“Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.”
Today’s post is about psychotherapists. I understand their is to heal the patient, to listen to them non-judgmentally, and to help them see their lives in a perspective that they had not before (and thus be ready to fix their problems and improve their lives) – hopefully, not be too quick to issue diagnoses or fancy labels. I, myself, have been seen two therapists in my life as a young adult. I had benefited very much from working with them and don’t feel “crazy” for having done so and still being open to psychotherapy work. I also feel that psychotherapy hits one of three taboos in Chinese culture: mental health, sex, and sexual orientation. Being a 2nd Chinese American adult and pursuing psychotherapy was frowned on by my family: I had a healthy upbringing and a good education, so why would I have problems? That is an aside, as the main thing I wanted to focus on is:
Therapists pushing the envelop to make you want to be angry with your parents.
Yes, no one has had grown up with a perfect childhood and no parent or pair of parents are perfect. However, to see two people who devoted the greater part of their lives to raise me (and my sibling) from infancy until adulthood with the best love and care they could manage and then try to be angry with them? You got to be kidding me.
I wonder if it is part of therapists’ training to try to blame and scapegoat your parents for all of your problems or is it same cheap tactic to earn them more money while you lie on that couch balling about how you were spanked when you 8 years old for stealing a brownie.
When I took a Philosophy of Education class in 2002, some of the interesting philosophies came from John Locke and Maxine Greene. John Locke believed adulthood involved a period of self-education; it is the adult’s responsibility to fix themselves and fulfill whatever inadequacies they lacked in childhood. Childhood has finished and it’s our responsibility to complete the task. Maxine Greene believed that the greatest value in education was the ability to create agency in one’s life; to be empowered to make whatever changes need to create the best life possible. Under those two frameworks of thought, this places all of the responsibility for growth, fixing our problems, and unearthing our lessons on us as adults and not dwelling on the past or pointing fingers.
Now fast forward to my mid 20s and then later early 30s I’ve had both of my therapists attempt to cajole me into having some anger at my father specifically for a few negative experiences I’ve had in the past. My father may be imperfect, but he does care for me and he is a good person. I refused to take the bait both times as I’ve realized that no upbringing is perfect and my problems are my problems alone – not anyone else’s. In addition, I’ve had a mentor growing up who had been very critical of my father’s parenting style as well – he was a psychologist by trade. All three of them made the statement and followed up with some insistence that I lay some blame on my father which I never took.
I had never suffered abuse from their hands, I had a perfect childhood, and I graduated college without worrying about debt afterward. Need there be more that can be expected from my parents?I wonder if there is a flaw in psychotherapy training or is that really the go-to when they try to explain behavior, problems, or the “root” of issues.
Appreciate and love your parents. I had quarreled with them for some 14 years since becoming an adult due to differences in values, but I had never blamed them for anything slices of the pie that I have brought in. We do get along just fine now, but healing and responsibility and true empowerment always comes back to us.
As Serenity Prayer says:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”
Have a good day! 😀