This Therapist Went Viral After Some Parents Disagreed With Her Calling Out Certain Toxic Parental Behaviors

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.

a young girl looking down with a woman behind her
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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."

Whitney Goodman talking to the camera inside her home

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."

Whitney Goodman talking to the camera inside her home

"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.

a screenshot of an instagram comment

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.

a screenshot of an instagram comment

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.

a screenshot of an instagram comment

"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.'"

a screenshot of an instagram comment

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.

Whitney Goodman sitting on a couch

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."

However, just because some people believe "kids are resilient" or "adult children can work on these traumas now," doesn't mean it's accurate. Goodman wants to remind people that children had to be resilient because they literally had no choice in the matter.

a kid crying while parents argue

"They have to rebound and figure it out," she said. "They’re constantly trying to find new ways to accommodate what is happening to them and to survive with the resources that they have."

Kittikorn Nimitpara / Via Getty Images

Goodman further explained that this can result in a wide variety of negative consequences as well as skills that can help that individual navigate life as an adult, which may seem like a positive outcome when, in fact, it's not. "I think those positive skills that we see as a result of early trauma are the reason people reference this 'resilience.' But, kids do not need to endure extreme trauma to become skilled adults. There are other better ways to learn," she explained.

So, what can an adult child do if their parent(s) is still having a hard time understanding their childhood experiences? Goodman said they will have to "work on accepting [the parents] for who they are and what they can give them."

Son and father hugging outside

"For some people, this may mean a total cut-off, while for others, it means having a different type of relationship with different boundaries," Goodman said.

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But hopefully, this isn't the case because if the parent does begin to have empathy and understanding for their children's experiences, Goodman said it can have an immense impact on adult children's mental health.

a mother and daughter hugging indoors

If you want to follow Whitney Goodman, check out her Instagram, TikTok, or website.

So, what do you think about this topic? Do you relate to any of the situations above? If so, tell us your thoughts on the subject matter below.