Children idealize their dysfunctional caregivers in various ways. They do this by creating a fantasy of who their caregivers are. They literally tell themselves lies, make up stories in their mind about how wonderful their caretakers are. They exaggerate their caretaker’s strengths to minimize the deficits or abuse as a way to survive the dysfunctional system. They tell stories to themselves about how wonderful their father, mother or caregivers are so that they can be sure to omit the abuse adapt and carry on.
Did you grow up in a childhood where you spent the majority of your time taking care of your caregiver(s) needs? Instead of your parents meeting your needs, you found yourself sacrificing your needs to take care of your parents? Your parents were self-involved, more worried about their own needs and wants that you were neglected or ignored? This kind of parenting is known as narcissistic parenting.
We are embedded in a critical age of what I am going to call digital attachment trauma.It is with much sadness I witness parents on their digital gadgets while their school-age children are either on their digital toys as well, or they are bored and staring at their parent consumed with facebook, twitter or YouTube. It’s actually even more heartbreaking to watch these parents children role model their parent’s example. To see a young child’s face showing the expression of loneliness and boredom while their parent continues to ignore them over the digital gadget is worrisome.
I am the child who had to adapt to the crazy dysfunctional family I grew up in. I did a great job of negotiating the narcissistic parenting I received. I made sure my parent’s sibling, or pet came before me. This seemed to calm the stormy waters which was a regular event, especially if alcohol or substances were involved. I had to figure out when one of my parents was about to rage on me, attack me, or bully me. I was pretty good at figuring out what the raging parent needed, and I was pretty good at staying away or staying two steps ahead of the next storm. Sometimes I couldn’t figure it out, and I paid a price which taught me to get better at reading other people especially my parents. My other parent was vacant. My other parent didn’t know how to take care of me. This parent was too consumed with her partner’s rage.
The adaptive child is the child stuck in the adults body that never got to grow up because they were too busy trying to survive a chaotic family.