Being there for our Children:
to share with you a recent experience with a family.
A beautiful nine-year old girl came in for counseling,
as she was separated from both her birth parents and
the step-Mom she loved. Her mother was struggling
with addictions, and her father was struggling with
abuse issues. Her parents separated long ago. She had
bonded nicely to her step-mother and loved the home
they created, but then the father was removed from the
home, and this child was forced to leave the home she
loved. The uncertainty of what would become of her father
hung over her heart.
is important when working with children is to remember
that many people can have a positive impact on a child’s
life. A teacher, a step-parent, a coach, or extended
family members, are just a few examples. In this
situation the girl’s maternal grandmother and
aunt created a positive home for this child. We worked
together to empower the grandmother and aunt to encourage
the mother to visit her child regularly under supervised
visitation. We discussed how best to work towards healthy
relationships for their granddaughter and niece, during
a time of great disruption in this child’s life.
It would be months before she could reunite with her
step-family. The distinct possibility existed that this
family would never be reunited.
of us are dealing with changing family structures, we
must remember to put the “best interests of the
children first." In order to bring structure
to a child’s chaotic life many of us need to grow
up and remember the children. It is time to learn
how to be civil to one another, create healthy boundaries,
and allow the children to have a relationship with all
the adults in their life that love them.
was beautiful with this grandmother and aunt, was their
willingness to put aside their own history (or agenda)
with other family members, and create a positive environment
for their granddaughter and niece to love the adults
in her life. Healthy boundaries were created, and
the other adults were treated with respect and honor.
We discussed how best to lower the usual drama level.
In my graduate
program in Marriage and Family Therapy I interned with
the Clackamas Country Family Court Service. We helped
divorcing couples learn the guiding principle for becoming
effective co-parents, which was to put
the children first. Studies have shown
endless conflicts between co-parents, or a parent disappearing
after a divorce or break-up, created the greatest damage
for our children. The best-adjusted children are those
with parents who work together, without long-term unresolved
conflict, to meet the on-going, age-appropriate needs
of their children. Ironically, many of these parents
learn as co-parents how to get along better then they
ever did in their marriage, or former relationship.
Effectively learning to co-parent for these parents
meant growing up, and being the adults their children
it still takes a “village to raise a child.”
time to put aside our own pain and struggle and receive
the support we need to become the responsible adults
in the lives of our children. Our pain and angst,
our storm situations, need not beat upon our children’s
lives, for surely over the years these pounding storms
will deeply hurt our children.
As we parted
after our last session I gave the grandmother, aunt,
and daughter my business card. “Send me an
e-mail. Please let me know how it goes for you.”
I wanted to encourage these two women in their
love for this girl, who would soon turn into a young
woman. These women were getting the outside support
they needed to provide a healing, nurturing, loving
environment for a girl who would grow into a woman better
prepared to handle whatever life storms will come her
life situations, life storms, do not have to be damaging
for children, if the adults become adults, and get the
support they need to handle the storms of their lives.
Your children’s future depends upon it!!!
Begin today to “move beyond
Britton Gearing, MA, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
503.244.4008 / 360.690.8400
“moving beyond the storm”