Recently, I was contacted by two parents looking for assistance with their two teenage children. The siblings were really angry with each other and couldn’t communicate without verbal and sometimes physical violence. I met with each teen individually and with the parents together before scheduling a family session.  I worked to develop relationships with the individual family members in order to build trust that Abby and I could help their family connect and learn new skills to communicate respectfully with each other.

My first goal was to gather information about and understand each teen’s concerns on the given problem: What stands in the way of the two siblings communicating respectfully to each other? My second goal was to find out the specific concerns of the parents and their perspective of the problem. Our third goal would be to brain storm solutions that were realistic and mutually satisfactory to each member.

I also have asked the parents about their family of origins. It was interesting that each of the parents had one sibling each and they were disconnected from them.  In this family, the two teens were the only children on both sides. The family ties with the grandparents existed, but their relationships did not seem to offer mutual support. Everyone was reactive rather thane actively listening and responding with curiosity.  To solve the family problem, each family member needed the willingness to look at everyone’s different perspective and be willing to brainstorm and come up with collaborative solutions that were mutually satisfactory and realistic.


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“The absolute essence of parenting is being able to step outside of your own emotional discomfort in order to meet your child at his level of emotional discomfort.”

Heather T. Forbes, LCSW


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