Childhood Wounds We Never Knew We Had (Until Kids) with Dr. Jean Cheng

Clinical psychologist Jean Cheng joins Janet to discuss the puzzling, painful, and self-defeating feelings that our children’s behaviors can bring up in us as parents. No matter how well educated and prepared we are for this role, we might find ourselves overwhelmed and viscerally reacting by yelling, threatening, or “checking out.” Often the answer lies in our own childhoods, in subtle wounds and traumas we may have had no awareness of before becoming parents. Dr. Cheng describes the myriad of ways our parents and caregivers – while often doing their very best – may have left wounds. She illuminates “this inner landscape of feelings” that our brains tend to minimize but which can manifest in a lack of self-confidence, an inability to maintain boundaries, and “reactions that are different from the kind of parents we want to be.” Janet and Jean discuss ways to recognize and acknowledge our childhood wounds and address them with empathy and compassion.
Transcript of “Childhood Wounds We Never Knew We Had (Until Kids) with Dr. Jean Cheng”

Hi, this is Janet Lansbury. Welcome to Unruffled. Today, I’m happy to introduce you to Dr. Jean Cheng. She’s a clinical psychologist whose passion has been to help “free her clients from the inner prisons that prevent them from living life to the fullest.” Dr. Chen works extensively with trauma survivors, and she’s particularly interested in the childhood wounds, major and minor, that can unknowingly hinder our goals as parents. Our children’s behaviors can bring these wounds to our awareness for the very first time. Dr. Chen’s insights, they’ve really struck a chord with me. And no matter your background, I believe you’ll find her perspective enlightening and healing.

Welcome, Jean. I’m so happy you could be here.

Dr. Jean Cheng:  Thanks so much for having me, Janet. It’s really great to be here on this podcast with you. I love this podcast. So very excited to be here.

Janet Lansbury:  Thank you. Well, I’ve been following your work for a while now, and I’m fascinated by the topic you focus on, both for all the parents that I work with and for myself personally. I just find it a really interesting experience that, as you point out in your work, often comes along with parenting — that sometimes we don’t even realize that we have childhood wounds or traumas until we become parents. Can you talk a little about that?

Dr. Jean Cheng:  Yeah. Well, I think when people become parents or when they’re preparing to become a parent, most people have some knowledge of what they are going to expect, a new chapter, which means a chapter of sleepless nights, a chapter of exhaustion, of not having the same privileges that they used to because now they’re responsible for another being. So they come into parenting with that knowledge and understanding. But I think a lot of us don’t realize, and I’m not prepared for, this inner landscape of feelings and struggles that can also come up when we actually become parents. And I would say that that is usually our childhood wounds. Our unresolved childhood wounds will also actually resurface as we enter into this new chapter and they will intermingle as we’re trying to move forward in this new chapter. And it would make everything seem quite different from how we thought it was going to be.

For myself, I was very taken aback when that process happened. I did not expect to struggle as intensely as I did. I did not expect to have these feelings, these impulses surface for me when I first became a parent. And when this happens, myself included, it can lead us to inaccurately interpret what’s going on, because if we don’t know that our childhood wounds can resurface when we become parents, when it does happen, we can think that we are being a bad parent, that we’re not cut out to be a parent, that there’s something fundamentally wrong with us.

Because how can I love this child so much and yet I’m struggling so much with this child? And so we can misattribute that as believing we are not meant to be a parent when actually these feelings are not so much a reflection of how we are or who we are as parents. They’re actually more a reflection of who we were as children or rather what we had to experience as children.

I feel it would have been so much more helpful when I first became a parent if I knew that this process could happen because then I would have a bit more compassion for myself. But also if it had happened, it would give me something to expect.

I mean, with children, when you tell them what to expect, “Oh, later on, when we go home, this is what we’re going to do” it helps them to regulate themselves better. They kind of know what to expect. I think it’s the same thing here when we start on the new chapter. When we have an idea of what’s coming up, it can help us regulate ourselves and it also can help us to at least know: Okay, so what resources can I reach out to when this actually does happen?

Janet Lansbury:  Also, I think it normalizes this for us. So we still might be taken aback and surprised that we can’t just follow the directions and be the way we want to be as a parent and that somehow we just can’t seem to do it and it’s not working for us. But if we know, as you say, going in, the way that we tell children or that I recommend telling children when there’s going to be a new sibling, let’s say, that they might love the baby but they might also not like the baby sometimes and wish the baby wasn’t there and feel angry and feel scared and all of those things.  It just helps us to feel less alone in our feelings when we know: Oh, other people feel like this, and it’s not just me.

I know that when I became a new parent, I found it overwhelming and it seemed to me like everybody else was doing just fine. It felt like it’s just me. Like, what’s the matter with me? Other people do this, and I can’t.

Is this why you focused your work as a clinical psychologist on healing from childhood trauma, because of your own experience? Or were you already doing that work?

Dr. Jean Cheng:  When I first became a clinical psychologist, I wasn’t focused on this area. We kind of had to do everything. But my passion is definitely informed by what I have been through in my own life. So yes, I would say this is why a lot of my writings, my areas of interest are in trauma: because of my own experience. I mean, I’m a therapist and I’m also a trauma survivor. So yeah, I would say that that’s what informs my passion and my interest.

Janet Lansbury:  Is there a pattern for how this shows up for us? Or is it just different for every person? Maybe there’s a bit of both. But how do people usually recognize this? If they weren’t already aware that they had trauma in childhood, how does it usually come up first? Is there a way or is it always different for everybody?

Dr. Jean Cheng:  So it’s definitely a bit of both. How it surfaces and what triggers us will probably differ from person to person because I mean, our wounds will be in different areas. But there is a general set of patterns of how it can surface. So usually looking more at how your body is responding to an event gives us a clue. For example, if my child says no, this can be quite a common area of trigger for parents when a child starts to assert themselves and say no. For someone who does not have a wound in this area, they might experience this as a totally non-event. It’s like, Oh, my child’s saying no. Yeah, sure. No. Okay, no problems. And their bodies are very calm. Their bodies are very regulated. There’s nothing that changes in their physiology.

On the other hand, for parents who might have a wound in this area, when a child starts to say no, even if their brains know that well no is a very normal part of our development and it happens around two years old and it’s important for a child to go through this because that’s the time that a child is individuating from the parent, that the child is claiming their sense of who they are, that the child is saying: I’m separate from you so I’m practicing and getting in touch with that experience of being a separate individual being from you, even though they might know this, they might still feel a strong response to this. Or they might feel maybe not so strong but their body gets tensed. So our bodies are a very good clue. There’s something here to look at.

Sometimes it could even be, we could feel it like stomach ache or sometimes we might notice that we even feel quite checked out. So any kind of shift in our physiology gives us a sense that there might be something here to look at.

The emphasis is on our bodies and not so much our brains because our wounds are actually kept in our bodies, not in our brains. When we are wounded in these areas, our brains are very good at actually reorganizing themselves to help us to survive as best as possible. It can forget these wounds that we have been through, as a way to help us to experience less pain. Because if we’re constantly remembering these wounds, especially as children, we’re going to feel a lot of pain throughout our childhood. So when the brain actually might forget it or minimize it or get us to focus on other things, it actually helps us to cope better and to continue to live our lives.

Janet Lansbury:  Right. That’s adaptive.

Dr. Jean Cheng:  Exactly. This is why I say that our brains are great at helping us survive and our brains are not going to be the best place for us to get clues as to where our wounds are. Our bodies will. Our bodies hold our emotions. Our bodies are the ones that will hold our impulses. So that’s one place to look at first. And sometimes we might not even be attuned to looking at our bodies because we’re so used to just focusing on other people or just thinking, as opposed to checking in with our bodies.

Janet Lansbury:  Right. And compartmentalizing like: Oh, I have a headache but that has nothing to do with me being incredibly anxious right now or tensed. It’s just that I have a headache or I have a stomach ache, but it’s not because I’m feeling a lot of fear inside and uneasy. It’s just a stomach ache. I should take some Tums. Yeah.

Dr. Jean Cheng:  Exactly. Our brains are so good at explaining it away. But if there are certain situations or certain themes that we notice our bodies keep having a reaction to, so for example, our child saying no, that’s the time that our bodies frequently get tense, then we have an idea that: Okay, there is a theme here. There is a wound in this area. Whenever we feel a reaction that keeps coming up for us and a reaction sometimes that is quite different from our values and the kind of parents that we want to be, that is a clue from our bodies to tell us, Please pay attention. There’s something here that is tender. There is something here that our child is kind of poking and prodding on. Not intentionally of course, but just them being who they are. They are touching these tender spots.

Just like how we might not know that we have cavities in our mouth and the dentist starts to check and suddenly they go, “Do you feel that?” And it was like, “Ouch, that really hurt. I had no idea that I had a cavity there.” It’s the same thing with our children: they can touch, they can prod without us realizing that there’s a wound there until we kind of go: Ooh. Aw. Oh. Ugh, I don’t feel comfortable with that at all.

Sometimes it can come out in bigger reactions like which we end up yelling. And that gives us a clue that there’s something here to pay attention to.

Janet Lansbury:  And just very simplistically, I guess if, let’s say it’s in response to a child acting in a defiant manner or saying no, which is usually a toddler and really, really common and as you said, really, really healthy, would the wound tend to be that when we were rebellious or tried to resist our primary caregivers, our parents, that we were punished, yelled at, abandoned, disconnected from emotionally? Is that the sort of link that you look at or is it much more complicated than that and I’m oversimplifying it?

Dr. Jean Cheng:  That is exactly what probably could have happened. Of course, for everybody it could be a little bit different, but if a child is saying no and we notice that we are having strong reactions or we’re getting a bit uncomfortable with that, it is very unlikely that when we were at that age and we were trying to assert ourselves, we were probably shamed. We were probably told, like, “Don’t be a bad child. Stop being disobedient. Stop throwing a tantrum. I know better than you. I’m your parent.”

And what is happening here when a child is actually going through a very natural and beautiful process, being a separate being, is that the parent is actually disconnecting themselves from the child. When we shame a child, when we get angry with our child for speaking up like that and then we might not talk to the child for a while, or we just lose connection with our child, then the child experiences disconnection.

Disconnection to a child — disconnection from caregivers for a child is a very, very terrifying experience. I don’t think as adults we can understand how terrifying it is because, if we think about disconnecting from important people in our lives, let’s just say our spouses or even our parents right now as an adult, it could be painful. It could be sad. It can be uncomfortable, but we can still survive. We can still function. We can still go to work maybe. We can still try to get by.

But for a child, to be disconnected from their parent is quite life-or-death. I mean, just imagine a five-year-old not having their parent around, or a one-year-old even not having their parent around. It’s a very frightening experience because they are so heavily dependent on their parents at that age.

So for a parent to disconnect, it’s a very threatening experience for a child. Their survival instincts will just kick in. And this frightening experience, this terrifying experience will form that wound. It’s like the body will be then learning and the brain will be learning as well that: Okay when I do this, when I do that, I experience this pain or this frightening experience of my parents disconnecting from me. So now I need to adapt to this.

So we have these wounds and we learn to adapt so that we reduce experiencing more such wounds.

Janet Lansbury:  And then when our child does this behavior, it just opens up that wound and we tap into all that terror that we felt. So we’re acting out of that, which could be rage or anger that comes out of terror sometimes. Or like you said, shutting down, turning away, icing our child, or that kind of disconnection that’s maybe not as aggressive seeming, but it’s still, as you said, very terrifying to a child because-

Dr. Jean Cheng:  To a young child, yes.

Janet Lansbury:  … they’re being rejected and they need us for survival.

So using this example, how would you help a parent heal this kind of wound? Because the parent only cares because it’s getting in their way. It’s not letting them be the parent that they really want to be. None of us really… We don’t tend to look at things until it’s really getting in our way, right? I mean, there are a lot of things going on with us all the time that we don’t need to figure out because we’re not coming up against them. For me, I realized, not even so much through my children…  maybe in the beginning with that first baby, but later on, I realized… I went through a period of insomnia and somebody was also doing some body work on me where some feelings came out and then I had this insomnia. So it was important to me to figure that out and heal that.

So what do parents… Where do we go from there after we see that something is a problem and wonder, Hey, why is this happening? I want to be this kind of parent and I’m ending up falling into being this parent I don’t want to be with my child.” So we reach out to you, and what happens?

Dr. Jean Cheng:  Having somebody that we can journey with would be incredibly helpful just to provide that safe space in the presence of somebody else to be curious about this and to help us to be more compassionate to ourselves.

But or without a therapist, because not everybody has the privilege to actually go to therapy, I’ll say that when we notice that this is happening, well, first it’s helpful for us to notice, Okay it tends to happen, for example, when my child says no to me. This triggers a very big reaction for me. And while my brain has a lot of things to say about it and tells me that it’s not a big deal, I’m going to just take this a bit more seriously for now because my body seems to be thinking it’s a big deal.

It’s kind of a bit like for us as parents to our children. When they’re melting down about not having strawberry ice cream and we give them vanilla ice cream instead, to our brains as adults, it’s like: Come on, it’s just ice cream. It’s not a big deal. But to the child, it is a very big deal. It’s not what they wanted.

So in order to help them through that, we need to actually connect with their unique experience of it and how it is a big deal for them. And it’s the same thing here. It might not be a big deal to our brains, but it’s a very big deal to our bodies, to the wounds that we are carrying inside us. So being able to kind of go: Okay, you know what? My brain says it’s not a big deal. I get it. As an adult, it’s not a big deal. But what if this is a big deal to a younger part of me that is currently being awakened or triggered by my child yelling no?

As we allow ourselves to just be more present and not judge it, don’t judge that experience, just be a bit curious as to Okay, this is painful. It’s uncomfortable here, sometimes memories of what we went through when we were younger can surface.

Sometimes people don’t get memories because of how well our brains have adapted, but we can at least be curious as to, Well, how do I think my parents actually responded to me when I used to say no? How am I right now as an adult? Am I comfortable saying no to other people? Am I comfortable saying no to my colleagues, my friends, my bosses, to different people in my life at the moment? Or actually is this an area that I’m also still struggling with?” This gives us the idea: Okay, so this is still a wound that’s continuing to have its impact on me. And when we are more aware of that, then we can also start to connect with our bodies.

I might use the language of connecting with our inner child. Sometimes I like to think of it as children because these wounds happen when we were children. And it’s just more helpful to think of it as a young child. And we might actually be able to even let our brains kind of settle down and just get in touch with that feeling, that wound, and kind of go: Okay, something here hurts.

A bit like what you would do when you’re talking to a young child as well. “Something here hurts. Something about saying no is a very painful experience for you.” And if you know more of your story, you could add on more information like, “I’m so sorry that when you used to say no, you were ashamed for that. And that was not right. I’m so sorry that you were not allowed to express and experience yourself as a different person from your parents.”

And just that attunement to your body, to your inner child, that could be healing.

Sometimes memories don’t surface, right? So all we have is just the sensation. All we have is just the struggle. Or even sometimes people have sensations of feeling very trapped and they have no idea, “Why do I keep feeling trapped? I have no idea what this is all about.” What attuning to that could look like would be: Okay, something’s happening in my body. “And I believe you. And I believe you inner child or I believe you, my body. I believe you that there is something here that is very painful and very, very uncomfortable for you. I don’t know what it is. I don’t need to know the full details at the moment, but I believe there’s something real here.”

Even that is going to give our bodies a sense of Okay, you’re not going to shame and judge me. It’s safe. We are safe inside of ourselves. And that provides some form of relief that we experience in our bodies as well.

But it’s important to do it and to mean it. So when you say, “I believe you,” try to mean it. And if you struggle because somehow your brain just keeps saying: This is rubbish. I shouldn’t be going through this, then I’ll say that in those situations it would really be more helpful to actually have someone else to speak to about it. Someone else who can provide that safety for you.

Janet Lansbury:  Right.

Dr. Jean Cheng:  When we are being triggered in the moment that it’s happening, it can be helpful for us to actually ground ourselves by telling ourselves we are being triggered. Something from my past is being awakened. There is something tender here. There’s a wound here that’s been touched and therefore I’m feeling some hurt that’s arising. I’m not crazy. I’m not a horrible parent. I’m just a parent who is parenting with my own history of wounds. And I did not cause these wounds to happen.

So just like how we believe there are no bad kids, same here. None of us deserved our wound. And it’s important to remind ourselves of that. Just this act of thinking: I’m being triggered at the moment. There’s something you’re being touched on, this helps us to actually take a step back so that we are not just reacting.

If we don’t hold ourselves as to, Okay, *this* is what’s happening, we might end up lashing out or doing something that goes against our values or something that we’ll just regret later on.

So when we can call this process out and just say this to ourselves it can help us to at least take a step back. Give ourselves a little bit of space. This is what’s happening. What do I want to do to help regulate myself? Could it be that maybe I want to take a few deep breaths? Could it be that I want to go and get a cold drink? Maybe I want to start humming a song.

Those are things that we can do to regulate our bodies, and our nervous systems in that moment so that we don’t end up feeling like we are just stuck in the cycle of our wounds that just keep resurfacing, and then we have no choice but to act in these ways that are against our values because that can be very disempowering.

Janet Lansbury:  Right.

Dr. Jean Cheng:  And of course, there will be times that we can’t do this. No matter what, we will still end up lashing out at our children or reacting to them. Later on when we’ve calmed down and some space inside us, don’t forget that we can also repair that. We can go back to the child and revisit this and do some repair work. So it’s not like we’re doomed with just passing on these wounds to our children. We can reduce that. We have the power to do that.

Janet Lansbury:  Just to be devil’s advocate for a second, I can hear people thinking: Well, isn’t it sometimes that the kids are just really annoying and unpleasant? Is it never their ‘fault’? Is it always my deal? Is it never just them?

Dr. Jean Cheng:  No. Our kids can be really annoying. That’s true. But we are-

Janet Lansbury:  We’re the adults.

Dr. Jean Cheng:  We’re the adult. We are the ones that have more choices and resources. So we are the ones that have to do the harder work. Part of me feels a bit sad hearing me say this because then it comes up: “Yeah, but our parents didn’t do this for us.” Some of our parents at least didn’t do this for us. So it’s important to also just acknowledge that and grieve that.

Janet Lansbury:  Right. So there’s grieving in that. Now, and then, I think acknowledging with that self-compassion, acknowledging: Wow, what I’m doing is pretty much impossible and I’m still going to try it because I love my child that much and I want to also heal myself that much so that I can be the parent and person that I want to be.

But yeah, it’s a brave journey and it’s not one that has an ending to it. While we’re alive, we’re still going to be working on it I feel. It’s just a process. But anybody that wants to take it on is already a hero in my opinion.

Dr. Jean Cheng:  Absolutely. Yes. The hero for breaking the cycle of passing down generational wounds. Yeah.

Janet Lansbury:  One of the challenges I know, and I can relate to this myself, is that a lot of us had really wonderful parents in a lot of ways. Whatever their faults might have been, it’s so hard for us to blame our parents, I think, for anything, a lot of us. We take it on ourselves. It’s my thing. This is my problem. It wasn’t to do with my parents. It was just me that I was bad in these ways or I was wrong or had shameful feelings.

I love this quote that you shared on Instagram. “One of the most common responses the therapist hears from clients when a wound is named in therapy is ‘It’s not that big a deal. It’s not as bad as what other people have gone through.'” I mean, that’s how I felt about things I went through. I had a great relationship with my parents, but there were things. And it took me, I mean, a really  long time, late into middle age to even be open to seeing it. Maybe because it wasn’t so harsh as what some people have, but it was driving me anyway. It was affecting me and it was not helping me in a lot of ways with boundaries with people, all of that stuff.

So anyway, as you’re talking, I’m thinking that for a lot of the people listening, they’re probably thinking: Oh, well, that’s for people with serious issues. I can’t identify as someone with childhood wounds or childhood trauma. That’s a reach for a lot of us, I think. But yet I still find myself, I keep yelling at my kids and I don’t want to.

That’s what I love about your work, it’s giving permission to see that: Hey, there are all levels. This is a spectrum just like everything else. And they all matter. They’re all getting in our way in some manner so there’s no shame in looking at it.

You’re not vilifying your parents. You’re not making yourself a victim, feeling sorry for yourself.

I love this other quote where you said, “I’m feeling sorry for myself.” And then you said to switch it to, “I’m feeling compassion for myself.” I think that’s a really good shift in perspective. But yeah, it’s like we don’t deserve trauma therapy. It’s my responsibility. I should have figured it out. I think there are a lot of people in that realm.

Dr. Jean Cheng:  Yes. Yes, definitely. I work with people who really struggle to consider the impact that their parents have had on them. And I would say that, well, if we’re not ready to explore that, then maybe now’s not the time. There’s no need to force ourselves to move faster than we are ready for it because it can be very, very frightening for our younger parts that live inside us to actually explore these things.

I will say with regards to the idea of other people had more struggles in their lives than I did, and so mine is not really that big a deal so it doesn’t really warrant me doing this kind of work. Well with regards to that, I guess I would just say that it doesn’t matter what other people have been through. What matters is you and what are you going through, what are you struggling with, and what kind of life would you like to have.

So if people find the word ‘trauma’ or ‘wounds’ a bit too much for them, then we don’t use these terms because it can be very incongruent with how they are experiencing their own stories, right? “Okay, we won’t call it that because that’s not your language for it. What is your language for it? Can we look at it more like what is the impact of certain actions that your parents had on you? Can we look at that instead?”

That might be a bit more digestible for some people to then explore a little bit more of their stories as well.

Janet Lansbury:  Yeah. That’s a really good point. Another quote of yours is: “Part of healing your childhood wounds involves allowing yourself to grieve the loss of the ideal parents you never had.”

I guess that’s the thing, there’s no such thing as an ideal parent. Also in families, even each child has a different sensitivity to different things in the relationship with that parent. So it’s not even about that our parents did something wrong necessarily at all, it’s just the places where their wounds were passed down to us. And that’s where we talk about cycle breaking and all that, I guess. It’s just, do we want to break cycles, or are we fine continuing these cycles? Maybe the cycles are mostly positive and we want to just pass them down. Or maybe they’re coming up against, as you said, our values, the values we have now: Hey, I want to be this kind of parent and I want to be this kind of person and it seems impossible for me. What’s getting in my way?

Dr. Jean Cheng:  Yeah. I actually think that grieving is such an important part of this work because I mean, children come into this world with their hearts open, right? It’s so tender. It’s so innocent. It’s filled with so much trust.

And then when they get wounded or when they thought that they would be held but they weren’t and they were shunned instead, or when they thought that coming to their parents who they so adore and who they so respect, wanting to share them something that happened in school, but in the end, the parents are like, “Stop bothering me with that” or like, “That’s not true. You’re just making a big deal out of it.” These things hurt. And they leave a mark on us and we need to grieve the fact that our parents are actually not perfect and that our parents have their own wounds as well.

We actually do deserve love and we do deserve connection preferably at every moment in time as children. But at the same time, our parents probably couldn’t as well because of whatever limitations they were going through. Maybe they had a lot of children. They had a lot of stress, having to work a few jobs, or they’re going through their own trauma so that limits their energy levels. That limits their own abilities to attend to us the way that they might even want to.

There is a gap between what I wanted and what I received and it’s okay to grieve that. Just like how we would say to a young child, “You want to stay at home.” My daughter doesn’t like to go to school because she just loves to be at home with us. So, “you don’t want to go to school because you just want to be at home and it’s okay to feel sad about that. It’s okay to grieve that.”

And we can still move along. People think that when they grieve, they’re making a very big deal out of it or that it doesn’t warrant grieving. But actually, I would say that grieving is just us attuning and connecting to ourselves and to the way life is sometimes, that life doesn’t always give us what we want. Life can be heartbreaking. And we can’t change that aspect of life. We can’t change what our parents have done to us. But what we can do, we can grieve that this is not what we wanted or this is not what we had hoped would happen. So grieving doesn’t change the reality of what we’ve been through, but it changes how we relate to that. It changes how we relate to what has happened to us, in such a manner that the impact then of those incidences can then be reduced in our bodies.

Janet Lansbury:  Right. Because even though it might take longer in some cases than others it’s a forward-moving process, grief. It’s the only real way forward to a positive change.

Dr. Jean Cheng:  Yes. And sometimes we might end up grieving the same thing from different angles over and over again or the same feeling keeps coming up. And that just means that there’s just more here that we need to hold and more here we need to be with. There’s more here that we need to feel and realize: Oh, this really, really did hurt. And so I need to grieve that again.

If we can grieve what’s happened in the past, it helps us to then be more present with what’s here right now. So it’s not an unproductive process at all.

Janet Lansbury:  Wow. This is really, really helpful.

Are you specializing now in trauma or do you work with people with all kinds of issues?

Dr. Jean Cheng:  I work with people with all kinds of issues. It’s just that a lot of my clients come with some history of trauma whether or not they know it. But what people can do if they want to find out more about this kind of work, there are quite a lot of books that talk about this.

Janet Lansbury:  The Body Keeps the Score. Is that one?

Dr. Jean Cheng:  Yep. Another one is Childhood Disrupted. Then, Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents, that’s a very helpful one. There is Running on Empty by Jonice Webb. That one’s related a lot to childhood neglect. I don’t mean neglect in a way that is like, wow, this is very, very severe neglect, but just misattunements. For example, not being able to say no, not being able to go through that developmental process, that’s the neglect of that particular natural process we should have experienced. So that book’s very helpful as well.

Janet Lansbury:  And then we have your Instagram page, which is @jeanpsychologist, one word. And you can contact Dr. Jean Cheng through her email address, But yeah, do follow her Instagram page. I find it inspiring with wonderful reminders. That in itself has a healing effect on my day, so that’s why I wanted you on.

Dr. Jean Cheng:  That means so much to me. Thank you so much, Janet.

Janet Lansbury:  Well, thank you so much for being here and for sharing all your wisdom with us. I really appreciate it.

Dr. Jean Cheng:  Thank you so much for having me. It’s been wonderful. Thank you.

Again, here are Dr. Jean Cheng’s social media pages and contact information:


Dr. Jean Cheng’s recommended books:

The Body Keeps the Score

Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal

Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents

Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect

Please check out some of the other podcasts on my website, There are many of them and they’re all indexed by subject and categories so you should be able to find whatever topic you might be interested in. Both of my books are available in paperback at Amazon,  Bad Kids, Toddler Discipline Without Shame and Elevating Child Care, A Guide To Respectful Parenting.  can get them in ebook at Amazon, Apple, Google Play, or, and in Actually, you can get a free audio copy of either book at Audible by following the link in the liner notes of this podcast.

Thank you so much for listening and for all your kind support. We can do this.

1 Comment

Please share your comments and questions. I read them all and respond to as many as time will allow.

  1. This article really hits home for a client of mine. We’ve been working with this issue for quite some time. As a therapist I hadn’t heard of this before, but in working together we eventually discovered this is what the struggle was. this article will help my client in so many ways, as she too, felt maybe she just wasn’t a good parent, or met to be a parent. thank you for bringing this to light for all of us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More From Janet

Books & Recommendations