Take it from a social worker: Why you need to consider this before having babies …

baby toes

As a thirty something year old woman, I am often assumed to want to have babies and that this will be part of my life goals. And I too, have incorrectly made that assumption about others – oops! 😛 As I have never made a decision without thinking about it almost obsessively, I have also never regretted my decisions. Yay! So, this won’t be any different. 🙂 🙂 Your decision shouldn’t be made without asking the tough questions either.

If we know parenting is such a difficult feat (and rewarding for many) why do we assume everyone would and should be a parent? I think we should encourage people to think about this decision. When a person says i don’t want to have kids and the response is ‘are you sure’, it should be equally if not more relevant and acceptable to have the same question posed to people who do want kids. Its not an insult, you should be sure, prepared as much as possible.

As a social worker/child and adolescent therapist for the last seven years, I have heard many many stories of loving parents not having the resources or knowledge or even emotional management skills to really manage raising a child that can feel secure and happy. Attachment theory will tell you why that is so important.  And then there are the parents that for many reasons were never prepared or fit to be parents – and that always breaks my heart – the pain in the hearts of these children is so grave and damaging – and I have seen that be present even for people that don’t have a history of abuse/neglect – usually due to attachment related difficulties. A good book is called “The Attachment Connection” and I encourage anyone thinking about babies to read this.  

Yes, there is hope and help available for children who have suffered accidentally – but reversing the damage is no easy feat – and sometimes these children die before they can heal. That is the worst part of my job, somehow overcoming the pain that this individual was in so much pain that they ended their life through suicide or accidental overdose. 😥 Please do not underestimate the impact emotional abuse has on a child! I see more clients who have experienced emotional abuse than sexual abuse, yet the impact on them is the same. How? Because abuse is abuse, it is qualified as such for a reason!! (More info here). Whether physical, sexual, financial or emotional, abuse causes grave damage – and they cannot be rated on a scale of “not so bad” to “disgusting”, as people often want to do. Yelling is emotional abuse, even if a mild form. Your job as a parent is to manage your emotions even if your child is frustrating you to no end. If you don’t do this, you will damage your child’s sense of self worth, which is one of the most difficult things to change. Self esteem and self worth are not the same. If you want to know more click here.

When we hear something this depressing its easy to assume that won’t be my child or anyone’s child in my circle of friends – and the idealistic and optimistic part of my soul whole heartedly believes that too. But having children and raising them well is very very far from easy. So wouldn’t it make sense to be as prepared as you can be to make the biggest commitment of your life? Unfortunately, no one gets training in even the basics when it comes to parenting in ways to keep the child’s emotional well being in tact. If you found a way to access this knowledge – I applaud you!!!! I think it is necessary and vital that  we get comfortable talking about how parenting even with good intentions and love could damage children, so that we can prevent it from happening as often.

But even around child bearing and parenting we have a culture of silence. Don’t tell another person how to raise their kid! I’m honestly going to ask why not? What if I know something you don’t – what if what I say might help your kid? Do I have to be a parent to have a viable opinion? Do I have to be a doctor? What if its not an opinion but fact? Everyone has been a child and knows how their parents strengths and weaknesses impacted them. As long as you are empathetic and respectful, I think everyone should share their feedback regardless of their parental status. What I have learned from my seven years as a social worker/therapist, is that the best way to be the best parent you can be, is to do the emotional work before you have the child, make an informed decision about pregnancy, be open to support even if you don’t think you need it as a parent and don’t isolate people from giving you feedback just because they are not a parent or a professional


What I am saying may sound judgemental, I can assure you I am not judging parents. I understand and see the complexities of raising a child everyday in my job. I help parents see these too as I work with them. To be able to do this, I empathize with their struggles and help them improve. And even at home, I go through feelings of sadness and frustration because I see that this is not easy on the parents or the children. Unfortunately we live in a world that doesn’t make parenting easy on multiple levels, including socio-economic status, the increasing gap between rich and poor, the stagnant wages,  work stress and burnout, aging parents, bullying at school, managing living expenses, the strain on marriages, isolation …. I could go on and on.  It is hard enough to meet the child’s physical needs and provide for them and secure their future! And as much as I truly empathize with this, it is all the more reason to consider how you are going to meet your child’s emotional needs through all these challenges: because let’s face it – more and more youth are going to therapy, and rates of youth suicide are increasing. These are consistent stats across North America.

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  1. They say it takes a village to raise a child. So embrace that village!! There are many articles and supportive websites to help parents. But also, let people into your village that don’t have children. You may be surprised at what they objectively can notice and share with you, because they are not struggling with the fear and guilt parents struggle with. They can be a very important support as well as other loving parents.
  2. Don’t leave it at, well this is how my parents did it and I turned out fine. Remember the times when you hated your parents? You may have forgiven them, but I bet there is something you wish they did differently. Be a better parent, don’t aim to be adequate, because what you think is adequate, may not be. Your child is not growing up in the same world you did, it is not the same, don’t forget that.
  3. Reflect, reflect, reflect! What ever method works for you, you need to have time to reflect on your emotions and work through them. Otherwise, you will work them out on your children. Its not because you are a bad person, its because its human nature. There is such a thing as the subconscious – you cannot be aware of everything you are thinking and feeling without hard core, regular reflection.
  4. Prepare yourself financially and emotionally for this child. Discuss difficult questions with your partner before you go off birth control. For example, how will you manage the increased stress in your life that comes with a child? How will you continue to nurture your relationship and communicate with each other when you are feeling neglected or disconnected? How will you support each other in doing self-care? How will you reach out and ask for help when you are struggling? How will you improve your current emotional struggles/weaknesses and remain committed to this work for the next 20 years?
  5. DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL DURING PREGNANCY. Often, your doctor will not tell you that alcohol causes brain damage, because once you have already done it, stressing you out won’t do any good. They will just tell you not to do it again. Do the research, you will see that there is no consensus on a ‘safe’ amount or time to drink alcohol, but there is consensus that alcohol causes brain damage. And the most damaging time is often before people realize they are pregnant due to the rapid growth of the baby. However, some articles also suggest the first two weeks may be all or nothing.  Also, keep in mind, many learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorder have unknown causes. Yet, the rates are increasing in children. So, why take the risk?  (More info here on FASD). If you are trying to get pregnant, you should not be drinking alcohol. Make an appointment with your doctor before you begin trying.
  6. Have friends/supports in place where you can share your struggles freely. If you believe in “keeping it in the family”, you may be doing harm to your child, because it will be very difficult to be 100% honest about your feelings. You need to have support, you need to have a safe place to gain validation and constructive criticism. You may also have to budget for therapy at some point in the 20 plus years you are supporting your children. That only makes you a stronger role model and parent for your child.
  7. Don’t stop doing research on parenting and child development. Yes, its hard to find the time. But with today’s technology – you have a lot of resources. There are a lot of audiobooks available that you can listen to, free workshops in communities. Also, balance this with a plan so that you can manage your fears.
  8. Celebrate your successes!! No matter how small, don’t forget to practice gratitude and celebrate your accomplishments and hard work. If you have made it to the end of this article, you are already doing an awesome job!!! Give yourself a round of applause and reward yourself, because you have done more than most parents. Keep it up!!!!


I had a good meeting with my father and my boyfriend after one whole year. It felt amazing to be able to be myself and really enjoy his company and connect like we did when I still felt like his special daughter. Then, I completely put this meeting out of my mind for the most part.

Learning to heal from emotionally toxic parenting is a difficult process. But I made some progress. With a lot of support and coaching, I was able to set my expectations aside before the dinner and keep them aside after the dinner. I was able to enjoy the moment without allowing myself to fall into a cycle of worry or cycle of hope. Expectations that the next meeting would go as well or that this is the beginning of our reunification as a family would have happened very subtly in the past. But, I have been able to notice when I dream of a reconnected family. I bring myself back to reality and remind myself of my boyfriend’s very wise words: Optimism is not expecting positive results or outcomes in the future, Optimism is knowing that no matter what happens, you will be okay. And with these precious words, my healing continued without falling into the pitfalls of anxiety over rejection or the hopefulness of reconnection.

Many weeks later, I still feel balanced. YAY!!! I feel that I have been grateful for the moment, also minimized the punishing of my father and increased the empathy towards him more often in the last few weeks. It has been hard to not continue to be angry and punish, as that gives me a sense of control; there is someone to blame and hold accountable for my bad childhood. But holding my father accountable is not 100% accurate or fair as he was not the only sinner nor the only one who caused me harm.

As a child we need to know who is to blame. We need to know because we are helpless and need to know who to trust to take care of us. As an adult, that keeps us in the role of the victim, never developing the identity of a survivor in charge of our destiny. We as adults, have to trust ourselves, maybe God, maybe our partners, maybe just maybe, our ability to make good decisions. We have to meet and take care of our own needs. So there really isn’t need to blame, although it does give us the illusion of control and frees us from the anxiety we feel for being in charge of what happens to us. Sigh – can’t have your cake and eat it too.

I often want to blame others. I want to blame parents. I want to blame the world. Because this is a pretty shitty world we live in – all too often it is shitty shitty shitty. People, on a regular basis, make bad decisions, bring life into this world and are completely unprepared for it. And as a result, at least 50% of the adult population has serious issues – attachment plus trauma or abuse – at least  attachment issues. So of course, it is hard for me as a social worker – my heart breaks with every child that has their emotional needs neglected. I see the emotionally stunted adults everywhere – they are everywhere – usually unaware of the cause of their problems, weaknesses and even poor choices. Sigh. I wish I could yell at the top of my lungs and set people straight – but we live in a corrupt world that is only driven by short term goals, not long term consequences. Sigh again.


So, I am going to continue to let go and remind myself that it is not my problem. But at the end of the day, all I can do is my part. Once I have done that, there is nothing else to be done. I need to enjoy my life, the little good that does exist in life – I wish for more of this, and wish for God to save our children.


Chit Chat.

The parent anti-oxident

“They gave birth to you …”

“I’m sure they mean well….”

“They love you very much….”

“They will come around….”

Things people will say with very good intentions to help console those that are estranged from their parents. I have hoped and prayed that my parents would come around. I have tried my very best to let the fact that they gave me life, loved me and tried their best to wash away my negative feelings. I have let go and forgiven many times only to realize I haven’t really let go or forgiven completely. None of this has been half-assed. I have honestly been working my pretty little ass off.


Yet, here I am. Again, at a crossroad, between a rock and a hard place, whatever you want to call it – its the hardest place, most painful place I have ever had to be. And I hate having to come back to this place again and again after I have done everything I know how to do to work through my feelings and move forward. Like seriously, how many fucking feelings do I have? Because they just keep coming, and each one is harder than the first.

The precursor was anxiety. I spent two years working through my anxiety disorder to discover other underlying emotions. The first layer I faced was guilt and shame. I worked through that and improved my self-esteem and self-worth. That was a lot of work over a lot of years –  but I did it!! And I am now a proud assertive woman. 🙂 Then, came the anger and rage. This was harder than guilt and shame. But again, I worked through it – in therapy, on the subway writing in my journal, meditating, taking breaks, talking to people, crying in the shower, talking in my sleep, sobbing in my sleep, exercising, self-soothing, taking supplements, eating healthy, praying, reading etc. Like I said, I really worked hard. Then, came some empathy and forgiveness. What a relief! I could reconnect a little and let go a little. Right until the disappointment from my parents present actions pushed me right back into anger, rage, and a new layer of emotion – grief.

So here we are. Grief and loss. No my parents are alive not dead. But apparently, my childhood sucked so bad that they might as well be dead – at least that is how my body is physically reacting. I don’t want that, but my body is grieving the loss of my healthy and alive parents! How messed up is that?

Then the criticism I experienced my whole life sets in. I must be a bad child. I must be over-sensitive. I mean they gave me life and loved me and did their best. How is it that I can logically get that, want to forgive them, but the forgiveness does not stick? Am I just a resentful, vindictive, parent punishing small person? I didn’t think I was, I mean, I give all the time to others, like literally majority of my life I am giving to others. So, seriously, what the fuck??

Then eventually all the work I have been doing begins to pay off. Its not me its them. Society is wrong on this one. We have a culture of silence about talking about how loving, caring, well meaning parents can screw up their children. How? Because of low or no emotional intelligence, inability to manage their own stress/life, own insecurities and unresolved issues, lack of resources, unwillingness to seek help, unwillingness to acknowledge that they could be wrong even with good intentions, unwillingness to give up the blame game or victim mentality. In other words, because they were never brave enough to face their own shadows or resolve their own baggage, and somehow thought they could raise another human being, without the shadow or baggage impacting their child. Well, I’ll be honest, either thats just really dumb, illogical, careless and/or selfish. Yes, having a child without being emotionally prepared for it, puts you at risk of being a toxic parent.

So now what? I go on the internet to google ‘how to work through your estrangement with your parents’ and many other similar searches. Almost all the links are for parents who’s children have cut them out. Poor parents, here is how to cope if your child doesn’t want to have anything to do with you. Really? Even google is telling me that the world thinks its the child’s fault. REALLY? So after another round of self-criticism, I finally come back to the realization that the internet is wrong – again only because now I have been working my very pretty little ass off. Seems like its gonna get really pretty before I find some resolution. 😛

But there is good news. YAY!! I love posts with a happy ending too (its the Bollywood, rom com lover in me ) I have done the hard work to find one book that looks promising and so far it has really been helping. The audio version is going to be my mantra to and from work. Its called “Toxic Parents” by Susan Forward. I hope Susan is forward thinking enough to help me detox out of this mess. But I am prepared for a disappointment like some other books I have read. But at least I have some hope again, and its going to be back to the workout of my life – working and working so damn hard, all because – lets face it – I had lazy, flabby assed parents!!

Chit Chat.

I am a girl

Today, I am feeling a lot of emotional pain. I am really struggling with my parents and their gender roles. I am very sad, I feel broken and I don’t know how to accept that my parents will never treat me equally because I am a girl.

I have been working very hard for 21 years to undo all the childhood drama that entered my life. I have become an admirable, respected woman in my profession and my personal life. But, my parents still can’t seem to fully understand that I am not the typical brown girl – and I don’t want to be – nor will I ever be. That just isn’t me and I love me, and I don’t have any intentions of changing that just to appease my parents.

Loving your parents in this culture comes with a lot of obedience, if you don’t do what your parents want, as unwanted as it may be, there is an immediate sense of guilt – that you have been raised to feel. It has served a purpose in our culture, the guilt/shame has successfully ensured that many remain within the confines of what is acceptable. Constantly, I battle this shame/guilt and then ask myself is this what I really want or am I trying to appease my parents, because somehow then they will accept me and I will feel loved again?

I truly do miss being loved by them – in what I thought was an unconditional manner. With age, I just can’t see my parents the same way anymore. I see more and more flaws, and I see less and less desire to try to be better. My mother may always make passive aggressive comments towards my amazing partner and she may always stare him down just because in their eyes he is not good enough for me. Why? Because he is short, dark and not earning a six figure income.

Every time I am around them, I realize more and more how superficial they are. In all the comments they make – that is how they have lived their life – I have NO idea how I somehow managed to have a mind of my own and actually decide to dedicate my life to helping others and living simply – not materialistically.

Maybe in the eyes of my parents, I am not a success – based on their definition of success. Maybe I am doomed to always be the black sheep because I will marry someone they don’t approve of. Maybe my brother will always have it easier, because he is a boy and now that he makes a lot of money, he must know what he is talking about. Maybe he will always be respected and given unconditional love because he found a way to find happiness that my parents can live with. Maybe, they can accept that he lives with his white girlfriend and treat her very well, while they will always be awkward at best with my down to earth boyfriend just because he doesn’t look the way they want him to or have the bank account they want him to have. Maybe, just maybe, there is a 1% chance that they will come around, that they will accept my boyfriend eventually. Maybe I will always be a black sheep and I have to accept that my choices are too overwhelming for them.

The emotional pain remains. It comes and goes in waves, but never did I realize how difficult it is to see the worst side of your parents and to see them to be the cause of your pain. After all the forgiving and accepting of their mistakes, all the thousands and thousands of dollars spent on therapy, after all the emotional work I have done to let go of most of my hardened anger and resentment, I find myself back in a place of a lot of pain and back in a place of intense anger. I wish I didn’t need to feel accepted by my parents. I wish they could be more respectful towards my boyfriend. I wish that they could truly understand who I am and why he is the one for me. But for now, I guess my wishes will remain unanswered and unfulfilled.

Indian Hypocrisies


There comes a time in your life, where you meet someone so special that everyday feels like a dream. You wonder is this the honeymoon period, or can life really be so beautiful, and can I really be so happy? I’d love to say that after finding this type of happiness, I am in bliss and ecstatic about the future. I am. But I also feel an overwhelming source of grief and pain.

Somehow after all these years, I convinced myself that when my parents said they wanted me to be with a nice guy who treated me well, that they meant it.

Somehow I convinced myself that when they said that all they wanted was a South Asian guy who was well educated that they meant it.

Somehow I convinced myself that when they said that I could find my own partner and decide who I want to marry, that again, they would mean it.

Now that I have found a man that is South Asian, educated, and treats me better than anyone else, but somehow he isn’t good enough. And my parents think its ok to tell me that they don’t approve – for superficial reasons.

I feel betrayed again. I feel shocked again. I wonder why I trusted them – but then again aren’t you suppose to be able to trust your parents? I am so utterly hurt. I feel so much pain and grief. My parents think they are looking out for me, and want to convince themselves of that. But not once, have they asked me any questions about him that reflect any substance. He’s not good enough because he’s short. Really? Oh I get it, he’s not a tall doctor. If he was a doctor then White, Chinese or West Indian – would not matter. As long as he wasn’t Black or Muslim.

I am disgusted. I am ashamed to be the product of this type of superficiality and discrimination. But again, I am left wondering, why would my parents tell me that all that matters is my happiness and then, ironically, become the one obstacle that causes all of my pain and sorrow. I hate saying this, but most South Asian parents, only want their kids to be happy as long as it does not interfere with their happiness. You can have freedom, as long as you do what I say. You can find your own man, as long as I get the final verdict. You can take your time, but in the mean time I’ll make your daily life a living hell if you don’t get married on my timeline. And it goes without saying – how fair he is, tall he is and overall good looking he is, is WAY more important to me than anything else, because I as an Indian parent, care more about my social status than your happiness. After all, as my mother would say, don’t we all have to make sacrifices? But what that really means is if I couldn’t truly be free and happy, than neither can you.

Well guess what, I am proud to be white washed. At least that means I can think for myself and break out of this submissive culture that does not value love, and values women even less. I will get married in my thirties, to a man who is by your standards, too short, too unconventional and not indian enough. And I will travel instead of having children. I will practice social work instead of pursuing money. And I will be blissfully happy.


20 years.

I have made a decision after twenty years to tell my parents about my childhood abuse. This is the hardest decision I have ever had to make, and I am consumed with it. I think about it all the time, it is distressing and worrisome. Anxiety and Depression have creeped back into my life. Meanwhile, I am finding a way to care for myself as I care for others.

I was convinced that I would never tell my parents. I read that children do not disclose abuse to parents if they are worried about their reactions, worried their parents cannot handle it or worried that their parents will be unable to validate them. Ditto, ditto, ditto.

I had convinced myself that disclosure would never be an option because my parents would not understand, would not be able to handle the emotions and would not be able to respond maturely. I lived with the burden of this secret and the pain of forever isolation for 20 years.

I am still worried about these things. The only thing that has changed is the clarity I have gained about the impact this secret has on my emotional health, my relationship with myself, my parents and my partner. I do not want to keep this secret anymore. I don’t want the burden anymore. I did nothing wrong.

I did nothing wrong. But I worry. I am standing up for the little girl inside me. I am giving her a voice. I am giving her visibility. I am highlighting her struggle, I am highlighting her pain, I am highlighting her isolation.

20 years. Everyday I dream or dread the possible reactions they might have. Most of them are negative. I have started to distance myself to prepare myself for the worst. I am unsure if this is the right thing to do. But, it is my coping strategy at this time.  Everyday, is getting harder to wait, 20 years and now 20 days seems dreadfully long.

I hope and pray that it will come out the right way. I hope that my integrity and self esteem will remain intact after the disclosure. I pray that the anger will not take over. I pray that I will be prepared and able to survive what comes after.