Since the first time I experienced this phenomenon in graduate school while working my clinical internship, until right now in my current practice. Kids say things that get right to the point. Sometimes I must elaborate a little, so that parents can get the benefit of interpretation from the professional that they are paying to do this, but when a message is powerful it makes sense to listen to what these young people are telling us.
The first example from my training was when a young mom sat in my office venting about her children’s antics and misbehaviors. Fifteen minutes in I asked her to take a breath. I turn to the little boy and girl and asked “why do you drive your mother crazy?” The little girl perked up with a big smile that shined her missing two front teeth and professed “Cuz it’s so easy”!
The message was clear that mom needed to demonstrate a more even sense of control with these children so that they could honor her authority. After helping mom to put together a realistic set of rules and expectations. The children quickly became responsive and enjoyed getting along with their mother. It was no longer Easy to “Make mommy crazy”. The children saw that she was able to better control her emotions and communicate her expectations without yelling and escalating them.
I met with a young lady who spoke of her feelings freely around her parents and wanted to get the positives and negatives out. When she sat back and I asked if she felt this was helpful, she responded “It helps to say it out loud”! WOW!
When parents are caught up in their own nonsense they often stifle the comments of their children. “Not now” “Don’t say that” etc. Kids almost feel as if they might get in trouble if they sort their feelings out verbally and the parent does not approve. Developmentally the younger children struggle with this task. Put your stuff aside and let them feel better if they need to “SAY IT OUT LOUD”. This is an opportunity to help them sort through their feelings constructively. If you are a parent with feelings that are to bias then a counselor might be a good choice to help the child through a rough time.
These are two simple examples. In my 25 years working in human services I have heard many. I look forward to the next comment from a young person that just makes the point, hoping to bridge that for parents, so they can help their child. In the meantime listen to your children they may be telling you something profound. Help me to practice what I preach and offer some input to this discussion, because none of us is as smart as all of us.