Children experiencing emotional, physical, and sexual abuse can induce guilt and shame and rage and sadness, which themselves can complicate identity and confound relatedness.

When the perpetrators of these heinous acts are also the people who are supposed to keep you safe, the trauma of assault can be lost in the shadow of the trauma of betrayal. Insults can be forgiven. Bruises and broken bones can heal. But learning to trust others when the person you’re supposed to be able to trust the most has harmed you can be exponentially harder.

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What happens to identity and personality when holding tight means getting hurt?

What happens when the boundaries you’re building while you’re apart are breached upon your return?

What happens if you’re praised for letting go today but chastised for doing the same tomorrow?

What happens when the person responsible for helping you manage your anxiety causes it?

As parents, we are supposed to be our children’s anchors. Their port in the storm and secure base. The thermostat that regulates arousal, and the model to be internalized and emulated. If you recognize and respect this precious and profound responsibility, you have a good chance to set your son or daughter on a path toward health; to lay a psychological foundation for the later development of an identity and a personality that are robust and balanced. Flexible and adaptive. Sensitive and responsive. Able to hold tight and let go.


About Benjamin D. Garber, Ph.D

Dr. Ben Garber is a psychologist, expert consultant to family law matters, author and internationally acclaimed speaker.

He has published hundreds of popular press and dozens of peer-reviewed articles about child and family development and divorce. His six books include "Holding Tight/Letting Go: Raising Healthy Kids in Times of Terror and Technology" and "Developmental Psychology for Family Law Professionals."

Visit this page for Garber's books.

To purchase Garber's Book, "Holding Tight, Letting Go," visit this link: