The subject of this blog post is a bit off topic because it has little to do with twins, per se. However, a recent session with a twin patient evoked thoughts that I feel are important to share. I am an avid proponent of psychotherapy, as you might presume. My own treatment shaped me in ways otherwise unimaginable. As a result, I avidly encouraged all five of my adult children to recognize its value and to seek help from an appropriate professional when needed.
At times, imagining what your children might tell their therapists about the injustices they suffered in childhood feels threatening and uncomfortable. Nonetheless, I can attest that positive outcomes result from creating a new attachment with a significant other—in this case, the psychotherapist. When an adult child develops trust and confidence in this therapeutic relationship, the parent no longer acts as the sole emotional caretaker. Moreover, adult children are often resentful, uncomfortable, and resistant to sharing problems and intimacies with their parents. One patient told me that she is hesitant to talk about her depression with her parents because they understandably feel worried and upset and offer practical solutions rather than lending a sympathetic ear.
I trust that many parents feel eternally appreciative that their children can
get help from caring, capable professionals who help them understand how to manage their feelings and cope with challenging life experiences. Although I am physically and emotionally present for my children, I believe they realize how fortunate they are to have the option of confiding in another person without fear of parental judgment or interference.
In many ways, parenting is a risky business and a leap in the dark. Certainly, my parenting style was adversely impacted by damaged, mostly unconscious parts of myself. While all of us make expectable mistakes throughout our lives, the self-awareness and knowledge that one gains from a successful therapeutic encounter can last a lifetime and influence many important decisions and goals.
So, if you feel inklings of jealousy and resentment toward your child’s therapist, please consider the gift you are bestowing. The relationship cocreated by your child and the therapist establishes a safe space to work though powerful memories, traumas, and emotions that interfere with finding happiness and brighter prospects for the future. A patient recently asked me how she will ever overcome her problems. I answered that we will work through them conjointly and noted that we are blessed to have her parents’ support for our sessions together.