Raising a child can be enormously challenging and is frequently a cause for couples and families to seek therapy.
Child on Father's Shoulders

Whether people are experienced parents or not, many factors can cause family strife. The family relationships may be stressed and unprepared for the changed lifestyle resulting from the new child. Counseling can help with these parenting problems. Therapy sessions may consist of the children, parents, or any combination of family members.

Issues encountered in counseling include an imbalance of parental power, different styles of parenting, substance abuse, violence, childhood mental illness, developmental stage interruption, physical abuse, technology misuse, family systems dysfunction, or marital conflict.

Interestingly, the person that is often brought in and identified as the problem is not actually the root of the real issue. This misperception by the parents will be uncovered in therapy and usually is met with resistance or denial by one or more family members.

Children are sometimes resistant to meeting with a counselor and may report they are in therapy because they were required by parents to be there. Often, parents have conflicting rules and the child becomes confused or angry. Parents may try to please children without having adequate structure and boundaries in the relationship. If the parents are not getting along with each other, one or both may be deflecting blame or anger to the “problem” child. One parent may have more power or influence in the marriage and abuses this with the spouse and child.

Divorce or separations are difficult transitions for children and financial issues can also cause them stress.

Many couples issues will influence a child who is “triangulated” into the problematic marital relationship and will affect them negatively.

Substance abuse by a parent will usually have a negative effect on parenting and children are often forced to defend or accommodate the abuser on a daily basis. This leads to anger, resentment, and negative behaviors by children. Alcoholic parents can create a chaotic and unpredictable home life. Mental illness, legal issues and family and couples problems all will affect a child when caused by substance abuse.

Mental illness suffered by a parent or child, if not treated, normally has great influence on the effectiveness of a parent. Societal stigma surrounding a mental disorder often leads to denial or resistance by parents. A child’s need for medication is often an unpleasant topic for fathers and mothers, who may resist considering this option.

Normal developmental stages of a child can be interrupted or damaged by poor parenting, specifically related to physical and sexual abuse, neglect and substance abuse. Physical and sexual abuse towards children especially leads to anger, violence, poor self-esteem and lack of trust.

Technology overuse or addiction in children can be very damaging to their brain development, speech, and learning abilities. Language deficits are possible and school avoidance and social anxiety often result. Social cues may not be learned and interpersonal problems also can arise with peers. Sleep is impaired and over-stimulation of the brain is difficult for parents to address. Parenting abilities suffer when children are addicted to or abuse technology. Cyber relationships are frequently inferior to face-to-face contact in children. When abused by parents, technology is often cited in divorce filings and detrimental to children. Technology addiction is a formally recognized disorder in the psychiatric field and is included in the main psychiatric reference guide, the DSM-5.

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