Many youth don’t realize that they are living with intergenerational effects because buzzwords like ‘intergenerational’ and ‘trauma’ aren’t relatable. Tera had grown up in a one parent home, on social assistance and then disability when at 18 her mother’s mental illness was finally diagnosed.
Tera’s mother didn’t seem to care if her daughter went to school. They’d often fight and Tera and her older brother were left alone for a week at a time, their mom calling for nightly check ins.
Tera quickly developed a resourcefulness and strong work ethic. She would babysit to provide her own clothes and treats and became accustomed to never having an allowance for back to school shopping. Her older brother learned to ‘extremely budget’ and plan their food, eventually dropping out of high school and getting in trouble with the law. He later rehabilitated by going to cooking school.
Her grandparents had gone to residential school and her own mother had been raised around heavy drinking and violence. Tera never experienced violence or the addictions that her mother did, but she did witness these things in her neighborhood. And she experienced poverty and neglect, a form of trauma for a child or youth.
How many of you can relate to intergenerational effects? How many of you, or someone you know, are trying to go to school with situations like Tera’s going on at home? Are you parenting a small child and worrying about finding a job and affording daycare?
What sort of supports could have helped Tera’s mom to understand her own trauma?
These are intergenerational effects, but there are ways that families can learn to take care of each other again.
#Myreconciliationincludes an option for Indigenous parents as teachers in the home, or homeschooling. This is possible, but means parents need to feel empowered to teach their children their own curriculum based on wellness and cultural needs unique to each family.
And it would take all of us understanding where the trauma comes from, and knowing that ‘intergenerational’ and ‘trauma’ are things that continue to affect us.