Question: My son’s therapist keeps telling me what to do, or that I’m not doing the right things at home. But my son is the one with the problem, why all this focus on me?
Answer: You are working hard to manage a difficult situation, and you clearly care about your son because you are bringing him to therapy, but your own stress and exhaustion may cause you to aggravate his behavior even though you don’t intend to. My guess is that the therapist is trying to tell you how to change your parenting or communication style so that your son’s stress is reduced. This can be a hard message to take when you know you’re doing everything you can, plus you can’t be sure your son is honest in session.
The problem I’ve seen with therapists is that they often don’t know how to talk to parents about parenting issues without sounding like they are making presumptions and blaming the parent for the child’s problems. A good therapist or doctor will show compassion for a stressed parent, and listen to their side of the story. Then take the time to explain exactly what the parent might do differently, and why.
Try giving this therapist a chance first, and ask him or her if you can meet without your son present, and request that they fully explain the reasoning behind their advice. Let them know that this has been hard for you and you’ve felt blamed, and that you need their support. Then listen carefully. If you’re still not convinced of their point, ask them for the title of a book that you can read in privacy and decide for yourself if it applies to you. Another way to check is to find a parents’ group if one is available, and hear how other parents deal with a challenging child. If none of your efforts clarify things for you, and if you feel that you can’t work with this therapist, you might consider finding someone who has a better approach to your situation.