I've often thought there should be a 12-step program for children raised by therapist moms. Many years ago I
saw a woman in my practice whose parents were both psychologists. She told some funny stories... of long
drawn out conversation she was forced to have in the kitchen. How exactly did she feel? What precisely was she thinking? What do you need? It must have felt like waterboarding.
believable retelling of such a childhood, with two hyper-feeling and overly verbal parents, they were not the most sound set, in spite of, or because of, their PhD's.
Because of that anecdote still ringing in my ears all these years later, I've always been aware of the unusual way my sons are being raised - by a mom who has spent 15 years working in foster care, with special needs children and at-risk youth, and a total of 35 years listening to children and
adults tell stories.
A vast majority of my work
has been post-trauma related: I have worked with hundreds of adults that were
sexually molested and abused as children; Veterans that experienced trauma combined with early childhood neglect and abuse at the hand of their own mother in addition to their combat experience, as well as cult survivors.
I've treated children and adults that have been violated by
those who held great power, those in roles and professions that we often think of as safe
and respectable (teachers, clergy, law enforcement, judges, coaches, health care providers). It's much like seeing the underbelly of
society. There's a bad apple in every field.
So how does this impact my
parenting? How does it not? I am striving to avoid WORRY as my signature parenting tool. One of the interesting sad statistics about child
caseworkers and social services - and this has been proven in research time and
time again - that instead of a social worker seen child abuse everywhere, in
fact the opposite is true. The caseworker becomes inured or blinded to it. As if a thick skin is developed and the caseworker
begins to not see child abuse or neglect him when in fact it should be readily
available to anybody without a developed and educated eye.
My hopes of not being an overly paranoid parent can swing to the very thought that I may not be paranoid enough. I suppose it's like any first-responder who has seen really interesting sad situations, trying to not let
that shape your global view of the world and its citizens. Most people are safe, wonderful, and trustworthy. No one benefits from living in the shade.
I remember hearing at one point that the cable
guy has a better feel for what a typical American household looks like than anybody else,
after all he's inside home after home, across all socioeconomic status. He is quite the sociologist I presume.
So, my sons are simply forced to adapt to their hyper-verbal, overly into-the-feelings arena, aware Mom, and here's what it currently sounds like:
12 year-old son: "Mom, is this a mini-therapy session?"
"Are you worried about my self-esteem?"
"I don't think you are considering my feelings."
"I need you to listen to me."
"You are not hearing me."
I think he's on track and we are doing just fine.
Humor is the first to go and the last to come back. Find your funny!