Family Addiction Recovery: A Blog
A new book argues that parents need to focus more on themselves and less on their children.
I felt for the preschooler in the park whose mother issued a steady stream of instructions: “Go down the slide, put your shoes on, be careful, stay out of the dirt.”
When he eyed me and my dog with curiosity, I responded. “Would you like to throw the ball for my dog? She’d love it!” I said.
He picked up the ball and gave it a few squeezes, but his mother had more instructions: “Don’t squeeze the ball, throw it. Throw it over there. Throw it hard.” There wasn’t much breathing room for the child to explore the ball, his throwing ability, the dog, or just a friendly interpersonal exchange. However well-intentioned, this “playtime” seemed more about the parent.
In her fourth book, The Awakened Family: A Revolution in Parenting, She argues that parenting should be focused more on developing parents’ maturity—and less on children themselves.
Children come into the world naturally “awake,” or aware of who they truly are, claims Tsabary. The problems that show up in children—anxiety, behavior problems, resistance—are not of their doing, but are really manifestations of problems with parents who are not sufficiently enlightened, awake, or conscious, according to Tsabary. She may have a point: If the mother of that preschooler continues to be so controlling, I can well imagine a future for them of conflict and resistance.
Despite the word “revolution” in the title, the message of Awakened Family is not new—but it does bear repeating.
For at least a hundred years, clinicians, scholars, and even poets have called for a shift in the focus of parenting away from the children and onto the parents. The Swiss psychologist Alice Miller wrote extensively about the ways that parents who were physically or psychologically harmed as children unconsciously pass on their wounds. Scholars validated the intergenerational transmission of trauma, linking child abuse to later adult violence. Family therapists found that many of children’s behavior problems go away when parents alone receive counseling. And last month, at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, developmental scientist Alison Gopnik urged parents to nurture but not shape their children, and to back down from the pervasive supervision, control, and directiveness of today’s intense parenting.
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In a Q&A, neuroscientist Ron Dahl explains how parents can help older teens avoid depression and anxiety as they become more independent.
As a parent of adolescents, I’ve often worried about their health and happiness. They seem to be under a lot of social and academic pressure, suggesting they need more guidance from me to help them get through. But how can I support their independence and autonomy while making sure they don’t fall through the cracks or become depressed or anxious?
To find out more about how parents can best help their budding teenagers, I spoke with Ron Dahl, a neuroscientist and professor of human health and development at the University of California, Berkeley.
Dahl, one of the leading experts on adolescent development, has spent years studying depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders in adolescence, using intervention studies and, more recently, fMRI technology to increase our understanding of what’s going on. His findings have helped uncover the neural underpinnings of adolescence and have led to some interesting discoveries about the role of social supports in teen life. They point the way toward helping our young teens get what they truly need during this very risky yet exciting time of life.
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According to new research, children who experience mindful parenting are less likely to use drugs or get depression or anxiety.
Mindfulness has been gaining traction as a way of improving individual well-being, from our health to our happiness and resilience. But according to critics, some mindfulness practitioners focus too much on self-improvement, to the point of becoming self-absorbed.
Now, two new research studies paint a different picture, suggesting that mindfulness may also help improve the well-being of others in our lives—in particular, our children—if we truly practice it.
In one study, researchers at the University of Vermont surveyed over 600 parents of children ages 3-17 to see how mindfulness related to their children’s well-being. Parents reported on their trait mindfulness (how mindful they are in everyday interactions), mindfulness in parenting (how attentive, non-judging, and non-reacting they are in interactions with their children), and positive versus negative parenting practices (for example, expressing unconditional love and setting limits versus using harsh physical punishments). They also reflected on their kid’s typical coping styles—if they tended to become anxious or depressed or act out in disruptive ways, like hitting or yelling during difficult situations.
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Timothy Harrington is passionate about helping family members of the addicted loved one awaken to their own power and purpose.