Family therapy. In my blog this week I write about the benefits of family counselling and I give an example of how family counselling can help in situations that sometimes seem hopeless.
We want our adult relationship to be safe and we most especially want our children to grow in ways that guarantee that they will achieve the safety and success that we crave for them.
We know that at some point in the future we will not be there to help them so we do as much as we can to provide for them now so that when the moment comes when we can no longer give them advice, or support them, or be there in any other way, they will have the tools at their disposal, given to them by us over the years we have raised them, to handle most situations and they will have the courage and imagination to cope with situations that at first sight seem daunting.
Sometimes when things go well with us and for our children, particularly when they are young, we can perhaps fall into a false sense of security that we have completed our job by the time they get into their teenage years. This view is dangerous and wrong.
When children go to secondary school their relationships change quickly and dramatically. They no longer have the comfort of having just one adult teaching them in class, they go to a situation where friendship relationships are diffuse and porous and where they have to develop working relationships with perhaps as many as 10 different adults, all of whom have power in their lives.
It is at this time that our brains start to develop and we start to develop a meaningful relationship with the outside world.
Whereas once we may have been content to comply in relaxed ways, now, in our teenage years, as we start to manage the complexities of relationships with our peers without our parents help, and, as we start to realise that the future is real and we need to prepare for it, we can sometimes develop behaviour that seems confusing to our parents but, makes complete sense to us.
For example, a 15-year-old boy who faints in school because he has taken to bodybuilding and is on an extreme diet to enable him to develop an abdomen that looks like the ones he sees in men’s health magazines has not changed from the boy his parents knew, he has just developed a strategy that will enable him to attach to his peers in safer ways that will guarantee that he is accepted by his friends and admired by those who see him around. In short, he is doing the best he can at that time to ensure his social safety.
His parents may very well struggle with the amount of time he spends in the gym and they may well believe that he is attempting to self harm himself or cause himself some kind of damage because he seems to refuse to take their advice to eat more.
Arguments may ensure, distance may come between the parents and this boy at the very time when he needs their advice and their comfort most of all.
This situation is made harder, of course, by the fact that men who appear on the front of men’s health magazines, stripped to the waist and looking “super fit” are praised and lauded in our society and seem to be given attributes by our society that are disproportionate in the amount of positivity and respect they are associated with.
Family counselling can help families come together.
It can help children understand and interpret the behaviour their parents to see the concern and worry that motivates the judgement and anger.