Babies don’t come with handbooks. For all the self-help books parents use as guides for parenting, there’s only so much advice that fits any given situation or family. Because every family and child is unique, it cannot be obvious to navigate normal life stages as a child grows. For this reason, therapy can help teach parenting skills to unsure parents. If you have a child going through something or need a tune-up, read on to find out how therapy can enhance your parenting skills and more.
Trained specifically to work with families, licensed marriage, and family therapists understand the systems involved in family dynamics. Otherwise, these therapists realize that one person’s actions in a family can impact the family unit. Parents with great parenting skills can create a butterfly effect of positive change in their families and people’s lives. Finding a family therapist with therapy is a great way to brush up on parenting skills and set a precedent for healthy family dynamics.
From group therapy sessions in times of crisis to regular check-ins, family therapists can help you deal with gender identity, stepparents, second parents, normal stages of development, and how to parent a mentally ill child. They can work in groups and individually to help parents understand, for example, how to parent a child on the spectrum or how to work through normal parental relationships with children of all ages.
Parenthood has its challenges, but with a trained therapist in the mix, parents will have more tools to help kids navigate tough choices, deal with peer pressure, or even understand the legal process surrounding a second-parent adoption. In fact, many people believe that hiring a family therapist is the best way to help a kid navigate the normal stages of adolescence.
Child Advocacy and Education
Maybe you have a child with a learning disability and aren’t sure how to advocate for them on an individualized education plan (IEP). Or maybe you’re curious about online charter schools and whether or not that would be the right decision for your child. If that’s the case, a therapist is a person who could help you and your child make choices around their educations.
Whether it’s that your child isn’t sure which high school they want to go to or is struggling with bullying in school, family therapists are trained to work within a family’s dynamics to make sure all members of the overall unit are working cohesively together. They can teach skills on including a child in important decisions, empowerment, and self-esteem.
For many kids, struggles come up in blended families. Whether your family is going through a second parent adoption or navigating custody and the legal process of a divorce, a child’s life depends on strong parenting skills to get them through it. A therapist can help with guardianship issues and teach you ways to enhance the parent-child relationship as you work toward legal resolutions.
In many cases, a family therapist will meet individually with a child and, later, with just the parents. Taking those sessions and then combining them with a larger group meeting, the therapist can help everyone in the family system to have their voices be heard. Even if you work with a therapist as a learning experience, they’ll be able to provide tools that will help you not only to parent but to work with social workers and biological or adoptive co-parents too. From strained stepsibling relationships to helping you to keep your child attached to a birth parent, these skills will add up to a big difference to your child’s overall happiness.
Family of Origin Hierarchies and Patterns
Family therapists are trained to identify family patterns and cycles. They’ll help you to identify the things that worked in your own family of origin so they can be applied to your family of creation. At the same time, working with a family therapist means they’ll be able to spot areas where you’re carrying on unhealthy family patterns and help you to unravel those cycles, too.
Maybe your child is acting out or bossing you around. As silly as it may sound, this could be as simple as a family hierarchy problem. A family therapist can help you get the tools you need to turn things around. While parents in Generation X have moved toward wanting their children to view them as friends, that parenting style has come with downsides. If you’re worried you’ve gone too far and taken away your ability to lead your children, a family therapist can help with this.
In the end, parenthood has its challenges. While worth it, it can be hard to know for sure if you’re making the right decisions. In working with a family therapist, you can help not only your kids but can even make your life happier and healthier. With an arsenal of parenting skills and resources at their fingertips, family therapists will be able to make quick evaluations to spot and spin around areas of concern.
If considering getting a therapist for your family unit, be sure to do your homework. You want to find a licensed therapist and check for reviews. Look for the type of therapy they practice. Some family therapists specialize in things like play therapy or art therapy. Depending on the age of your child, those specialties might work best for you. For example, music therapists would be great for musically inclined kids or in the school band. Think about gender too. Maybe you’re a single mom or same-sex lesbian couple looking for a male role model for your son. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a male therapist. In finding the right therapist for your child and family, you’re already practicing those advocating skills.
While no family or parent-child relationship is ever perfect, the best are born on love and an open mind, unafraid to reach out for help. If you think your family could use some support, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone. You and your child will thank you for it down the road.