Many children are exposed to traumatic life events… Parents need to be more aware of the consequences affecting their own children in life after trauma…

by | Jan 14, 2014

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

The subjective “lived” experiences of a child of a warrior…

Children and Life after Trauma…  Quote from this website article…from the American Psychological Association

Many children are exposed to traumatic life events

A significant number of children in American society are exposed to traumatic life events. A traumatic event is one that threatens injury, death, or the physical integrity of self or others and also causes horror, terror, or helplessness at the time it occurs. Traumatic events include sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, community and school violence, medical trauma, motor vehicle accidents, acts of terrorism, war experiences, natural and human-made disasters, suicides, and other traumatic losses. In community samples, more than two thirds of children report experiencing a traumatic event by age 16. However, estimates of trauma exposure rates and subsequent psychological sequelae among children and youth have varied depending on the type of sample, type of measure, informant source, and other factors.

These include:

  • ·         the development of new fears
  • ·         separation anxiety (particularly in young children)
  • ·         sleep disturbance, nightmares
  • ·         sadness
  • ·         loss of interest in normal activities
  • ·         reduced concentration
  • ·         decline in schoolwork
  • ·         anger
  • ·         somatic complaints
  • ·         irritability


Please click to reference my recent blog posts, “Don’t forget the children who live and cope with PTSD…” and “What is traumatic stress like for a child?” 

My goal with today’s post is to continue providing references and resources to help parents, family members, and loved ones capture what it is like for a kid to experience traumatic events and the life-long implications.  Prolonged exposure to trauma and emotional neglect is often present in a toxic home where parents suffer from the symptoms of PTSD and moral injury.  

My parents were completely ignorant of how their emotional challenges and symptoms of anger and depression affected us siblings, especially during the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  During those troublesome and scary years following Dad’s extended combat duty in all of WWII and subsequent deployment during the Korean War, our parents were severely affected and had no treatment or guidance whatsoever.  We children were directly affected by the toxic home life as well.  The above list of symptoms were mostly prevalent in our home among all of the children…  

Once Dad retired from the US Navy in 1958 after 22 years serving America, he chose a second career as a 1st responder working for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  His post Naval career choice was highly consistent with his experience and skill sets, but not so healthy for his mental disposition at the time.  Dad was an excellent correctional officer and moved up the ranks before he finally retired after 18 years of service.  It is common for many career military men and women to choose a second career as a 1st responder. There were never any tests during that time to help determine the emotional stability and suitability for warriors to work in a sensitive and high risk 1st responder career. Consequently, children, family members and loved ones suffered a huge responsibility and burden of living and coping with the symptoms of PTSD for decades and were often affected with the same secondary PTSD symptoms as a post WWII combat veteran and second career 1st responder. 

Even with the high level of awareness and treatment strategies available in the 21st Century, it is still challenging to convince warriors to immediately seek out treatment following deployment or in retirement because of the fear of not being hired.  And we still see exceptionally qualified retired military men and women choose a second career as 1st responders.  It is my profound desire and hope that as more parents who suffer from PTSD understand the risks of affecting their children, steps will be taken early to receive on-going treatment and therefore protect the kids from secondary exposure to PTSD and carrying the emotional baggage forward as an adult.  It is also true that more often than not children of warriors who suffer from secondary PTSD do not recognize the need for treatment themselves. 

The important work of awareness is critical!  Our best hope for a positive outcome is to educate parents on how to protect children from the secondary effects of PTSD, including the more serious consequence of Complex PTSD.  

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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