Monday, October 26, 2009

Thinking Like a Therapist


I wish I could. Think like a therapist, I mean. When Eve and I butt heads and I lose my patience with her (myself at that age), I know that I need to stop thinking like a mother (my father) and start thinking more objectively.

I wish I could.

Instead, I read parenting magazines. I talk with other mothers. I visit websites where I can chat about various strategies to use as a parent to change her behavior. To get her to act like I think she needs to. I worry that the lessons I'm trying so desperately to impart are getting lost in the arguments, the frustration, my impatience.

Weeks later, just when I've reached my wit's end, tried every method I can think of or dig up, a moment of clarity comes.

It's not for lack of trying that I couldn't place myself in her position. In fact, that's half the trouble - she is so much like I was at that age and I've inherited my father's lack of patience for "drama." It's crazy-making. For weeks I've scraped the inside of my skull for reasons why, inciting incidents, things I could have done to create this dilemma. Somehow, when I least expect it, insight strikes.

Too late for tonight. We've had the discussion - me the heavyweight pummeling her with "overreacting," "dramatic," "playing games," and she's cowering on the mat, handing me the win. There isn't any celebration. No handshake. No "good match." We both feel rotten.

Tomorrow, I can back off. Tomorrow, we will sit down and I can gently prod. I can ask the questions a therapist would ask. Tease out the answers that will give Eve some insight of her own.

I wish I had been able to do this before. I hope the damage doesn't prove to be un-fixable. If we haven't built too strong a wall, I can finally begin to think like a therapist instead of a mother and help her come to some conclusions. Give her a starting point. Show that I'm a partner in this instead of an adversary.

3 comments:

Christi said...

Just two days ago I was in a similar spot with my son, wishing I could be in his head figuring out what sets him off and how I can help him work through it -- instead of being his adversary, like you say.

I haven't seen Where the Wild Things Are, but I've heard it's a great movie that really gets into the mind of a child and shows what the world is like from that point of view. I wonder if I might learn something :)

Thanks for your post.

Deb Shucka said...

I can't imagine anything would be unfixable in your relationship with your kids. You love them enough to look at yourself - that's a gift many children never receive. Love.

Jenny said...

Gorgeous picture on your blog. Wow, I love those trees. Hope the second chat with your daughter went well.

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