A Therapist's Open Letter to Parents & Caregivers: I Believe You
I see you as you sit across from me in my office. You are talking to me for the first time, for the tenth time, or maybe for the fiftieth time. I’m glad you’re here to talk. Truly, I am.
I see you. You are a parent, a friend, a sister, a brother, a child, a boss, a partner, an employee, a co-parent, a human. The cleaner of the spilled milk (literally), the helper of the homework, the packer of the snacks. The juggler of the schedules and carpools. The overworked and in need of rest. The there all the time, the theresometimes, the there. I see you as a person who has your own story, your own history, your own needs. I see you as a parent who cares so much, even if you feel so lost,and wants what is best for your child.
I hear you. I hear you as you talk about your frustration with not knowing how to help your child, with wishing you had an answer. I hear you when you say that you are lost, confused, and maybe even annoyed. I hear you searching for an answer on how to show your teenager how much you love him, on wanting to support your little one as she struggles to stay in her seat at school. I hear you when you say want to wrap them up in your arms and protect them. I hear you when you say want to see them learn to be more independent. I hear you when you say want everything for them but also need your own alone time, too.
I wonder. I wonder if you’re thinking I’m judging you. I’m not. Really. I’m not shocked when you say you’re at your wit's end. I’m not surprised when you say you just don’t know what else to do. I wonder if you realize that when I make a suggestion, that is all I am doing. Yes, I want you to follow through. Yes, I really do think it will help. No, I don’t expect you to do every single thing I say perfectly. I wonder if you think I’m a robot, that I don’t make mistakes both inside and outside of this room. I do. Trust me, I do. I wonder if you think I believe you to be this three-eyed, fire breathing, raging monster outside of my office. I don’t. Even when your child complains to me for the one-hundredth time about your tyranny when you ask that dishes go in the dishwasher, not the sink, I never argue, and I hear them and empathize. But, I still don’t judge. It’s just not my place.
I believe you. I do. I believe you when you say your child acts different in my office, and you promise me they have meltdowns in real life. I believe you when you say you try to come up with strategies on your own and it feels like nothing works. I believe you when you say the week got really busy and you just didn’t get around to doing the thing I suggested.
I am not an expert on your child. You are. Yes, it’s my clinical degree on the wall. Yes, your child gets excited to come here. I am their therapist, their safe space, their confidant. You are a superhero to your child, whether you believe it or not right now. You are what matters to them most. The real you. The human you. Not the robot parent who never gets anything wrong. The person who struggles, who makes mistakes, who learns, and who grows. Always.
There is no handbook on parenting. Well, there are actually a lot, way more than I can count, but there is no “one” handbook on parenting, the one with all the answers. It’s a process. Be human. Make mistakes. Learn. Grow. Be there for your child. Be there for yourself. Be the example that this life is a journey, a simultaneously magical and terrifying one.
When you need a new suggestion on a strategy for how to deal with your child’s attention struggles, I’m here. When you’ve had enough of your teen’s moody behavior and you’re not sure what to do next, I’m here.
Remember, I’m not judging. Remember, we’re all human. Remember, we’re all in this together.
Your child’s therapist,