“We tried to explain to her…”
“I don’t know how many times I’ve told her…”
“If only she understood…”
Understanding the difficulties —
It can be very difficult for parents — newer, older, natal, foster or adoptive — to raise any child who has a troubled history. Caretakers of all kinds come to the intake session with a range of frustrations.
It is important for counselors to acknowledge the adults’ own experience of inner and outer conflict about wanting to do a good job of parenting, while up against the inner life of a child who does not appear to behave in his/her own best interest.
In that respect, it helps to tend to the feelings in the room — the distress of the parents or other caretakers who have come to the intake. Before trying to problem-solve, it pays to give empathy and acceptance to the caretaker adults who may feel unappreciated, unheard, and unsupported in their family.
It can really help when we are curious about all the thoughts and feelings which the adults may have wanted to express safely for quite awhile. Underneath it all may be an unacknowledged grief — grief for the dream of how things would be or should have been by now. Grieving their original dream can be where grown-ups need to start.