by Deniss Pleiner, M.A.
Growing up in a collective culture (as most BIPOC cultures are) has its amazing's strengths like resilience, joy, family, etc. Without taking away from these wonderful parts of being a being BIPOC Adult, let's talk about one of the harmful ways in which colonized mindset of parenting has affected our childhood.
Colonized parenting mindset functions on an incorrect belief that children should be seen and not heard. That a child’s job is to do as they are told and there us not much room for their opinions and feelings. Children are also viewed and treated with the expectation they they can understand and process at the level of adults. We read bad intentions into what they do as say and label them "bad" or "good".
Add to that the layer of generational and/or immigration trauma which programmed your parents and grandparents to stay on survival mode– because there no room for time for your feelings when you’ve immigrated to a new country and/or just trying to survive in a society that views you as less-than and has been structured against you. Your parent(s) will unconsciously dismiss and even belittle your emotions and experiences just as their parents did to them.
Your feelings and opinions are always last– if even on the list of priorities. So what happens to you as an adult when you grow up in a home that constantly dismisses your feelings?
You'll have difficulty speaking up for yourself: If you were reprimanded either verbally or physically for speaking up, you will most likely be afraid of speaking up for yourself as a grown up too.
You have difficulty trusting your choices: If you grew up in a home with parents who dismissed your opinions, explicitly (or implicitly) expressed doubt in your abilities, or called you names (like lazy or dumb) you also won't have the self-confidence to make choices. It is also possible that you weren't allowed to make any choices growing up so this might also be all new to you.
You have difficulty knowing what you feel: particularly if you grew up with abusive parents– they are very good at gaslighting and you might often end up questioning what you feel.
You have difficulty with knowing what to do with your feelings: your parents most likely dismissed your feelings because they don't know what to do with theirs. This is generational trauma. No one taught them how to manage feelings so they are overwhelmed with yours for sure. So they never taught you and most likely dismissed them.
You have negative internal dialogue: if you grew up with a constant influx of negative comments and hurtful words, you most likely learned to that to yourself too. We internalize the messages we get growing up because, that's what we are taught. It gets normalized and then we perpetuate that pattern.
It is important that we understand where a lot of these struggles might come from for us so that we can start to develop coping tools to address and manage them. Processing each pain point in individual therapy would also be a very healing experience.
We talk a lot about how to manage these symptoms in other posts and this is the work we do in therapy. Consider requesting a free consultation today if you would like help in these areas.
Deniss Pleiner, M.A. is the founder and Clinical Director of TOC Therapy-- a group
practice in California tailored to meet the mental
health needs of BIPOC adults through
online individual and couple's therapy. As Clinical Director, Deniss guides the clinical development of TOC Therapy Associates and oversees clinical services and offerings. Deniss also works as a Mental Health Advocate, hosting workshops for organizations interested in supporting their
member's mental health and developing emotionally intelligent leadership.