Trauma Resiliency…Why Are Some People More Resilient to Trauma Than Others?

Children suffer the most in a home struggling severely with PTSD!

Trauma Resiliency…  May 21, 2015 • By Sunda Friedman TeBockhorst, PhD, Posttraumatic Stress / Trauma Topic Expert Contributor…quote from this article…

Why is that?

The answer to this appears to be largely the same as the answer to so many other quandaries in the field of psychology: the unique combination of genetic constitution and set of life experiences for any given individual. It’s the old “nature vs. nurture” question, and, as is typically the case, the answer seems to be “yes, both influence outcome significantly.”


Trauma resiliency is an area of research PTSD survivors can appreciate.  Most of us on the severe side of trauma exposure constantly wonder, with some shame and guilt to boot, why some move forward in life after trauma in pretty good shape in terms of emotional baggage.  I fall into the category of long exposure to traumatic experiences as a child and young adult, including living with an entire family suffering from post-trauma stress, especially my post WWII and Korean War father.  Without a strong dose of nurturing from parents and family members, it is near impossible to recover as a child or young adult.  We head into adult life with a heavy emotional load that must be reconciled eventually.  If not, we live a life of constant pain from the symptoms of post-trauma stress.  You see, parents and siblings suffering from PTSD do not have the capacity to nurture.  A toxic home culture is ruled by fear, isolation, denial, stigma, emotional numbness, and self serving behaviors.  Sound painful?  Yes, it is painful indeed.  Can’t we do more?  We must do better…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page and to order books, please!

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

“Nightmare of Child Abuse!” Kids need trusted teachers & mentors in school and after-school…


Dr. Wills Neighborhood Podcast click here…

Thanks to psychotherapist, author, speaker and all-around terrific dude Dr. Will Miller, BeAKidsHero now is available as a podcast!

dr-wills-neighborhood-logo-w-convDr. Will has put together an online community of podcasts as part of his Dr. Will’s Neighborhood, where folks can join “the best conversation in town”… and he’s invited BeAKidsHero to move into ‘the hood’! 😉

An impressive lineup of expert guests will join me in discussing ways to protect children from sexual abuse and other types of maltreatment, as well as a host of issues related to child abuse. Parents, teachers and other caring adults will gain greater insight into child protection and exploitation issues that can impact kids of all ages from infancy through their teenage years.  Expert guests will offer insight, advice and tips that can help each of us make a difference and truly improve the world one child at a time.


Ginger Kadlec, “BeAKidsHero,” is one of my early collaborative friends in our work on behalf of Children and Families in Life after Trauma.  I’m grateful for her support and caring friendship.  Ginger encouraged me to keep writing in my blog, speaking, and authoring books.  Our best collaboration is “The War Within: PTSD” by Ginger Kadlec, published by Project Eve. My years of heartfelt work with and the children we serve has been at the center of my own personal growth and healing as well.

Dr. Will talks about “Refrigerator Rights” with those trusted friends, neighbors and mentors outside of the home as a powerful social interaction benefit to help children who become isolated as a result of child abuse and maltreatment.  I certainly recall the loneliness of my childhood back in the 1950’s when our home was scary.  It was even worse trying to talk about it, so we lied to our teachers, coaches, friends and mentors.  We siblings hung on to hope that our toxic life at home was normal and we were tough.  We had very few close friends as we moved so often as a post WWII and Korean War US Navy military family.

Please listen to the podcast, Dr. Will’s Neighborhood with Ginger Kadlec.  This is honest straight talk for parents, teachers, and mentors.  The conversation touched my heart and soul!

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2…click the highlighted text for my author page and to order books, please!

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

Mitigating PTSD Trauma Informed Care…Children & Families in Life After Trauma…


Trauma Informed Care…

Dear Kindred Spirits:

As an author, blogger, and child advocate, my great passion in life during my retirement years is to help stop the stigma connected with mental health, especially as it relates to the painful tragedy of children growing up in toxic homes where parents suffer with post traumatic stress. Kids inhale the pain of parents and often suffer in silence while exposed to anger, depression, and anxiety over extended periods of time. Children make adjustments and are resilient, but eventually leave home carrying all the emotional baggage with them. Parents, mentors, and teachers can make a huge difference in mitigating the toxic circumstances and longer term emotional damage to children, by becoming sensitive to how youngsters are affected at very early ages. Family members often take on the same symptoms of post traumatic stress if exposed daily to a life of toxic behaviors from adults.

I write in my most recent book, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 2, how children can be saved from the emotional damage of growing up in a toxic home. I also write in my blog, about the same topic along with a focus on K-12 education. I served on the board of, an after-school program in Depoe Bay, Oregon. I also have had the honor to serve the citizens of Depoe Bay, Oregon as City Councilor.

I advocate for children because my childhood was consumed by the challenges of growing up with parents who suffered severe emotional damage following WWII and Korean War. My awareness of the symptoms of PTSD was very limited for most of my adult life until deciding to confront my own demons when researching and writing my first book Reconciliation: A Son’s Story. We live in in world where generations of wars have torn apart families, leaving them ignorant of the long term damage of PTSD on children who carry forward the emotional pain and symptoms that can linger for a lifetime without treatment. It is never too late to break the cycle of pain and to begin the journey of healing. I waited until age 64, and now live with an high level of awareness, providing a peace of mind never before achieved. But treating the symptoms of PTSD and keeping the pain at a safe distance is a work in progress. For this reason, I continue to push forward making a difference for others by writing and speaking about post trauma stress, including the toxic circumstances and painful outcomes, which can be mitigated with open and honest communications. Stopping the stigma and denial of this painful and life threatening disease is the first step in healing. We now have the awareness and tools to provide “trauma informed care” and delivered at a local level to more quickly recognize mental health symptoms and identify alternative treatment strategies for those who suffer.

Please feel free to contact me with your questions and conversation. You can use my blog, author page, and purchase my books to learn more. My only disclaimer is that my background and experience is that of a trauma survivor who thrives…and not a mental health professional. 

With best wishes for your good health and happiness…

Steve Sparks

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate


Child Abuse Primes the Brain for the Future… Saving our kids from the baggage of post-trauma stress!

Child Abuse and Maltreatment Affects Brain Development in Early Childhood…

Child Abuse Primes the Brain…, TIME

“Child maltreatment has been called the tobacco industry of mental health. Much the way smoking directly causes or triggers predispositions for physical disease, early abuse may contribute to virtually all types of mental illness.”


My latest book project “I Worry About the Kids,” gives this topic significant attention in a workbook format to help parents, teachers, and mentors become far more aware and effective in working with the symptoms of child abuse.  My first edition of this book, “My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 2,” is published as a robust ebook on the Amazon KDP platform.  Stay tuned for more…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page, and to order books, etc.

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate
Saving your children from the emotional baggage of early childhood trauma…

When Gun Violence is Personal… “Leave a stronger, safer country to our children.”


Barack Obama: Guns Are Our Shared Responsibility… January 7, 2016 New York Times

Guns, Our Shared Responsibility… Quote from New York Times article by Barack Obama

Gun violence in a dysfunctional home with a parent who suffers from post-trauma stress

“Nearly 800 children under 14 were killed in gun accidents from 1999 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly one in five injury-related deaths in children and adolescents involve firearms.”

I have an old boomer friend, Dave, who grew up in a home where the father suffered from severe post-traumatic stress while serving in hard combat during WWII. When his father retired from the US Navy, he started a second career as a 1st responder and carried a gun. The first gun violence and safety incident happened when the father came home from work and left his gun lying on the bed. The youngest son and brother, Skip, a toddler at the time, got on the bed and accidently pulled the trigger…the bullet fortunately penetrated the mattress and the child was not hurt. Later the same father came home angry with my friend, Dave, and his brother, Jim, who were teens at the time, and threatened the two of them by shaking his gun and pointing it at the two teen boys. Their mother pulled the father away and may have saved her sons from death or injury. To this day, my friend fears guns and is triggered by memories of these incidents during his young adult life so very long ago. Can’t we do more?

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page.

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

Post-Trauma Stress (PTS) Experts & Survivors Podcast Interviews from Friend & Colleague Michele Rosenthal.


Changing Direction Radio Full podcasts of all our expert and survivor interviews by Michele Rosenthal…

Michele Rosenthal, Author

“In an effort to bring you even more ideas for how to reduce and manage PTSD stress, depression, mood swings, nightmares, insomnia, sadness, anger, grief and pain, plus redefine who you are and reclaim how you live every week for four years Michele Rosenthal invited professionals and/or survivors to discuss a topic specific to your life after trauma. On this program Michele and her guests covered a wide spectrum of topics designed to help you turn yourself around and get headed for healing in the right direction.

With guests from backgrounds that include self-help, mental health, trauma, motivation and inspiration, founder, Michele Rosenthal, interviewed experts and everyday people about what it takes to heal trauma and move forward with your life. Guests include civilian and military survivors and professionals sharing their unique perspectives on how to quell the chaos and take positive steps toward change, plus leaders in the fields of self-help, inspiration, motivation, science, trauma, recovery, and personal development.”

My favorite…How to Live A Joyful Life After Trauma with Angela Shelton


Michele Rosenthal has been a friend and colleague during my own journey of healing since publishing my first book in 2011.  Her recent book review of my latest e-book, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 2 has made a huge difference in giving my story more attention, including the stories of other trauma survivors.  Thank you, Michele Rosenthal, for all your support during my journey!  And thank you, Angela Shelton, for sharing your story of healing…with joy!

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

Angela Shelton

AngelaSheltonAngela Shelton is an American screenwriter, actress, and documentary film producer, best known for the film Tumbleweeds and the documentary Searching for Angela Shelton, which she wrote, directed, and edited. She has also just released her book, Finding Angela Shelton: The True Story of One Woman’s Triumph over Sexual Abuse.  Also, Be Your Own Hero… Warrior Workbook…

If You Suffer from Anxiety, Remember to be Thankful for Those Who Love You…”It’s Hard Work!”

Without Loved Ones who Care, We are Lost in Managing Anxiety in Constructive Ways…

Anxiety is Tough, Especially on Loved Ones…13 Things to Remember  Quote from this link article published by Web Heath Paper…

“Anxiety is tough, isn’t it? Not just for the people that have it, but for you – the people that stick with them – while they’re going through it. It’s emotionally taxing on both ends, it’s physically demanding at times, and of course mentally demanding most of the time.  Plans have to be changed to accommodate the anxiety. Situations have to be avoided at times. Planning has to be just that bit more thorough. Emotional needs can change daily. It’s a lot to work through, and it can be hard to get in their head to understand on top of that.”


I don’t think about the wear and tear on those who are close to me everyday, but I should.  Mostly, it is a huge personal struggle to manage and mitigate anxiety as a life long disorder for many.  When reminded with conversation, writing about stigma, or reading a new article like, “13 Things to Remember,” I’m so grateful for the understanding and patience from loved ones, especially my spouse.  She has a tough job!  But tells me it is worth it because she knows well how to help me work through the anxiety to make our days together much more positive… Otherwise, I would go immediately to my “blanket fort” and waste the whole day in my own self serving misery.  Although close friends and colleagues do the same, at least they are not around me 24/7.  The key is to keep a strong footing and move forward with healthy social interaction.  Without open communications with others and awareness, healing is virtually impossible.  Without a caring coach, those who suffer with severe anxiety, especially a panic attack, often retreat and go into isolation…better safe than sorry…

Please click this link, “13 Things to Remember,” and increase your awareness of what anxiety looks like, and how hard we all work together to support each other.  Distancing yourself from a loved one suffering anxiety is not the answer.  You can make a difference by not thinking what is wrong with your loved one or close friend, but ask yourself “what happened to cause the anxiety.”  This is the healthy way to move forward to be a hero to your loved one…

So, on this day and everyday be grateful and appreciative for those close to you who care enough to stay by your side and make each day a good day for all.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2…click the highlighted text for my author page and ordering my books…

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

Thanksgiving 2015 in Bucerius, Mexico…Love Prevails in the Hearts & Minds of the Mexican People.

Mexican Culture…Love, Kindness, and Respect…
Suites Costa Dorada, Bucerius, Mexico…
Bucerius Community…view from Suites Costa Dorada

Mexican Family Culture…Love, Kindness & Respect…Family Traditions…

Rites of Passage

“Young, Mexican females are honored on their 15th birthday with a quinceaneracelebration. The party is full of emotion as the girl’s father ceremoniouslyexchanges her flat, childish style shoes for a demure pair of modestly high-heeled shoes to denote her passage into womanhood. The event is full of sentiment as the young woman dances with her father and the guests look on.

Another touching Mexican cultural tradition is the matrimonial golden coin ceremony. The groom bestows his betrothed with 13 golden coins as a gesture of his trust in her to treasure and care for him and his possessions. Her acceptance of the coins signifies her devotion to love, respect and nurture him.”


Judy and I celebrated a peaceful and restful Thanksgiving in Bucerius, Mexico (click this link) for the year 2015.  We have been here 3 weeks on this day and are giving much thanks for our life together and for all of our blessings.  Although we miss our children and quality family time on this day, we are in the middle of great family tradition in Mexico.  I am constantly reminded of what is good in the world while experiencing and observing the children and families of Mexico, especially in this beautiful beach community.  We discover and experience here what we rarely see or hear in the news back home…love, kindness, and respect for all…hate is not allowed!  We feel totally safe walking the streets and enjoying the people, fine food, art galleries, and festive atmosphere.  Unlike some areas where drug cartels reign, we do not see armed military guards or police presence nor citizens acting out with protests and anger toward each other.

I believe this wonderful place, Bucerius, Mexico, is a snapshot of the world in general.  It is a small minority of people, no matter where one travels around the globe, that truly feel hate.  There is despair and poverty everywhere, including Mexico in a big way.  From my perspective, the people and cultures of the world typically have strong family traditions like Mexico.  We are all challenged daily with a myriad of survival issues that create significant stress.  But by and large love prevails in the hearts and minds of children and families everywhere we go.  So, we give thanks on this Thanksgiving day of 2015, and wish the very best to our family and friends back home, and to all the Mexican people and amigos here in Bucerius who have helped to make our visit so special…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma Part 1&2…  Click the highlighted text for my author page…

Steve Sparks, Author. Blogger, Child Advocate

November 20th Universal Childrens Day…”Be A Kids Hero!”


Kids with Globe
Kids with Globe
Be A Kids Hero…click image for larger view…

Universal Children’s Day  Guest Post by LAURIE A. GRAY, JD via @GingerKadlec  Click the highlighted text link for more…

“November 20 is Universal Children’s Day.  The date marks the day the United Nations (“UN”) adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

Within a year of its enactment, 130 nations ratified this treaty guaranteeing certain fundamental human rights to children. Today the UNCRC stands as the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world. With Somalia and South Sudan ratifying the treaty in 2015, only one nation has refused to stand with the rest of the world to protect children: The United States of America.


I am a proud member of Ginger Kadlec”s “Be A Kids Hero”   As an author, blogger, and child advocate for many years, it is an honor to help advance awareness of the rights of children of all ages, especially child abuse and maltreatment.  My great passion is supporting the education of children through my work with Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon.  As parents, teachers,  and mentors we should be more aware of the steps we can take to protect our most precious asset, the children of all ages everywhere.

“In the United States we now acknowledge that corporal punishment inflicted on one’s spouse is a form of domestic violence, but about 70% of parents still cling to the belief that hitting, slapping, and other forms of violence intended to inflict physical pain on a child are appropriate.”  UNCRC. Article 37(a) states, “No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”  The United States needs to ratify the UNCRC Treaty to join all nations who provide children with the same protections under the legal system as adults.  Please take quality time to become more aware of the UNCRC Treaty and encourage your congressional delegation to act on behalf of America’s children.  “Be A Kids Hero” and do your part in recognition of Universal Children’s Day…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page and ordering books and products…

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, and Child Advocate

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week…The Resilience of Homeless Kids…

The Resilience of Homeless Kids…but not without long term emotional needs and support…

Who is the homeless?  “Storied Streets” Watch this powerful documentary trailer…

map image
National Hunger and Homlessness Awareness Week November 14th-22nd, 2015
Homeless kids look and act typical in school but often suffer alone and in silence…


I was moved today listening to Susan Sarandon on NBC Today talking about her new documentary “Storied Streets.”    I know in my own community of Lincoln County Oregon, we have experienced an increase in the population of homeless children who go to school each and every day and survive and thrive…moving on with their lives in very responsible ways.  These kids stay focused on getting a good education because they know this is the path to becoming a healthy and productive adult.

In my own experience as a board member of Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon, and as a author and blogger, there are many stories of homeless kids who set a great example for others by overcoming the many challenges of surviving and thriving without the consistent emotional support of a stable and permanent home.  We work hard to help kids find a strong footing and balance with healthy adult and peer support in our community.  Most importantly we show love and compassion for children of all ages who join us each day during normal public school hours and out-of-school programs like Neighbors for Kids.

In my most recent book, My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 2, I included a special story, written by Jenny Green, a former homeless child.  Following is an excerpt from my book, Chapter 3. in her own words as a homeless military child.

Jenny Green while working for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife…

“It was during one of these summers when I was 12 about to be 13 and had to attend summer school, that Mom closed the door to me. It was my last day of elementary school, when I got home all the doors and windows were locked and Mom was not answering. I sat on the porch till 10pm wondering what had happened, asking neighbors if they had seen anyone at the apartment, nothing. I went to a 5th grade friend’s house, but her family did not want anything to do with stained clothed, ammonia smelling kid; they told me to leave and not return.

Under the glow of the dim street light I slept on the porch that night.  The next morning I walked downtown to the amphitheater next to the Ohio River. I would sleep in and around this amphitheater for the next three months. Summer school did not serve lunch, so at night for food I would dig in the dumpsters of the local restaurants after they had closed. I remember eating half eaten fried chicken legs, macaroni salad with my fingers, licking pie filling off of paper plates, and using old napkins with lipstick stains smeared on them.

I remember being afraid to sleep outside at night; so I would walk around town, watch the trains, or sit and listen to the coal barges and tugs going up and down the Ohio River till dawn. I was also afraid of the local law enforcement, as I was scared of getting in trouble for being homeless and filthy. I did not know at the time that they would actually have helped me. I kept going home every other day and knocking on the door and no one ever answered, even though I could see the mail was picked up and curtains were moved.

The day 7th grade started, again I went back home and knocked on the door. To my surprise my mom answered the door. Dark circles under her eyes, dirty clothes, and matted hair is how she greeted me. I asked where she had been, and all she could say was that she had been busy. I told her 7th grade started today and I need her to go register me for school at the junior high, she agreed and we walked to school. I walk in the office with the same jeans, t-shirt, socks, and shoes I had been wearing for four months since the end of April, as people are staring at us I get registered for school and receive my class schedule.

Second period was algebra, and I hated math but I did not know that my life was about to change. I met my best friend Tracy; she didn’t care what I looked like or smelled like. In fact, later in the school year her Mom and Dad invited me over to their house as often as I wanted. They fed me, washed my clothes, and let me shower. By 8th grade I was living in their house. Mom still had custody of me but she allowed for my move. I was in their household ’till just after high school graduation with a 3.75 GPA, college bound, clean clothes and good food.

Someone had finally given me a chance to survive, and I thrived…”

Jenny Green has been working for Neighbors for Kids as our STEM Teacher for several years now.  She is one of our most popular teachers.  Jenny continues her higher education with the goal of a long term career in teaching K-12 science.  Jenny also loves photography and spends her free time finding unique photo shots of the Oregon coastal region.

Please become involved in supporting homelessness in your community during this week of National Hunger and Homeless Awareness…and all year long…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page and order my book(s)…  Jenny Green’s complete story is in chapter 3 of My Journey of Healing, Part 2.

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, and Child Advocate…