Michael Panar, who holds a masters degree in family sociology and a doctorate in holistic healing and counseling has been counseling families, couples, individuals, children and adolescents for over thirty years. He has some thoughts and reflections about his book.
I have worked with families through different stages of the life cycle. Each stage of development, or period in time, has its own challenges. During the beginning of the family, there needs to be a more mature love that takes the place of romantic love and passion. This is a formidable goal for many couples, since they relished the passion and emotions of romance. The couple also needs to get to know each other through empathic listening. If this does not happen, it would be difficult for the couple to achieve a parental alliance, once children come into the home.
The years of childhood and adolescents have their own changes and challenges, for the children as well as the parents. The goal towards secure attachment for the child is vital during this time, and the need for the parents to separate their own marital relationship from the role of parent. During adolescence, it is imperative to adjust to the need for identity and autonomy in the adolescent.
Secure attachment, involving unconditional love, needs to be nurtured through childhood and adolescence. It will help prepare the child to eventually leave home in a healthy way. Any unresolved problems in the family of origin may inhibit the growth of autonomy in the young adult child. It will inhibit the healthy functioning of the adult child. The young adult may also stay in the parental home for a longer period of time and revert back to the previous unhealthy pattern of childhood. Parents can easily fall back into this unhealthy pattern with the adult child.
Once the children leave the empty nest the parents are faced with their own changes. They may discover that they really dont know each other as they thought they did. There will be new challenges to improve their relationship, or work through the problems of estrangement in the empty nest.
But the empty nest can be a positive change, where the couple can enjoy a new genuine love for each other. The couple needs to work on developing a new partnership in the empty nest. This stage of life doesnt have to be empty, but rather a more fulfilling and satisfying time in life.
I have worked with couples during all of these times in a persons life. I usually had most or all family members in a counseling session, each experiencing different changes in his or her life. Its helpful for each family member to understand what the other is going through. This will help each person to cope with ones own changes, and to understand where the other person is at the same time. This will complement and synchronize the changes that everyone is going through, so that it would be easier for each person.
Frequently, I worked with one persona child, adolescent, or adult. This was challenging because it was more difficult to understand what was going on in the family. With one person in a counseling session the individual would disclose thoughts, feelings and experiences. The individuals perception of self and family would be expressed. Usually the individual had a particular problem that needed to be resolved, but it always dealt with some type of change that was happening in the persons life or family.
It is very important to help the individual or family to cope with the changes that are happening at the time.