For many parents, they reach a point where they are overwhelmed with a situation with a specific child. It may be a teen is really testing their patience or testing their limits. They feel as though they are depleted. This may be because of a lack of support from their partner, or it could be a single parent who is looking for additional support. Sometimes parents are just simply looking for reassurance that they are on the right track and they need somebody to help them be consistent. I act in some ways like their accountability coach.
Some parents are simply looking for resources and specific information. They may be looking to enhance their parenting skills. They may have some deficits in their parenting experience based upon their own family history. Some parents come in, and they definitely don’t want to replicate the parenting model that they had growing up. For example, parents who experienced physical abuse in childhood don’t want to resort to physical discipline to ensure some compliance from their child.
Ideally, I would refer them to a parenting class as I think there is some benefit in terms of being part of a group process. Sometimes it doesn’t work with their schedule so I would work with them individually.
Often with teenagers, I see parents feeling frustrated because their teen is challenging them both verbally and potentially physically, being defiant and/or uncooperative. Depending on the parent, this may be really difficult. I try to reassure parents that this is a temporary phase, what I call “temporary developmental narcissism” or “adolescent narcissism”. I encourage parents to focus on this as temporary and that they should not catastrophize. They are fearful they have raised a narcissist or a sociopath given their teen’s selfishness, but they need to see this as a temporary developmental phase.
Often my work with parents is psychoeducational and sometimes it’s emotionally supportive. It’s aimed to equip them so they can feel more effective as a parent and have a better relationship with their son or daughter.