Years ago when I was I student in graduate school in the Washington D.C. area, I was struggling with a particular child I was seeing in therapy. I told my supervisor that I was frustrated and I didn’t know how to help the child. She asked me several questions about the child and his family, then proceeded to tell me, in a very light-hearted manner, “the best thing a man can do for his child is love his mother.” I smiled in response, but inside I was bothered by the comment and really wasn’t sure what that comment meant.
Years later, as a mental health consultant to the pediatric clinic in an inner-city hospital, I was seeing a mother and her 10 year old daughter. The chief complaints were that the daughter was noncompliant with mother’s rules, didn’t listen, and was disrespectful. I met with the family on five different occasions during which we played cooperative board games, talked about family rules, and shared feelings. At the fifth session, the mother thanked me for listening, being available and helping her with being a parent.
The light bulb went on! I remembered what my supervisor shared with me…the best thing a man can do for his child is love his mother.
In our society, we often see children in need of help on many different levels (economic, social, and psychological). Children and their problems do not exist in a vacuum. Whether it be a mother or a father, we must remember: It’s very difficult to help a child without helping the child’s parents.