What would be helpful is awareness of how vital the early life of a human is. New parents need help putting into practice how to be with and how to respond to a small baby and to understand that their own reactions to their baby also need processing. It is vital that it is recognised that from the very beginning of life, a baby needs complete care, both physical and emotional. The influence of other people is at its most powerful in early life. The self is viewed as developing through this intersubjective process. Early cumulative trauma can lead to mental ill health, personality disorders and psychological breakdown. As has has been discussed frequently in this blog, it is not necessarily just the horrors of abuse that cause lasting damage but often, the more seemingly unimportant or even unconscious ways of relating can be very damaging. For example, a lack of attuned mirroring and marking of affective states, not seeing the child as a separate and important human being, not entering into and acknowledging their world and not being affectionate and responsive enough, can leave the child with an inner life that is experienced as barren and unknoweable. These feelings of alienation and isolation can become fundamental to a sense of self that feels empty or fragmented. It can also lead to the inability to develop sustaining and nurturing relationships with others. Furthermore, the early damage caused may not be immediately known. It can often be a trigger later in life, such as leaving home, the death of a parent or having a new baby which can result in unexpected feelings of mental ill health including depression or anxiety.
If the importance of our early life could be understood then we may have a chance of breaking the cycles of transgenarational trauma. And it is this, that young parents can be helped with.