Please fix our children
We are studying a case study/paper submitted by Jenny Brown, ( firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.thefsi.com.au , and please visit her website for more information and for the article published) named, “We don’t need your help, but will you please fix our children.”
It could be the other way around. “I don’t need your help, but could you please fix my aging parents.” Jenny makes the point of us living in a society which loves to diagnose a problem in a person (child, parent), and then goes to someone who can fix it, “for us.” In the whole “fixing program” the parents don’t want to be involved, after all, it is not them who have the problem. What the “experts” could do, is to advise the parents how to deal with the problem.
We seem to find comfort to know where the problem lies, and, as expected by society, it lies within a person. Whether it is biological or in a deep seated, buried experience somewhere in the brain, or emotions - whatever we call it, it helps to “know,” so to speak.
But, what if there is another way of thinking about my child who is showing up functioning a way that makes it difficult for all of us in the family. It even becomes difficult for society to deal with “him/her.”
What if we think of a child, not apart from parents, but part of parents. We will have to change our way of “looking” and “thinking” about the child. What if the child(ren) and the parents are “one” emotional system, one piece. So much so, that when something shows up in “one” of the pieces of the emotional system, or, one member, then it is telling us of something going on in the system. Let’s call the system simply what it is, a family.
If we think more this way, and different it is, for society’s thinking is the opposite, then the “symptoms” or problems that shows up in the child are actually embedded in patterns that exists in the family. What does these patters look like, for we can see it. They show up as “reactions to” what the other members of the family does, and even as “reactions to” society.
You could argue, “but the symptoms have a biological basis!” Yes, but even so, they are still viewed as being impacted by the degree to which the child is anxiously focused on and how the child responds in the reciprocal patterns that emerges. Think of it this way. The more “sick” my child is, the more I focus on her. I don't "normally" think this way, but my focus on my child makes my child reacts in a specific way that could become a pattern, over time. A pattern can be observed and described as something that "goes on between us." Simply said, I have a lot to do with what is going on in/with my child. I play a part in what she is doing, or, reacting to.
Dr.Michael Kerr uses the example of a young dolphin who, having been too pressured by her trainer to conform, withdraws and refuses to eat. “When a similar phenomenon occurs with an adolescent human female, the cause of the withdrawal and refusal to eat is generally ascribed to a psychological conflict. In the case of the dolphin, it is easier to recognize that, in addition to psychological elements, there is a biological or emotional wiring that underlies her response. Perhaps it is easier to recognize a biological component in the dolphin than in the human because we are not able to ask the dolphin why she does not eat. When we ask human beings why they do what they do, we are expecting a psychological explanation” (see more of Michael Kerr in Family Evaluations, p.31ff).
We invite you to the reading of Jenny Brown’s article, as a way of being introduced to a “systems” way of thinking. A systems way of thinking is quite the opposite than a “linear” way that looks for causes. With a linear way there are supposed to be a “cause” for the “effect” that is visible in my child, or, the problem that is showing up in my child has a cause which should lie within my child. If it is not within my child, then I look for it somewhere else, the friends she has are “bad,” or whatever I can find to be a cause.
Pastor John Haycock