Is Your Family Life Spiraling Out of Control?
Do you have a child with ADHD or a teenager who is pushing boundaries, acting out or withdrawing from the world? Is your child pushing you away, having problems at school or abusing substances? Maybe you feel disconnected from your child, to the point that it feels like you don’t even know him or her anymore. Or perhaps you and your partner are arguing about the best ways to raise and discipline your children. Is your whole family disorganized, frustrated and angry because of one person whose bad behavior demands all the attention? Do you wish you could meaningfully connect with your family and feel successful as a parent again?
When children have ADHD, emotional issues or behavioral problems, it affects the entire family. It’s not uncommon to look at the “problem” child and think he or she is the source of all the family’s issues. Siblings may feel neglected, parents might feel like they are not on the same team and the whole family may develop resentful feelings toward the affected child and his or her behaviors, issues and needs.
“Problem” Children Don’t Mean To Be A Disruption
Having a child with ADHD can be exhausting. From the moment the family gets going in the morning, you can face obstacle after obstacle. Your child may have a hard time staying on task, eschew personal hygiene, argue and forget important items needed for school or extracurricular activities. You may have to double-check everything he or she does and field phone calls from the school throughout the day. Your child may get into fights, bully others or be bullied and challenge authority figures. It may be very hard for him or her to sit still or concentrate on schoolwork, which can lead to bad grades, detention or even expulsion.
At home, the chaos continues until bedtime, and even then it can be far from peaceful. Children with ADHD often have insomnia, and may read, talk on the phone or play games under the covers when they should be sleeping. It can feel like a major accomplishment just to get through the day without snapping.
Adolescence is another challenging time for families, which is completely normal as adolescence is a time of huge development changes. What worked discipline-wise for a younger child may no longer work with a teen or tween. Your child still needs parental guidance and support, but also needs space to discover his or her own self-identity and autonomy. Children who are in the midst of these challenges find it hard to handle, too.
Siblings can often feel invisible during these times. They might lash out or engage in risky behaviors for attention or in response to what they perceive as neglect. Marriages can deteriorate because there is no time to nurture the spousal relationship when all the energy goes to the children. Parents often experience a great deal of anxiety themselves and can turn to alcohol or other substances to self-medicate. You may not make time to work out, pursue your own interests or spend time with your friends. And rather than unifying and acting as a team, it’s often easier to isolate and self-soothe. As a result, the entire family becomes desperate, disorganized and unhappy.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Family counseling can provide you with valuable tools and insights that can help you get your family back on track.
Family Counseling Provides Support, Skills And Strategies
When families come to counseling together, it’s very common for them to think one person is to blame for all the household’s drama. The reality is, however, that everyone is likely contributing to the negative, symptomatic cycle occurring in your home. Through family counseling, you and your family can become more aware of what’s really happening in your family system. You can begin to focus on the strengths that each person brings to treatment–and to the family dynamic itself.
Children with ADHD and young people going through adolescence aren’t “bad apples.” They are going through a challenging time developmentally and physically, and this manifests in very inconvenient ways sometimes. Because they are constantly being reprimanded, they may feel isolated and misunderstood. Family counseling can help you see life through your child’s lens. You can also learn how your responses can actually intensify situations, which leads to a vicious cycle of anxiety and fear.
Family counseling can help shift your thinking away from blaming yourself or your child. You can learn to focus on your child’s positive traits and strengths and see that there is hope. You’ll learn that many families experience these same hardships. You’re not a bad parent, and this is not your fault.
In family counseling, you’ll learn practical tips that can bring more structure to your home life. Things like a visual schedule, reward systems and a list of expectations with specific consequences can help the family focus on positive behaviors and reinforcement.
As long as there is at least one family member who still has hope that the family can heal, change is possible. With a willingness to explore your family system and the support and guidance of an experienced therapist, family counseling can help you build upon the strengths that exist and learn to see the good in your child and family again.
You may be curious about family counseling, but still have some questions and concerns…
Only one person in the family is causing the problems. Why do we all need to be in therapy?
Even though it may seem like there is one person who is clearly responsible for the family’s problems, that is rarely the case. Family counseling can help you see how the entire family may be contributing to the chaos. Many clients don’t expect to hear this, and rest assured, the problems you are experiencing are not a reflection of your parenting skills.
I should know what to do for my child.
You may be feeling reluctant to come to family counseling because you think you should be able to figure things out yourself, and that’s normal. After all, you know your child better than anyone. Many families who have a child with ADHD or who is going through adolescence feel tension. You are not alone in your experience.
Your Philadelphia Assessment & Counseling therapist can teach you a lot about family dynamics, but he or she isn’t all-knowing. It’s important for you to stay in control because every family has different values and challenges. We’ll work as a team to get your family back on track.
This is hopeless. We have tried everything.
It can be difficult when your child is acting out, but look for the positives. Sometimes parents are so frustrated that they can’t think of one good thing about their child anymore. We’ll help you reexamine those extreme statements and beliefs and challenge you to reconsider them.
Your therapist might also ask: Where is your family now, and where would you like to be? How much do you want peace in your family and how hard are you willing to work to get there? In family counseling, we will imagine the ideal scenario for your family and create a road map to get there.
If you still have questions about family counseling, please call for a free 15-minute phone consultation.* We’d be happy to discuss your therapy needs and our practice.
*all new clients must complete a consultation before being seen for an appointment