Friday, August 31, 2012

The Parent-Child Open Communication Dilemma

"Overall, parents of African-American youth residing in urban public housing developments tended to underestimate the extent to which their children were exposed to acts of violence and suffered from distress symptomatology.  This was seen for acts of direct victimization (i.e., attacked with a knife), as well as events youth witnessed.  Most striking was the tendency for parents to underestimate youth distress.  Rather than being a new finding, this proclivity for parents to underreport symptoms their children experience is a replication of findings derived from studies of childhood psychiatric disorders.  Multiple explanatory models have been posited to account for this effect, including parental denial or minimalization of symptoms, or particularly with older youth, children's increasing concealment of distress."
O'Donnell, D.A., Schwab-Stone, M.E., & Muyeed, A.Z. (2002).  Multidimensional Resilience in Urban Children Exposed to Community Violence, Child Development, 73(4), 1265-1282.

Parents don't know.

Kids don't tell them.

Parents have a hard time hearing it - it is painful to know your child is suffering and you don't know what to say or do.

It is hard to see your parent suffer when you tell them what you've seen or experienced.  It doesn't help when parents get mad and lecture you about what happened (because they are scared).  Next time, you just skip telling them.

It's sad and painful for everyone to talk about it.  Even if talking about it and listening (really listening with your head and heart) is exactly what will help.

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