Summer break has come and gone and it’s back to work, school and the daily grind. While it was certainly nice: trips, time off from work, more family together-time; for many of us, getting back to routine comes with an element of relief. It is nice spending more time with our kids but sometimes… well, you know what I mean. Here’s a case in point:
The whole family has been looking forward excitedly to that long awaited trip to the zoo. After all the planning and discussing, the big day finally arrives. The family is off and everything proceeds smoothly with everyone having a great time. Figuring it would be a nice treat, Dad spontaneously offers to treat everyone to ice cream. Everyone scrambles to the kiosk freezer with big smiles. Then the inevitable happens. That child begins to scream and fight and wreck an otherwise pleasant family outing. All because there are no chocolate cones. But both parents know that the eruption is not about ice cream. It could just have well been about something else, it was just a matter of time. But it is always that child! He can’t seem to go along with the otherwise pleasant family dynamic and he always manages to ruin things!
And on it goes, again and again the entire week; that one child always seems to mess everything up and put things over the top. So yes, it is any wonder that there is an element of (guilty?) relief when he is finally back in school?
Most families that I have encountered, both in and out of my practice, have at least one such child. They struggle with this child on two levels. One level is practical: What am I supposed to do with him (or her)? The methods that work just fine for the other kids do not work with him. The other level is emotional. When someone is struggling with a difficult child, there is often a storm of emotions that come along with it: frustration, anger, criticism etc.… Aside from negative feelings towards the child, there can also be negative feelings toward those negative feelings. What kind of parent am I that I feel this way towards my child?! These emotions are not only draining, they also make it more difficult for the parent to respond to the child the way he really wants. When a couple comes for counselling around a challenging child, it is important for both levels to be addressed.
As parents, we love our children and care about them deeply. While working on our parenting is not always easy, it is extremely rewarding, and a precious gift to give to our children. Wishing one and all much joy from the entire family!
Raphael Schondorf M.Sc. is a certified individual and family therapist and maintains a private practice in Modiin Illit and Yerushalayim. He specializes in the treatment of men, teens and preteens and offers parenting consultation. He can be reached at 052-765-3978 or [email protected]. For more information feel free to visit @ www.frumtherapistisrael.com.