Theresa is fourteen-years old and a cynic. Her mom has been “working on herself” for as long as Theresa can remember and she is sick of hearing about it. Every time they try to talk about what is going on at school or in her life with her friends, the conversation always seems to turn to her mom’s latest “ah-ha or revelation.” When I met Theresa she was skeptical and resistant to our time together. It took a lot of patience on my part and some testing on hers, before we reached a place of mutual trust and healing. Theresa needed to know that I didn’t have an agenda and that our work together wouldn’t ultimately lead to some crisis or breakthrough for her mother. She needed to know that this journey of healing was hers and hers alone.
In order to be thoughtful compassionate parents we must embark on a journey of self-discovery and healing ourselves. This does not mean that we do so at the expense of our children. If children are already present when we begin this process, we must be willing to juggle our needs and our children’s needs fairly and equitably. Too often we become so involved in our own pain that we neglect to put our children first. We assume that we have fulfilled our parental responsibilities if our children attend scheduled sports classes, music lessons or other extra curricular activities. “Scheduling” your child does not replace the imperative time that must be spent together talking, playing and “feeling” together. In a time when parents justify their lack of involvement with their children as necessary in order to pursue their own needs, their own career and their own relationships, it is time to restore the balance. Contrary to popular sentiment it is not just about quality of time spent with your child. It is about quantity of time, availability and consistency.