Opinion & Essays
- Mar, 2000 Issue #67
THE MAGIC BULLET
By: Lon Woodbury
Certified Educational Planner
The desire for a “quick fix” has been a frequent goal of parents
with teens making poor decisions. I hear this request, or perhaps it is a yearning, so often I’m convinced it is one of the most common
mistakes parents make when looking for a residential intervention for their “out-of-control” child.
When parents look for a “quick fix,” they are thinking in terms
of solution instead of process, rather like taking a car into the shop to have the carburetor worked on. They are forgetting their
child is a human being, not a possession like a car; a person that needs to mature rather than “be done unto.” The result of this
misconception is that parents might overlook what their child really needs, which is simply to grow up. The question is often implied,
“Can you fix him/her?” when the real question should be, “What does he/she need?”
Growing up successfully is what all children need to do to become
mature adults, and that is really a life-long process. The first eighteen years builds the foundation, and if not done well, results
in immature teens, or adults, doing dumb and/or self- destructive things. This need to mature applies as much to those with a serious
pathology as it is does to children who only missed some basic concept of living, for example, a simple grasp of cause and effect.
Perhaps this universal desire for a MAGIC BULLET stems from a the
line of thinking that has caused some commentators to name this “The Therapeutic Society.” It is characterized by the belief that
the scientific methods so obviously successful in the Physical Sciences and the Life Sciences can be applied directly to problems
stemming from human behavior. The average parent views the miracles of medicine and modern drugs and accepts the controversial concept
that negative behavior comes from a “disorder.” As a result, they are ready to believe any problem of teenage behavior can be solved
by a similar application of either the proper medication or the “Right” words from a credentialed therapist. This “Magical” type of
thinking really seems to regard therapists as some kind of modern “Shaman.”
So, this hope for a magic bullet is based on a “Faith” rather than
reason, and if not corrected, will lead to ineffective decisions, and a feeling of broken promises.
When a child is “out-of-control,” what is needed is a dedication
to long-term parenting, perhaps mixed with professional help. In an overwhelming percentage of situations, there is no MAGIC BULLET.
Copyright © 1999-2000, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without
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