Parents recently came into the office with their 17 year old son who has become increasingly more aggressive toward his family, and had been suspected of using drugs. The young man’s new friends consisted of drop-outs, thugs and dopers. The family could not understand what was going on and why their once honor roll student and school athelete was going in this direction.We offered free drug screening service and once the results were in (they were negative), the family returned in for an interview.
The mother and father came to the office with the child and I spoke child alone. I asked what was happening to rock his world. He stated that his mom and dad were fighting terribly about money, as his father had been laid off. The son thought that his parents were going to get divorced, and that he did not think it was fair for all of the anger to spill over to the rest of the family, and that he was escaping the stress by leaving.
I then brought the parents in alone and spoke to them together regarding their son’s concerns about a pending divorce. They were shocked! Together, the parents stated that a divorce was not even a consideration – it had not even been discussed. They agreed that things had become very stressful at home but thought that their discussion of the problems in front of the kids probably was not appropriate.
Next I brought all of them together and had the parents reassure the child that their home was intact – that they loved him, and eachother, but was just not used to having money problems. Mom cried, dad cried, kid cried (I almost did too!) Family hug and kid promised to straighten out now that he was not threatened by the divorce issue.
One month later, Mom comes back to the office with her son, drops off a generous donation and says, “you know? It’s all about communication, and we needed COMEC to come in and help us better communicate with eachother and know that our strength as a family was the most important thing of all.”
Len – it would be great for you to add some kind of observation here. Maybe something like: “Children are watching their parents, often when the parents are unaware. Kids often make conclusions, while not valid, are very real to them. Remember to talk to your kids. Ask them questions – be involved in their life. Let them know what you’re thinking too.