Don’t parents have a right to know what’s going on with their own children?
So what’s all this stuff about confidentiality? Why do Counselors sometimes behave as if parents don’t have that right? It’s enough to piss anyone off, right?
Umm… not so fast.
Do you want me to sugar-coat it? Or do you want me to shoot straight… like my granny used to say, “in plain English and bad manners if you have to”.
OK I thought you’d say that. Parents everywhere love their kids. Truth be known, I have yet to meet a Counselor without the skills to get teenagers they work with to tell loving, positive, reasonable and responsible parents their own problems.
See where I’m going with this? Ouch!
Yes, it’s true Counselors cannot divulge information given to them in confidence by their clients to anyone under normal circumstances.
No, that does not prevent Counselors from telling parents what’s going on with their kids. All that is needed is permission from the teenager. That’s fairly easy to get from a kid who trusts them enough to talk to them about their private stories.
But you see, school counselors swore an oath to protect their clients. Go back up to those parent characteristics I just listed. Which one do you think is a huge problem more often than not?
Right again. It’s a crying shame, but there are too many unreasonable parents out there.
This is a VERY controversial issue, but the one thing I know is that parents really DO love their kids. So give me a crack at helping you get a clear perspective on it.
- You’re the only one who thinks your teen can talk to you about everything. Even if you put everything the experts teach into practice, most kids still have stuff they don’t want to talk to their parents about. Know what? That’s actually normal… even if you have a great relationship and you’re the world’s most reasonable parent. However, if you’re one of those unreasonable parents, have poor listening skills, or use harsh punishment methods like beatings and frequent cursing, item #2 may apply to you.
- In School, your teens are totally different people from who they are at home This is a red flag for Social workers and Counselors. It indicates that at best, harsh, hurtful words are frequently used in place of discipline methods that actually work. Too often, it’s worse. There may be significant child abuse happening in the home. It goes against conventional wisdom, but as we’ve pointed out frequently in PTT, harsh punishment doesn’t teach anything. It doesn’t get rid of bad behavior. It often just pushes it underground where the parent cannot see it. In a moment of anger, a parent tells a child, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.” That same parent would put his or her life on the line for that same child, mind you. But especially if the teen has severe behavior problems, the Counselor needs to think thrice before giving that parent the bad news. To be honest with you, any of these six things could be a serious sign that your parenting skills may be in the need for serious overhaul.
- He’s in Big Trouble at School Schools actively seek out parental involvement. They know from scientific research that this provides a far more healthy educational environment. Under ordinary circumstances then, the school is only too eager to inform a parent that something is wrong. So what do you think is going on when the Counselor agonizes over whether or not to inform a parent about his own child? Right again. An unreasonable parent actually believes that her way of handling the teen is the proper way. Never mind that it obviously hasn’t been working. She doesn’t understand the psychology behind it. It is hard to convince her that her own child’s misbehavior is a RESULT of the way she reacts to it. She really loves her teenager, and is only doing what she learned growing up. She thinks her reaction will fix the problem eventually. She doesn’t see that her child’s misbehavior is training HER reaction! Now I have to ask YOU. Think deeply about it. Isn’t this what is happening to you at least some of the time? But there’s more. Take a deep breath, settle yourself down, and read on.
- She’s Got A Boyfriend Not only that. They see each other on a regular basis, and are sexually active. Some Counselors can give you horror stories about what happens to teens when their parents found out. With what a school Counselor knows, is it that hard to figure why they would hold the teen’s confidence in certain cases?
- She’s Pregnant You’d think this one is an easy for the teen to share. I mean, she’s going to be showing soon anyway, right? But you’d be surprised how many parents never get to find out their teen is pregnant until she’s showing. So what in the world does she put it off for? The answer is, being thrown out, beaten, or given the most extreme riot act at home. She’s in big trouble and she knows it. What she really needs at this time is support. If she’s 100% sure she’s going to get the rug pulled from under her feet instead, she’ll want to keep it a secret for as long as possible. The Counselor sometimes eventually get her to tell an unreasonable parent, but its not always easy.
- She’s trying to abort Youth and care workers hate this one because its not an ordinary circumstance. Most teenage abortions are illegal in many places. Strictly speaking, the Counselor imply HAS TO to inform parents. But informing parent is sometimes placing the teen in harm’ s way. In dealing with an extremely violent or unreasonable parent, whatever choice the Counselor makes, she is seriously breaching her code of ethics. Talk about rocks and hard places!
In all these situations, teens need guidance. Sometimes they also need a strong dose of discipline. Other times they need loving care and support from calm parents who understand that the situation itself is already a huge punishment.
I mean, where are we going if we still think a pregnant teen needs to be disciplined? The time for that was long gone!
If your child is not yet a teenager, NOW is the time for guidance and discipline… the kind I advocate here on PTT.
The old cliche goes that “if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.”
If your child is already a teen, its not too late. Modern parenting techniques really do work. I should know. I was one of those that made the switch, and I was born and raised the old-fashioned way from Afro-Caribbean stock! If I could do it, anyone can.
Today I have scores of parents who try to bring me gifts and can’t stop thanking me for helping them to see the light. It gets me a little emotional sometimes. It reminds me of how close I was to letting the past hamper my own children’s future. I tell them just help me spread the good news.
Go strengthen that bond. Tighten that relationship. Have more fun with and enjoy the uniqueness of your little person. Life is too short. Before you know it, they’ll be all grown and gone.