Licensed Professional Counselor + Scared Mom = A lot to share!
I have always been a helper. I knew a long time ago that I was meant to help. If I think back, it must have started when I took on the role as big sister and oldest daughter in the family. I proudly took on responsibility to help when I was little and enjoyed the appreciation and recognition that came with it. At a young age friends came to me for advice. It made me feel needed and important. I would talk them through their crushes or fights they got in with their parents. It was natural for me. I suppose growing up in a house with two psychologists may have something to do with it. That’s right, my parents are psychologist and discussing human behavior and mental health was a common topic at the dinner table that I assumed all families were doing as well. I grew up with the “training” to think through typical life situations by setting goals, analyzing, and asking a lot of questions within.
And now I am a mom. I have four young boys who have the amazing capability to teach me new, beautiful things about life as well as drive me to my absolute worst at times. The emotions I encompass as a mother are
like nothing I have felt before. There isn’t a word to describe it. It’s like immense love and fear all at once. The emotions feel bigger than me at times. It’s overwhelming.
While I knew I was meant to be a helper, I didn’t know I wanted to be a therapist, because, well, both of my parents are therapists and you know, it was my job as their daughter to make sure I didn’t become anything like them! Right? Insert wink face here. But seriously. I now work alongside my parents, as well as my brother and 15 other talented and intelligent mental health professionals, at the private practice my dad built almost 35 years ago.
I denied the mental health field for far too long but finally gave in. I gave in because when I was a teenager, I didn’t feel comfortable talking to my parents. Yep, that’s right. Even therapists have teens who don’t want to talk to them. As a parent, you can read all the parenting self-help books out there but unless the advice in those books are realistic to the fact that parents are emotionally attached to their child, all the behavior plans and outsider advice won’t make a damn difference. My parents found that to be very true when parenting three teenagers all at once. Here were two professional therapists, who specialize working with people and behaviors, and parenting at times still stumped them.
Teenage years. Oy. Ugh. Eek. Am I right? Why is it that through one of the most emotionally confusing seasons of our lives, we don’t talk to the people who love us the most? Why is the parent/teen relationship so tumultuous, tense, hostile, and challenging? Is this inevitable? Will I have this heartbreaking relationship with my boys when they’re teenagers? Is it possible to create a relationship with your child while they are young to lessen the unavoidable distance that will come as they grow?
Because of my job, I get a lot of warning signs that are very helpful to me as a mother. I get to hear parents complain about their teenagers and teenagers complain about their parents. Some are about things that I choose to take care of now while mine are young. Things like becoming good eaters, getting good sleep, learning how to contribute to household chores, making their beds and on and on. Issues and concerns that we don’t always think about having to teach our kids at a young age because we assume, they will grow into or they won’t grasp it while they’re young. We think we need to wait until they’re a bit older.
Our culture has changed. Parents today are more disconnected from their children than ever before. Our kids are growing up in a world that has become almost impossible for parents to relate to. The needs are the same. The emotions are the same. But the circumstances and the contributors to our lifestyles are very different. That’s where I come in. My job has given me an amazing advantage. Call it my crystal ball if you will. Foreshadowing. I get to sit with teenagers, who are currently growing up in this culture, every day and listen to their thoughts and their struggles. I am connecting with today’s youth and it is helping me tremendously as a parent.
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