Kids can feel family stress in their bones. Your young child may not know that you and your mate are struggling to pay the bills or regularly at each other’s throat but he or she is very well aware that something is going on.
Your child picks up on cold silences, sarcastic remarks, and stress in the air. Even infants react to the stress around them. That’s why family therapists assume that a child’s problems are related to family dynamics. Of course, family dynamics may not be contributing to your child’s difficulties—but they may. If they are, isn’t that a very different lens through which to view your child’s troubles than the “mental disorder” lens?
You know if your family is under stress. But it may prove hard to frankly admit it, maybe because it feels embarrassing not to be living a picture-perfect life, maybe because you can’t see any way out of your situation, or for some other reason. Even if it’s hard to do so, acknowledge that stress, for the sake of your child, yourself, and your whole family. And then what, after you’ve acknowledged it? Do what you can to reduce it. You can’t control life, you can’t control others, you can’t make big changes with a snap of your fingers. But maybe there are some things to try, even some quite simple things, that will make a positive difference. Isn’t that a possibility worth thinking about?
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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.