Along the intricate path of human existence, core beliefs and values serve as the foundational threads that weave together the fabric of our lives. These principles, deeply ingrained from early childhood, shape our perspectives, attitudes, and decisions as we grow and evolve. Yet, the influence of parental trauma on the development of these beliefs and values is a complex and often overlooked aspect of a person’s journey. In this article, we will explore the significance of core beliefs and values, examine how parents’ unsettled traumas can impact their children, and consider how some teens find themselves on a path of relearning their own views and values in later life.
“Core beliefs are the many stories or narratives about ourselves derived from the past, our perceptions, our relationships, etc. Beliefs are practiced and grounded in our personal experiences… Sometimes the sense we make of the world doesn’t make sense, but as a function of our mind, we have filled in the blanks, which is all happening within the subconscious mind.” ~ Lainie Liberti – Seen, Heard & Understood
Understanding Core Beliefs and Values
Core beliefs and values are the guiding principles that shape our worldviews and influence our decisions. These beliefs stem from a multitude of sources, including cultural, religious, and family backgrounds. They encompass our sense of right and wrong, our perceptions of success and happiness, and our understanding of self-worth.
The Impact of Unresolved Parental Trauma
Parents play a crucial role in the development of their children’s core beliefs and values. They serve as the first and most influential teachers in a child’s life, modelling behaviour and passing on their own beliefs. However, when parents themselves carry unresolved traumas from their past, these traumas can inadvertently influence their children’s values and beliefs in several ways:
Inherited Trauma: Children often inherit their parents’ unprocessed trauma. This can manifest as deep-seated fears, anxieties, or distorted perceptions about the world, affecting their core beliefs and values, most of which the child is oblivious to as they grow into their tweens.
Reactive Coping Mechanisms: Parents dealing with unresolved trauma may employ unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as avoidance, anger, or substance abuse. Children growing up in such environments may internalize these behaviors, impacting their own values and beliefs about how to deal with adversity, and these beliefs will often stick with them well into adulthood.
Attachment and Trust Issues: Parental trauma can lead to difficulties in forming healthy attachments and trust in relationships, which can influence a child’s beliefs about the reliability of others and their own self-worth.
“Why does the brain make these interpretations? During this stage of development, the toddler brain is processing the world through concepts of “me” and “mine.” The toddler brain cannot grasp the concept of a separate life that mom is participating in outside of “me.” ~ Lainie Liberti – Seen, Heard & Understood
The Need for Relearning: Adolescents and Core Beliefs
Adolescence is a critical period for forming and crystallizing core beliefs and values. As teenagers seek to define themselves and make sense of the world, the impact of parental trauma becomes especially salient. Some adolescents, growing up in homes marked by unsupported parental traumas, may find themselves on a path of relearning their beliefs and values later in life.
Questioning and Rebellion: Adolescents often begin to question the beliefs and values they have inherited. In response to the cognitive dissonance they may feel, they may rebel against their parents’ values, leading to a period of exploration and experimentation.
Seeking Self-Awareness: Some teens are driven to seek self-awareness and personal growth as they grapple with the emotional fallout of their parents’ traumas. Therapy and self-help tools can be instrumental in this process.
Reconstructing Values: Through introspection, exposure to new perspectives, and the development of their own identities, these young adults may reconstruct their core beliefs and values, aligning them more closely with their authentic selves, and who they aspire to grow into as a person.
“The more we practice certain thought patterns, the more our brains become hardwired to default to firing the same neural pathways. This is how our habits are formed and behaviours are created. This is especially true if the thoughts can activate our stress responses and create an internal turmoil, which can become a compulsive, emotional addiction.” ~ Lainie Liberti – Seen, Heard & Understood
Core beliefs and values are the guiding compass of our lives, profoundly influenced by our upbringing, particularly our parents. When parents bear unresolved traumas, their children can unwittingly inherit a legacy of distorted beliefs and values. However, the teenage years often provide a window for self-discovery, growth, and reevaluation, as young adults strive to define their identities independently. Recognizing the impact of unsupported parental traumas and the potential for relearning core beliefs and values is an essential step toward fostering healthier, more self-aware generations, breaking the cycle of generational trauma, and promoting personal growth and emotional healing.