Many conflicts between parent and child happen because,
each has a different idea of how to achieve the same goal, for the “child” to become an independent adult.
Specifically I work in these stages of family life:
• Prelaunch – They are becoming more independent.
• Launching – Getting ready to leave, leaving, college.
• Launched – They are on their own.
• Re-Launching – They were gone, now they are back.
When they were younger…
You had rules, you told them what to do, you fed them and you took care of them.
It required a lot of time and energy and your role was clear.
It may not be clear… for you or for them.
One of the biggest challenges for a parent is that the child is always changing. It’s difficult to keep up with them. They start in diapers, then they’re learning to ride a bike, suddenly they are entering puberty and are asserting themselves more, then they get their drivers license and aren’t around as much. Now they have a life outside of the home, and then they are leaving… or trying to. What happened?
Understanding what stage your child is in and what they need from you is an important part of my work. You want the best for them, but what does that mean? Does it mean always protecting them so they never get hurt, and always providing for them so they aren’t deprived? Even if you could do this, should you?
You child was completely dependent on you at birth and will be independent in their adulthood. I believe that we need to slowly let go of our children, they do more and we do less, from the day they are born to the day they leave. I believe that our most significant goal is to prepare them to be mature, independent, self-sufficient adults. And as an adult, they don’t “need” us, but hopefully they will want us to be part of their life.
Conflicts in a family can happen because the parent and child are out of sync. For example, conflict occurs if a parent holds on too tight or is too protective, at a point where the child needs a degree of freedom to explore the world, to make their own choices and their own mistakes. What this freedom looks like will depend on the age and maturity of the child. As a parent it can be very difficult to let go of someone that you love, cherish and value so much, and want to protect. But letting go needs to happen.
There are many things in life where we know when something is finished, complete, done. But parenting isn’t one of them. I would like to have received a certificate of completion when each of my three children had their 18th birthday. And I’m still waiting for it. I’ll always be their parent, but what is my role when they are 18, 21, 25 or 35? What would you like it to look like and is what you are doing now helping?
If you are reading this, there is probably something in your relationship that you would like to improve. Having three children myself (now in their 20’s), I can appreciate your desire to have a meaningful relationship with them and to want to improve it.
In Family Counseling, I work with parents and their adolescent / adult children individually and together to improve their relationship, reduce conflict, set boundaries, negotiate the specifics, and define a parent-child contract to help everyone move forward to have a more productive, meaningful and enjoyable life (together and apart).
If you are curious what might be explored in session, look at Parenting Explored.
Family counseling, therapy, coaching, call it what you want, it can and does make a difference in how you relate to your child, and them to you.
Please give me a call and let’s have a conversation to see how I can be of help during this stage of parenting. This won’t cost you anything except a little of your time.
I look forward to hearing from you,
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (Lic # 52487)
Office: Downtown Los Angeles