Let’s say that you come to recognize that your child’s acting out has to do with the fact that you and your mate are obliged to move every few years for work. That obligatory move is putting a strain on your child, who must continually deal with being an outsider at a new school.
There may be no perfect answer to this dilemma but there are surely things to try. You might ask your child, “What would make our moving easier on you?” You might take your child on ahead, before the move, and see if you can get him a little bit enthusiastic about his new surroundings. You might invite his input into where you’ll live, grant him a special wish as part of the move, or help him figure out how to stay in touch with the friends he’s leaving. These efforts just might help.
What if the problem is someone mean in the family—say, your mate? Many millions of couples sweep issues like a cruel parent under the rug and act like nothing is wrong—until, as often happens, one mate finally leaves the other. But you don’t want to do that, do you? I’m sure that you don’t want your child treated cruelly year in and year out. The very least efforts you might make are to admit what’s going on, call your mate on his or her cruelty, and better shield your child from that cruelty. If the problems your child is having are being caused by someone in the family, that is a clarion call to action. You may hate confrontations; taking action may scare you; you may not be very practiced at speaking up. But your child is counting on you. If you won’t protect him or her, who will?
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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.