Parents: Dont Let Your Kids Be Your Therapist!
Over the course of this column, I have often referred to the various creative ways
that we humans find to avoid looking honestly at ourselves.
lately, another common strategy keeps coming to my attention. It involves the way we can
focus on our children to avoid focussing on
ourselves. During infancy, intense focus is
necessary. But if we arent careful, it
can become a lifetime habit. This habit can be a convenient way to avoid taking
responsibility for more difficult and fundamental personal issues of our own.
For example, a parent may come to
counselling to discuss how their childs behavior is out of control. They will
usually find it quite easy to talk about this topic because many of us would rather talk
about our children (or anyone else), then ourselves. We feel less vulnerable doing this.
Obviously, in many families, problems
with the children stem from problems with the parents. Unfortunately, problems with
parents may be considered too
risky to look at. This factor can make it very difficult to actually help
of our children have unknowingly become the scapegoats for their families. The scapegoat
is the child whose behavior draws attention away from the real problem. (family
dysfunction, tensions, or secrets) This intention is purposeful but unconscious. The
scapegoat will usually be described, as acting out in some way and easily
becomes the center of attention. Many families have one. All of you know some!
This child begins to believe very
early in life that its intrinsically bad. Of course, they dont understand that
they are simply providing a function within the family dynamic. Often, that function is to
draw the tension away from the conflicted parental relationship. In cases like this,
unless a couple is willing to risk looking at themselves, the childs behavior is not
likely to change.
Another fairly common example of a
parental problem looking like the childs problem, would be the child who misbehaves
because of the parents inability to be assertive and set limits.
We have all seen children of all
ages, unconsciously (but purposefully), push parents with intolerable behaviors
practically begging the parent to set the limit for them. In these cases, the
parents lack of assertiveness and boundaries will show up in the child very early.
Whose problem is this?
Our childs behavior can be a
reflection of our own buried issues. While seeking help for our childrens problems,
we dont want to forget to look at ourselves. Is there a lesson there for us?
Continued curiosity and conscious personal growth on your part as parents will go a long
way to helping your children.
While its true that some children have problems, which are not related to family dynamics, its also true that many are. Do your own work as individuals and couples. Dont wait for your children to manifest problems as clues to the work that you need to do. Just choose a path for personal and relationship growth and get travelling. Dont make your kids be your therapist!
For more information, please contact Krisanna Jeffery at
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Krisanna Jeffery www.Krisanna.com