I was in distress over the situation with our son and
voiced out loud to my husband, “I feel adequate to deal with
physical challenges, but not emotional ones. I don’t like that
our family is in need of this kind of help.” Despite being a
psychology major, the idea of a mind and body connection was
foreign to me. My husband wisely replied, “We don’t get to
choose.” During my boy’s first appointment with the
counselor, I cried and cried. Somewhere along the way I
internalized a false belief that reaching out for help in the area
of mental and emotional health is a type of weakness or failure.
How misguided I was. The truth is that getting help was a huge
relief. We needed it. Things were happening that we didn’t
have the tools to address, and our children and family would
suffer if I let my pride stand in the way of reaching out for
The therapist who helped our son once gently brought
up to me my own role in our family dynamic, but I wasn’t ready
to hear or accept this reality. It would come, but not yet. This
counselor asked me if I made it a point to offer praise and
encouragement to my boy. The honest answer was “rarely.”
Despite an overall discomfort with Dr. James Dobson’s
parenting advice, one helpful idea that I heard from him is that
for every negative or corrective interaction we have with our
children, we should have five positive or encouraging
exchanges. I was extremely out of balance on this scale. Many
of the mother and son exchanges in our home were corrective
or critical. It took a conscious effort for me to listen to the
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