In my work with parents of students in our wilderness program, I often tell them two things that I believe are the most important way to help their kids while in the program. The first of these is to show up for your child. The second is to do your own work so that you can be the healthiest you can be and therefore support your son or daughter in their process, successes, and struggles. In this article, I will examine further what doing your own work means.
Viewing entries tagged with 'parent work'
I grew up in an ultra-orthodox Jewish home. My mother suffered from mental illness and my father dealt with it by being out of the house all day. As the oldest in a large family, I took responsibility of my parents and siblings from a very young age. I tried to protect my siblings from the discomfort I felt. I thought I was happy. I liked being in control. In hindsight, I was anxious, sad, scared, and controlling. I used food for comfort, being overweight most of my life. I married young, possibly, as an escape from my parents’ home, or just because it was culturally the right next thing to do. Within a short period of time our family grew. I continued behaving in the way that was familiar to me, keeping everyone safe, controlling, rescuing and enabling. My anxiety escalated. I isolated. I thought I was in control.
We arrived early at the conference space adjacent to the ever-flowing Deschutes River to set up for the first day of our Parent Workshop. Right away I noticed the tables and chairs had been arranged in straight rows from the front of the room to the back, modeling a standard classroom style. I took a deep breath and with a smile I enlisted help to immediately move the tables out of the way so that the chairs could be arranged in one large circle to accommodate the twenty parents and five Evoke participants.
A “parent workshop” weekend. Really? I have already admitted to myself that I failed as a parent. I am in the most emotionally exhausting and agonizing time of my life. My family system had malfunctioned. I dislike “group” meetings and I am supposed to feel comfortable in a room of total strangers? It really was something I did not want to attend.