Divorce and separation is an ongoing reality in Central Alberta. According to the 2011 Stats Canada Census, over 10% of individuals in Red Deer that were 15 years old or older, were either divorced or separated. That percentage was at least two points higher than the provincial and national percentages, in regards to divorce and separation. As a family therapist, I often work with families that are going through divorce or separation. Often, parents want to help their children by arranging counselling for them. However, there are some profound truths that I am increasingly facing when working with these families. One truth is this: Children have very little power and control in their respective families. It is the parents (co-parents) or the caregivers, who ultimately hold the power and control to make the important decisions. This point is especially true in regards to navigating divorce and separation situations. Consequently, the best steps that parents can take is to help themselves first! As a family therapist, I have no power or control over the home environments, relationships, and stressors in children’s lives – that is up to the parents who do have the power and control to make changes! I will only meet with a parent(s) first, when they want to get their child into counselling. During the initial meeting with parents, it often becomes blatantly clear that he or she would best benefit from counselling before considering counselling for their child. Parents are often dealing with past hurts from the intimate relationship portion of the marriage that manifest as loss/grief, jealousy, resentment/bitterness, loneliness, fear, denial, anxiety, blame, and the list goes on. Parents need to help themselves first before they can be of any help to their children.
Written by an FSCA Family Therapist