Discussion Questions: Chapter Three

Problematic Childrearing Practices

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This chapter discusses how the harm done by our parents can harm our own children, why this happens unintentionally, and what we can do. This chapter may be the most difficult to discuss in the entire book—but it will open up an understanding between group members for later dialogue. Be sure to review the guidelines in the Facilitator’s Guide.

Childhood damage begins a negative trajectory for life and harms many others in an outward spiral.

Q. What are the two most negative things a parent can do, according to this chapter, and the three rules of positive parenting to avoid them?

The surprising results [of the ACEs study] demonstrate the connection between traumatic childhood experiences and medical problems, mental health issues, and addictions throughout a person’s lifetime. 

Q. Were you surprised to learn that ACEs are a national health crisis? What did the sample survey questions on p. 31 reveal to you? (Here is a link to the full questionnaire.)

Just as it is important to know family medical history (e.g., diabetes or tuberculosis), it is equally important to know about our social inheritance. 

Q. What is your social inheritance? What destructive patterns did your parents and grandparents overcome? Think back to your childhood, to how you were disciplined. What were the consequences of this disciplinary action in the short term? In the long term?

Many parents still rely on punishment, holding beliefs such as “my parents used it and I turned out okay;” or “you have to beat your own kid or the world/the police/others will beat him/her.” 

Q. Did your parents punish you “for your own good?”  Did their parents? Is punishment a legacy in your family?

Every country has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child except two: Somalia and the United States. Somalia had a good reason: it didn’t have a government.

Q. Were you surprised to learn about the CRC? Do you think the U.S. should ratify? Why or why not?

Hit them back;” “Don’t be a tattletale;” “My little princess;” “Boys will be boys.”

Q. Do you ever find phrases like this coming out of your mouth? Do you really believe them? Or are they just what you heard your parents/friends say?

Casual rudeness and “cute nastiness” are unfortunate parts of a permissive and open society, one that allows and welcomes comedy that is often at someone else’s expense.

Q. How do you view rudeness in your family? How do you define it? How do you respond to it? How do you talk about it?

No parent is doomed to transmit damaging patterns to the children he or she loves. Anyone at any age can change attitudes, behaviors, and habits. Anyone can make new choices that begin to change the family trajectory.

Q. Have you made any decisions to change your inherited patterns?

This question is always a good one, too:

Q: What sentence, paragraph, or idea popped out at you, or stuck with you after reading?

Reply in the Comments, below!


  • Get your ACEs Score at www.acestoohigh.org. Since the publication of this book, they have created a Resilience Score… scroll down and take that, too!
  • Plan to see the movie Resilience!

Looking for resource links? Click here.

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