, transitions, or disorders at some time.

Top Rated Answers
January 10th, 2015 6:56pm
Your parent may need help you cannot give, depending on the traumatic event. Please know that the event they went through was not their fault, and is not your fault. They can become less hindered and less fearful for you by dealing with the event, and coming to terms with it. This is very difficult to do, but once it occurs, the quality of both of your lives will be improved.
November 2nd, 2015 3:53pm
I can say from experience that the best way to help a traumatized parent, sometimes, is to do nothing at all. It's easy to think that with our help, our parents can become stronger and overcome their demons. But remember that it is their choice whether they want to overcome or not; it is their healing journey, not ours, and it's their choice to embark towards healing, no matter how much we think we can control the situation. The best thing we can do is nurture them, care for them, and say "I love you" a little more often, to remind them that they're not alone. Many times when we feel the most safe and secure, that's when we gain the courage to rise. It's the same with our parents. So create a safe space for them, do a service for them, maybe cook a meal or get them a small gift from their favorite store. Just let them know that you're there for them and that they're accepted by you unconditionally.* Unconditional love, from any source, is essential for self-help. So you're giving them a great gift, just by letting them know how much you care. * If the parent is abusive in any way, however, this becomes a different scenario. Make sure to talk to a professional in the case of emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse happening as a result of your kindness.
January 30th, 2015 4:23pm
Trust is something that, once broken, is hard to mend. It's something that needs to be developed. Take baby steps. Try to understand why he/she is fearful, and go from there.
May 18th, 2015 3:45pm
First, you have to accept this : you are no god. You can't make or talk for your parents change. You can only support them . Supporting them by improving yourself. Study well, earn money, give them a fulfilled happy life by your money and time.
September 7th, 2015 9:47pm
I think you need to realize that you cannot be your parent´s therapist. Of course it would be nice to help, but your willfullness to help most likely just produces a dependent parent who will not let go of you.
February 8th, 2016 5:23pm
Listen to them and comfort them. Just be there for your parent emotionally, mentally and physically.
February 17th, 2016 7:23am
Hanging some pictures with positive quotes on your wall might remind you to be patience n hell them n be there for them, by asking the parents to change those pictures often will remind them about the life ahead n that will keep you guys move forward n let the bad past go...:)
March 14th, 2016 2:51am
You can do that by comforting them and tell them everything will be okay and tell them those things might not happen to you.
January 16th, 2018 8:16pm
Honestly, there's not too much you can do because sometimes people who have gone through traumatizing things really don't want to open up about it or even try to fix it. The best thing you can do though is just be there unconditionally and anytime they need it. Sometimes, people can be lucky and by showing this steady space, they'll start to come forward and talk about it. But if not, don't let it get you two. You can bond without having to break that seal, you can make their days if you make them laugh or feel appreciated.
September 25th, 2018 2:00pm
First of all, you sound like such a compassionate person and very loving daughter or son to your parent. But I'm so sorry to hear that they went through a difficult childhood. That's a hard weight to carry. You are so understanding to realize that their experiences are influencing them as adults. I hate to hear it's hurting you in your life as well. That must be such a challenge at home for you. I like to remember the quote, "We can't fix people, we can only love them." It sounds as though you are already doing your best to show love even when it can feel hard to do. Don't forget to love yourself, and show that same compassion you have back to yourself. :) Hug
March 29th, 2021 8:29pm
It depends on how trapped they are. Are they able to hear you? Does your voice reach them? Find out what reaches them. Find out in what environment they feel relatively safer and what triggers terrify them. Try to create an environment where they feel safe and stabilize it. Wait for them to open up. Exercise infinite kindness and patience. Listen to them even if they are not able to coherently express themselves. Keep reminding them that the threat has passed and they are safe. Create safe space around them that can allow them to heal. Tell them that it was not their fault what happened. Tell them this again and again, as many times they need to hear it. If your voice does not reach them, seek professional help. If they are open to read and books help them: there is a brilliant book on the effect of traumas and what it does to a person (both childhood abuse trauma or due to experience as a veteran). Its called "The body keeps the score". It helped me immensely to understand what I was into and that there was hope for me to recover.