By Amy Beth Taublieb, Ph.D.
At this time of year, the media is inundated with articles and messages regarding helping our children deal with returning to school stress. However, seemingly less of a focus are the psychological struggles experienced by the adults in the family once the back-to-school regime resumes. I am not talking about maneuvering the return to structure and routine, but, rather the emotional issues which appear to magically resurface once the little ones are back in school.
You see, in addition to all of their wonderful attributes, children serve as powerful distractions in the dynamics of any household. Indeed, when we are focusing on the needs of our young folks, it’s not uncommon for our own emotional needs to be relegated to the background. Thus, once our children are less of an immediate, physical presence, those feelings which have have been repressed, seem to surface all of a sudden.
Perhaps there are some depressive symptoms which we’ve masked so that we can be present for our children’s summer activities. Maybe we have struggles with anxiety from which we were able to distract ourselves by focusing on our children’s needs. Some of us are struggling with grief issues but opt to forge ahead, as we do not want to interfere with our children’s enjoyment, during the summer months. There could be a void of loneliness that the presence of juvenile activity is able to temporarily fill so that it can comfortably be ignored. Finally, there can be relationship issues between the parental figures which are able to be hidden when the adults are forced to directly focus on the children’s immediate needs.
Around this time, every year, my office is flooded with phone calls for new appointments from folks who report “suddenly” experiencing various psychological symptoms. The truth is that these problems are typically not new ones, but rather issues with which they have chosen not to deal that have resurfaced. It is truly a positive life move that these folks have opted to address these issues and potentially improve their life quality.
I’ve always believed that with psychological problems, awareness is 99% of the solution. As such, I am writing this article to encourage all to take a look in their emotional mirror and make sure they find that the mirror glass is clean. If relevant, use this back-to-school time to identify and learn about what is interfering with your happiness, and proceed to do what you need to address these issues. Each and every one of us deserves to live a happy, full life. And, in the end, nobody can ensure this occurring but us!
Dr AmyBeth Taublieb, a Licensed Psychologist in Western New York, is an author, media personality, and public speaker. She has an active private practice providing psychotherapy and assessmest for individuals, couples and families. If you are interested in exploring her services, contact Dr. Taublieb at 716-834-1505, and learn more at www.dramybeth.com.