Gateway Gazette

Parenting Tip: I Can’t Be the Problem

By Tom Barthel

I hear this all the time “my other kids turned out fine and don’t have problems, just this kid does, so it can’t be me……”

My answer is “If you had a car that started every morning, required no repairs, and never overheated, you would have an effortless experience owning that vehicle. Imagine you sold that car and bought another one. The new car starts to overheat, sometimes won’t start and you’re stranded on the side of the road one day….”

Would you stand there all day mad and explain to that car your last one didn’t behave this way? Would you stamp your feet, beat on the steering wheel and expect the car to fix itself because it is not your fault; your other cars don’t overheat?”

Guess what, it doesn’t matter what your other cars do or if it is your fault, you’re the only one who can respond to it….If you want change in your child, it is you that needs to do something different, it is you that needs to learn, it is you that needs an education, IT IS YOU THAT HAS THE PROBLEM, NOT YOUR CHILD…

No matter how irrational or difficult your child is, be it mental illness or they are losing the battle of drugs and alcohol and all around bad behavior you are still the person standing on the side of the road with a cell phone and a broken down car. I highly recommend you start phoning mechanics and get yourself a lesson on how to deal with your car yourself. You can learn a lot, and what a mechanic can’t do for you he can teach you what to do while you drive your “sensitive” car so that you aren’t the one pushing that car into a state of repair.

You’re the parent, you have the child that has troubles, you are the one who needs to respond and learn what to do, so you don’t make it worse than it has to be and start to create the solution.

Call to action:

Accept the fact that children do come with a manual, it is called the bookstore. There you will find countless books on how to solve each possible problem your child can have, written by people who have already solved it themselves.
Look up your situation in a book and do what the book tells you. Learn, become skilled, become the professional you were willing to pay a $150 per hour for.

The right time to do this with children is when they are in the womb. If that time has passed already, then the right time to start is now.

Thanks for being open to some strong comments. If you read through the whole letter then you were willing to hear it. That is the first step to success, and I acknowledge you for it.

What I can help you with is taking all that information these books teach people and give you a big picture understanding so you can get your head around the information. To this date, I have still not found another practitioner that teaches parents a “big picture” understanding but there is every other resource out there.

So let me help you if you are ready to take an action step. Contact me for a strategy session by calling me at 403-391-4184.

Tom Barthel runs Street Smart Counselling for parents, schools and family service agencies.

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