Parents, Households and Mental Health

When someone brings up the word family, the only thing that is instantly “supposed” to come to mind for young people is the utter feeling of gratefulness and worship they should hold for every member – especially their parents. But the only thing that comes to my mind and surely to others like me is anger and retaliation over how we have grown up with building insecurities and emotional instability.

Family plays a major role in shaping the mental health and minds of the next generation. And they have done just that, almost perfectly ruining it for this generation who actually bond over the common trauma they share that includes crucial chapters from the house they grew up in and the people they had to grow up with.

Sometimes, the search for mental peace – which one is supposed to have generally but fails to keep it due to all the resentful events one goes through inside the supposed nurturing home – becomes so imperative that we end up trying to find it in the outside world, among friends and boyfriends and girlfriends. Which is why their mere loss hurts an individual so vitally. We make them our source of escape, happiness and peace – which is unfair to them too.

Also read: Depression Through the Eyes of a Naive Child

Most of us grow up with a wide communication gap with our parents which is why it makes it so fearfully difficult to ask them for even a simple act of understanding and the emotional support every growing mind needs. The communication gap is, at times, so wide and unattainable that the children end up suppressing themselves and remaining silent following the obligatory orders of their parents – no matter how illogically stupid they might seem.

And that’s what it is most of the times, idiotic, stupid and illogically annoying, whatever they say, seemingly expecting us to listen to them because that is what we, as children, are supposed to do. For we are their offspring who are innocently unaware of the evolving world that might harm us, never realising that they have already harmed us in ways even the outside world cannot.

Some say what is quite obviously a commonly consoling statement: “They want the best for us.”

Yes, but shouldn’t that stop at a certain point and age? Where they must realise that their children have grown mature enough to take decisions for themselves, learn things and gain a sense of self-reliance? Yet, we just remain their “little kids” no matter how much we progress. There is a thin line between protectiveness and over-protectiveness, which almost every parent seems to cross.

As some would say, this generation is just an ungrateful bunch of kids refusing to respect those who “brought us into this world”, and understand them. But that is not a completely true observation. In the process of understanding “those who brought us into this world”, the only thing that hits us is that they are the bearers of generational trauma that has flown through them, which they forward to us as we grow up to become adults who then reflect upon their mental and emotional issues.

There is no doubt that there are moments that are appreciably joyous, that make us smile and feel grateful. But again, there are other and more moments that follow that make you question all the times you were happy.

Apart from all the parental toxic traits witnessed customarily, there are other factors present in a household too which are highly problematic. It is often seen in how all the members share a bond, and especially how both the parents share their bond. In cases like these the communication gap doesn’t only exist in a parent-child relationship but also in parent-parent relationship. The chaotic environment that might encircle a child in a terribly toxic household has every tendency to have an appalling effect on the child.

Also read: Growing Up With Undiagnosed ADHD

This is seen mostly in the household where the patriarchal father takes control and tries to overpower everyone by every means possible, taking everyone’s liberty into his own hands, exercising his so called authority over the mother by a vicious cycle of beating, insinuating vulgar languages, and creating unnecessary arguments.

The aggrieved exasperation, resentful attitude and the emotional detachment one might develop towards his/her/their parents is an outcome of how the parents birthed an environment for their child. This is not an instant development either. It gradually develops over time as the slow realisation of absent normalcy creeps in.

Parents substantially never seem to understand their young and growing children but the problem lies in the fact that they do not even try no matter however the child tries to make them understand.

The way parents decide to create a habitat becomes the key factor in framing the child’s mental and emotional health. If you see a number of true crime documentaries, you will come across the fact that the circumstances they grew up under vastly leads to what they become. Now this is not to say that everyone is going to turn into a serial killer but an example of how the conditions and beliefs persisting in a family could adversely affect a growing human.

By what I know and how I feel, if you ask teenagers or young adults nowadays if they want to go to a different city, country or just away from their homes, to pursue a course or take job, many young voices would instantly say yes. Not because of very fancy dreams or the urge to gain a feeling of independence but to get away from their respective houses.

The toxicity of a family might vary from being very trivial to extremely unbearable. But the worst part is some of us don’t even realise that it’s not normal and most of us end up developing unhealthy coping mechanisms. As humans we get habituated to such toxicity and in the mere future, we allow ourselves to entertain such toxicity be it from partners or friends or co-workers.

That said, there is only a lot young people could do. Except for being incumbent to sadly tolerate the drama, ordinarily there is no way out. Therapy is still an alien concept or a shameful thing to a wide crowd out there. It is inevitable that we will grow up to be the bearers of generational trauma, knowing all along that we hated it.

Subhashree Pattnaik is from Bhubaneswar, Odisha. She is a coffee person, finding solace and revolution in her words. Sylvia Plath and her poems fascinate her, books keep her sane.

Featured image: Piyapong Saydaung/Pixabay