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I’m Fighting With My Daughter — Can Parent Counseling Save Us?

Parent counseling sounds strange, right? When I read this, I thought “What is that?” Is it learning how to be a great parent? Is it counseling between two parents? Parent counseling is when a parent cannot work their emotionally charged issues out with their child. All therapy or counseling has the same goal, which is to work out difficult issues, but sometimes people are ashamed to admit they can’t figure out their problems without help. The reality is that there are conflicts you may not be able to work out on your own, whether that means you turn to friends or family or the help of a licensed mental health professional.

What to Expect in Parent Counseling

You might not know what to expect when you’re in parent counseling. It’s natural to be nervous, but what’s the alternative? You want to get help for you and your child. You’re looking to solve the problems, and you desperately want things to improve in your relationship. That’s what parent counseling is here for, to help you learn to communicate better with your child. One of the primary deficits in a parent-child relationship is the lack of communication or differences in communication styles. The parent counselor will work with you to determine how you and your child best communicate. There are often issues with resentment and communication. If a child (and a teenager counts as a child) feels like they’re not being heard, they may act out or possibly shut down. The parent counselor takes all of this information into account when they’re working with you and your child.

When the Child Doesn’t Want to Go

There are many instances when a child doesn’t want to go to counseling, and that’s normal. They might be anxious about what counseling is all about. Whatever the reason behind not wanting to go, they’re expressing their needs, and those desires are valid. So, what do you do when a child or teen doesn’t want to go to counseling? Here’s what you don’t do: force them to go. If you demand that your child attend something they’re not interested in participating in, they might shut down, and it won’t be a good experience. Now, you can’t make them go if they’re set on not attending counseling, but you can point out the positive aspects of going to therapy:

  • You want to listen to them — Part of being a parent is hearing your child’s feelings and needs. You can acknowledge that maybe you haven’t been the best at this. Your child will appreciate that so much. They’ll feel valued.
  • It’s good for both of you — Your child might believe that parent counseling is what the title suggests — it’s for you only. It’s not for just you; it’s for you and them. Tell them that you want your relationship to get better and the goal of counseling is to accomplish a healthy strong parent/child connection.
  • Problems can’t work themselves out — Let’s say there’s something you can’t understand about your son. He wants to be able to go out with his friends, and you find them to be bad influences. Tell him you want to hear him, but you need the help of an impartial person to figure that out. Tell him it’s for his benefit; you’re doing this because you care about his feelings.
  • It’s great for the whole family — When one relationship isn’t working in your family, the other relationships suffer. Let’s say you and your daughter aren’t getting along. She’s 8 years old and has a younger brother who is 5. He witnesses the fighting and gets upset. You can remind your daughter how much she loves her brother and how counseling will help him feel better too. He’ll see that you and your daughter are getting along well and feel less anxious, which in turn makes the family environment healthier than it was before.

There’s a solution, even if you think there’s no hope

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever do. But, it’s also rewarding when you see the relationship improve between you and your child. If you’re interested in making your connection stronger with your son or daughter, consider parent counseling. Whether you’re working with an online counselor or one in your local area, there’s a way to sort out even the most challenging issues.

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