Friday, June 24, 2011

Thoughts on therapy

Last week I met with a new therapist. Let's see, that makes it (getting out my fingers to count here . . . . ) four. Four therapists. Not for me (though I do have a few of them under my belt), but for my children. I met a therapist who will be working with my younger daughter, Eloise. In a few short weeks I will officially have both of my children in therapy. In a few short weeks Iris will also be seeing a psychiatrist, bringing our tally to five.

I joke about this. Quite a bit actually. My running punchline is, "I win!" because I already have ruined my kids at their tender young ages. Woo hoo, right? If I wasn't laughing I would be crying.

To clarify, Eloise is going to be seeing a therapist to help her (and us) sort through some of the anger and confusion of being the little sister to, well, someone who is a bully (to put it bluntly). I have begun to feel more concerned in the past few months about Eloise bringing her frustration of being a punching bag at home to school and letting it out on her classmates. The times when her school behavior is more troublesome coincides perfectly to those times when things at home are harder. Eloise has also begun verbalizing her sadness and confusion over Iris's behavior towards her and, well, I just don't know how to handle it. She needs support, and it's something I want to address before she goes to Kindergarten.

Recently I read an article called "How to Land Your Kid in Therapy" that was written for the Atlantic. Well, back up. I read the article because I first read a blog post by Teacher Tom that HE wrote about that article. Teacher Tom wrote about it much more eloquently than I will (and he touched on every single important part of the article) so I don't need to get too far in to it here. Here's the jist, though: Young adults are landing themselves in therapy because, despite having had a great upbringing and having everything they could want in life, they just aren't happy.

This phenomenon (if you want to call it that) may directly correlate to parents who raise their kids with too much protection. Not letting them fall and scrape their knee without immediately swooping in before the kid even realized what happened. Not letting them experience a loss in something like a sporting event. Giving in to every discomfort, making it better for your child so they don't have to learn to make it better for themselves. "Good jobbing" our kids to death. You get the picture.

These kids grow up not having the ability to know how to experience a fall, literally or figuratively, dust themselves off, buck up, and move on. By doing everything for them, we effectively bypass this process for them.

It makes sense, right? Honestly, though, I can't think of many parts of parenting that are harder. Letting my children get hurt?!?! And standing by when I know I could run in and fix it?!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! I am not cut out for such things, and yet, these are the very things we need to be doing in order to raise kids who grow in to young adults and adults who can take care of themselves. If I want to raise well-adjusted children (and isn't that sorta the goal?) then I need to back off.

So what does this have to do with both of my girls being in therapy? I don't really know. Sorry, I suppose I should have warned you that I wasn't quite sure how to segue between these two thoughts. But I obviously I think quite a bit about how the way these girls are being raised will prepare them for the rest of their lives on how therapy fits in with that big picture. In fact, I might be a wee bit obsessed with it.

I hope all of the therapy now will pay off in dividends as the girls grow.Maybe we'll head off the need for therapy later? Let's hope so. Get back to me in about 20 years.


  1. Hi Sybil, I thought I'd pop in to your journal and see how you are. Those are two great links you posted! I know what you mean about wanting to protect the girls from everything, I feel that way too. But I steel myself to it and remind myself of a phrase I once heard, "Giving other people the respect of letting them feel their own pain". I've started explaining that concept to EJ now that she's older, by reminding her without sadness, happiness wouldn't be as nice. She's slowly starting to get it and even said the other day "Maybe Grandma should stop bringing me presents every time I see her, cause it just makes me end up wanting more and more presents. Having a lot of stuff just makes me want more stuff." If she can really learn that she's waaaay ahead of me. The more you let them struggle through disappointment, not getting their way, or having to deal with a loss, the more it starts getting easier to let them fall and pick themselves up again. It just takes practice (and it never actually becomes *easy* or there wouldn't be so many people in therapy because their parents couldn't stand to see them disappointed as children!)

  2. Hi J-- thanks for your comment. That's a great phrase, will definitely keep that in mind! Nice to hear from you.


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