I have years of experience helping parents negotiate the challenges of parenting, step-parenting, parenting through divorce, parenting children who have mental health or substance abuse problems, and parenting alone. I have worked with children and their families in my private office, in residential care, partial care, scholastic, and hospital settings.
With children under 14, I generally work directly with the parents. With older children (age 14 and up), I still predominantly work with parents and bring the children into therapy as needed. I am a marriage and family therapist and not a child psychologist. My role is to educate and empower adults to work together and parent effectively rather than to help children with their individual emotional/behavioral issues. If children of any age are having significant mental health/emotional issues that are beyond the scope of effective parenting, I am skilled and happy to provide assessment and referral to the most appropriate child specialist.
I teach parents to have healthy boundaries, understand how to set limits without arguing or power struggles, and to have reasonable expectations given their child’s developmental stage. I teach parents to support one another and to learn from each parenting episode. Additionally, I help parents teach their children self-respect, to be responsible for themselves, and to be socially/emotionally aware and intelligent with others. At every developmental stage, children do best when they are empowered to do as much for themselves as they are capable of, while parents support and guide them in areas that are beyond their current capabilities. I am a strong advocate of home environments that teach children to be responsible and respectful members of the family. The parents’ role is to set a good example of this behavior and to learn how to parent effectively.
Effective parenting is often measured by:
- Demonstrating clear and respectful communication
- Avoiding arguments and power struggles
- Setting clear and realistic expectations
- Being consistent when you discover what works
- Being flexible when something is not working
- Supporting (not undermining) the other parent (if there is a second parent)
- A willingness to let children struggle and sometimes fail
- Focusing much more on setting a child up to succeed and acknowledging them, than on catching them doing something wrong and punishing them