Child therapists often deal in their work with parents with the parents' feeling of guilt. Parents might feel that they have made mistakes in the early years of child rearing. They feel that the opportunities are missed and that it is now 'too late.' It is true that a child's character is formed by the age of 6, and that this character is shaped by the type of relationships this child has had. But this does not mean, if these early relationships were difficult that the child will necessarily suffer or be 'damaged.'
The important thing is not to try to compensate for what did not happen in the past now. What has happened, has happened. It would be much more important for the parent to talk to the child about it. The parent could tell the child that she realizes that she might have maybe done too much for the child, and not have left enough room for the child to make her own mistakes. She can say to the child that she wanted to give the child everything she did not have as a child, and was maybe too 'giving,' and maybe smothering. That she realizes that her child will have to find her own way, separate from her, that she cannot keep holding her hand. That part of her wished maybe that she could keep holding her hand, but that she also feels how important it is that her child can go her own way, and how proud she is of that as a mom, and that she can trust that the child can go her own way.
Or in the other direction: it would not make sense to starting to feed a 9 year old the bottle because the parent realizes that he was maybe not feeding the baby enough bottles when he was a baby. Although there are certain kinds of therapy that focus on compensating for what is missed, on closer investigation it is much more the symbolic dimension, the ability to symbolically work through the early trauma which is the healing factor.
In this context I also think of the young mother of a 15 month old child, who is prone to arguments with her spouse. Although she tries to change this, the urge to argue is sometimes so big that she cannot resist. After she got in a big argument in the presence of her son with her spouse she apologized to her son, and talked to him on how she was working on this issue. She was surprised how attentively her son was listening to her as she was talking to him 'heart to heart.' Admitting our mistakes to our children in a genuine way, talking to them truthfully, in an open way, is a powerful tool that can mitigate possibly traumatizing experiences.
If you want to talk to a therapist, call An at (530) 321-2970