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 youngsters 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 youngsters 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 youngsters problems and difficulties and helping
with them. What would be helpful? How would you know if your parents were
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 youngsters 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 persons 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 parents 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
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
consultants 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.