Happy children also land in therapy!
All of us that have ever landed in a shrink's office -- as adults -- know the first rule of psychotherapy: the therapists are there to provide a corrective experience for us that goes way back to our childhood. It's all pretty much "what happened during our early years? Or what did our parents do or not do that affected you so much?"
It's terrible but true that I often wonder if my daughter Juliana -- who's so intense -- will become an adult in need of therapy because of something I did or did not do. I really hope she doesn't end in a psychotherapist's couch next to a box of tissues, recounting the many times when mom failed at this and failed at that, while paying an obscene amount of money to get help.
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Turns out a happy childhood can also be a problem. My rude awakening happened as I read an article written by a therapist named Lori Gottlieb titled How to land your kid in therapy. She writes that she started getting a lot of patients in their 20s or early 30s and whom reported that, "they suffered from depression and anxiety, had difficulty committing to a satisfying career path, struggled with relationships, and just generally felt a sense of emptiness, but yet had nothing to complain about when it came to mom and dad.
So there was the therapist, facing very depressed young adults whom had quite perfect childhoods, so the question became, why did they feel so lost and unsure of themselves?
These patients had parents who gave them all, the freedom to "find themselves" and the encouragement to do anything. Parents who drove carpools, helped with homework and intervened when there was a bully at school. Parents that had gotten them tutors when they struggled in math and who got them private music lessons when they expressed an interest in guitar… Imagine such perfection of helicopter parenting!
So the new question arose, was it possible these parents had done way too much?
It's ironic! Here we all are, trying to become better parents, to do things right--listening, reading, paying attention, getting bombarded left and right on the laws of good parenting -- precisely to avoid having our kids grow into insecure or unhappy adults. Yet, we're making huge mistakes.
Because doing it all for our offspring, getting rid of all conflicts and clearing out all obstacles, is turning out to be worst than letting them learn to deal with life themselves, or at least letting them figure out a couple of things.
I'm mostly amazed at how often life brings us back to the basics. Let's rethink our job as parents, let's try to think back to our grandma's and our mothers' way of doing it. Let's try to explore if there's anything we could NOT do for our kids, in order to let them develop into better adjusted adults.
After all, I believe these are pretty good questions to ask ourselves, don't you? Are you surprised that a happy childhood could lead to therapy?
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