Wednesday, February 15, 2012

You may be hurting your child and not even know it.

At one point in my life I dreamed of being a child psychologist. That is why I spent many wasted valuable semesters in college taking psychology courses. I also dreamed of being a chef and took a lot of those classes too. How I ended up in Marketing/Public Relations is beyond me.

Dreams aside, I'm still very interested in the topic of psychology, therapy, child development etc... If you know me well, you've probably heard me state on more than one occasion my belief that anyone and everyone could benefit from professional therapy. It's a very true statement.

So, when I happen to see this little segment on Studio 5 the other day, I knew I had to share it. I found it very interesting, educational and enlightening. It was actually a subject I had been thinking about recently. As a young mom, I believe my most important job is to prepare my children spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally for "the world". It's funny to think that what we really do as moms, is spend everyday preparing our children to grow up and leave lead a healthy happy life as an adult. That being said, I'm conscious every day of the things I'm doing or not doing that could have a lasting effect on their overall well being.

I would love for everyone to watch the video and let me know your thoughts! The video give much more detail and insight than the notes below.

You may be hurting your child and not even know it.

Therapist, Julie Hanks, says parents, especially moms, un-intentionally use their kids to meet their emotional needs. We have the warning signs.

 5 Signs That You Are Too Close To Your Child 
· All of these apply to all ages of children as well as adult children
· In my practice, this is the most common unintentional way that parents hurt their children.
· Children generally don't even realize that this dynamic has contributed to their current distress.
· In my clinical practice this is more common with mothers & children than with fathers, but does happen with fathers.

1) Your child knows your secrets.  
Tip: Leave child out of details of your personal problems. Examples: Child/teen knows what you can't stand about husband. Adult child knows that you're hiding money from spouse.

2) Your child is your emotional sounding board.  
Solution: Share problems with peers or professionals.  Example: Complain to child or adult child about chronic health problems. Venting feelings of anger toward ex-spouse to child.

3) Your child is your best or only friend.
Solution: Develop and diversify peer relationships. Examples: Young adult female client feels guilty for leaving mom, going off to college, moving out. Teen feels guilty for going out on weekends "leaving" single mom at home.

4) You rely on your child for adult responsibilities.
Solution: You manage the household, or ask other adults for help. Examples: Your child acts as primary caregiver for younger siblings. Adult child manages parent's finances.

5) Your child is your primary source of comfort.  
Solution: Focus on comforting your child and seek comfort from adult peers or professionals. Examples: Call and vent to adult child about depression but refuses counseling. When distressed they call child and exclude your spouses.

Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW is a therapist, self & relationship expert, media contributor and director of Wasatch Family Therapy. Visit for individual, couple, family, & group counseling services designed to strengthen you and your family. We treat mental health and relationship problems in children, adolescents, and adults. Now open in Provo! For additional emotional health & relationship resources connect with Julie at

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Emman said...

I can totally relate to the journey of dreaming about a career in child psychology—I, too, spent countless semesters immersed in psychology courses with a vision of making a difference in children's lives. Life has its twists, and like you, I found myself in Marketing/Public Relations. It's funny how our paths unfold!

On a related note, if anyone is looking for Melbourne children's psychology resources, I recently came across some valuable insights that might be helpful. Understanding and supporting our children's mental health is so crucial, and finding the right resources can make a big difference.

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