The environment a child grows up in has a profound impact on the person they become. Like a plant that thrives in a well-tended garden, so it is with a child. Unconditional love, positive regard, and a stable family life produce healthy and happy children, who in turn, grow up to be happy and healthy adults. Sadly, this is not the story of many people who come to STAR.
A child’s basic self-esteem, self worth, and ability to feel safe and secure in the world are formed by the environment in which they live. Parents who were too smothering or too aloof, who were too young or too old, or who lacked parenting skills, can twist the development of a child’s personality. Verbal abuse in the form of criticism, ridicule, and humiliation frequently result in feelings of shame and lack of confidence. For instance, children growing up in families fractured by bitter divorce, or undue hardships such as addictions, or lack of basic resources are frequently left with problems of depression, anxiety, or a variety of other limiting personality characteristics as a result.
Methods to cope with dysfunction are as varied as the children who create them. What they all have in common, however, is that these coping strategies were conceived in an effort to survive. For that reason, many are intimately attached to them. Over time, and even after moving out of our family and into the world, these strategies come with us. The problem is that what worked as a child most often does not work in our adult life. For example, a child may find refuge in school and learn to excel in all matters intellectual. The continued pursuit of intellectual excellence, however, won’t work when this person attempts to have an adult intimate relationship. Or, for example, another child who copes by trying to please everyone around him or herself in order to secure love seriously compromises the ability to be present and grounded in their own truth in adult life.