Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

“I Am Deeper Than My Parents”

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on March 8, 2012

“I am deeper than my parents,” Thais tells me with tears and deep expression of gratitude. “My parents do not understand how they caused me so much grief, but I do,” she continues. “They were each involved in their own lives, doing their own thing, with little regard for my development. They will never see it that way, but that makes sense to me.” Thais’ narrative is interesting to me, not because of the content, but because she is willing to understand her childhood from a different point of view than  her parents have. This kind of mental separation is critical to adult development. Thais is beginning to see her life through her own internal eye, rather than swallowing the story that was told to her about her early developmental years. She is learning that the perspective of the storyteller informs the story. She is also beginning to understand that her parents do not have to agree to her narrative, but it would be nice if they could respect it. As an emerging adult she is beginning to understand the stresses and strains that were on her parents as she was growing up. This understanding has helped her to see why she felt so lonely and deprived during certain critical times in her childhood. This understanding also helps her to see that it was not that she was a “bad kid,” but rather that her parents had to focus on their own survival and so they became less attentive to her needs. This perspective helps Thais build her self-esteem in that she no longer blames herself for the negative feelings she had as a child. She also does not blame her parents in that her narrative allows for the idea that under stress, she can understand how her parents fell short. In essence, she has come to understand that flawed people, which we all are, become flawed parents, and so understanding and forgiveness are at play, along with compassion for herself for not getting the appropriate feedback about her developmental accomplishments. As such, her gratitude to me was a huge gift, in that it was the kind of gratitude which demonstrated how her personal growth has landed her in a much better mental space. Thais and I still have a lot of work to do, but it was a special moment of pause to reflect on how far she has come. Personal growth is a wonderful experience to witness and participate in. The words to describe this experience often feel lacking. Thais is remarkable in her ability to express this sensation.

4 Responses to ““I Am Deeper Than My Parents””

  1. Danny said

    this post rings so true ..Dr vollmer,how long would one have to be in therapy to come to the point where Thais is at now . thanks.

  2. Each person’s therapeutic journey is so unique that it is impossible to answer your question in any meaningful way. Thanks for your interest.

  3. Shelly said

    How old is Thais, Shirah? SHe must be indeed young to believe that her parents do not understand how they caused her so much grief. I’d guess from the blog that age was a teenager, all caught up in herself without a single thought of how her behaviors might have some overall destabling effects on others. “Under stress״ she can understand hoe her parents ‘fell short’? Could it actually ge, SHirah, that THais should take responsibility for her own actions and stop blaming the patents, yet again?????

    • Thais is an “emerging adult,” between 18 and 25. Yes, she falls into narcissism, and yes, this is typical for her age group, and yes, she should take responsibility for her own actions. This post was meant to illustrate the challenges of emotionally separating from one’s parents. This is a long journey, for all of us, which involves a lot of to and fro. Thanks.

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