web analytics
May 28, 2015 / 10 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Part 20 – At Risk Parents, At Risk Children


Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

When parents come to talk to me about a troubled child or teenager, I often find it helpful to explore whether or not their marriage is causing at-risk issues in their home.

It’s no coincidence that difficult marriages create difficult children. Children and teenagers want their parents to be happy, and they want their parents to be together. When things are going wrong in the parents’ relationship, children are often the first to sense that Mommy and Daddy are not getting along. Even if parents say that they are only arguing behind closed doors, children can still sense that something may not be right.

How parents learn to manage disagreements between themselves can make a difference in their teenagers’ lives. Unresolved conflict has a tremendous negative impact. It directly affects the two parents involved, as they continue with their day-to-day routine. And when parents become preoccupied with their own marital discord, teenagers can feel rejected, depressed, and isolated.

Marital conflict affects teenagers in various ways. First, conflict between the parents tends to both change the mood of household interactions and shifts the parents’ attention to the negative behaviors of their children. Second, parental conflict leads to parents issuing confusing and threatening commands to their children. Third, children who are exposed to harsh discipline practices at home (which tend to coincide with a negative and hostile relationship between the parents) are more at risk for aggression, internalizing by withdrawing, and depressive symptoms.

In addition, I have found that when teenagers are exposed to high levels of conflict between their parents, they don’t get used to it. They become more sensitive and reactive to it, which causes many of the symptoms of at-risk behavior. Even moderate amounts of parental conflict can wreak havoc on the lives of children, disrupting their sleep and causing negative feelings in their day-to-day lives.

In many instances, parents are unaware that they might be using their children to channel the anger they feel toward their spouse. This phenomenon, called “triangling,” is a very dangerous pattern of behavior that can have serious implications for children and teenagers.

Here is how triangling works. Suppose a wife is angry with her husband for not being affectionate toward her. If she is unable to express her feelings to her husband in a direct way, she may unwittingly begin to use her children to communicate to her husband her feelings of displeasure and anger. For example, she may turn to her daughter in front of her husband and say, “Oh, Daddy seems very tense today and I guess he has no time for the family.” In this case, the parent is unable to negotiate her own needs and inappropriately begins to involve her child in a private marital issue.

The child who is caught in a triangle like this has become an inappropriate conduit for the expression of the mother’s anger towards her husband. When this happens, children can develop feelings of disillusionment, fear, insecurity, and vulnerability. They also may feel that they have to take sides because they can’t manage the internal tension and the anxiety by themselves. In these cases, they may see one parent as mostly bad and the other parent as mostly good. This is damaging to children because it reinforces an attitude by which they view the world in a “black and white,” or an “all or nothing” way, rather than with a more balanced view of good and bad in most people.

Here are some of the signs that you are engaged in triangling:

Do you want your child to talk to or do something to your spouse? Do you talk about your spouse to your child only in terms of the other’s negative qualities? Do you or your wife blame your children for your problems? Do your children tell you that they feel anxious around your spouse? Do you think your child can bring peace between members of your family?

Parental conflict affects children in varying ways, depending on their age. For example, teenagers around the age of 15 or 16 are most likely to involve themselves in their parents’ battles. Younger children may keep their feelings hidden and may only show signs of depression in late childhood or early adolescence. Other children may adapt to parental fighting by becoming “too good.” To stop the fighting, they try to become perfect children. These model children try to do everything right while walking on eggshells, fearing their family will collapse if they make a mistake.

Unfortunately, more and more children seem to be growing up in families with marital conflict: “…the number of divorced Americans rose from 4.3 million in 1970 to 18.3 million in 1996, and the trend is so well established that, 40 percent of all children born in the 1970s and 1980s — today’s teenagers and young adults — have experienced the breakup of their family through divorce.”* To this large number, add all the children whose parents are unhappy with each other but who don’t divorce. It’s not hard to see that a substantial segment of the population grows up in very unhappy homes.

About the Author: Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He is an expert in marriage counseling, pre-marital education, treating Anxiety and Depression, and helping teens in crisis with offices in Brooklyn. To watch his free videos on marriage and parenting and for appointments visit: www.JewishMarriageSupport.com, email rabbischonbuch@yahoo.com or call 646-428-4723.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Part 20 – At Risk Parents, At Risk Children”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
American dollars.
IRS $50M Cyber Security Scandal Stretches to Russia
Latest Sections Stories
Road sign in Russian and Yiddish greeting visitors on the road just outside Birobidzhan. (photo by Ben G. Frank)

Birobidzhan railway station sign is the world’s only one spelling the town’s name in Yiddish letters

Ayelet Shaked

She’s seen as a poster child for The Jewish Home’s efforts to reach beyond its Orthodox base.

Teens-Twenties-logo

Girls don’t usually learn Gemara. Everyone knows that.

Mordechai and his men shared a strong mutual loyalty.

“Can I wear tefillin in the bathroom?” That was the question US Private Nuchim Lebensohn wrote to Mike Tress, president of the Agudath Israel Youth Council, in a letter dated November 18, 1942. Lebensohn was not your typical young American GI. Polish by birth, he was forty-three years old and married when he was drafted […]

To what extent is your child displaying defiance?

This therapist kept focusing on how “I could do better,” never on how we could make the marriage work.

Mistrust that has lingered after the fiasco in Ferguson, Missouri, has edged the issue forward.

“The observance of a kosher diet is a key tenet of Judaism, and one which no state has the right to deny,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy of the Orthodox Union.

Two weeks of intense learning in the classroom about Israel culminated with Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Students attended sessions with their teachers and learned about history, culture, military power, advocacy, slang, cooking, and more.

The nations of the world left the vessel to sit rotting in the water during one of the coldest winters in decades and with its starving and freezing passengers abandoned.

Rabbi Yisroel Edelman, the synagogue’s spiritual leader, declared, “The Young Israel of Deerfield Beach is looking forward to our partnership with the OU. The impact the OU has brought to Jewish communities throughout the country through its outreach and educational resources is enormous and we anticipate the same for our community in Deerfield Beach as well.”

More Articles from Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch
Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

A compulsion is a repetitive action. But what underlies the compulsion is an obsession or fear.

Schonbuch-Rabbi-Daniel

Teens-at-risk feel alienated from their parents and often believe that no one is interested in hearing about their problems.

Separation anxiety disorder is a condition in which a child becomes fearful and nervous when away from home or separated from a loved one – usually a parent or other caregiver – to whom the child is attached.

I try to focus on the parents in a way that is not often addressed. As soon as the child gets anxious, the parent gets anxious;

Most people are not aware that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population).

Parental conflict affects children in varying ways, depending on their age. For example, teenagers around the age of fifteen or sixteen are most likely to involve themselves in their parents’ battles. Younger children may keep their feelings hidden inside and may only show signs of depression in late childhood or early adolescence.

When parents come to talk to me about a troubled child or teenager, I often find it helpful to explore whether or not their marriage is causing their teenager to be at risk.

Active listening is only one part of the marriage equation; learning what to say and what not to say is the other half. And, it’s not just about expressing your feelings, but doing it in a way that avoids hurting the other person.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/part-20-at-risk-parents-at-risk-children/2009/06/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: