5 Basic Needs of a Child (& Codependence)

Last week was major.  Last week a whole lot of stuff got stirred up regarding the man who abused my son. (I’m trying to consciously NOT call him “my son’s abuser” because I don’t want him to be my son’s anything. They are separate now, thank G-d. Relationship done.)

Last week a whole lot of stuff got stirred up about my childhood.  Last week all my issues got served to me on a silver platter, or actually a hundred-page binder called The Co-dependence Intensive Seminar with Sylky Resnicoff.  I looked on the wall at the seminar, and a plaque with The Abuser’s family members’ names on it stared me in the face.  Too much.

So much came flying at me that I didn’t have time to write about it.  So much needed to be processed that still hasn’t been.  The Abuser stuff I’m going to save for another day.  Actually I want to say again here, because no matter how clear I try to be, people keep getting confused:  My ex-husband did NOT abuse my son.  He hadn’t seen my son for 5 days before the bruises showed up, so it is physically impossible.  CPS cleared him; the police cleared him; my son cleared him.  I’m saying that to protect the father of my children and my children.  And because it’s just the truth, which strangely keeps getting twisted in this horrible story.

I didn’t mean to get so off topic with that.

The childhood stuff I’m probably going to have to write in code from now on out of respect for my family members.  Or save it for my personal diary that I never write in because it doesn’t give me the validation of readership. Which brings me to the codependence stuff and why I need so much validation to begin with.

I’m tipping my toe into the hot bath of this topic.  Slowly. Carefully. I will share some of what I learned at the seminar last week.  (The purpose of learning is not to blame our childhoods or people in it.  My own parents are sweet, adorable people whom I love very much and who I know love me.  The purpose of this is to understand unhealthy patterns, to know ourselves, to heal, with G-d’s help, and to take responsibility for our present and future.)  Only 20% of children get all of the following needs met in an appropriate way.

What is codependence?  Codependence can be defined simply as developmental immaturity caused by trauma in childhood. Trauma sounds like a hard word, like rape or abuse or neglect.  But relational trauma happens when a child does not get his or her five basic needs met by a caregiver, anything short of nurturing.

  1. Valuable.  A child is born valuable and with an innate sense of esteem. If a child is disempowered or falsely empowered, the child will feel worthless or superior and believe their worth is conditional.
  2. Vulnerable.  A child is born vulnerable and needs protection.  If she is not protected or is overprotected, boundary issues will result – the child will become too vulnerable/powerless or invulnerable/walled.
  3. Imperfect.  A child is born perfectly imperfect and the imperfections must be honored. If a caregiver defines a child’s identity as “bad” or “good”, the child will become rebellious or perfectionistic.
  4. Dependent.  A child is born dependent on others for her needs and wants.  If her basic needs and wants are not honored or she is made to be too dependent on a caregiver, it will result in addiction issues, depression, or physical illness.
  5. Spontaneous.  A child is born with glorious spontaneity.  He needs limits and also needs freedom to push the limits.  If that balance is not found, a child will be out of control or too contained and controlling of others.

All of these five could be talked about for blogs and blogs.  I saw myself to some degree in all of the issues.  Each issue has two extremes, and in many of the issues I saw myself in both extremes. If you see any of the resulting issues above in yourself, it’s worth exploring where it came from.  It’s fascinating to see the correlation between the 5 needs and the results.

I’m going to stop now on this, but will G-d willing come back to explore it more in the future.

All of this is based on Sylky Resnicoff’s teaching of Pia Mellody’s work.