Parenting Counseling

Strengthen the bow so the arrow can soar

Parenting can be very stressful. All of the mental and physical demands on parents combined with concerns about a child’s development, behavior, physical and mental health, academic progress and relationships can sometimes feel overwhelming. We have such powerful hopes and wishes for our kids that anxiety and tension can build when we see them struggling and/or question how helpful we’re being.

This is where Parenting Counseling comes in: to be a resource for parents in times of stress, crisis and/or desired growth. There is no more important endeavor than parenting and it’s natural to seek support when the challenges we face as parents leave us feeling stressed out or at a loss. Most, if not all parents want their children to grow up to be resourceful, resilient, able to take direction and learn from mistakes; to be respectful and cooperative with others; to believe in themselves and take initiative. Parenting counseling can help parents discover effective strategies for guiding their children while reducing parenting-related stress and anxiety.

Though the parent has many responsibilities, I believe the main task of parenting is to create a special kind of relationship with the child. This means focusing on the state of connection between the parent and child in order to build the kind of relationship that effectively helps the child develop and mature along their own unique path to feeling good about who they are and being capable of having healthy, meaningful relationships. The caregiver-child relationship is the main environment within which the child grows, so attending to the nature and quality of that environment is essential. I believe that in most cases, the parent’s emotional state is the most important component of the environment within which the child grows.

Therefore, parenting is largely the conscious and disciplined awareness and regulation of the parent’s emotional state, particularly when in the presence of the child. This doesn’t mean the parent has to be saintly or can’t get frustrated, angry or sad in the child’s presence, but it does mean that how the parent experiences and expresses his or her emotions is of key importance. Despite having the best intentions, all parents can sometimes be overtaken by frustration, anger or anxiety and parenting counseling can support the parent in making the emotional adaptations necessary for strengthening and healing the parent-child connection.

Though emotional adaptation and attunement are at the heart of parenting, I believe structure, routine, rhythm and age-appropriate boundary-setting are also very important. And sometimes it is necessary to firmly and calmly enforce reasonable consequences with kids who are acting out. Parenting counseling can help parents develop simple plans for creating structure and holding boundaries with their child.

Another common source of stress for parents is the conflict between them over parenting approach. Considering different family histories and all the intense emotions connected to parenting – joy, fear, pride, sadness, excitement, anxiety, surprise, frustration, awe, anger, peace, loss, hope, disappointment and of course love (to name a few) – it’s no wonder that parents can have disagreements over how to best raise their children. At the same time, since a tremendously important component of the child’s emotional environment is the interaction between his or her parents, it’s helpful for parents to learn how to manage the intensity of their conflicts. I have a lot of training and experience in working with couples and co-parents to communicate their differences more effectively, if not to ideally get onto the same parenting page. I also have a lot of experience working with “blended” families and helping parents in those circumstances clarify their roles and better manage their differences.

I believe Parenting Counseling provides an excellent opportunity for parents to help their children and strengthen family relationships. Depending on the intentions of my clients, I work collaboratively with parents to:

  • Strengthen the parent-child connection
  • Reduce parenting-related stress and anxiety
  • Simplify the task of parenting while engaging in greater self-care
  • Learn how to de-escalate their anger when parenting
  • Learn how to utilize frustration in positive and productive ways when parenting
  • Increase their sense of true authority
  • Increase their child’s self-esteem and emotional maturity
  • Reduce their child’s use of aggression and defiance
  • Reduce the occurrence of power struggles
  • Help decrease their child’s anxiety
  • Learn about and utilize developmentally appropriate disciplining strategies
  • Create plans for greater structure and limits
  • Help their child learn how to use better judgment (taking into consideration the child’s age)
  • Develop strategies for more effectively parenting in a blended family
  • Access appropriate resources in the community

I work with parents to increase their sense of confidence and access their own wisdom about doing what is best for their child. I do this while strongly advocating for the importance of understanding developmental factors, and even more significantly, emphasizing the power of creating a parent-child relationship within which the child feels secure, cherished, respected and taken care of. I have specific training, education and experience in utilizing developmental and attachment-based approaches to parenting.

If you are feeling challenged or concerned about your child’s or adolescent’s behavior – or feeling overwhelmed by the stress and conflict involved in parenting – and would like to find an approach that helps support your child’s healthy maturation while supporting you in simplifying the job of parenting,  contact me to schedule a free 15-minute conversation.

To make an appointment or for more information please call 415.339.8335 in Marin or 707.583.2353 in Sonoma. Copyright 2011 Doug Silberstein, MFT. All rights reserved.