I have just come from our therapist’s office and am feeling much calmer. You read that right: Dr. Joan is in therapy.
It all started when my husband and I began struggling, badly, with one of our kids who was displaying signs of Attention Deficit Disorder: lack of focus at school, outbursts at home, blaming others for his problems, lying about homework. My husband and I knew that this was an ongoing problem, but it all came to a head as our 10 year-old child entered a grade at school where everything gets moved up a notch and he began to struggle. Being a psychologist, you’d think I would have gotten everything under control immediately, right?
What I got instead was pain in my neck (literally), grinding teeth at night, feelings of hopelessness, and fighting with my mild-mannered husband. One of my best friends gave me sage advice on the phone the other day: “Maybe it’s time to cry uncle and get some help.” After 3 sessions as a couple with a licensed therapist, an evaluation for ADD by a trained professional for our child, following the Total Focus techniques from Dr. Bob Myers (who happens to be Empowering Parents’ own ADD/ADHD specialist), a good massage therapist and a mouth guard for my teeth, I feel like we are on our way.
Do I have all the answers yet No. Do we know what is going to happen next week with our wonderful, creative, sometimes annoying child. Absolutely not. Have I stopped grinding my teeth Almost. The point is, my family is coming out of a crisis with a child whom we love, but don’t always know how to handle.
My guess is that everyone reading this has had — or will have — a similar experience at some point as a parent. The whole point of baring my soul here is to let you know that you are not alone. Every day, thousands of parents struggle to just make it through the day with their kids and this is probably the most difficult thing you will go through. But I will share some other news with you: having a plan has made all the difference in the world to my own mental health, my marriage, and my teeth. We still don’t know exactly what we’re going to do with my son (Do we try medication or do we continue on with our cognitive-behavioral strategies and see how they go) but at least now we know what our options are.
If you are struggling with your child, I strongly recommend that you develop a plan today. This can be as simple as calling your pediatrician and making an appointment to meet with him or her to talk about what issues your family is facing. Start there, and discover what is available to you and your child. You will be amazed at how much lighter you feel by simply unloading your sadness, anger, frustration and hopelessness. If I can do this, trust me, you can too. There is nothing more humbling than being a psychologist and realizing that you don’t have ANY of the answers to help your child. And there is nothing more empowering than asking for help and realizing that you are not alone.
Life is too short and children are too precious of a commodity to not get them the help they need. There is no reason to suffer in silence any longer. Pick up your phone today and discover the world of help that is waiting for you.
About Dr. Joan Simeo Munson
Dr. Joan Simeo Munson earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver. She has worked with incarcerated individuals, families, adolescents, and college students in a variety of settings, including county and city jails, community mental health centers, university counseling centers, and hospitals. She also has a background in individual, group, and couples counseling. Dr. Munson lives in Colorado with her husband and three energetic children. She currently has a private practice in Boulder where she sees adults, couples and adolescents.