Therapist is creating a stir arguing that parents who fight create a toxic home for children
Kids shouldn't have to act like adults.
Whitney Goodman, a licensed marriage and family therapist, shared a video about kids who grew up in homes where their parents were always fighting, which made many people feel seen. It also started a conversation about who deserves more empathy in the parent-child relationship: the parents or the children.
Goodman is known as the “radically honest” psychotherapist and the author of “Toxic Positivity: Keeping it Real in a World Obsessed with Being Happy.”
"If you grew up in this kind of house, you may have noticed that your family would split off into different alliances or teams to try to manage the material discord. Because the marriage wasn't a good or safe foundation for the family, everybody else had to kind of go and form these new teams,” Goodman explained in an Instagram post.
"Maybe you and your dad would team up and talk bad about your mom—and mom was crazy, and we need to fight against her. And maybe your other sibling was teamed up with your mom and would start acting like her and started to behave in similar ways, and everybody was, like, trying to find stability but also out to get one another at the same time," she continued.
Goodman believes that no matter how well a child deals with parents who are constantly in conflict, the outcome will never be optimal.
"You're all looking for safety and trying to find it in different ways, but you'll never be able to achieve the same type of stability you would have felt if your parents had that concrete stable relationship,” she added.
Many commenters could relate to the unstable feeling that Goodman described in her post and the stress of living in a divided family and playing on different teams.
"All of this, and it's so confusing when you're an only child and you end up 'bouncing' between teams," Amwahl added.
"100%. Teamed up with my dad only to realize as an adult that he’s the problem," lovisoctavia wrote.
"This happened to me growing up. Even to this day I have to remind my mom that I’m not interested in talking badly about dad," hawkmoonrising said in the comments.
The post also made some parents who may have gone through challenging times raising their kids ask for some sympathy as well. This begs the question, in these domestic situations, who deserves more compassion, the parent or the child?
Goodwin posted a follow-up video with her answer.
Goodman believes that when children grow up, their parents tend to view their past as if they went through the situation as the people they are now, not the helpless kid. This skews the power dynamic in the parents’ eyes and puts them on equal footing.
But in the end, the children had no choice in the situation.
“When we're having these conversations, this will always be true: The child was a child who was helpless, defenseless, and unable to care for themselves physically and emotionally,” Goodman said. “The adult had power and options. And when we keep that in mind, it makes the conversation a little bit more fair.”