A father-daughter-talk about connection

A father and daughter in a conversation with each other about parenting stuff and about the parent ‘screwing up’ the child… that must be interesting, right? Well, it is, especially because in this case, it is not just a random parent-child-couple, but dr. Gabor Maté and his daughter Hannah. They are the ones who share their wisdom with us in this almost an hour long Instagram Live-session.
Following up on our review of ‘The Wisdom of Trauma’ last week, we are pleased to share with you this father-daughter talk. They pick several of an abundance of questions asked by those present and we see a loving interaction between the two of them. Maté points out that as soon as we start asking questions about how to heal from trauma, we are already on the healing path, or we would not bring up the issue. He encourages everyone to trust that process and continue on that road, not towards perfection, but towards awareness.

These are the questions from the audience that they speak about together:

  • Will there be an update of the book ‘When the Body Says NO’?
  • Is there any trauma-related research you can share to prove that trauma is actually a thing?
  • What is the best thing I can say or do for my daughter who was sexually abused between 2 and 6 years old and is 14 now and  who is seriously suicidal?
  • How can mothers/parents forgive themselves and take responsibility for creating change in the environment the child grew up in?
  • Can you touch on and explain the difference between trauma and disturbed/non-attachment in infants? Are presentations the same? Are healing processes different?
  • How has the pandemic affected addiction and alcoholism?
  • Do you have tips for enmeshed families and for healing unconscious relatives in denial?
  • Is the main reason for mental illness in the neurotransmitters and their genetic characteristics? Is it correct that trauma is not the main reason?
  • Safety is not just absence of threat, but also the presence of connection; how can you learn to be present in connection?
  • What are the tools to connect to and feel safe in the present moment?

(A funny moment, where Hannah suddenly understands an explanation and dad is surprised to have actually taught her something!)

Every time, for all questions and cases, the advice seems to be similar in a certain way in the sense that Maté keeps motivating everyone to work on their own trauma, as no one can solve someone else’s issues. The harder you push, even if it’s in the ‘right’ direction and with honest intentions, the more resistance you are likely to meet with. With regard to parents and how they communicate with and are present (or absent…) for their children, it is important to realise that there is always a difference between ‘acts of abandonment’ (by the adult) and ‘experience of abandonment’ (by the child). Most often, the parent does not harm or emotionally abandon the child on purpose, so the child may have the experience of abandonment without the parent consciously abandoning the child and although for the child the result may be the same, this makes a huge difference with regard matters of guilt. It does not mean, however, that the parent should not take responsibility for what happened; acknowledging the child’s pain is actually a crucial thing to do. As Gabor Maté says somewhere in the session about something the parent feels to have done to their child: ‘It happened through you, but you didn’t do it in any conscious sense. You cannot be blamed, but you can take responsibility for it.’ This addresses the ever present issue of shame and blame and guilt. Trauma, he explains, keeps us from being present around the ones nearest and dearest to us, to really see and hear and feel them, and this is the heart of healing from trauma: moving into connection with your authentic self in the present moment and thus healing from the wounds you carry inside up until this very day as a consequence of what happened to you in the past.

We hope you enjoy this father-daughter-session in which they addressed questions from a live audience. We will keep you posted, if we come across another one!

Posted in Boek- en filmbesprekingen.