‘Problems keep repeating themselves from generation to generation’

As a child, Diana (43), a writer and expert on trauma and loss, grew up in an unsafe environment. Alcoholism and mental problems ran in her family, as did sexual abuse. That makes her a COP: a child of parents with mental health issues.

Diana realized at a young age that something was not right in the family, but was unable to do much about it. Now she herself is the mother of two daughters and the author of, among other things, the book: Little tree asks: a story for COPD children.


“I want people to know what KOPP means, what the consequences are and how we can help. This stems from my own past. When I became a mother myself, I struggled with raising my daughters. In the end, it turned out that I was struggling with my own past pain. As a mother, I was on top of my kids because of it, especially when they were at an age where things have happened to me in the past.

I then sought help from the Trimbos Institute because I could no longer manage on my own. There I found out that I am a KOPP child, i.e. a child of parents with mental problems. And so were my children. Because my mother couldn’t give me security when I was young, and I also had trouble giving security to my own children. It’s frustrating and sad. I followed therapy and was also admitted to the Trauma Center Holland. During that shoot, I ran into the artist who did the illustrations for my book. As it was meant to be.

With the book, I want to draw attention to KOPP. Many people have never heard of this, although it is very common. In no less than 1 in 6 children, according to the Trimbos Institute. I would like to spread the message among teachers and relatives so that it can be detected more quickly in families. It is often precisely the well-behaved, quiet, withdrawn children who have to deal with parents with mental problems. It is difficult to filter, because often attention is directed to ‘problem children’ or children with whom you see something physically wrong.

Problems repeat themselves for generations

Often KOPP children are silent. They often do the housework and take care of their parents. They also do their best, are pleasers and are often invisible. These children are therefore not often noticed by e.g. teachers or masters. My ideal image is that children receive information about this at school.

That she gets to explain that you can always talk about it with someone you trust. I also think that children of parents who are already in therapy should be offered help. KOPP children are often victims of victims and also need help. In addition, the parents must know that they are not guilty of anything. They usually get hurt too, and they want the best for their children, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Then the problems keep repeating themselves from generation to generation.

Targeted to work

If people knew that KOPP exists, you could start working with it in a more targeted way. Of course, no one wants that to happen to their children, but it’s easy to pass things on without knowing it. If you don’t process things from your own past, you will receive signals in your own family worse.

You are less adequate for self-protection and for protecting your children. But these parents should not be seen as the problem, they already have it so hard. I show that in the picture book Little tree asks. It is made for children, but all ages can benefit from it. It is explained in clear language what KOPP is and that there is no fault with (your) parents.”

The book is available via Diana’s website. An Arabic translation of the Kleine Boom Question will also be published soon.

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Diana is a KOPP child: ‘Problems keep repeating themselves from generation to generation’

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