In observing literally hundreds of family systems over the course of my professional career, I have noticed repeating patterns – which is not unusual since that is what I am trained to do. The patterns that have emerged however, are not the ones I expected.
Many parents would approach me about their children’s difficulty in school. I would meet with these kids and I would be amazed by their great personalities and cognitive abilities. Some do display what we call ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), yet most of them did not. So what is it that is creating these challenges?
We all share more or less the same brain with the same capacity for learning, processing and containing information. These kids seem smart, intelligent, caring and compassionate each in their own way.
What I came to observe is this: The key difference is the ‘type of information’ that an individual is trying to process that can be challenging and hence, obstructing other information which the child has to process.
We are talking about information that seems bothersome, difficult, or complex in a way that does not seem to make sense. I don’t mean math, English literature, or world history. I am talking about events and situations that are of a personal, familial nature – things that happened either to the child or that he/she heard about. This also includes events and situations that the child had nothing to do with and is not even consciously aware of, issues that the parents have not successfully coped with or resolved.
Why would children be affected by issues that are not theirs but their parents?
There is a term that explains this phenomena called “blind love”. Starting from birth, there is an imbalance in giving and receiving. A child has nothing to give back to their parents except for a smile or a “thank you” and that only if one is taught to do so. In order for a child to equal out this imbalance, he or she subconsciously involves him or herself in parental and familial issues and is trying to help resolve them. This can go as far as the child sacrificing him/herself in order to rescue his/her parents.
An example of this is when parents get divorced. Children oftentimes start to act out because they know that if there is trouble, the parents will come together. This step is taken out of compassion and love for both parents and in trying to keep their bond alive.
I recently worked with a teenager who had 16 issues to deal with that had nothing to do with homework, but stemming from the family system.
We actually now know that the human brain handles tasks in a sequential manner. It switches back and forth between tasks and although this happens very rapidly, the human brain is distracted from one task while it is focusing on another.
Imagine if you had 16 issues that seemed irresolvable as a teenager while trying to do your homework or focus in class?
The most important people in our lives are our parents and our extended family. If they are in trouble we are concerned, and yes, distracted until these issue are resolved.
This is where my plea to parents comes in. If your children are struggling in school, don’t blame them and don’t blame the teachers; they are not psychologists. They already have a lot on their plate teaching your children and managing the classroom.
Take an honest look at your life and at all the unresolved issues you are facing. They are most likely affecting your family and your children. Unresolved issues do not necessarily affect all of your children. Oftentimes the most compassionate child will take on the role of the rescuer.
Luckily there is a treatment modality called “Family Constellations” that is addressing this very issue of what is called “entanglements”. Issues that are not ours but for which we feel a deep entrenched responsibility are shown in their original context when they served a positive purpose (like protection, or safety). These can now be safely be disengaged and life can move forward in an affirming direction.
Remember that your child is not the IP (Identified Patient), the family system is the IP and the unresolved issues are needing a closer look. Professional help is available for you right now to relieve your child and yourself from these burdens. For your child’s future and for your family, please seek that help and contact me.