In 1975, a girl was born in South Africa to a loving mother and abusive father. When she was 15-years-old, her father came home drunk and threatened her mother with a loaded gun. Acting in self-defense, the girl's mother shot and killed her husband with her daughter watching.
The girl was Charlize Theron, who not only survived a difficult home life, but rose to stardom for her roles in The Italian Job, Monster, and Mad Max. In an interview, she said: "There's definitely an acknowledgement on my part that I had...a very traumatic experience in my life and somehow it’s formed me."
For some of us, childhood wasn't just building sandcastles on the beach, getting tucked into bed at night, or going out for ice cream. Many young children experience divorce, abuse, alcoholism, and financial difficulties in their families, which affects them for the rest of their lives.
For example, victims of emotional abuse claim to have emotional and social problems, including blaming themselves for everything, having difficulty making eye-contact, and anger issues. There's also evidence that being exposed to stressful situations while young can alter brain development and increase the risk of learning disabilities.
Although a difficult childhood can be damaging, experts have found many good things that can come of it. Not only are children resilient, but being exposed to difficult situations can drive your ambition to rise above bad conditions, just like Charlize Theron did.
Overcoming hardship builds character, and if you had a tough time growing up, you could have these important strengths...
No matter what problems you overcame in your childhood, you can use them as a springboard to become a well-adjusted adult with a better awareness of those around you. Because of what you've been through, you may be able to relate to people better than somebody else. Here are just a few strengths you might have:
1. Ability to Be Compassionate Towards Others
Often, a child who has struggled through tough times will grow into an adult with a keen awareness of others and the ability to recognize their need for help. For example, you may be better at noticing when someone feels awkward at a party and go introduce yourself.
2. Determination to Be a Good Parent
You may have experienced neglect or abuse from a parent, which can cause you to recognize bad behaviors and learn from your parents' mistakes. You may give your kids a better life than you had, ending the cycle of neglect or abuse.
3. Recognize Emotions More Easily
If you're accustomed to dealing with trouble, you are used to predicting other people's behavior patterns. “When you grow up in low-socioeconomic conditions,” said Bruce Ellis of the University of Utah, “there are other people around you who are more powerful than you...In that context, being able to predict what they’re going to do could be very important.”
4. Creative Genius
Children often escape from fighting parents by diving into a hobby, usually involving the arts. When they use a creative hobby as an escape, they usually develop an amazing talent. Just look at the lives of actresses, painters, singers, or writers.
5. Strong Sense of Gratitude
You have an appreciation of the small things in life, because of what you've gone through. The combination of thankfulness and humility you have will be what makes you a good friend, parent, or boss.