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Welcome to My Therapist Sez, an interactive experience enriching your most important relationships. During today’s event, I’ll be your host and moderator as we present early development and its impact on adulthood.
Over the years university students have asked me again and again, “Prof., why am I becoming like my parent or parents, or the persons who raised me? I’m saying things and I’m acting in ways I observed in those early caregivers.” Exploring why you behave in a certain way can be a stepping stone to better mental health and spiritual growth.
Today’s event is on reflective thinking or thinking about thinking. The beauty of today’s session is that there is potential health awaiting those willing to explore this topic.
Today I’m joined by Dr. Julie Hayden, a licensed clinical psychologist, Clinical Director of Genesis Recovery, and we also have a special second guest, Pastor Skip Elmore, San Diego Skyline’s Wesleyan Church. He’s the discipleship pastor, two experts on this topic. The broadcast is before a live audience and live streaming while offering practical biblical solutions. It’s like having your own Christian doctor within the comforts of your living room.
I hope you will sit back, relax, and take in these life changing insights. Please join me as we connect with a live audience in My Therapist Sez.
Welcome again to My Therapist Sez. I just want to just introduce once again our illustrious guests with us, Dr. Julie Hayden, who’s a clinical psychologist here in San Diego, also the Co-founder and Executive Director of Rhombus that provides a lot of ministry to people in the San Diego area and is also the Clinical Director of Genesis Recovery. We welcome Dr. Hayden. She will be our presenter this evening. Pastor Skip Elmore, who is a brilliant man who is with us this evening. So glad to have him on our platform and on the broadcast. Without any further introduction, we’d like to welcome Dr. Julie Hayden, would you join me in welcoming Dr. Julie Hayden.
Dr. Julie Hayden:
Thank you. Thank you very much for having me. I always love coming and sharing. I love that I have an opportunity to share science within a biblical worldview. Because I agree, truth is from scripture, truth is from God, and to be led by the Holy Spirit to share with you tonight and have science and research backing up what God has already shown us is powerful. With this topic, Impact of Childhood on Adulthood, it’s very big. We can talk for probably years on the topic. To narrow it down in 15, 20 minutes is tricky. I’ve picked my favorite. I’ve picked the top because I think would benefit people the most if they were aware of.
My goal overall is to increase awareness so you know exactly the keys to watch for in parenting. Then also, if it’s something that you’re on the other end of it, and you’ve already been a parent and you look back and you’re worried about what you might have done previously, I’d like to give you hope. Okay. We’re going to learn some ways to do that. What to do now, if you have early years already in front of you with your children, and many years to come, or if you’re already on the other end, even as a grandparent what you might do with this information.
First, I’d like to give a context. In general, as a biblical worldview and looking at this topic, I’d like to remember, first, you had Genesis. God created all of mankind. He created his creation, light, earth, the animals, everything was perfect, and His chosen creation, man, woman and said, “Go multiply and subdue the earth.” Very early on, we have family as institution. God had for humans on earth, and we had perfection. Then we have sin. Adam and Eve sin, we have the fall and in context of that we have curses that come.
First of all, the whole world is cursed. Also our bodies are curse. We’re going to grow old and die. We’re going to have diseases. We’re going to have chemical imbalances. We’re going to have problems in parenting, some of these difficulties. Bottom line, we have a curse world and we are cursed. We also were separated from God. Right there in Genesis, well, the curses are being lifted. We also have the promise of a Savior. If we jump ahead through the lineage of Eve, we have Christ who actually was God coming into his creation to fix the problem, to restore the relationship.
With Christ and His death and resurrection, we now have an opportunity to be a new creation in Him, to be saved, to be redeemed. Yet on this earth even though positionally, we’re righteous before God, we are still fallen. We currently have this battle inside us between our sin nature that wants us to do evil and the Holy Spirit within us who is absolutely powerful to take over and lead our lives in righteousness, to become formed to the image of Christ. In the very end, that’s our goal. Yet we tend to fail miserably along the way. Also on earth right now, we are living in this battle of our sin nature versus the Holy Spirit within us, each day deciding which way we’ll walk.
I’d like to have that context as we build on this, because sometimes when you come out of psychology and science and we wonder, is it spiritual, is it physical? It’s all of it. Currently, our biology, our childhood, our brain, our chemicals, everything is together with our spirit here on earth. This is the life we live as humans. We’re going to look at many angles of this topic of early childhood development. But yes, it is sin. There is an aspect of sin involved. Yes, it’s physical. Yes, it’s what our parents are doing in our childhood. It’s all of it. We’re going to look at what’s most important out of all of these areas.
The first thing I’d like to focus on is attachment. Attachment’s actually pretty easy to accomplish. There’s areas we go wrong, and we’re going to focus on that. But if you attached well with your child, at infancy and on, there’s so much health that would just accidentally happen. Good, strong, healthy relationship between a parent and a child can do wonders for their adult functioning. We’re going to look at that. But just a context of what healthy attachment is. Bottom line, it’s that ability for the parent to respond to the child’s needs appropriately. If they have a poopy diaper, you change the diaper. If they’re hungry, you feed them. If they’re crying, you comfort them.
Then as they get older, the needs that come up of telling them that you love them, giving them hugs, all of these things that actually do come natural to healthy parents, that’s what you need. It’s not a huge mystery. There’s a lot that’s easy in healthy attachment. We look at this as warm responsive interactions from the parent. We look at this as the parent actually being stable, the parents able to regulate their emotions. They have their lives in a healthy manner. Then that allows a child to just grow in a healthy way. The problem comes when they’re stressed. There’s these difficulties that we’ll look at on the unhealthy side that get in the way. In a lot of ways, if you just are trying your best to be healthy, and attach with your child, you’re probably going to accomplish that. Okay. Healthy attachment is relatively easy depending on where you’re at in your life.
Let’s look at the unhealthy side. We’re going to look at three insecure attachment styles. These are where you might have problems that will affect your children for years to come. Some of you will recognize this and be “Aha, I knew it was my mom’s fault.” You’re going to identify. We’re going to look at anxious, preoccupied, dismissive and fearful. Let’s first look at insecure, preoccupied. This will be a parenting style where you’re preoccupied with yourself or other things happening that you’re not giving that attention to the child. Now, of course, there’s boundaries on this. You wouldn’t give your full attention to the child. But basically, if they’re always seeking you, and you’re not available to them, there’s going to be problems long-term.
A person with this style may seek intimacy as an adult later, and so much that they become overly dependent in relationships. This will be the concept we already know of possibly somebody seeking a dad figure. They keep getting in relationships because they didn’t have the dad that was there for them. This is a common style you might see where they didn’t feel secure, that their parent was always going to be there for them and love them unconditionally. Within, they have the doubt of themselves. They might blame themselves for their parents’ lack of responsiveness, and they might worry, be impulsive or have the emotions all over the place.
I’m going to go through relatively quickly on these to get to some good stuff. We’ve got insecure, dismissive, avoidant. This would be the parent is often dismissive and does not have appropriate responses back to the child. Maybe the child’s hurt and they’re angry instead of comforting. The responses back don’t match. This would create an emotional distance, possibly even in the childhood where they can’t connect well. They can’t get love and affection from their parent. They may suppress their feelings and separate from people not wanting to become close to anybody else and you can see that follow them into adulthood.
Lastly, insecure, fearful or avoidant. This would be when there’s trauma, something significant happening. This could be abuse, would be a topic possibly. This person would be so fearful that as they get adult relationships later on, they’re scared to ever have intimacy. Even though they seek being in a relationship, they might always, as soon as they get close, back away and sabotage the relationship. This is just a glimpse into some of the problems you can have with attachment, where basically the parent is not there for the child when they need them. Okay.
We’ll come back to this after with questions if you want to applied more specifically. But I’d like to move on into modeling. If you want to teach your children, you all know this, but let’s put it into context here. The best way is show them. On accident, we will turn into our parents. We were talking a little bit before about parenting styles, before we started the presentation. Think of this in context of families repeating the cycle again and again and again, generation after generation. We’re going to look in a moment, but you have abuse, domestic violence, addictions. You have emotionality, maybe where their style is very emotional all over the place. It seems to be passed down to the next generation, next generation. It sometimes gets worse as it’s passed down. What we’re talking about is stopping the cycle. Okay.
With modeling, you have an opportunity to model either healthy or unhealthy patterns. Let’s look at a couple examples. If you’re able to manage your emotions, something very difficult happens. You get in a car accident, the dog dies, you are able to manage your emotions well, your child picks up on that, watches it, learns it. Now they will have that skill. If you’re reading your Bible, praying and you’re asking God what to do in steps in life, your children will copy. If you take responsibility for your actions, possibly even ask for … tell your child you made a mistake. If you did scream at them and say, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.” That will be copied by them. Maybe not right away, but eventually modeling is something that lasts longer than any other forms of teaching. Boundaries. If you have good boundaries, that’s going to be passed to your child. Communication, affection, these things are passed naturally. As you do them, your child will copy.
Then you have unhealthy. These are the ones we’re talking about. You watch this passed down. Violence, anger outbursts, using drinking and drugs instead of dealing with emotions. Victimization where you stay in the victim role. “Poor me,” now, obviously, people are really victims, but sometimes we get stuck in that mode and our children copy. Attention seeking behaviors, chaos, it’s easier to be in chaos than to be in health, your child may copy that. Abuse, letting abuse happen to your child, it possibly happened to you. This may be a pattern. If you are a person that it has distance or cuts off from relationships, your children will copy.
Next is worldview. This actually comes from attachment and childhood experiences. You’re going to end in deep beliefs about life. You live your whole life believing these and they might be lies. Okay. You can recognize some of these in your own life probably. But you pass these to your children. Okay. Healthy, I can trust people. God is good and has a plan. I can be successful. I’m valuable. These types of messages deep down believing them about life come from that secure attachment. The boundaries or parameters you put as a parent to your child.
If they don’t have that, it’s easy for them to believe people always let me down. You can think of that in context. If they have been let down, maybe not even on purpose, but through a variety of events such as divorce, and possibly going back and forth between homes. The parents might not be intending it, but the child could believe it’s their fault. Or they could believe that I shouldn’t want anything or love anything because I’ll lose it. We have to keep track of what the children are believing on to these situations. They might believe that God’s out to get me. They might believe that “I’ll always be a failure. I’m worthless. Why even try?” These messages we believe as adults come from our early childhood. As a parent, we have an opportunity to teach these to our children and have them believe the more healthy side.
Next, I’d like just real quick to go over the ACE study. I just want to give you a context. This was over 17,000 people that were participated in a study. It was meant to see health, the consequences actually of childhood on obesity. But what they found is much more. They looked at abuse, verbal, physical, sexual, emotional or neglect; household substance abuse; incarceration, one parent being in jail; domestic violence; household mental illness, one parent having mental illness; and parental divorce. Interesting enough, number one, identify why people was verbal abused. Number two was tied between a parent that’s an alcoholic and divorce. Divorce was ranked so high on the negative experiences people had in childhood.
Over 60% of these 17,000 people reported at least one of these adverse childhood experiences. Almost 40% of the original sample reported at least two or more. All these scores, they’d add them up. The scores were strongly associated with high risk behavior, smoking, alcohol, drug use, promiscuity, severity, severe obesity. They were correlated which is less of a tie, but definitely a pattern on health issues, such as depression, heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, and a shortened lifespan. When you think back to those events, such as a parent being an alcoholic, domestic violence, these significantly impact a childhood. Nobody is intending to harm children while this is happening. They’re living their life somewhat coping in, however, they figured out how to cope, and yet there’s damage to the child. Broadly, we see early childhood definitely affecting addiction, abuse, domestic violence, identity, how they see themselves as man or woman, keeping a job and mental health. Mental illness is associated with some of these problems that we’ve looked at in childhood.
We don’t have time to go into everything on the brain. I’ll just sum it up quickly. Bottom line, you have a ton of stress. You’re doing brain damage to your child. Now, that can be really overwhelming as a parent, especially as a high strung parent for me, too. But I want to say it because it’s something that you can change. I don’t think parents realize the impact. I’m not talking about a little stress, but chronic stress, the environment that would keep that child stressed. What he’s talking about with a fight or flight response, when that’s activated in a child long-term, you’re changing the physical development of the brain. That’s why you have those impacts like we looked at, such as addiction, and abuse, and domestic violence. It’s physically changing the brain. Good to know that’s one tangible thing as a parent. You can do decrease stress in the home.
Lastly, I want to look at areas for hope. Because by now you’re thinking, “Oh, goodness, what did I do as a parent, or maybe a grandparent?” You watch things that you wish you could go back and change. Bottom line, there’s absolutely hope. I don’t care how old a person is. There’s several reasons. One, we’re new creations. The Holy Spirit inside us can transform any life. I’ve seen it. I work at Genesis Recovery as a Clinical Director. Their lives are completely transformed. Some of the stories, I couldn’t even imagine them being real, very difficult childhoods. They come out and they are used by God and they’re transformed.
Also, the brain is resilient. Any damage, anything we see as a problem can actually be repaired. Now there’s situations that’s not true. But for the most part, it’s seen as plastic and changeable. By having healthy relationships as an adult, you can improve the brain and the physical aspects that might have been damaged. Also, modeling never ends. I don’t know how many times I have a person. They’re an adult. They have maybe a teenager and they think because of what I’ve just told them, they go, “Okay, I just ruined their whole life.” I say, “No, you have not. You may have been an alcoholic all those years, pull it together now.” If that alcoholic, for all those years, pulls it together to date, lives a healthy life today, the child still has consequences. They are usually never erased. But now they have a different example, that their parent lived a healthy life. Now they at least have two choices. There’s others in between but two obvious choices; to follow the road they saw, or to follow the road their parent took in the end to be healthy. There’s always an opportunity to model something healthy now.
Also we have a pattern of generations and generations passing down their cycle of unhealthy behavior. It could end with you. It could end with your child. There’s always an opportunity today for some cycle to stop and we need it. We were talking previously about the problem of generations getting worse, the domestic violence, alcoholism, some of these very difficult life situations are increasing. We need to do something and we have all the opportunity in the world with both education and the power of the Holy Spirit to transform our lives today so we don’t repeat the cycles in our generations to come. There’s plenty hope.
In a broad sense, I hope you see, yes, childhood has an impact on adulthood. We’ll have many other opportunities for questions to get into some details. But if you have the awareness of it, there’s all the opportunity now to make a change for the better and it will have a ripple effect. Thank you. My goodness, it is you.
Yes. Let’s move on to the questions. Thank you. I didn’t mean for you to move that. Thank you for doing that. You can see why we, on many occasion, have invited Dr. Julie Hayden to this platform on this broadcast. She’s outstanding. When I said Skip is brilliant, I find very few young individuals like Dr. Julie Hayden. That’s as articulate both theologically biblically and also scientifically. In fact, her undergrad was biblical literature. You can see that coming out. I just so appreciate. I learned so much just listening to you this evening. Thank you for being here.
I want to jump into a question I have. If you have a question, we need your questions now. If you would raise your three by five card in the air with your question, one of our hosts will come by, pick that up and bring it to the front. If you’ve arrived here before I announced that, that is one way that we drive the rest of the evening because we have a lot of time now, just about 45 minutes left, that we’re going to be trying to respond to your question or your questions that you have just like having a mental health doctor in your living room. If you would just raise the three by five cards in the air, and we’ll bring that to the front and we’ll try to work on your question.
I love the idea about … I had not heard it the way you said this, and Pastor Skip and I will be joining in here with you, Dr. Hayden. Is that what the child saw, modeling, I love that concept, the way you placed it, that what they saw or the road the parent took to be healthy. That’s the place where modeling can genuinely change the trauma from the past. Let’s talk about that for just a moment. The idea is that there may be someone in the audience or listening live stream, or perhaps listening to this broadcast at another time in the leisure of his or her home.
They’re asking the question, “Well, maybe I was one of those parents and now I have an adult child. That adult child saw me behave horribly.” In fact, when you were talking about the importance … if I go back into this … the importance of attachment and how we should be modeling it. I wrote some notes here. The insecure, dismissive, avoidant, or maybe I was avoidant parent. I was so caught up in my own issues. I was working too much and then maybe I got caught up in some medicating myself, self-medicating, rather than self-regulating, and my child grew up. Now the child is out of the home as a young adult, and is behaving similarly to how I behaved. Okay.
There are many people who feel this very, very strongly. You’re giving us hope tonight, that what the child saw, I’m using your words here, and now what the child or adult sees you taking steps toward a healthy relationship or a healthy life, that actually the brain is so placid and it’s so malleable, that there’s neurological neurons that are connecting and the cell structures interacting in a more positive way. Talk to us for just a moment, and then I’m sure Pastor Skip will join in, your thoughts about that.
Sure. Two important positive aspects of that, the re-hardwiring of the brain tends to be linked to healthy relationships. If somebody wanted to improve damage previously, that’s one way. It’s actually healthy relationships, which I find very biblical. The other aspect is just how we learn. We learn by watching. I’ve seen this many times that the adult parent when they do change, then just when, in my mind, the mom was an alcoholic, the daughter actually was very well-behaved. When the mom got sober, daughter started drinking.
Yeah. Why is that? Why is that … Yes.
Well, she even came back and said, she said, “I was so sick and tired of taking care of you all those years, mom. When you got healthy, I thought, No way. I’m out.” She was mad. She started using marijuana and drinking. Ended up becoming suicidal, and then actually came back, got healthy. She said later, “I was so proud of you, mom. I saw what you did. I knew what I was doing was wrong and I knew I would come back.” It’s not a guarantee, obviously. Nobody can guarantee. But it’s definitely a pattern that even if it’s the consequences there, it makes a difference for them to watch the parent choose health and they know that’s an option. They know exactly how to get it.
Wow. That’s amazing. Pastor Skip, I know you see people all the time with this very issue.
Yes, I do. As Dr. Hayden just said, there’s only one thing in this world that has any real value, and that’s relationships. I talk to adults frequently, who are still hurting from childhood. We actually come out of the womb with a propensity to fear because, as Dr. Hayden said, we’re born after the fall. Now I’m old, but I was born after the fall. We actually are born with a propensity to fear. If we have a less than good childhood, that fear is amplified to the point where we grow up, driven by fear rather than by love. Because all Satan had to do to destroy humanity is remove love, agape love, a purpose-driven verb, and replace it with fear. We are born with that propensity to fear and it can become the most … and fear can be the most damaging seed in our garden of self-worth. If we don’t have a healthy self-worth, which many times children do not develop, our whole life is destroyed until we can develop that self-worth.
That’s self worth. Let’s talk about that for just a moment, because Dr. Hayden you were referring to attachment, giving us a definition of warm responsive interaction, and that the parent regulates his or herself, that models health to be if I’m breathing gently and I’m feeling comfortable, the child will pick that up and scent that. It might also breathe and be in a gentle place. You’re saying that there’s a propensity to experience fear. We know that in mental health, that anxiety and fear tend to coexist. Anxiety is one of the, if not the most, diagnosed mental health issue. There’s a comorbidity. There’s a connection between depression and anxiety.
If one tends to exist, the other exists. This idea of fear can cause us to develop all defense mechanisms like this young woman you were referring to. She had defense mechanisms, perhaps in place while her mother was acting out very poorly, or badly, I guess. Then once her mother changed her behavior into a more positive form of health, then that child, the defenses came down, because then the anger came out, and then the child actually was self-flagellating, hurting herself. Can you both talk to us a little bit, again, why that behavior tends to happen, and that our self-esteem, the fear overrides the ability.
Well, actually, anxiety and depression are a manifestation of our fear of nature. If we had no fear, can you picture not having a temptation to have fear in your life? Can you imagine that? What if none of us had ever had a fear thought? Now, that doesn’t happen. But if it did, imagine where we might be today. It doesn’t mean we would never fail. It just means that it wouldn’t stop us from the purpose we’re supposed to pursue in life.
I think you’re suggesting that we all have fears. For example, I have fear of getting burned because I’ve gotten burned before from a flame. We would have that’d be a natural normal fear. We have normal natural fears. We’re referring to actually fears that create panic within us, unusual anxiety. Is that what I’m hearing?
Yes. Actually, those come from childhood, generally speaking. We don’t develop fear as an adult. We come out of the womb with a propensity to fear. That fear follows us until we experience and even after we experience, the wisdom and counsel of our Lord, working along in conjunction with the intellect and the resources that we see that we have. Basically, that’s what the Spirit brings us, the Holy Spirit. That’s what Jesus brings back into us. Is that manifestation of wisdom and counsel working in conjunction and being a part of our intellect and our resources.
Yes. Thank you. Very well said.
I just say, when a parent provides opportunity, for example, for a child to succeed, they will see they have an opportunity to succeed later. If there’s an opportunity and they fail in the child, the parent says, “You’re always a failure.” Deep inside them for a very, very long time until Christ sets them free later till they figure out how to believe truth, they think I’m a failure. I just want to go back zero to six, especially, but any of those early years, how the parent is with a child, those messages are so deep inside us to rule our entire life until we are freed from them. I believe it’s truth.
Obviously, Christ and the Holy Spirit within us will show us that truth. But the truth of it is, we make mistakes, but we could do something if we tried. There’s truth and we believe the lie because of those early experiences.
Okay. There’s this tendency to move toward a negative position with this, is what you’re saying? Maybe that’s why Jesus often said, “Fear not, I am coming to you. Peace I give unto you, not as the world gives.” Trying to engage us in calming us providing peace, rather than anxiety or fear.
But Dr. Welch, the thing that we have to realize is that a poor self-worth will cause the person to think they’re not deserving of grace. I get a lot of mileage out of defining grace. Most people will not be able to define grace well. You need to put a handle on it. It is a position of worthiness that has nothing to do with history, or performance with it and authority to release God’s power with the faith that we’re given. But we can’t have that if we’re all wallowing in self-worth challenges that cause us to think we couldn’t possibly receive it.
That’s why maybe a little child, that the child’s skins her, his knee riding the bicycle or running and just trips and the child runs to the mother or father looking for that attachment of which you described, Dr. Hayden. If the parent is able to calm the fears, the fear of the child, because the child depending upon the age, if the child has early development like we’re working from this evening, then the child will be looking at it at black or white. My knee is bleeding and I could die. The child is feeling so fearful that I could die. It doesn’t have the capabilities we do as adults to understand, we’ve studied it, we’ve looked at it, we’ve had our knee skin and we didn’t bleed out. We will live through that.
But the key is what the parent does, as Dr. John Bowlby would suggest, the medical doctor who devised this very topic about 1968 and others who helped him with this concept would say that the parent is accessible, that the parent is there to nurture, to calm the child. Nurturing the child, “Honey, it’s going to be okay, I’ll get a bandage.” The child is listening to that nurture, that is subsiding or decreasing, perhaps abating or actually negating totally the fear of the child. Is that what we’re referring to here, and that develops then good self-esteem?
I would say yes. I would say it has to do with truth. For example, I know it hurts. It’s okay. You’re going to be better. It’ll be better soon. That’s a little different than … the comfort is very important. But I think that’s helpful when the parents speak truth. For example, somebody might die, and to say, “The pain is so much. I feel it too.” When they’re talking about it and they’re helping them understand the truth, they’re helping them regulate emotions, they’re helping them understand the context, and I see that missing in a lot of childhoods. They come up with in proper interpretations of events.
Divorce is a good example. There are times parents are divorced, and I don’t know how many millions of times the child believes it’s their fault.
Difficulties happen. But if the parents can be nurturing, and communicating, and explaining truth to the child, that’s where you … no matter what happens, you’re still going to, hopefully within the child’s development, have a truth in their mind about the situation, rather than a lie that will end up in all the other difficulties we looked at.
That’s right. But picture this, the child skins their knee, and there’s nobody there to even care, that’s tragic. That child will take that hurt into adulthood.
Yes. What do you think will happen, a very sad illustration? That is a very common one for many adults, at least with whom I work with, excuse me. What happens to that child that, say, does not have someone there to nurture? If I may just preface it with this comment, that we know in some of the developmental literature, Erik Erikson is one of the phenomenal researchers on this, is well-known across the world would say the very first development stage of a child is trust versus mistrust. If I just skinned my knee, and there’s no one there to help me, then it’s me against the world and I don’t trust anyone but myself. But it’s very difficult to fully trust oneself.
It amplifies the worthlessness that the child feels.
How so? There’s no one there. I just skinned my knee, no one there to help me. How does that move me into a feeling of worthlessness? I know you spoke a little bit about it.
I’m not worth being loved. I’m not worth being loved.
That goes back to your poor self-worth means it causes undeserving of grace. That’s what you just said a moment ago. Poor self-worth could be that, then I’m undeserving of grace. I wonder if that’s why there’s so many Christians in the world today, and all three of us work with people every day, where there’s a sense where the person is unable to receive God’s grace. They’ll say to me, “But you don’t understand. My dad hit me. My dad beat me. He was not there for me. How could I trust God? He’s my Heavenly Father. I can’t eat. That’s a quantum leap for me that I can’t ever do.” What do you do with it? I know you both have heard this. Maybe not that exactly.
Absolutely. Yes, we’ve heard it.
Talk about that for just a moment. Then I have a couple questions here. But talk about that help us to understand what’s happening to us?
Well, first of all, defining grace well to a person like that, I talk to people 50 years old, who are still suffering from those childhood hurts. What you have to do is boost their self-worth to the point where they can receive the grace of our Lord. I had one in the office the other day. He had committed cold blooded murder, but has served the prison term, a long prison term, and as received grace only recently, because he has been purged of that self-worth challenge that he brought from childhood.
Wow. Wow. That’s a powerful example of that. Dr. Hayden?
Two things I think of, one, I usually say is I put it in context, Genesis, the fall, all of that to set it up to say, “God said your righteousness is as filthy rags.” Sometimes they’re comparing their evilness, what they’ve done and they think, “How could God ever forgive me for this?” The core sometimes, that self-worth. But the truth is our righteousness is as filthy rags. To put in that context, that helps sometimes. Then I definitely remind them of Genesis three, that war, Satan against humankind, I mean, he’s been out to get us from day one. In that context, I try to put in why there’s evil in the world. Why you had a terrible parent. I say, “It’s not good. I would never want a child to have to go through what you did.” Of course, it’s going to impact your life. But today, you’re the only one that could do something differently.
I want to validate it because it’s true. Then bring them back to the day, because you have a family most of the time. I’m telling them, “You got a family. You got to get healthy. You got to pull it together, because you’re in the middle of a war, and it’s not on accident. All of this has happened. You have to fight back. One of the best ways is to gain awareness of this and get healthy so that you can watch and pay attention to those you care about around you and help them.”
I’m the child. I’m the little child, if I can, with this issue. The little child that was there got hurt. No one was there for me. As Pastor Skip, you are helping us to see the defense mechanisms that develop. At that point, you’re saying, Dr. Hayden, that perhaps one of the first stages of finding healing from this, there’s probably not one of us without a childhood wound in this auditorium or those listening or watching. You’re saying that when someone will validate what I experienced that it’s truly something I experienced and it was truly painful, that that’s the starting place. Let me just repeat that. Am I correct? Is that what you’re saying?
I absolutely agree. I agree.
Would you say that Pastor Skip as well?
Yes. Absolutely. One of the most … I teach four basics. One of the basics, the most difficult one for people to understand is, God’s love is totally unconditional. He loved David just as much after he committed adultery and murder as he did before. He loves Saul of Tarsus, just as much as he loved the Apostle Paul, later. God’s love is unconditional. Now the first basic is it’s a cause and effect world we live in. Another one is that love is a purpose-driven verb, not an emotion. There’s some basics that we need to comprehend and bring to people so that they can be a recipient of genuine grace.
With this grace and this idea, would it be reasonable to believe that a healthy marriage can be a way to heal childhood wounds, pardon me, because we can acknowledge what we’ve experienced as a child, share it with our mate, know what the core feeling of that experience was and is today, and that mate be able to acknowledge and nurture that experience? Am I correct? It seems like that would be a reasonable start for many people.
I do think it could be.
Okay. You keep telling me it could be …
Sometimes though without … Yeah.
But I feel I’m your student. It’s so great. Julie, you’re so great. You got all these great things to say.
I’m thinking of patterns. One thing is I think just healthy relationships, they heal. We see that biologically. Your brain will [inaudible 00:40:48] it. It rewire. It’s amazing. But I’ve also seen how people carry their childhood into their relationships. It doesn’t magically change anything just to be in a good relationship in some ways, they’ll carry it. I think awareness is really important. I can’t pretend to know exactly why it works so well. But when a person, when I hear the story, and I tell it back to them, and they say, “It was awful that you had to go through that. A parent shouldn’t be like that. They should do this. This is what … this impacted you.” To stare at it, it changes them. They can heal from that point on
The only thing I can come up with on that particular area is that it’s truth. I tell them that because they start off with “Had a great childhood.” Then I say, “Okay. Well, tell me what a great childhood looks like?” They start describing very difficult childhood situations. When I validate that, I tell them that’s actually traumatic. That’s not something I would want a child to go through. When I tell them, “Would you want your child to go through it?” They say, “Oh, no, never.” They get the context. When you shine light on that truth, it’s powerful. That’s the place to start. I don’t think you can turn around and find health the same way until you do acknowledge some of that from the background. That’s what I’ve seen as a pattern.
The deep need to acknowledge is what I’m hearing you?
I describe it as truth.
Seeing it for what it really is.
Yeah. Isn’t that amazing? Truth is so important. Jesus said, “I’m the way, the truth, and the life.” That truth that sandwiched right in the middle of that is so significantly important. Truth sets us free. We’ve heard that. I don’t mean that as just an adage. But that truth really … for the person to really understand that that was traumatic. A lot of people when they’ll share some truthful issue like that in therapy they’ll almost laugh and downplay it. That’s maybe what I’m hearing you say, Dr. Hayden, is that oftentimes people believe their perception, their worldview, or their beliefs, I think, is what you shared earlier. Their beliefs are misled. They’re misled with their beliefs that it’s really not that big of a deal if that then happened to me. Am I correct?
It’s very, very common. Sometimes they care about their parent currently. They don’t want to blame them. They don’t want them to feel bad. They pretend it wasn’t that big of a deal. I’ve also seen though, that they just don’t know. They don’t understand what a healthy childhood is. They think it’s just normal. They might even be repeating the pattern. But when you put it into context in and teach them, it’s an awareness to consider, “Okay, actually, I did go through trauma. Now that I understand what it is to have a healthy childhood and what it is to have trauma.”
Okay. How would you help me If I was your patient? We’ve done these role-plays when you’ve been here before. I’m role playing and you’re helping to understand that, let’s say, I was beaten by my dad. I wasn’t as a boy. But let’s say I was beaten by my dad and I just think that that’s normal. You’re helping me. How would you help me get at the core of that, and believe that that really helped me get to the truth, and to see that there really is a problem, and that’s not the norm? Now, I have not beaten. The man might say, “I didn’t beat my children, but my dad beat me.” I just say it very nonchalantly. How would you help me get out that?
Sure. Well, first, I might just say something very honestly. I say, actually, if a dad does beat his child, it does a lot of damage. There’s some negatives that they’ve seen in patterns. I don’t need to make it very emotional. It can be very superficial, just logic. I might say, “It’s actually seen to have a huge impact later on development.” What you want in childhood as a parent to be loving, caring, and I might describe it a little bit. I say, for example, you said you haven’t beat your child. Do you think that it would be beneficial if you did? Usually …
No, it wouldn’t be beneficial.
Tell me, would you feel comfortable beating your son?
No, no, I don’t beat my son.
Would you want anybody else to beat him?
No, I wouldn’t.
No, you wouldn’t, because you love him.
That’s a helpful piece. Thank you. That’s helpful, isn’t it? If you were talking with someone and they are not recognizing that there’s a challenge. Notice Dr. Hayden’s language and you were helping us with that Skip, to raise it to the agape love. You started with the agape love and you just described again. Earlier in this session, you described a agape love, unconditional love.
It’s a verb. It’s an emotion.
That’s a great way to think about it. That agape love is what you were illustrating by me not recognizing.
My Bible says I’m supposed to love my enemies. If I have to like them first, I can’t. But if I understand love as a verb, then I can.
Say that once again. That’s really important. Because sometimes, we were told you’ve had a family member, well, if you’re a Christian, have could you ever forgiven me?
You’re supposed to not like me, because you’ve forgiven me, even though I’ve done something horribly to you. Let me see. Are you following me? Many people will say something like that, try to guilt us in. You’re saying, what about liking?
My bible tells me I’m supposed to love my enemies. If I have to like them first, there’s no way I can love them. But if I understand that love is a verb, then I can pray for a transformation for a person like Saul of Tarsus or the evil people in the world, because I’m praying for a transformation. What if I had been born 2,000 years ago and somebody said, “Pray for Saul of Tarsus.” I’ve said, “No, no. He murders Christians. You can’t pray for him.” Well, he’s going to be the Apostle Paul and write the love chapter later. “Oh, I better pray for him. Pray for a transformation.” Now, he had his transformation on the road to Damascus. I wish that all could have.
Now I talked to people frequently, very frequently, who just plain don’t like themselves. There’s a reason why they don’t like themselves. I have said to somebody, “You don’t like yourself, do you?” They think about that, “I’ve never thought that before. But no, I don’t like myself.” This is a tragedy that we have to heal. We have to help them bring grace into their life so that they can accept themselves not because of history or performance, but because of a new position of worthiness and authority.
Absolutely. Absolutely. This is a fabulous. Actually, I elongated the introduction because of all that was being said. I think this is so rich what has been shared thus far. I’d like to dive into a question here from the audience. When I was six years old, I was molested, raped by an older girl. I never told my parents until I was 26 years old. My whole life, I have felt alone, cursed by God. My whole life has been a series of misfortunes. I feel like I cannot trust others or even God. I’ve been in a series of violent traumas. I’ve witnessed murderers, been beaten and all before the age of 15. How can one cope with so much negativity in life when I feel there is no one I can trust to help me?
That is very, very painful what has just been read. That’s a live question from this audience. We don’t know who that is. We always keep the anonymity. That’s very painful to hear. How would you respond to this? This is a very painful question.
You’re asking Dr. Hayden or me?
Either one of you.
You’re both …
Well, I would build their self-worth. I have ways of doing that. I think we all have our ways of doing that. But I would eventually make sure they had a proper understanding and definition of the word grace. Most people cannot define grace. They’ll say, “Oh, Skip, it’s unmerited favor, or it’s a gift I didn’t deserve.” I say, “Wonderful. I’m writing a dictionary. That won’t tell me what grace is.” Put a handle on it. Grace is a position of worthiness that has nothing to do with history or performance. With it, an authority to release God’s power with the faith that you’re measured out to.
I love that. We almost need to pause to sink … that sink in. That’s beautifully said. That’s God’s rich and wonderful grace. It’s amazing grace, what you’re referring to. That would be the first step? Can we build on that?
Thank you, Pastor Skip. Yes.
I love having us team because I think we’ll naturally balance back and forth on some topics. But first, I just would want to tell that person that it shouldn’t have happened. The harm of children, it’s almost … You can’t imagine something worse. Then it does seem sometimes there’s those multiple events. Just a reminder, that that’s not supposed to happen. We need to protect our children. It’s not right that they’re in a situation where harm comes to them like that. Then I put it in context of Genesis because it’s the only thing I’ve ever gotten to help my brain be wrapped around some of the events. That story is horrific as it is. There’s many like it, and we need to do something different, so we have less stories like that.
I put it in context of fall, and sin, and evil entering the world that this world is not our hope. This world is cursed, that in context of all that we see these evil things happening, and that there’s a war against people. I think Satan’s very strategic as a war against family, and that it’s not on accident. We have so much abuse, one in three women will have abuse in their lifetime. That’s crazy. There’s a war against us. I put it in that context to hopefully that person finds a place to get healing and help so they can fight with us in the war. I don’t know if you have family. But if you do, we need you. We need your warrior spirit. Because if you’ve gone through all that, there’s ways that you’re going to be able to be strong for a person that we couldn’t be.
To be in a place where you can get help, and we could refer people to start acting like you’re a warrior and training you to help others and to protect others, and in particular, anybody in your family, because unfortunately, we do see it as a very strong pattern that’s passed down in families. If one person doesn’t get healthy, and become aware of some of the patterns, it naturally will repeat. That’s where I call them to is to find out how to be a warrior. We will do what we can to help. Turn it around to be very strategic and how you are in this life where we might not be able to go there, if that makes sense.
Yes. It does. It does. This next question actually ties right into what you’re both referring to. This person says, I’ve been a “me against the world person,” looking out for myself and only trusting me. However, I’ve made so many mistakes and I can’t even trust me anymore. Now it’s caused a paralysis in moving forward and I feel stuck. Now what? That’s really tied into what you were just referring to.
This person is driven by fear. It’s reeking with fear. Bless their heart. We must purge the fear. The best way to purge the fear is to accept a new purpose in life that goes beyond self and reaches out to others. If I am extremely tired sitting at home, saying, “I have worked hard all day,” and all of a sudden, I hear the neighbors screaming their house is on fire. I am not tired anymore because I have purpose. We must have purpose in our life, or we’re dead.
Some of those purposes could be … Let’s just name some just to be real practical, because oftentimes in helping people who are depressed, even to do something for someone else takes so much energy.
What would be some basic things that I could do if I did not have purpose? Real practically speaking, what would you say?
I would say, volunteer in some area where you appreciate the people that you’re helping that they want you to show up. They need you. They’re excited you’re there, giving back in some way. It does create purpose inside you. For me, that idea of strengthening families, protecting children, those are very powerful. They’re needed. We don’t have enough people on that battlefield. Anything in that context, it changes your perception. That’s a lot of times what it is. Today, you feel stuck. Tomorrow, a change in perspective, and you might see an opportunity you didn’t realize was there. Perspective is very powerful, and sometimes that can be tied in with what you’re doing, especially in the area of service we’re talking about.
Maybe a little service. Yes.
A person who is concerned with the needs of others, were rarely ever be depressed.
It’s so true. I know, over the years, quoted a quote from a very famous psychiatrist who said, “If you’re depressed,” this is Karl Menninger, 1969, when he wrote “Whatever Happened to Sin.” But he once said, “If you’re ever depressed, lock up your doors, go across the tracks, and do something for somebody.”
You could even have a neighbor that’s next door that you could maybe help with their trash, or maybe they have some weeds that you would say, “Hey, would you mind I’d be happy just to weed your front garden.” We don’t want to embarrass somebody by saying, “There’s weeds,” I guess. But find a way to let them know you just like to help. Maybe a little act of kindness?
That’s right, Dr. Welch. There are two kinds of people in the world. There are graspers and there are receivers. Receivers live by God’s grace. Graspers are looking for solutions to their sickness. Might be work, it might be alcohol, it might be drugs, it might be sex, it might even be ministry for the wrong reasons. But there are graspers and there are receivers in this world. I’ve written a lot of articles on this subject. I do have a website. It’s real hard to remember skipelmore.com. I have several articles on the grasping situation.
It’s Skip, S-K-I-P-E-L-M-O-R-E …
Dot com, skipelmore.com. It’s a marvelous writings that you would want to take it. I’ve read many that you asked me to critique them. There’s nothing to critique, usually. It’s too well-written.
Two or three that I get a lot of mileage out of [inaudible 00:55:46] authority is about prayer. The imposter within, some of the things we’re talking about tonight is in the imposter within.
It’s amazing. I’m just going to take just a moment of break. You have beautiful children, your lovely wife, of course, is in heaven at this point. But tell us just briefly about your son who is serving the Lord. It’s an example of your parenting and being there for your son.
Tim has an international ministry. Some of you know Tim Elmore. He has a growingleaders.com, if you want to look it up. His goal this year is very little, 35 million young people to receive the Lord. He’s written a series of books. He’s written 37 books. But one series is called Habitudes. It’s in 14 different languages. But it’s short leadership stories with illustrated by a one page picture. Because it’s illustrated by a picture, though, the young people will remember the message and the articles. He’s got those all over. I don’t want to take any more time.
I think that the example I wanted to show is when you talked about modeling earlier, you can see there’s no doubt, modeling with your own son and his powerful ministry that God has given him and enabled him to do. But I think it’s an example of powerful modeling. This next question is a very painful one related to a child, our son is a five-year old. We believe that he is well-loved and taken care of. We attend to his every need, and we have not abandoned in him. This is everything about … I just read this for the first time. But that this everything that you’ve been talking about both of you this evening of being present with the child, making sure that you’re attending to the needs, nurturing the child.
But he seems to be anxious or insecure. He would scream if we were out of a sight even if we are in the house, upstairs or downstairs. We’ve talked to him a lot and affirmed him that we will never leave him. We do not know how to address it. It’s a five-year old. We have to think developmentally of a five-year old very concrete thinker at this point. It’s this or that. What are your thoughts about this? I know that we don’t have the child here, we would need to take time looking at it. We’re giving a quick response to a very complex situation without a doubt. Help us out.
Well, a newborn baby would be easier to teach than a five-year old. Dr. Hayden, you want to go ahead?
I just wanted to say, “Don’t worry, Don’t stress.” Just keep doing what you’re doing. But with a five-year old, first of all, you don’t know what’s already happened. I don’t know your life and your situation. But kids are concrete and they interpret things. He might have picked up some message along the way. Time will probably heal some of that. You might talk with him every once in a while. You might consider therapy. I know sometimes people think that’s extreme. But with play therapy with kids, sometimes you can find out what they’re believing. I’ll never forget one. He jumped in at a playground and they’re like these squishy things. Anyways, he was scared and he thought he would be trapped. He had this fear of dark and being trapped somewhere. I mean, it was very extreme. It was from nothing harmful. But how he interpreted it, he had this deep fear. They figured it out and he worked through it.
You don’t know what was already there, something happening where he interpreted and he has this great fear. But when you count in personality and everything else, it might just disappear with time. To keep saying the truth and to keep me in there for them and act like … don’t overdo it where you’re so worried. But it’s okay, you’re fine. Even if they’re screaming, “No, you’re fine. Everything’s fine.” You’re that steady, consistent one no matter what, even if they’re frantic. Eventually, that consistency is likely to be fine. Go ahead.
I didn’t mean to cut you off.
Yeah. No. Go for it.
It’s again back to the adult self-regulating. If we overreact to the child, now the child knows how to manipulate it. I can get mom and dad to became anxious, now I’m in charge. Notice, individuation starts very early with a child. That’s why you were saying, “Don’t really overreact to the child, but stay steady, provide the truth.” The truth is consistent. That’s why reading our Bibles consistently, opening up to the Holy Spirit consistently, we have a stabilization that we need as human beings.
Really, that ties into a question that came over the internet. It was a question here, how do we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit so that we can heal our childhood wounds and improve our present day relationships? That was a text question. It ties right into this, how do we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit so that we can heal our childhood wounds and improve our present day relationships? How do we really open our hearts? How do we do that pragmatically, is the question I believe.
Well, I say time. Time alone with God, figure out how to be able to pray and have a quiet opportunity to let God speak to you. The same thing goes with the child. I’m not saying he’ll speak to you right at that moment. But give yourself an opportunity. I think in our day and age, we run million miles an hour. If you can consistently have that time alone with God and say, “Show me where I need to be healed,” He will. Again, He’s not a genie. We know that. But he does tend to answer prayers like that and show you where you need the help. Have you found that with people that are open to that?
Well, I would suggest to that person to not put a value on ourselves based on history and performance, put a value on themselves based on a position of worthiness that’s brought on by grace.
You reinforcing it?
Generally speaking, this person I would say from what your question is, I would say they have a difficult time feeling worthy to receive the grace of our Lord.
Yes. I think, actually, you’re reinforcing something that’s so important this evening. Dr. Hayden, as Pastor Skip, you’re saying that you mentioned that early on this evening about a worldview, like we can have a belief that’s a myth not true. But yet if we really believe it, we act on it. That’s why sometimes people who are depressed, they’re thinking negatively. The negativity continues to induce rather than reduce the depression, because now I’m feeling even worse in life is going to get worse, and now I’m going off since eclipse here. In San Diego, I’m already over the edge.
Our five-year old son … It’s another five-year old here. It’s a different question. Our five-year old son only speaks to us and people he has relationship with. We were four days at, let’s see, at a training, giving out of state, staying with my brother and our son, and wouldn’t say goodbye, but did give uncle Dan a hug. The idea is that the child, five-year old son, only speaks to us and people he has relationship with. Help us to know there’s a development piece can be going on at this age level. Can you help us?
Yeah. I was just going to say, I just think it’s very normal. First of all, just boys, and I’ve seen that too, where the parents are overly concerned, and it’s just typical, and that stress actually makes everything worse. If he doesn’t want to hug somebody or kiss somebody, go by, or talk to somebody, I think developmentally, that’s all very normal. Be careful with that. If you’re overly concerned, you’re probably already doing fine. To decrease stress is actually more important in that situation.
Five-year olds are much smarter than we think they are.
Yeah. That’s true, isn’t it?
They work. They’re adults. They work through adults well and they know how to do it. But this particular five-year old, I would say is reeking with the fear of not being worthy. That wouldn’t be my take on it right now.
Could be. Could be. It’s also part of the developmental theorists would say, the idea of maybe not being worthy is finding one’s identity. Once identity is found, when we often say, “Oh, this is a safe person. That doesn’t feel so safe. I’m going to respond to this one. But I’m not going to respond to this person.” That’s a development piece that is fairly normal. I think both of you are saying something very similar. I want to try to get to this last question … Oh, you were going to add?
I was just going to say, “Listen,” because sometimes you’ll figure something out along the way. They believe weird things. Just listen to them, talk with them, and he may be believing something, and you can find out as you go. I was going to have an example. But I want to get to the last question.
You know what? I think we should finish with that. If you could help us?
I was prematurely going to that last question. Can you tell us a little more? Yes.
I was thinking actually of my son, and he didn’t want to go to music lessons for the life of him, it just didn’t. He has a beautiful voice. It was frustrating. Eventually, I found out it was because in Sunday school, they make him smile when he sings. He didn’t want to go to music lessons because he doesn’t want to smile. It just so I cracked up laughing. As an example, to remind you, there’s things that are not necessarily damaging or fear that’s not that extreme. But you don’t know what could be happening. Just listen, watch, pay attention, but you’re doing fine, is the message I wanted to give that parent.
I think what you’re modeling, I just want to reinforce this, that oftentimes we as parents, if you are parenting a child, we have more fear than the child does oftentimes. If I am modeling fear, my child is going to feel fearful. It’s that self-regulation that you talked about earlier that’s so important and you’re reiterating the fact let’s listen. Let’s maybe just explore it a little more. It sounds like you and your husband, you’re able to do that with your son and then able to get his belief, what his perception was about the activity.
Well, I know we’re just about out of time because we do end right at 8:00. We are live streaming. We need to … excuse me … need to complete our evening right at 8:00 and welcome you back to our next My Therapist Sez.
But before I introduce the next My Therapist Sez, would you join me in thanking pastor Skid Elmore and our doctor who is with us this evening. Thank you both for being here this evening. We really appreciate this. I would like to mention that you probably can see our next presentation. We’ll be teaching our children critical life skills. Oftentimes I put certain things in sequence so we’re building on the previous My Therapist Sez. You’ll notice Dr. Joe Price will be with us.
I just want to say this, if I may. This last week, my wife Robin and I were always parenting and I actually called Dr. Joe to get some advice. He’s the one person that I will tend to go to for advice on parenting. I just happened to talk with him this last week helping Robin and me and our parenting skills. He’s a marvelous psychologist, Dr. Joe Price. He teaches at San Diego State University and does major research on adoption because he was also adopted. It’s going to be a brilliant evening. If you’ve heard him, he has a tender heart toward the Lord and how he incorporates that with scientific truth. We want to welcome you to the next Therapist Sez, that’s My Therapist Sez on June 6, 6:45, we’ll be right here in the sanctuary here of Skyline Church. Once again, Dr. Julie Hayden, Pastor Skip Elmore, thank you for being with us this evening. We’ll have a word of prayer as we close out this evening.
Father, we thank you so much for your presence and then the way that we are made, its brilliance, beyond brilliance, how you made us. When it works well it is so beautiful, and when things are not working well, the pain and suffering that can take place. Thank you that truth, how to function healthily in life always comes from the heart of God. As we were hearing from you tonight, agape love, this unconditional love that you love us regardless. That’s amazing. It’s amazing grace. It’s amazing love.
Bless these dear people who are here in the auditorium. Those who will listen at a later date, buy one of our archived DVDs here and as well as those who are listening right now on Livestream. We thank you. We bless you this night. We give you praise in Jesus name, Amen. God bless you. Thank you for coming to My Therapist Sez.
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