,

You are the Most Influential Person in Your Child’s Life

A Letter to Parents

Dear Parents,

YOU ARE THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSON IN YOUR CHILD’S LIFE! Therefore, YOU ARE OF COURSE PART OF THE SOLUTION to whatever struggle they’re encountering (anxiety, depression, underachievement in school, low self-esteem, anger, self-harm, etc.).

I began my career as a school social worker and although I have had an affinity with teens since I was a teen peer counselor and my teen clients often connected instantly with me, I soon realized my limitations in helping teens achieve long-term behavior change by only working with them individually (without collaborating with their parents).

I ESPECIALLY ADMIRE PARENTS for their humility in seeking help with a task (parenting) that our society says they should have figured out on their own. Yet, as a former special education teacher and school social worker, I took countless classes to learn how to most effectively develop positive relationships with youth and how to influence their behavior.

I am also inspired by the bravery of children (including adult children) to speak the truth about their family dynamic- what’s causing them and/or others emotional pain and to request how others can better meet their needs.

Even for some adults, this could be challenging for them if they still believe consciously or unconsciously that giving their parents constructive feedback is disrespectful or could lead to rejection or abandonment by their parents. See, even as adults, we still crave their unconditional love and approval.

This is one of the primary reasons I switched my focus from working with teen clients in schools to family therapy in private practice. I knew that an “I LOVE YOU” and “I BELIEVE IN YOU” from one’s parents is more powerful than my teen clients hearing it from me.

As a new therapist at an addiction treatment center, I observed family systems theory firsthand by seeing changes in parents directly influence changes in teens and young adults. I even found that the most “resistant” teen/YA would change when his/her parents would change. So, today instead of working individually with teens/young adults,  I almost always invite parents to collaborate with me because parents really are the most important “therapist” for their young and adult children.