You’re a parent. But you’re also many other things and you’re living a complicated life. You have your own challenges, your own worries, your own past with its disturbances and difficulties, your own dreams and desires, your own intense reality.
We hardly know what’s going on in our own life—and it’s dismaying how long it can take us to know how to live or what’s really going on within us and around us. We may never really fully know. It is in the context of a great deal of “not knowing” that we are obliged to approach our parenting and our child. It would be lovely if we knew more, understood better, and could pinpoint the causes of our own sadness or anxiety—or our child’s. But can we?
All we can do is acknowledge the bewildering nature of life, appreciate the extent to which presumed experts do not know enough either, and come at life—our own and the lives of those around us, including our children—with compassion, curiosity, and considered attention. Do not rush to some simple answer—for instance, that your child has a so-called mental disorder—when you know that life is more complicated, nuanced, and mysterious than that. Yes, it would be lovely if we understood what’s going on. Unfortunately, we are stuck looking at life through a glass darkly. What’s really going on, with you, your child, or anyone? Just breathe and consider.
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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.