By Neal H. Brodsky, LMFT
September 5, 2016
You have heard the phrase: “If you see something, say something” related to doing something about potential acts of terrorism in public places. Yet there are secretive places in our own families. We don’t speak up to get help, often until it’s close to being too late. I know this place. I was such a parent. I learned to speak up, though, as a parent with my own child in trouble.
And now I am a family therapist who hears about kids in trouble all the time.
A girl who throws hard objects at teachers in school because she just can’t stand being there. Another who threatens to jump out her house window to the concrete driveway below when she knows a state standardized test is coming up. A college student who knows somewhere inside it’s not a good idea to associate with people who steal but just can’t help it. And the boys, many of them, who get so frustrated they try to put a fist through a hard wall or smash it into another boy’s face.
These young people are crying out for help. Will you as a parent look at your own situation? We live in a society where violence is openly condoned. Where hate speech is the norm. Where the sheer speed of life and our own emotions as parents with children who are not operating at the “normal range” we’d hoped for, confuse us.
The good news is that there is help out there.
Implementing this help will require time, patience, money, honesty and your deep, caring involvement as a parent. As a family therapist, working with and advocating for young people, I only accept clients whose parents are willing to speak with me in session (in-person or online) no less than once per month. The key ingredient in the healing of your child will be your collaboration with me as a professional. It is tough and from what I see as a parent with grown children, nearly impossible for parents with young people in trouble today to do this alone. The ingredients in the societal mix and the demands on young people today are just too complicated.
If there is one takeaway I would like you to have it is — Don’t wait. Better your child has an ally and outlet for the tough things in their life. Better that this happen sooner than later. You’ve got the instincts and the power to do something about what you are seeing. Reach out and say something before the crisis hits.
If you have a question — if what you are seeing seems significant, please don’t hesitate to contact me, and together we will see if something needs to be done.