How Do You Process Your Child’s Trauma?

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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We spend so much of this journey fighting for our children, and helping them fight through the trauma they've endured, that we rarely take time to process it ourselves. That's why a simple question, recently asked of me, has me thinking...

This past weekend we attended a discussion group in a small coffee house in a neighboring town to ours. The topics ranged from pain, to overcoming grief, to God, to suffering in the world, to personal struggles. And then the facilitator asked us a question that we’ve rarely been asked over our 15-year adoptive journey: “How do YOU process and work through your child’s trauma?

Me? Interesting….

Over the past 5 years, in particular, we’ve spoken on, written on, and counseled many on how to help their child through their trauma. We’ve even driven home the importance of self-care and being in community when the you-know-what hits the fan. We’ve written articles, posts, recorded podcasts, even taught breakout sessions at conferences on understanding trauma, techniques to apply to your parenting when your child is in an all-out rage, and more.

But when it comes to the nitty gritty, down to the bone, personal processing of the trauma your child has gone through, and continues to go through, sometimes we float past that. And it’s not something I’ve spent much time considering. Me. Us. We. How do WE process this? How do WE spin in our minds, this child whom we love, and the pain, fear, rage, and fight that lives within him all..the..time?

I answered as best as I could. I talked about all of the things we’ve shared with the thousands of parents who follow our work. I even shared honestly some of our own thought process when we’ve been in the muck and mire of the trench hoping and praying for a shred of hope to shine forth.

And then it hit me just how we process…..


A safe space.

A real space.

A non-judgmental space.

A place to dump our truck of deep emotions, let others know that we’re not okay, and not receive the typical jaw-clinching, eyes bouncing away from us, “I can believe he just said that,” subtle raise of the eyebrow look from well-meaning people who have no freaking idea what I’m talking about (or pretend not to)!

Fact is, we’re on-guard so often that we rarely take time to really, deeply grieve over our children. Rarely do we give ourselves permission to process the desperation we feel deep in the caverns of our heart for these children we so deeply love and cherish. The list is long….the haunting memories they can never escape. The fear that propels them to behave in ways that leave us exhausted and emotionally done. The fight for control that they cannot fully understand or articulate. The longing in their eyes to connect, but the inability to do so.

We’re guarded, and rarely show weakness because so much is on the line. To be completely honest (as if we’re not already all the time), we fear showing any amount of weakness….any amount of vulnerability. We’ve been burned by school counselors, therapists, pediatricians, and OTs in the past when we’ve done this. When we’ve decided to let our guard down, show our grief, share our children’s trauma (not from a factual perspective, but a broken one), we’ve been labeled, criticized, and judged.

And we really, really, really, really don’t need that. We’re in the fight of our lives here. We believe in our children….we love them as if we created them biologically, but we’re in a constant state of advocacy. So, no, we don’t take time to personally process their trauma….to grieve….to ugly cry without inhibition….allowing the deep hurt we feel for them, that spends its time pinned up in our brain, to flow freely.

Safe space.

That’s where it begins. That’s what we need to process…. that and maybe a cup of coffee….or a shot of whiskey….or a massage for 7 days straight….just sayin!

The person facilitating the discussion group said those golden words as we wrapped up…. “We want this to be safe space for you.”

Yes. A million times over….YES!

How do you process your child’s trauma? Share openly in the comment section below (no one here will judge you…promise!).

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.