Whose problem is it- the child’s or the parent’s?


Another instalment of our Conversation Series where I discuss this fascinating topic with guest speaker Donovan Nufable.


Covid has been a particularly challenging time for everyone in the community, with many jobs under threat, social isolation the new norm, and a pervading sense of uncertainty for what the world will look like next month, and next year.


This has been particularly hard on families, with requirements for working from home, and the juggle of home schooling. All relationships are being tested, and pushed to their limits. Those couples already experiencing difficulties in communication, and struggling to pull together in hard times, are suffering even more.


In the same way that each couple has their unique stresses and coping strategies now, so do their children. A friend of mine has three children, one aged 14 who has spent the entire lockdown isolated in her room, communicating only with her friends on social media; another who was excited to commence school this year but is struggling and requiring considerable support with working online; and a 10 year old who did not cope at all well in the first shorter lockdown, and is now showing consistent signs of lack of concentration, unwillingness to co-operate, and frequent uncontrolled and angry outbursts.


Donovan Nufable is a counsellor and family therapist of considerable experience who works with children and families in this space. He is passionate about working with families and young people with regard to issues of mental health, addiction and conflict.


Donovan and I explored current issues relevant for children such as those I have described, and suggested some ideas that may be useful when confronted with these issues, and looking for pathways to assist these families to be the best that they can be in this difficult time. We explored various questions such as:

  • What would Covid look like through the eyes of children?
  • What are the signs that children are not coping in Covid?
  • What do children need to be the best that they can be right now?
  • Are these behaviours indicative of a serious problem?
  • If so, whose problem is it- the child’s or the parents?
  • What resources are available to assist these families?

The main points that arose in our conversation included:

  • the current situation is particularly difficult due to the pervading sense of uncertainty, the lack of a clear idea of when our lives will recover or from this experience and what that life will look like;
  • this is particularly difficult for those families who are already struggling, perhaps with separation, high levels of conflict, substance abuse, mental health issues, or children with special needs;
  • when parents are struggling with their own issues particularly in this context, these can become overwhelming, leaving parents unavailable for their children;
  • children are inherently resilient and these situations can provide them with an opportunity to learn invaluable life skills about dealing with conflict, and moving past this;
  • children may be demonstrating various behavioural and emotional problems as a reflection of the uncertainty, chaos and conflict around them, as well as the lack of availability of important people in their life to supply comfort stability and security;
  • research has demonstrated that children are very likely to cope with challenging times as well as the important people around them;
  • parents need to accept responsibility for supporting their children in difficult times by being present and available, providing physical and emotional comfort, support and warmth;
  • parents can be honest with their children when they are not coping well, and invite their children to help them too;
  • there are some wonderful resources available to help families.

If you have any questions or want to discuss any of these issues, do not hesitate to contact Creative Family Law Solutions.

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