When I moved to Utah 11 years ago as a 23-year-old, I didn’t imagine I would still be here and more surprising to me, that I would end up as the single mom of a four-year-old. I often tell our staff that I wish I could give them the experience of raising a child because it would make them better at their jobs. This reminds me of the comment my boss made when I first told him I was pregnant, “This is going to be so good for you.” I have also experienced parents tell me how lucky I am to work for Evoke because I have all of the tools I need; tools they wish they had before raising their kids. And what I’ve come to realize is that we are all right. My experience in wilderness has informed how I parent and my experience as a Mom has informed how I lead our team at Evoke. Each makes me better at the other.
Viewing entries tagged with 'parenting'
It's common for people to ask therapists, “Are they mentally ill? Is it a mental illness?”
Why the Adage to be a Parent not Your Child’s Friend is Actually Flawed
I often hear parents or parent educators utter the adage, “You should be a parent, not a friend, to your child”. I think this goes largely unchallenged in our culture. And the current ubiquitous criticism of parents as helicopter-parents or snowplow parents describes a parent who spends every ounce of their energy to remove discomfort and struggle from the child’s life and wants the child to approve of them. I believe there is a problem with this blanket criticism and the problem may start with our understanding of what it means to be a friend and only partly to do with our understanding of the role of a parent.
So much of my suffering in relation to my son—and probably with most everything else for that matter—is my desire for things to be different than they actually are—a seemingly plain and simple truth. If only I could settle into what is actually occurring. Like when it rains, and I desire the sun to be out, I perpetuate the desire for the sun to be shining by choosing to feel agitated about the rain. So, instead of simply saying to myself, today looks like it’s going to be dark and rainy, I suppose instead of hiking I will get on the treadmill,” I become agitated and disappointed, which only perpetuates my suffering. I’m purposely using this scenario of the weather to demonstrate what happens in my mind when I’m caught in the cycle of wanting things—things I cannot change or control—to be different than they are. The arena where this is most profound is motherhood.
I want to share some of my struggles during the three months that my son attended Wilderness in Utah. I am hopeful that writing about my experience, and the tools I utilized for coping will help at least one parent. My purpose is simply to offer you the knowledge that you are not alone. That there is healing in camaraderie.
I was once asked “How long does it take to understand the kind of childhood one has endured?” While this understanding comes at a different pace and with more or less clarity at times, one can hear the messages of a childhood by learning to hear our inner voices. The dialogue of self doubt; the justifications; the apologies; the “I hope you don’t think I am whining…” –all these offer glimpses into the spoken and unspoken messages of one’s childhood. The sometimes critical inner-voice can be recognized not just by listening to the negative thoughts, but also by listening to the qualifying comments. “I know this may sound selfish, but…” or “I don’t want this to seem…”
Therapists often talk about healthy detachment, but what about connecting and being close to our children?
For many years my passion has been mentoring family members of loved ones struggling with eating disorders, mental illness, and substance misuse. I help them to develop some of the skills necessary to get the best return on their emotional and financial investment, whether their loved one is in pre-hab, some kind of treatment or post-hab. I’m also a potential consumer of the very services that I work around as I’ve been a parent-in-training of two girls for ten years now. Believe me, I’m in this with you, all the way! Since the day my wife Robyn told me we were pregnant I’ve read a lot of parenting books and I’m even writing one myself about the amazing caregivers who have come into my life and allowed me to support them through difficult, confusing, and joyful times. From my unique vantage point, I have narrowed things down to eight very important parenting tips.
This is one of the most common questions parents ask when contemplating a child’s emotional reaction to a Wilderness Therapy or long-term rehab intervention. Often, the questions center around whether the child will forgive, will feel abandoned, or will hate the parent. Will your child forgive you if you take away his car, don't let him back into the house, or don't support him financially? These questions tug deeply at the heart of each parent; nothing is so precious as the relationship with one’s child, and the fear of losing that relationship is truly frightening. Ultimately, the parent is asking about whether or not the child will abandon them. And this fear is evidence of a wound from the parent’s own childhood, one that will require their attention as they press forward with the stated goal of helping their child out of mental health or addiction issues.