Skip to content

The Gift of Counseling

May 3, 2017

I am often working with adults whose issues stem from their parents. I am helping them to address issues where they can and to set boundaries for their own well being.

This other family was different. The adult children, all in their fifties sought to address issues directly with their parent in mid seventies with therapeutic support. The adult children wanted to improve their relationship and at the same time help that parent understand the upset caused to each of them at different points in their lives. The parent agreed.

We met on five occasions, each occasion lasting between two and three hours. There was much to discuss and explore.

Several lessons were learned.

The adult children had little knowledge of their parent’s history – the parent’s upbringing and the conditions therein. The result of discussion, the empathy sought by the children of the parent was now a two-way street. The information obtained by the children facilitated their empathy of the parent and an appreciation that the parent who themselves grew up in adverse conditions, actually created a much better circumstance for the children than was experienced by that parent, even though still lacking in some ways.

As for what was lacking, it was the outward expression of affection. The parental belief was that love was expressed by the things one does for one’s family and that if it needs to be stated, then there is something wrong. The adult children expressed not knowing if the parent truly loved them as a result.

The parent was mortified and admitted to appreciating when the adult children expressed their affection towards the parent. The parent corrected the children’s perception and expressed love and affection. The parent hugged and spoke affectionately to each adult child in turn.

For five sessions that parent continued to listen to the children’s issues and complaints. The children took turns advising the parent of their perceived transgressions and upsets. To the children’s credit, their hearts were in the right place. They weren’t seeking to hurt the parent, but advise of issues interfering with the relationship they truly sought. So many family issues were raised. Family secrets were explored. Myths were challenged and emotional intimacy developed. Where appropriate the parent spontaneously apologized. In other matters, the issues were discussed and resolved.

Most impressive was this parent. The parent was among the bravest persons I have met.

That parent put themselves out there emotionally. That parent took risks and that parent took responsibility – all in the name of love. I advised the parent of my admiration for their bravery. In all humility, the parent didn’t recognize their action and availability and their openness to emotional risk as bravery. At some moments in the counseling process the parent was overwhelmed. At other moments the parent was at a loss for words. At still other moments the parent was overcome by remorse, concern and upset. Bravery.

I advised the parent and the children that the parent’s openness to this process was the greatest gift that parent could ever provide.

My role was to facilitate, keep it emotionally safe, occasionally help people express their thoughts and occasionally express some views.

At the end of each successive meeting, the children and parent hugged me tighter upon departing. It is not typical at all for me to hug my clients. At the end of the final session and after hugging each person in turn as they departed, the last adult child turned around for one extra hug before finally leaving.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue. I am available in person and by Skype.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

Linked In

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

One Comment
  1. Julie Spears, LCSW permalink

    Beautiful! What a gift your presence and facilitation made to this family–the ones in the room and so many outside of the room. Keep up the great work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: