Tag Archives: therapeutic parenting

Therapeutic Parenting

Today we bring you a piece from @ivavnuk who shares some thoughts on therapeutic parenting.

I’m going to write to try and figure out what it is that makes me so deeply uncomfortable with the phrase ‘therapeutic parenting’.

What I like about it is the idea that we can help our children through the way we interact with them.

In fact helping someone through skilful means is a potential that I would extend to all of our relationships – even the transient relationship that is a momentary encounter with a stranger.

So the idea of having a therapeutic affect on someone is something I rather like. In fact I love helping people. So nothing against ‘therapeutic’.

But when the word is put together with ‘parenting’ – ‘therapeutic parenting’……. Oooo it makes me squirm. 

It makes me think of all those lovely people on Twitter who say they are ‘trying to do it therapeutically’ and berate themselves when they don’t meet or maintain that standard. It makes me think of those who clearly give so much and then ask the groups permission to be a person who has their own dignity, or feelings, or limits.

You see – I think there is a world of difference between therapeutic parenting and a parent who employs some skilful means that helps their child.

I think therapeutic parenting speaks of a standard, a type, a style of parenting…. Are you therapeutic or not? I feel it builds self expectation and a measure. It seems to turn being a parent into being a parent and a therapist.

My problems with that include:

A therapist gets to go home, their professional obligations are balanced by the space they can retreat into.

As a messed up child – I wanted an authentic parent, not a therapist. If I got therapy through their authenticity, happy days 🙂 but not the other way around.

We are whole people – parenting is a subset of our total identity, just as ‘therapeutic’ is a subset of our parenting.

All of this may be seen as semantics I guess – but when I see great parents, great people, struggle with their parenting – judging themselves poorly against that therapeutic standard – well it troubles me deeply.

Will I have to choose between them?

Today’s problem comes from adoptive mum Rachel, who is worried about the way her husband is parenting their son…if you have any advice, or have been through something similar, please do share your experiences too.

ProblemI’m really struggling with my husband at the moment. He knows about attachment, he knows about therapeutic parenting, he knows our son’s background, and he knows that our son is very good at identifying and pushing buttons, but…he just can’t put it into practise.

We’ve been a family, him, me and our son for 5 years. We’re not new adopters, and I’ve been on many courses and fed back to my husband (unfortunately he just can’t get the time off to attend himself), he’s come to therapy when he can, and he’s even read and watched Dan Hughes (isn’t YouTube great?!).

He just can’t implement it. I really struggle to see him getting so cross at our son – shouting sometimes, sending him to his room, physically removing our son from situations, rather than moving himself into another room. It undoes all the hard work that I put in. It scares our son.

I’m worried that we’ll soon be at the point where I have to choose between them. Losing his father will be traumatic for our son, but surely this behaviour is just as damaging?