Numerous books have been written for adults who grew up coping with troubled and difficult parents. This newly revised second edition expands the information in the previous edition by updating current knowledge that provides a thorough overview for children who are coping with difficult and/or troubled parents. Two chapters have been added. The first addresses parents who have difficult personalities. These parents are not openly abusive or obviously neglectful to their kids but are overprotective, perfectionists, and immature. The kinds of problems that a parent’s troubles can cause and ideas on how to deal constructively with the challenges is discussed. The second new chapter addresses parents in poverty. Some families are poor by any standard, and some are poor in relation to their community. Either type of poverty is difficult for a child, and the problems of poverty may be different for a teenager than for a younger child. The author helps the reader to be realistic about the sources of a problem, particularly if they are the result of a parent’s difficulties. Additional topics discuss mistreatment, selfishness, when parents are in pain, when parents cause pain, powerhouse feelings, troubled parents and ordinary teen life. scapegoating, power struggles, choosing your parent over yourself, why parents have problems, and when should you call Protective Services. Suggestions are incorporated throughout the book on how to deal with the problems of the parent so that the child and/or teenager can keep on track with their own growing up. This book is an excellent resource for therapists, school counselors, group leaders, and others who work with children and teenagers and who want reading materials to recommend to them.
1. GETTING STARTED
Some parents have serious problems
Why think (and read) about parents’ problems?
How to know if your parent has a problem
Some troubled parents fault kids for “selfishness”
What is selfishness? Is taking care of yourself selfish?
What is unselfishness?
Abuse and mistreatment: What are they?
All people have certain basic rights
Troubled parents sometimes violate basic rights of their children
Why parents mistreat kids
Neglect is a kind of mistreatment
4. WHEN A PARENT IS IN PAIN
Some parents suffer a great deal
It’s scary to have a parent in pain
Feeling “special” won’t solve all your problems
Broadening your world can help
You can’t solve your parent’s problems
5. WHEN A PARENT CAUSES PAIN
Abused kids have reason to be angry
Why do kids sometimes take the blame for abuse?
Why is it a bad idea to blame yourself for abuse?
Sexual abuse is never a child’s fault
Abuse brings distrust, and big questions about God and life
Even abuse that is occasional damages trust
6. PARENTS IN POVERTY
Poverty can be relative or absolute
Unemployment can bring poverty
Poverty produces complicated emotions
Kids in poverty may feel insecure, and envious
Poor kids need not become poor adults
7. PARENTS WITH DIFFICULT PERSONALITIES
Some parents hurt through helping (the overprotective parent)
Some parents expect perfection
Immature adults make difficult parents
8. POWERHOUSE FEELINGS
What is healthy guilt? Unhealthy guilt?
Guilt can come when you can’t help others who are suffering
Rage comes when you expect care and protection, but you get pain or neglect
Shame means feeling bad about who you are
Why do kids of troubled parents feel a lot of shame?
Grief is about facing losses that can’t be helped
Growing up brings grief, especially if you have a troubled parent
9. TROUBLED PARENTS AND ORDINARY TEEN LIFE
Troubled parents make normal development extra hard
Troubled parents make it hard for kids to grow up and leave home
A child’s competence may threaten a troubled parent
Parents with problems may react badly to a child’s normal sexual interests
What is scapegoating?
Why does scapegoating backfire?
Scapegoating makes someone else your human garbage can
11. TOO HIGH A PRICE TO PAY? CHOOSING YOUR
PARENT OVER YOURSELF
Kids can sell themselves out through their thoughts, or their actions
When is it worthwhile to take a stand?
Losing yourself: Too high a price to pay to stay close to a parent?
12. POWER STRUGGLES
What is a power struggle? Don’t all families have them?
What kinds of power struggles take place in families where parents have problems?
What can kids do if parents encourage power struggles?
Some parents give in too easily
13. WHY PARENTS HAVE PROBLEMS
A little understanding of a parent’s problems may help
Depression is about feeling hopeless and angry
Anxiety can come from being pulled in two directions
Parents who abuse kids may be getting rid of their own bad feelings
Substance abuse is a way to run from pain and worry
Living with a psychotic parent is frightening
14. PROFESSIONAL HELP: WHEN AND HOW TO GET IT
When should you call Protective Services?
Painful feelings may be a reason to seek therapy
Self-defeating behavior is another reason to consider getting help
What is therapy? What happens there?
Parent guidance can help some adults to be better parents
Family therapy means everyone goes to the doctor together
What can you do if a friend or sibling needs help?
15. FINISHING UP
You’ve taken an important trip
We’ll review some of the stops along the way