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Before Your Child Sees the Therapist….

I receive calls very regularly from parents seeking me to meet with their kids. I can’t stress enough that before taking a child to therapy, the parents should meet with the therapist first.

All too often there are issues going on at home that create distress for the child which in turn manifests in behavior. Even with something truly akin to the child, biological in nature, no child can convey their own developmental history.

To add, every therapist, social worker, psychologist is different. I tell parents they should meet with the intended service provider before their kids to make certain they, the parents, feel good about the service provider and that they feel reasonably assured the service provider has the necessary skills, experience and approach to address their concerns.

Worried about your child? Think they could benefit from counseling?

Parents first.

BTW – If the parents are separated, all the more reason to meet with parent’s first. If the parents are in conflict it is very likely that it is the conflict affecting the child. No amount of meeting with the child can fix what goes on between the parents. To meet with the child alone gives the child the impression that they are the problem.

Meeting and working with separated parents about child related matters is a specialty unto itself. Always make certain that whoever you choose to address your concerns has the necessary knowledge, training and experience. Those of us who work with separated parents recognize we will hear remarkably different versions of events from some separated parents. We will accept there may at times be such differences and still work to provide a common approach to facilitating the wellbeing of the kids.

If we can’t work with both parents, as crazy as this may seem, it may be better for the kids to NOT see someone for in seeing someone, it inadvertently escalates the parental conflict to which the kids are exposed, making their life worse. In these situations, it may be better to work with only one parent in the role of separation coach.

We want to make things better as much as possible!

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 or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

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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. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Separated Parents and the “Status Quo”

One of the concepts used in family law by courts to determine the parenting plan is called the “status quo”. This basically says that whatever has been happening, shall continue to happen as long as what is happening doesn’t seem harmful. In other words, courts are shy about making changes that may produce unforeseen consequences.

This inherently disadvantages the child’s relationship with the dad as mom’s are still predominantly the primary caregiver prior to separation. This does produce a negative unintended consequence by limiting the child’s relationship with their dad or in the case of same sex parents, the less predominant caregiver.

The problem is though, that post separation, both parents are independently responsible for maintaining a relationship with the child and doing so requires time. This by necessity requires an alteration to the status quo to accommodate the child’s need to form or have a meaningful relationship with both parents.

With due concern about the “status quo”, unfortunately the fight is on to make a final parenting plan that may preclude good transitioning. The fear for the dad is that after implementing one step in a developmental plan, the mom will bring a halt to the process on the basis of maintaining the status quo.

Courts must come to the realization that children face change all the time. They go to daycare, are cared for by grandparents, have various teachers and coaches, attend summer camps and no one ever sees those changes and transitions as harmful. Only in the context of children seeing their dad post separation does this seem to become a major problem.

We all want our kids to be resilient, to have the capacity to overcome adversity or change. Only with exposure to and support of change can children develop that capacity.

If you have concerns such as skill or temperament, then address those in the transition plan. Skills can be taught and acquired. This may require openness and flexibility on the part of both parents to accept, however if one is not afraid that the need for skill development won’t be used as an outright restriction, then people are more inclined to agree to and follow a plan.

The reason I love mediation, collaborative law and counseling is because in those processes the parents don’t have to get locked into the arbitrary and historic ways of doing things as done in today’s family court system. Working cooperatively people can truly advance the needs of their kids to have a full range of meaningful relationships.

None of this requires a cookie cutter, even-Steven, 50/50 outcome. This is about a flexible approach that appreciates that children are better served with a meaningful relationship with both parents in a plan that is doable and respects the availability of both parents.

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 or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Mediation with Separated Parents in High Conflict

In advanced driver training there is a simple yet effective strategy to manage your car to avoid a crash when in a skid.

Most drivers, when their car is in a skid, look where the car is going. If your car is headed to a tree, the driver’s eyes are looking towards the tree. The problem with that is that where-ever you look is where you tend to steer. So, by looking at the tree, you continue to steer into it. You inadvertently enable the crash that began with the skid.

Advanced driver training teaches to not look where the car is skidding, but to look where you want the car to go.

So, using the tree example, rather than looking towards the tree, the advanced driver is trained to look down the road. Amazingly, the hands follow and steer the car out of the skid and down the road. It can be quite a challenge to turn your eyes to where you want the car to go. This takes practice.

This lesson holds for getting out of conflict.

When in conflict, most people steer towards it. They argue and fight about who did what to whom. They seek to assign blame. Truth is, no one ever wants to feel blamed. So, as we steer into blame, conflict escalates – we enable the crash.

Rather than steer into the crash, advanced conflict resolution skills teaches mediators to steer towards the resolution. Don’t get caught up in assigning blame but instead help participants move towards offering solutions.

Those mediations that prove unsuccessful, crash because people or the mediator get caught up in the conflict. Those mediators who have advanced training learn to steer the participants towards the solutions and increase the likelihood of success.

The challenge for the mediator is to learn how to redirect the participants respectfully in a better direction and to limit behavior that steers towards the crash. This is what we mean when we say that the mediator directs the process while the participants are responsible for developing the agreement.

Look back down the road. Focus on the agreement. Manage your triggers to stay on track.

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 or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Grow Your Practice!

I am so excited to be involved with the American Bar Association, Practice Development Institute, June 22-23 – Chicago.

If you are a peacemaker (lawyer, mental health professional, mediator, financial professional) and you want to grow your practice, then this event is for you.

It is led by Woody Mosten who, for me, is the master training others in peacemaking and unbundled services. I am on faculty for this training along with several other great professional trainers, all of whom have worked with Woody previously:

Brian Galbraith
Carl J Rossi
Forrest S Mosten
Gary Direnfeld
Kevin R Scudder
Nancy Retsinas

Collaborating Organizations include:

Central Ohio Academy of Collaborative Divorce Professionals
Clark County Bar Association
Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois
Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois
Collaborative Professionals of Washington
Illinois State Bar Association
International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP)
State Bar of Michigan – ADR Section
Washington State Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Section

There are just a few days left for the early registration rate, so sign up now and join us in Chicago!

American Bar Association, Practice Development Institute, June 22-23 – Chicago

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 or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Child Sexual Abuse from Onset to Adult Life

Sexual abuse often involves a manipulative process that entraps the child in a secret relationship designed only to provide for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator. The manipulation begins with the forming of a relationship that over time becomes more sexualized through either suggestion, exposure to sexual material and/or increased displays of affection leading to greater amounts of touching.

With time the sexual nature of the grooming events become more overt and direct forms of exposure, voyeurism and/or sexual/genital contact occurs.  Sexual contact may include digital-genital, oral-genital, genital-genital and even object-genital. Subtle or even not so subtle demands for secrecy increase.

The demands for secrecy may include implied or direct threats, intimating that harm may or will come to the child, perpetrator or another family member. The threat may also include the loss of family members or family structures as in the situation of intervention requiring the removal of either victim or perpetrator.

 Given that the grooming and manipulation often occurs subtly over time, and with a trusted figure, the child finds him or herself stuck in a situation without comprehending how they got there. They feel complicit in the now clearly abusive events and fearful for not only the threats that have been imposed, but that they will be blamed and held responsible too. Once this stage in the abusive relationship has occurred, the perpetrator has not only physically ensnared the child, but psychologically too. However, children in such situations continue to feel emotionally conflicted and as this emotional conflict escalates disruption in normative behavior is observed.

Seeking to avoid the emotional conflict, yet unable to disclose the abuse for any numerous fears of harm, blame or retribution, the child may act out their distress. This may be observed as poor school performance, truancy, conduct disorders, physical disorders with limited physiological basis (headaches, stomachaches, etc.) and other disorders such as attention deficit, depression, anxiety and disorders of eating.

The outcome of sexual abuse is therefore often a deterioration of individual psycho-social functioning. In later adult life this often presents as inappropriate boundaries in interpersonal relationships, which may cause the person to withdraw from intimate relationship or alternately engage indiscriminately in intimate relationships or paradoxically, both. Further now as adult, the victim may suffer from depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders and personality disorders. Depending on the degree of severity, any of these disorders can impair functioning to the point of undermining interpersonal relationships and any role performance such as parent, spouse, worker, etc. The cascade effect is a deterioration in physical and mental health as well as social relationships and vocational performance.

To say that sexual abuse is a crime is an understatement. Rather it is an insidious process that seriously undermines the psychological, emotional and social well-being of the abused. The impact can have  immediate and lifelong consequences on the abused.

 Persons who have been sexually abused can be helped to recover and reverse deleterious effects. Regardless of age, recovery begins with the belief in the disclosure, immediate provision of safety from the perpetrator and then counseling with a trained professional.

In the absence of disclosure, but the presence of disruptive behavior, psychiatric disturbance, poor social performance or difficulties in interpersonal behavior, it is reasonable to explore and determine if sexual abuse is a contributing factor. Many persons who present with such problems may be quite unaware of the connection between sexual abuse and problematic functioning.

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 or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Talking Circles to Enable Reconciliation: Giving Voice – Having Voice

Native Peoples and Canada

Using talking circles to bridge generations, peoples and cultures…

Pat Green (a recognized Native Elder) and Gary Direnfeld (a recognized Social Worker) bring their worlds together in the service of reconciliation.

pat-green

Recognizing that the trials and tribulations of Native Peoples is the outcome of colonization, stripping Native Peoples of their voice, Pat and Gary seek to provide a forum, enabling voices to be heard. Owning one’s experience validates lives, facilitates healing and helps others learn to speak peacefully such that others may hear and learn.

The objective is to use talking circles as a medium to enable conversation about the Native experience to enable understanding, trust, and respectful relationships on behalf of the individual, and between people and cultures.

gary-2015-headThese Talking Circles are available to First Nations Peoples, non-aboriginal peoples and meetings of both

Through conversation comes understanding. Through understanding comes reconciliation.

If you would like to book time for Pat and Gary to provide a Talking Circle for your group (First Nation, school, college/university, workplace, organization), please contact us through gary@yoursocialworker.com

Talking Circles can be scheduled for a half day or evening or full day experience.

Pat and Gary enable discussion on the Aboriginal experience in Canada and impact of colonialism on Aboriginal communities and families as well as on the collective Canadian views of indigenous people. The goal is to foster personal and mutual understanding and acceptance.

Meeting areas are to be set up in a circle to encourage mutuality and a respectful dialogue among equals.

 

Pat Green is a Mohawk, wolf clan, from Six Nations Ontario.  He is a father, grandfather, brother, partner and uncle. He has always put his family first.  Pat is a pipe carrier, sweat lodge keeper, drummer (lead singer 40+yrs), traditional dancer and speaker. Pat has spent his career helping aboriginal people in various capacities. Pat has a unique way of blending contemporary therapies with traditional ceremonies having worked in setting such as: Secretary of State, Employment & Immigration, Corrections Canada, Native Child and Family Services, Addiction Counselling and other various Native centers.

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. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

To arrange service, please contact us through; gary@yoursocialworker.com

 

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 or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep Your Smart Phones On: It’s a workshop!

Last week I provided my workshop helping peacemakers build a successful practice.

What was really neat is that as I was presenting, people were actually making modifications to websites, taking notes on what they will do differently and using their social media. I encouraged people to keep their smart phones on and laptops open. I encouraged tweeting and posting to Facebook, taking pictures and videos during the workshop. People were immediately implementing and practicing what I was explaining for them to do! We really put the “work” back into workshop. Here is a summary of the evaluations. (30 people attended and 20 handed in their evaluation.)

Evaluation Feedback Summary

Training Session: Building, Brand, Market, Close: Building your successful peacemaking practice

Date:                           March 2, 2018 :

Group/duration:          York Collaborative Practice group, full day workshop.

Scale 1 – 5

The workshop was well organized

4.2 – 84%

The content and scope met my expectations

3.95 – 79%

The presenter’s preparedness for the course and knowledge regarding the course content

4.45 – 89%

The presenter’s ability to add value/information beyond the scope of the course

4.2 – 84%

How much of the information covered in this workshop was new to you?

60%

Which term best describes your overall experience?

4.14 – 82.8%

 

What was the most important thing you gained from this workshop?

  • A lot of marketing info
  • It is important to be creative, resourceful and entrepreneurial advice on how to improve my professional profile and language to use/avoid
  • Learning to own what I do and offer and how to explain in simple meaningful terms to others including potential clients.
  • Expanding my view of “collaborative” in marketing and grabbing the “low hanging fruit”.
  • The importance of using language on the level of the receiver. Something I knew and do, nice to have it confirmed.
  • Social media usage. Target your client group and business group.
  • Helpful to be aware and understand the need and benefit to BRAND and MARKET.
  • Self-process and discussion of simpler language.
  • Tips around expanding service I can offer and plain English information.
  • Marketing, Marketing, Marketing.
  • Practical tips on how to market my practice online – breaking it down extremely well.
  • Getting our ego out of the way.
  • Language and words are important. Be more thoughtful.
  • Great ideas and new ways to approach language on my website – re: jargon / not-simple.
  • Website drafting – language.

 

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 or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Conflict? 3 Choices. Choose one.

Conflict is so insidious.

It seeps into a relationship and from then on everything said is interpreted negatively.

We ascribe negative connotations to any words or actions by the other. No one can win for losing and matters escalate.

This is when people need to step back and take stock. This is when people need to examine their own ego.

Some would say they must set the record straight and correct every perceived transgression. The thinking is that this is better than leaving things lie. Not true though. By seeking to set the record straight or correct the misperception of the other, one’s actions are still only perceived as a transgression. When in conflict, no one wants to be corrected or told they are wrong. Setting the record straight becomes the objective as the real issue of concern is forgotten.

How to release oneself from this circular and ever escalating quagmire? Several choices:

  1. Withdraw. Recognize that in this conundrum, there is no such thing as the last word. Leave it alone. Let it go. Separate your own ego from the conflict and the other. Your worth is not dependent on the other agreement with your point of view.
  1. Empathize. While suspending your emotions for the moment, key into the emotion of the other. Be curious. Wonder what is going on and how they perceive things. Open up the dialogue if only from their perspective. Again, keep your ego in check. As you hear more about the other, their views, issues and concerns, you may learn more and they feel heard This releases tension and opens up the possibility for a reconciliation of views and the relationship.
  1. Mediate. Some differences require a third party to keep things safe and act as an emotional translator while keeping and eye on the substantive issues of concern. The mediator can funnel the information between persons to help facilitate delivery and reception in a way that may lose the taint of conflict. The mediator can help persons determine and address the underlying issues of concern rather than getting caught up in the sidetracking nature of misperceptions and projections of blame and shame. This process may help resolve not only the issue at hand, but may also help restore some semblance of a relationship, if only a working relationship.

Key with either strategy is managing one’s own ego – that need for validation and approval – to be right and respected. When in conflict those things go out the door and depending on ones own internal sense of security, one can be quite fragile. So the real challenge in managing and overcoming conflict is more about mustering a sense of personal validation.

Say to yourself: “I am fine regardless of what I perceive the other to think about me, my views and/or this situation. This conflict doesn’t define me. Let it go and if possible, address what is really important.

Managing oneself and ones ego is the real secret to living with or overcoming conflict with whichever strategy you choose.

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 or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Please See My Adult Child

A parent phones on behalf of their adult child. The parent wants to set up a counseling appointment. I ask to speak with the adult child.

In speaking with the adult child, the adult child advises he doesn’t know why he needs counseling. He advises he doesn’t think he has any particular problems.

I speak with the parent again. The parent explains acts of violence, drug and/or alcohol abuse, anxiety and depression, lack of motivation. There may have been a recommendation from the family doctor or even psychiatrist for counseling. There is likely some past attempt at counseling that was unfruitful.

My heart goes out to the parents in these circumstances. They are often at odds with each other in terms of how to manage their adult child.

In circumstances such as these, counseling the adult child gives the appearance of providing something helpful. However, it is not uncommon for counseling in these situations to be unproductive. The adult child may attend. Money is spent. Nothing changes.

If the recipient of service cannot identify their own need for the service, the likelihood of any change in the behavior of the person is limited. What may transpire is just another failed counseling attempt.

I typically decline to see the adult child in these circumstances. I do however offer to meet with both parents.

Parents are in distress. Parents do want a solutions. Parents are often at odds with each other about how to proceed and whether a tough love or understanding approach might be best suited to their child.

I can only tell you that if the adult child has no skin in the game counseling is a dubious endeavor.

To create the skin in the game, some impetus for change, it may be necessary for the parents to take some concerted action together and meaningfully. What that action is really depends upon the situation and doesn’t necessarily mean kicking the adult child from the home as some parents’ fear.

So, if you are concerned about an adult child who declines to seek help and make the call on their own, rather than calling on their behalf, call to speak with the counselor yourself. Explore your situation more fully and see if there are strategies you as parents can implement that may facilitate some motivation on the part of your child to consider change.

As social workers we would be delighted to be helpful. It’s always best to start with whoever is most in distress. This may be the parents.

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 or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

 

facebook-logo   linked-in-logo   twitter-logo

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. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

What Does a Child Call the Step Parent?

Some separated parents face a difficult decision when one or other parent establishes a new and committed relationship: What to call the stepparent?

What a child calls a stepparent can set the stage for battles or deeply loving relationships. The direction this takes is greatly determined by the relationship between the natural parents and the respective security of each parent’s relationship with their children. Age of child will also factor in with regard to the child’s comfort in addressing the stepparent with special terms.

Preschool age children tend to take more naturally to calling a stepparent mom or dad. For them, a mom or dad is a loving person in authority who has serious responsibility for their care. Some school age children may be less inclined to call a stepparent mom or dad owing to concerns of loyalty to the natural parent, while others may feel embarrassed calling a step parent by their proper name when out in public. Hence school age children are at times seen to call a stepparent by their proper name in private and by mom or dad, in public. Teenagers are far more apt to just call a stepparent by their proper name and tend not to feel the discomfort sometimes experienced by the younger school age children.

Parents themselves may take issue with their child calling another adult mom or dad. There may be concern of their relationship being diminished if the child uses their name towards the stepparent. If there is conflict between the natural parents, the perceived threat to a parent’s relationship with their child may intensify if a child then calls the stepparent mom or dad. In such cases, the child may then be subject to a tug of war where one parents expects the child to address the stepparent as mom or dad while the other parent admonishes the child, “you only have one mother or father”. In these situations, the child is caught in the middle and either annoys one, other or both parents, or alternately, learns to lie about the situation to avoid harassment.

Parents have a number of strategies to find the right name for a stepparent. In some cases they simply let the child-stepparent relationship speak for itself and thus take their lead from the child. In other cases, natural parents meet and discuss the matter and come to a mutual solution. Some parents find a compromise solution by finding similar, but different terms such as mom/mommy and dad/daddy. Where there are cultural differences, the term used by one culture may be different that that used by another culture and hence there may be no conflict by using the respective cultural term. Other persons use special names or pet names.

Parents must remember that whatever one chooses to do, sets the stage for what the other may do. Thus care is advised if one parent makes a decision that they wouldn’t like the other parent to take.

The child’s perspective is to have loving and caring relationship with all parents – natural and step. The child seeks to avoid conflict and get on with the job of being a kid. If the child is caught up in the struggle of what to call a stepparent, the child can be distracted from school and behavioral or emotional problems may arise.

What is really being discussed is the process of adjustment. Natural parents and stepparents must understand that the process does take time and with time, they all can learn that kids may have loving and caring relationship with multiple persons where loving one takes nothing away from loving another regardless of what they are called.

Best advise? Concentrate on loving your child and what the child calls you will be secondary to a great relationship because that’s what it’s really about.

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 or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

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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. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.