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A Vermont Therapist’s Take: Ghosts in the Nursery

Being a parent is a job that never slows down, but some patterns can be especially upsetting when they repeat day after day. Let’s say your son just can’t seem to get along with his sister. It’s worse at the end of the day when everyone is tired, and if everyone is tired and hungry you find yourself yelling, saying things to your children you thought you would never say. How can you solve their conflict without losing your temper? Should you or your children be in therapy?

We use the expression ‘be in therapy’ as if it’s clear where the dividing line is. If problems are really bad, someone should be in therapy. We prefer to think of talk therapy as a place to understand problems in order to find viable solutions. It’s hard to solve complex problems until you know the causes. Sometimes parents have difficulty recognizing the causes of irritation and impatience with their children. They may react in ways that puzzle or distress them. The way parents deal with conflict in the home may have roots in their own childhood. Child psychotherapist, Selma Fraiberg referred to these holdovers as ghosts in the nursery. In her words,

In every nursery there are ghosts. They are the visitors from the unremembered past of the parents, the uninvited guests

These ghosts often interfere with our plans and our good intentions as parents. When we discover the patterns from our past which are repeated in our present, we are more often successful at changing the ways we interact with our children.

To understand our children and our reactions to them, it helps to understand ourselves. Talking with a trained listener can promote self understanding. As we begin to see the patterns in our lives, we can explore options, react with more flexibility, and solve family problems more creatively.

The therapists at Vermont Talk Therapy have many years of experience working with children and parents. Parenting can be a difficult job, but doesn’t have to be done alone. If you’d like to know more about what kind of support we can offer, give us a call.

*Each individual’s circumstances are unique. The content of the Vermont Talk Therapy blog is intended to provide general information and should not be taken as therapeutic advice. To begin therapy or discuss your specific needs, get in touch with the therapists of Vermont Talk Therapy.

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