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family Therapy

Find Yourself, Not Someone Else

Find yourself; not someone else.  It may be admirable to have a child or even children who are like you and follow in your footsteps; but he or she or they may not be comfortable in your shoes.  In times past, it was important for people to have children so they could pick up where they left off.  Parents trained their children to take their place someday and to be of help to them in a labor intensive time.  Parents usually were not happy if their children did not take over for them.

Now it is more a matter of self-validation.  It confirms to the parent that he or she took the right path when the children take the same path.  Sometimes it is like the story of the ugly duckling.  Remember that one turned out to be a swan, different, but beautiful.  You can feel like the ugly duckling if you don’t fit into your family, class in school, or community.  Some children like the ugly duckling even look different from the people that they are being raised with when if they were being raised with their own genetically kind (people who would probably look like them) wouldn’t look different at all.  Down syndrome children and some biracial children are even often seen as different from their relatives.

English: Vilhelm Pedersen illustration for &qu...

English: Vilhelm Pedersen illustration for “Ugly Duckling” in public domain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you study genetics and how traits are passed down from parent to child, you will often find that it is a very complex problem and doesn’t always work the way it seems it should.  Children can have the same parents and have surprisingly different traits.  This is also true of apptitudes and abilities.  Add into this what happens to them from the time of conception to birth which may not be like their siblings and the children and their parents will still be related; but can be very different.  Also traits may get passed down, but not to the desired child or sex (like first born male).

Children inherit tempraments which may or may not be like that of their parents.  Sometimes oil and water do not mix.  An “easy” parent may inherit a slow to warm up child and he or she can’t understand why his or her child does not easily take to new things.

Some talents or abilities which might be very strong can not be desired or appreciated in the family or society into which a person is born.  I was born on a farm and eventually married a farmer (after doing other things) and I can understand why he sometimes does not understand why a “city” boy does not know how to do things farm boys know how to do and he has difficulty valuing what the “city” boy can do by virtue of his college education even if it was not in agriculture.

As much as I love flowers,  I don’t want them to be all alike all the time.  I like seeing new and different ones.  Also some flowers that some people call flowers around here are called weeds by other people in other places.  This might even be true of people growing marijuana when flowers appear in their plots.  (I am not recommending that  you start growing marijuana however.)

Be yourself as long as you are not deliberately hurting yourself (or others for your own gain) and when you find yourself, you will make your contribution to the world and become what YOU were or are meant to be.  I believe finding yourself is why we were meant to be as we each have our own contribution to make.  If we pay too much attention to what others tell us we should be, we may get led astray.  It may not be easy, but it often will be rewarding.  For example, how many shoes at how many shoe stores do some of us have to try before we find a shoe that fits us, feels good, and wears well.  It usually is a personal thing.  What shoe style works for one may not work for another.  Also many people, especially women, pay the price for wearing shoes that they think they should wear because they are in fashion, etc.  (Check out Oprah on this issue.)

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Making Your Way Out Of The Swamp Of Denial

swampimages

Making your way out of the swamp of denial or helping someone make his or her way out of the swamp of denial may have many causalities, yourself included.  Too many people do not want to pay the price; but they have to pay the piper eventually.  Seniors may put off making the adjustments they need to make in their chosen lifestyle as they get older and need more help.  They are often not willing to face the consequences and often have put it off for way to long and it doesn’t get easier, it just gets harder and harder to do.  Not taking personal responsibility for some of their life decisions as not working is something that gets in the way.  They can get angry and because of their denial they take it out on the very people they need.

Denial is not conducive to rational thinking or to making an objective assessment of the consequences of choices people in denial might make is close to impossible.  Seniors, especially, may have always thought, “I don’t want to think about that yet.  It couldn’t happen to me.  I like things just the way they are.”  Honor thy father and mother is the commandment which gets harder and harder to obey.  In fact these people may drive away the very people they need.

Now Is The Time That....

Now Is The Time That….

Such people in denial (like some seniors) often have had a position of status quo that was comfortable for them and which they never had to compromise.  It is hard for these people to make the necessary adjustments when they never wanted to or had to before.  At the same time their off spring or local support group runs out of patience with them because some seniors who are in denial won’t accept the help  they have to offer and these seniors even get (sometimes) hateful with them.

God Bless you (friends and family) you may be in for a hard ride with no thanks or gratitude or cooperation for your effort.  The problem may be impossible to solve if the person who needs to change is in the state of denial and stays there.  You might even think you are going crazy.  You say to yourself,”This can’t be real.”  You think that no one would deny something like that when the handwriting is clearly on the wall.

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Dampening The Joy of Children

JoyofchildrenChildren are a source of light, love, and joy; but we often unthinkingly dampen their enthusiasim.  Children can be blissfully happy or madder than a wet hen.  We often only orient to their screams and hysterical outbursts.  We are sensitive to that erie quietness that means they are up to something either naughty or dangerous.  We react with shock when they get hurt or are  in harm’s way.  But can we enjoy the everyday sounds of childish laughter or the intimate conversation between two toddlers?  Childhood emotions are often uncensored and in their purist form.  Even their very innocence in their quiet times can be rewarding.  Recently I enjoyed watching a two month old sleep quietly, so quietly, I almost didn’t notice she was there.

Why do we often use the term “childish” as a derogative descriptive term?   In the past, children were to be seen and not heard.  Children were highly scheduled and there was a certain time for everything.  Babies were fed every two hours or so and if they cried with hunger in between feedings they had to wait.  Bottles were preferred to breast feeding.  Breast feeding was too spontaneous and interrupted things.  They also could be given by someone else rather than the mother.  Being a child was often a frustrating experience.  The natural joys and highs of childhood were often ignored and depreciated.  Children were told to go out and play and get out of mom’s hair so she could get some work done.  Playpens were a standard household item when one had small children.

Having been a play therapist, I learned how to observe and participate in a child’s play which was their world.  I was not really another child so I was not a real playmate; but I could become part of the child’s world and participate in it. Hopefully in a helpful fashion.  This has been useful with my own grandchildren as I have some idea of how to interact with and make playing or reading a book to them an interactive experience.  I also get a lot of  enjoyment of it.  I don’t have as many rules as their parents do and generally the scheduling is looser.

Refresh your memory and relive the best parts of childhood.  Focus more on having a good time and enjoying yourself.  It is contagious.

 

 

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Family Therapy, Entering A Child’s World

mental-health-family-therapy-counseling-sessionFamily therapy is one way of entering a child’s world.  Often when a child is being seen because of emotional or behavioral problems, family therapy is recommended.  What you might not know is that the child is often not the real problem, but a symptom of the problem.  One way of seeing this is by observing the process of family therapy.

Parents often say they are stumped.  They say that they don’t know what is causing the child’s problems.  Family therapy can reveal hidden problems by entering the child’s world.  Sometimes there is a big secret that the family is concealing from the outside world.  It is can be symbolized as “the elephant in the room”.  For example, there frequently are problems between the parents who may even be on the verge of a divorce or one or both of the parents is or are having an affair.  The child or the identified patient can also be the scapegoat.  Actually there maybe another child in the family who has bigger problems than the child with the referring problem.  Often the child calls attention to him or herself by acting up distracting attention from the real problem.

Not only what is said in family therapy is important, but also what is conveyed by bodily positions, facial expressions, and gestures is important.  It is noticed and commented upon.  Where and by whom a person or child sits is noteworthy.  The volume and the amount someone talks is also of concern.  Whether or not someone responds to another’s comments or questions is noted.  Whether or not a person’s facial expression is conveying something different than what they ares saying can be worthy of interpretation.  Family therapy is fertile ground for exploring and entering a child’s world.

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