Who Has the Power?

Whitney Storey, MS, PLPC, CBE | Counselor | Family | Parenting

Since I am a mother and one of my specialties is parenting, I have parents reach out to me and ask if I can counsel their children, and they are usually pretty surprised when I say no. How can I be an expert in parenting and say that I love helping families when I won't work with children? The answer to this question is actually pretty simple.

When you consider your own family, regardless of what (or who) the "problem" is, who has the power?

When family systems are in trouble, it can be strange to consider the concept of power. It's more natural for the focus to be on the weakness (the problem) of the family. This is how we handle most medical issues, for example. We have sinus pressure and a runny nose, so we go to the doctor and they prescribe an antibiotic, and the problem goes away. We are all good!

But what if what you are going through - what if that person you struggle with - isn't a problem to be solved?

This is why I believe in exploring the difficulties of a family system through the lens of power.

When folks their issues with their child, it can feel like the problem is with the child alone, and so treatment should then be focused on the child. But when we look through the lens of power, it looks different. A child within a family system has almost no power. They are totally dependent on us for everything - their food, shelter, transportation. If I feel hungry at any time of the day, I can go to the pantry and get a snack. If my child feels hungry, they have to ask permission and I may or may not allow them to get a snack.

Children move about their day completely powerless at all times.

In the past when I worked with middle- and high-school aged people, it felt as if no matter how much good we would do together in our sessions, they were going back home to the same environment. When parents and guardians are the ones with the power, they are the people who can then make the changes necessary for their children and the family system to improve.

Parents: This is good news for us!

This means that you don't have to wait for things to get better.

You get to be an active participant and improve your family. You can help your child and improve the relationship between yourself and your child(ren) in a way that feels impossible when your mind is fused with the problem by recognizing the power you already have.

This ability to shift your focus from the problem to being the healer in your family can seem daunting, and so seeking expertise is essential.

We all want to be the best parents we can be for our children, and usually that means being the kind of parent we needed when we were young. If you were lucky enough to have great parents, you have a strong foundation for the needs of your own children. If, on the other hand, you had parents whose struggles got in their way, you have a strong foundation in knowing what you don't want for your own kids.

If you would like to impact your family system as a healer, fully stepping into your power, I would love to walk along side you in this journey.

Whitney Storey, MS, PLPC, CBE | Therapist | Lafayette, LA

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