This Therapist Went Viral After Some Parents Disagreed With Her Calling Out Certain Toxic Parental Behaviors
If you had a difficult childhood, you may be able to recall at least a few unfortunate family situations that may still impact you as an adult.
And if that's the case, then you may be able to relate to a viral video that therapist Whitney Goodman, LMFT, posted on Instagram that provided an example of people who grew up in a home where their parents fought a lot — which garnered a lot of attention.
Goldman is also the author of Toxic Positivity, and the owner of the Collaborative Counseling Center.
In the video, Goodman began by saying, "This video is for anyone that grew up in a home where your parents would fight a lot and their marriage was really bad."
She continued by saying, "If you grew up in this kind of house, you may have noticed that your family would split off into different alliances or teams to try to manage the material discord. Because the marriage wasn't a good or safe foundation for the family, everybody else had to kind of go and form these new teams."
"Maybe you and your dad would team up and talk bad about your mom — and mom was crazy, and we need to fight against her. And maybe your other sibling was teamed up with your mom and would start acting like her and started to behave in similar ways, and everybody was, like, trying to find stability but also out to get one another at the same time," she said. "You're all looking for safety and trying to find it in different ways, but you'll never be able to achieve the same type of stability you would have felt if your parents had that concrete stable relationship."
Goodman also emphasized that, "Parents do not have to be married to have that safe foundation. They just need to communicate respectfully and not pull kids into the discord."
After Goodman posted this video, she received comments and DMs that not only co-signed her description of the family situation but also defended parenting in general.
For instance, this person provided insight into what this situation was like for them as an only child.
So, to clarify things for the people who felt unsure of her example, Goodman posted a second video.
She started by saying, "I get so many comments from people when I talk about adult kids and their parents, saying, 'You know, parents are people, too, and we need to have empathy for parents."
Goodman explained in the rest of the video that she understands these kinds of comments because she, too, is a parent and believes parenting is one of the hardest things someone can ever do.
But while Goodman admits that all of these things can be 100 percent true, she explains that we have to hold empathy on both sides of the coin because "when we're having these conversations, this will always be true: The child was a child who was helpless, defenseless, and unable to care for themselves physically and emotionally. The adult had power and options. And when we keep that in mind, it makes the conversation a little bit more fair."
However, once Goodman posted the second video, she received a comment that she wanted to touch more on in a third video.
"I want to reply to this comment not because I want to reply to this person specifically, but because they're bringing up something that I hear a lot, and I think it's important for us to talk about," she said.
"They're saying that once the child grows up and becomes an adult, their relationship with their parent and their trauma from childhood is their business and their things to heal and that the parent is not responsible anymore for healing that."
"However, I want to consider and reconsider why we think about the adult child and parent relationship in this way, because it's really the only relationship that we think of in this way," she explained. "There's no other relationship that I can think of where someone would be abused, hurt, ridiculed, denied needs or rights, and we would say: 'You know what, that's your problem now; you need to figure that out.' But we tend to do that with adults and their parents, and it's always under this guise of like: 'Well, they did the best they could, and if you got hurt by that, that's your problem.'"
After watching these three Instagram videos, I wanted to connect with Goodman to learn more about the parent and adult-child relationship and why this is such a hot topic for some. Goodman explained that she understands why some people might be triggered by this kind of subject matter because parenting is extremely difficult and thankless at times. She also said that parents are usually operating from what they know and what they experienced. "Parents may feel defensive when their children are judging them against a parenting standard that they feel wasn’t around or promoted when they were parenting," she told BuzzFeed.
But even though some parents feel entitled to respect or are unable to understand their children's experience, Goodman said it might be because some of us forget "what it was like to be a child and assume that children are capable of way more than what is developmentally appropriate."
She adds, "Many adults also grew up in families where they were shamed or blamed for simply acting like children. They may carry this forward in their own families."