It has often been said that the chief drawback of being a parent is that the job does not come with an instruction manual. As we become parents, we generally manifest in our parenting, the habits and traits our own parents used to raise us. Many of these habits may be effective, but often many are not and without concerted effort to change, we end up doing and saying the exact things that, as kids, we swore we would not do.
Parents love their children and intend to raise them to the best of their ability. What parents aren’t always prepared for are the challenges that occur when we realize that our children also have minds of their own, wills of their own, and the language to express that.
Parenting is a challenging job. The influences of a rapidly changing society can bring very real influences into our children’s lives that simply did not exist when we were children. Social media and the internet have increased the social and emotional challenges our children face now exponentially from when we were children, and it is very difficult for adults now to understand what this is like for our children.
Additionally, the current make-up of families often means that children are being raised either by single parents, co-parents parenting from separate homes, or in blended families with step-parents and step-siblings. Making successful transitions as a family to new circumstances and new family members can be difficult without good planning, healthy communication, and positive parenting skills.
Parents often fear coming in for counseling to get help with parenting issues or bringing their children in for family counseling. Very often parents report they are afraid counselors will think they are “bad parents” and judge them and their children. This is not at all what counseling is about, and counselors who work with parents understand the stresses parents face.
The approach in counseling to help with parenting issues is often a very solution-focused approach that educates parents and provides skills and tools for them to work with at home, tailored to the specific needs of their children. Counselors and parents can work in partnership to identify areas that need strengthening and build positive habits and practices to address those areas.
Counseling can also assist parents of children who have conditions such as Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity to learn and implement adaptive skills and practices at home that will empower both parents and children to cope effectively with the symptoms of this disorder.