I have wanted to be a therapist since I was a young child. Being from a large family, I enjoyed watching how different personalities function. Even at a tender age, I intuitively understood how family is the best way to learn to love and give unconditionally.
I have five children of my own now. It is eye opening. Parenting is challenging and you can feel so vulnerable. To keep my sanity, I focus on the fact that it gives me even more opportunities to love, give and grow.
What is the most important thing parents should know about parenting?
Teach through example and role modeling. That’s what makes parenting really tough. It’s not about the kids but about us! That being said, I really believe it’s ok for kids to know that parents are human (that comes as a shock to some!). Parents can make mistakes and apologize for them. We cannot always be perfect. We can model acceptance of our weaknesses while simultaneously working towards change and improvement. That teaches children a life skill that is invaluable.
What is your basic parenting philosophy?
I want to help my children understand and celebrate who they are, knowing both their strengths and challenges. I want my children to learn to manage and cope in the greater world without losing their inner essence, their uniqueness.
What do you love most about being a parent?
It is a beautiful journey. I love getting to know and understand each of my children. I enjoy trying to learn what each child is about. I try not to make assumptions about what a child might be experiencing. I love playing sports and goofing around with my husband and kids. I love those moments when I am about to melt down (adult version!)and I get a wet, ketchupy kiss from a child who just senses that sometimes “mommies” can need a hug too!
Being a therapist puts you in the position of helping parents all the time. What is the biggest problem that parents have today?
Parents have a hard time letting their children tolerate discomfort. I think children need support to help them manage their problems, but they need to experience problems in order to learn how to handle obstacles. Parents have to sometimes help their child take ownership of the problem and navigate their way through it: tough situations teach kids life skills.
Parents also expend a lot of energy in trying to PROVE why they are RIGHT and the child WRONG. It’s better to hear what children have to say and then come up with solutions that take both the child and adult’s perspective into account. Parents can be successful setting limits and boundaries while still validating a child’s experience.
What do you love most about what you do?
My clients teach me a lot about life. I see what it means to have strength when it seems like there wouldn’t be any left, to love in very difficult circumstances. I now fully understand the beauty of different personalities; how rich and colorful our world is. I have witnessed courage in the simple act of asking and coming to me for help. I have learned the journey of self discovery can be tough but very meaningful.