An Open Letter to Parents in my Office

May 18, 2015 by Anna Bohlinger, PHD, LMFT

By: Anna Bohlinger, MS, LAMFT Needs Assessment Counselor/Therapist

Dear Parent,

First of all, thank you for being here. Speaking on behalf of your future kiddo, thank you for taking the time, showing the concern, and doing the hard thing in being here for them. I know that 9 times out of 10, your kid DOES NOT WANT to be in my office. That’s okay. It’s hard doing things that are good for us a lot of the time, and people don’t come to needs assessments when everything is going great. So, on behalf of your kid who will make it to the other side of this, thank you for being here for being here now.

The main reason I’m writing is because I want you to know that you’re doing a good job. I know that no one plans on parenting a kid who has mental health challenges. I know that these diseases can hide our kids from us, they can make our kids do things that are out of character, and can make us feel scared sometimes, or even angry. All of those feelings are okay to have. Having those feelings doesn’t change that you’re doing the right thing now in asking for help.

I also know that just as most of the kids who come into my office don’t want to be there, most of the parents who come with them worry that they caused their kids’ problems. Any of the providers that you’ll work with after me will tell you that mental health symptoms are caused by a multitude of factors, and it’s never one thing that causes a diagnosis. Just as your child’s mental health team will work with a lot of different things to help get them back to themselves, like medications, improving coping skills, processing past trauma or other challenges, and making meaning of this particular big or small bump in the road, you will be a part of your child’s recovery. Even right now, when you don’t know what to make of the things that are bringing you here at 2 o’clock on Tuesday, time off from work and an early pick up from school, even right now, you are part of your child’s recovery.

When you come to a needs assessment, you’re not just asking for help. You’re showing your child in this deeply meaningful way (although they may not express it so clearly now,) that it is okay to ask for help. You are modeling vulnerability, courage, and strength.

In the best of circumstances, parenting can bring out the best and worst in us. You can’t parent without bravery, and you especially can’t parent a kid with mental health challenges without courage.

So to you, courageous, kind, and honest parent, thank you for being here today. I’m so glad that you were able to come.



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