PARENTAL COUNSELING FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS
As a parent, I understand the complexities of raising children. There are three guidelines that are a must in raising children of any age. Consistency, routine, and reasonable (age appropriate) limits. These three guidelines create a feeling of safety for the children. There is much more to raising children, however, these three are foundational.
These three guidelines are my starting place when working with parents alone without the children present. Do they have routine? Is there consistency in how things are decided, discipline, and general house flow? Are there understood limits? Together, with the parents, we work to fill in any gaps while looking at the family paradigm. Often if a child is acting out it is due to other issues in the household. For example if there is heavy tension between the parents, children internally pick up on this tension. This could create an unsafe feeling for the child, thus the acting out.
If the issue appears to be with a teenage member of the family, the aforementioned still applies. However, when possible, attending counseling as a family, teen included, is important. It is also very important the teen attend the first counseling session. If the teen is excluded in the first session, he or she may take the position that the parents “stacked the deck” against them and may not be open to hearing the things that may need be said. See Family counseling section of this site for further information.
ADULT CHILDREN WHO RETURN HOME
First thing to remember here is the two words “adult” and “children” do NOT actually follow one another. This is not an adult child, but a returning adult who happens to be of your loins. The second important thing to remember is this is “your” house! Because they are adults does not mean they can do as they please.
Many parents have come to me concerning their returning adult; usually after they have reached what they feel is an impasse with the returning adult not contributing to the home either financially or personally. Some of these returning adults (all ages 21 to 35 or older) act as if they should not be asked to contribute in any way, sometimes having what appears to be an attitude of entitlement.
I encourage parents to have a meeting with the adult moving back home prior to their moving in. The meeting is to discuss what it means to live in the home as an adult. It is also important to set a date/goal for when they will be moving back out. After they come to an agreement, if the returning adult “chooses” to not keep their part of the agreement, the returning adult is also “choosing” not to continue to live in the home.
My place in the counseling is to join with the parents and the returning adult (when possible) in helping them to communicate positively and respectfully in a way that brings them to common ground.