When you reflect upon your childhood, especially your caregivers and family, it may appear to you that any problems you have now are in no way related. This can be especially true if you did indeed have a good childhood. However, there are a number of perspectives you may wish to consider when deciding whether to bring your childhood into the focus of therapy.
Regardless of the way you grew up, the environment, your family, or lack of family, would’ve had an influence on you, whether it’s your beliefs, values or how you experience relationships. I am sure we can all think of something, such as a good teacher who encouraged you to pursue your career or being anxious speaking in front of the school. So, therapy can give you the opportunity to understand how your childhood impacted you and whether it’s relevant to your problems. This awareness has the potential to open doors inside you that can guide and deepen your therapy.
Here are a couple of examples when talking about having a good childhood was found useful:
Charlie was only 4 years old. He was regularly dropped off to his grandma’s house every Tuesday and really enjoyed his time. However, on one occasion, his grandmother was not available, so his father took him to stay for the day at Mike’s house. Charlie got on pretty well with Mike and had no issues with staying with him, although it was an unfamiliar environment. As Charlie’s dad left him, he said, “Now, you be good boy and have fun but now I have to go.” In that moment, Charlie froze and was confused and assumed his dad meant that he may never come back. He was quiet and withdrawn for a while but enjoyed the rest of the day. The fear he experienced was not due to any poor parenting, but now as an adult, he felt those same fearful feelings when he was separated from his partner for long periods of time.
Shirley was an only child and brought up by loving, caring and supportive parents. She could not really wish for more in her childhood and looked back at her childhood as the “best time of her life.” She really loved her parents and felt really close to them. However, what she struggled with in adulthood was her confidence and fears of making decisions in her life. She was able to link these problems with her childhood, particularly as her parents would make most decisions for her and tell her what she needed to do. But now she constantly needed their approval to make decisions whether in relationships or when buying some trainers. She said her parents had somewhat “wrapped her up in cotton wool” contributing to her feeling of being unable to face decisions or take personal responsibility for them
Exploring your childhood can be about understanding how your caregivers impacted you in life, rather than blaming them, absolving your responsibility, or painting them in a bad light. Looking at your childhood is more about understanding the circumstances of your childhood and whether that can be useful to your healing process.