All parents are problems! That may seem a sweeping statement, but the process of separation from oneâs parents, and the process of recognising that they are not perfect is often a difficult one to negotiate. A good book on this subject is âIn and out of the garbage pailâ by Fritz Perls. The essence is that in order to get to a point of living an autonomous life, separate from oneâs parents one has to accept them for what they are and how they were with you, warts and all. This is the process of throwing them in the garbage pail. Only once they are in there can you bring them out again and establish a full strength adult to adult relationship with them.
Many clients will be bringing parental issues, often under the surface. Here is a questionnaire IÂ use with them to help ascertain where they are in the process. Awareness, as usual, is the key to allowing for change.
In my relationship with my parents, I believe that:
My parents could not survive without me
I could not survive without my parents
It is my job to keep my parents contented
I am responsible for my parents
If I do not make my parents proud, I have failed
My parents expect certain things from me and if I donât provide them they would be devastated
My parents are stronger than me
I should not upset my parents
I cannot tell my parents everything about me for fear of their reaction
They would not listen to me
If they knew how much they had hurt me I would feel better
My parents always did their best and that is all that matters
I fight with my parents all the time
If aÂ client ticks more than three of these, there is work to do!
Here again we find ourselves looking at appropriate responsibility. Here are some things your client was not responsible for:
Feeling unloved or unlovable
Other peopleâs cruelty
Other peopleâs problems
Other peopleâs unhappiness
Other peopleâs choices
But clients areÂ responsible for how he/she felt then and feels now. The past is unchangeable and those reactions are as they were. But there is choice from this point on.