Helping Families Help Their Kids
Faith communities are uniquely positioned to provide parents with resources.
Here at FRrē, we partner with churches and spiritual and faith communities to provide resources to families struggling with their relationships in the family system. Often, the issues causing distress center around adolescents and parents. Teenagers today are experiencing a lot of stress, and when it comes out in challenging behavior, parents are often at a loss for what to do.
Some of the topics we’re hearing about from our faith community partners that are causing parents worry include:
- Technology use and abuse
- Communication, or lack thereof
- Chemical use and drinking
- Stress and pressure to be overscheduled
- Getting into college
Tools for the whole family
Oftentimes, faith community leaders will hear from parents concerned about their children’s mental health or behavior. And those leaders know what we know: that when one person in a family system is struggling, the whole family system struggles.
For example, a mother is at her wit’s end because her overscheduled teenage son is lashing out in anger at family members. The mother, wanting to keep the peace, is enabling the behavior by walking on eggshells around her son and trying to keep him away from situations that could set him off. This would affect other members of the family and perhaps how they treat each other. A pastor, priest or lay minister recognizes that there’s more going on in this family than a moody teenager. The whole family has found their own ways of adapting to the situation, and the whole family needs to recover from it.
It’s a lot to ask of a teenager to reach out for help on his or her own accord, so often parents seek help from faith community leaders, and that’s a good thing. The family gets some support and most importantly, learns tools and techniques they can use to heal themselves, which often sparks the whole family to improve.
Improving family communication
One of the skills we teach in the seminars we hold at churches and with our clients in workshops is conjoint communication. This is a model developed by Pia Mellody, from The Meadows in Arizona. It is very tempting to confront and explode with threats and even intimidation when we find evidence of a behavioral problem. An approach employing good boundaries, responsibility of our own thoughts and feelings and clear communication can be a more effective start to dialog.
“When I was doing the laundry and found a Juul pod (vaping device) in your pocket, what I made up is that you are harming yourself and possibly using drugs, and about that I am terrified,” is way more effective than “What the hell are you doing vaping?”
It’s amazing how parents with just a bit of coaching benefit enormously from learning some new communication tools they can put to use immediately. And faith community leaders hearing from worried parents benefit from knowing about the resources available to help heal entire family systems, even when the family member at the focal point of the issue is unable or unwilling to seek help for themselves.
Are you a faith community leader seeking resources for families struggling with relational issues? We’d be happy to conduct a seminar for your parent groups, free of charge. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a consultation.