Problem Parents, Problem Children

Parenthood in our society is more an idea of how to “raise kids.” There are problem children, but not problem parents. Yet the truth and reality of the matter is, parenthood needs to be more the growth and development of parents.

I’m reminded of a sobbing mother who came over because her teenage son has become suicidal and homicidal. She actively looked for new options and environments to change her child. But along the way, I presented the idea that she (along with the father) might be the one who should change within her self rather than her son. Obviously, she felt “threatened” being told that. 

We, parents, would be wise to realize that we can reduce (even remove) the number of unacceptable behaviors in our children. That becomes possible when we modify our selves so we become more “accepting” of them. We learn then not to depend on the kids to seek gratification of our own needs or see them as extensions of our selves. 

Gibran phrased a relevant principle (applicable in clinical work with disturbed parents and children) beautifully in The Prophet:  “Your children are not your children. They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts … You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”