As a practicing psychotherapist and a former teacher with over 15 years experience working with children, adolescents, and even infants with what is considered to be mental health disorders, I have developed an increasing area of concern as it relates to how we as adults, and a nation are treating the gems of our future. Overworked, and oftentimes stressed out adults are seeking the help of healing professionals, inclusive of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and social workers to help them handle the increasing concerns children present with in the school setting, at home, and within their social environment.
Perhaps this is driven from the often highly publicized, rare incidents of extreme violence that have gained national media attention from individual, rare cases of extreme emotional volatility within the mental status of a few children who had severe pathology present; or perhaps it is due to out natural human plight to make sense of things that go wrong. Nevertheless, Generation Why is present, we are in the process of shaping their futures, and it relates to directly to our incapacity as parents, teachers, and healing professionals to help them make sense of the dark forest that surrounds the journey to find their voice, their purpose, and the simple act of enjoying the journey rather than the end product of the destination travelled.
In the journey of life, development, and our natural tendency towards an individuated state, it is natural to begin questioning the authority of the generation that precedes us. This tendency teaches us to navigate, and ultimately learn from the successes, failures, mistakes, and accomplishments of those teachers the new generation seeks to usurp. However, in today’s fast paced environment of self-absorption, lack of time, and difficulties focusing on one task at hand versus the need to stay busy, busy, busy, we have forced our adult stresses onto the children we seek to assist.
Far too often, I see a divide between parental, teacher, and a child’s expectations. While a child cannot be expected, nor is it advisable to have them control their decisions in a manner that removes adult responsibility, I nevertheless see a dangerous interaction between teacher and parental stress and the increased use of mental health professionals, medications, and justice related controls as a means to curb natural childhood behaviors in name of creating a less stressful environment for the adults who are ultimately responsible to take care of the child’s emotional, educational, and developmental needs.
As a professional, I no longer see the natural innocence of childhood inquiry honored. It is something that does not fit into the busy nature of our fast paced society, where we must multitask 50 texts, emails, and phone calls before we can even enjoy having a breakfast meal with our child(ren). Our need to navigate multiple and often conflicting schedules conflicts with our parental duties to spend time, and pass on the familial values we find important. This is further mitigated by the social acceptance and need of many families to have both parents from the home just to keep pace with our most basic need to survive and earn a decent living. In the end, the responsibility of raising children simply “slips through the cracks,” as social, educational, and ultimately family values are put off in the pursuit of other, more tangible, and oftentimes more materialistic goals. Children’s “think outside the box” predisposition is no longer seen as a strength. Instead, it has been made an area of concern, and is now viewed from the lens of being a series of disorders that are to be treated, medicated, killed, and dispelled from their growing systems as a means to force adherence to values that may, or may not become the values their generation cherishes.
Why do children tax our utmost reserves to help them be the successes we dream them to become? How have we got to this point, where we can legally poison our children with Amphetamines in the plight to make them more compliant in the school, home, and social settings? How are we assuring their success? Or are we Failing our Youth Forward by denying them the ability to enjoy the journey through the dark forest as the means by which they arrive to the destination, where even the Buddha said, “It is better to travel well than to arrive.”
In Generation Why? Travels through the Dark Forest of Failing our Youth Forward! I will explore mental health, child development, and our need to help our children navigate the dark paths of growing up, so they can become successes in their own rights. In this blog, I will offer parents discernible insight, and interventions on how to approach your child’s development from a growth oriented, rather than an illness based perspective. We will not explore boring statistics regarding ADHD, Oppositional Defiance, Aspergers, Childhood Bipolar Disorder, or a number of other diagnoses you have probably been exposed to through growing media attention on cases that are ultimately few, and far between as a means to bastardize the plight children go through to make sense of their emerging self concept. Instead, the behaviors most commonly associated with these disorders will be reviewed thoroughly, normalized as aspects from where healthy growth can occur through productive family treatment modalities and interventions, that will ultimately assist you, your spouse, and loved ones to better understand your children, while helping them grow to advance confidently in the direction of their dreams. Please check in regularly, and openly share the insight attained from these posts if you enjoy.
Dr. Thomas Maples