Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Cleaning up the messes therapists enable | Family

I can count on one hand – OK, maybe two – the number of parents who have told me that having a child speak to a therapist has a positive outcome. A few such reports could be dismissed, but not hundreds of them.

Most reflect a similar theme: namely a tendency for therapists to take the child’s “side” in a parent-child conflict.

One of the parents told me: “Our daughter’s therapist wouldn’t speak to us in the room without her because she wanted confidentiality, and she obviously believed everything she said about us, most of which was either fantasy or outright lies.”

Strange. Don’t these therapists know that the operative definition of “child” is “someone who has great difficulty taking full responsibility for their decisions”?

For the most part, children are unable to correctly interpret and accurately describe adult behavior. To top it off, kids are soap opera factories. Therefore, everything a child says about adults, especially their parents, should be viewed with due skepticism.

The conclusion I have drawn is that the field of child therapy is to a significant extent populated by people who feel the need to be liked in children. Very strange – that is, wanting to be liked by children. There’s nothing wrong with being liked by kids, but wanting and trying to be liked is a whole other thing.

The most recent example comes from parents who have consulted a family therapist about conflicts with their 15-year-old daughter, including conflicts about the condition of what she herself called “her” room, which some homeless people would not live in. Said room not just a mess, it smelled bad of food that was slowly rotting and clothes that begged to be washed.

After a private conversation with the girl, the therapist informed her parents that her expectations were “unfair”. The girl should be allowed to wallow in confusion and filth in whatever state she chooses. The problem, according to the therapist, is not the daughter’s irresponsibility and disrespect for the people who pay for her life, but the parents’ inability to draw “reasonable boundaries” between themselves and their daughter, a result that after less than A year of conversation was reached with the girl.

Even if that were true (which cannot be determined), it wouldn’t justify this otherwise intelligent girl’s behavior in the household.

This is nowhere near the first time I’ve heard a story like this. This appears to be a “therapeutic” narrative. So please allow me to stand up for parents who are victims of “This is my room and I can do what I want with it!” Nonsense.

A message to the daughter in question and similarly mistaken teenagers everywhere: No, dear, it’s not your room. It’s paid for on an ongoing basis by your parents who made sure you never experienced real hardship. It would be very therapeutic for you to grapple with the fact that you are considered ungrateful, and any sense of entitlement you cling to is a self-destructive delusion. In the real world, you have no claim – you are obliged.

I told the parents to remove the door from the daughter’s room and to have a clean and odorless room for two months before putting it back in. Not quite so wonderful was her report that when her daughter began to cooperate with her draconian standards, she slowly became just as pleasant to live with, proving once again that the unmitigated real world is the best of all therapies.

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