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This activity is used in conjunction with the earlier parenting assessment activity.  It is essentially the same activity, looking at the parent/child relationship from the youngster’s point of view.  The consultant will want to maintain the perspective of the parenting principles and themes developed in the earlier activity when working with young people in the context of this activity.

As an extended use of the activity, the consultant may want to work with the young person in developing a list of ideas or perceptions to share with his parents.  In terms as specific as possible, in what ways does the youngster think his parent is unreasonable when disciplining him?  What are some examples of unreasonableness?  Similarly, in what ways does the young person think the parent is being unfair?  What are some examples of unfairness?  Important to this process is the next step, however.  What does the youngster think would be more reasonable – more fair?

What does the youngster perceive his needs to be?  Within this range of perceived needs, which ones do the parents understand and which ones do they not understand?  How would the young person know if his parents did understand the youngster’s needs?  The same approach may be used to focus on what is important to the young person.  The process then extends to the parents knowing about the youngster’s problems and difficulties and helping with them.  What would be helpful?  How would you know if your parents were helping?

The consultant may also help the youngster in understanding that the parent/child relationship is a reciprocal opportunity for both the youngster and the parent.  Does the youngster spend time with the parent?  What does he do to facilitate spending more time with the parent?  Does the youngster make an effort to be someone with whom the parent would want to spend time?  Does the young person make an effort to talk with the parent openly and honestly?  Along with the youngster’s assessing the parent/child relationship in terms of the parent, he needs also to assess the relationship in terms of his participation in the relationship.

Is the young person able to get the parent to cooperate?  Again, the principle of reciprocity applies.  An important element here is being someone with whom the parent is pleased and of whom the parent is proud.  These are characteristics that lead to the young person’s being more attractive to the parent.  What does the child think there is about him that should bring pleasure to the parent?  What is there about him in which the parent may take pride?  The youngster will find that attention to these traits and characteristics will have the positive effect of increasing the extent to which the parent cooperates with him?

Having their space is important to young people.  At the same time, though, they need to set an example first by giving the parent his space and by being an individual with whom the parent is comfortable in a relationship where the child is given his space given who the child is from the parent’s point of view.  “What is there about you, about the example that you set that should encourage your parent to give you the space, freedom, and independent opportunity you want?  In what ways do you set an example of someone who has earned these opportunities and privileges?

The same processes may be used in reference to the other variables in the activity.  Once the young person has completed the activity and has dealt with the ideas and issues raised in the discussion section, it is time to process all of the materials with his parent.  In highly functional families, the young person will probably be able to do this on an independent basis.  Where parent/child relationships are somewhat more problematic, however, this is probably best handled in joint session including both the youngster and the parents with the consultant.  If the youngster is able, it is best for him to directly raise and discuss each of the pieces with his parents, with the consultant’s serving a supportive and facilitating role.  If the youngster finds this difficult, however, the consultant may bring up the materials with the parent, taking the role of the young person.  Even in this situation, though, it is extremely important that the young person is present both to own and accept responsibility for the materials and to have the benefit of the modeling being demonstrated by the consultant.  Over time, the young person needs to take the more active role.

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