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Updated: Jul 20, 2020

As someone who provides counselling support to young people, the counselling relationship often starts off by having a conversation with the client’s parent(s). This article is a brief sharing based on frequent observations from interactions with parents, in the process of understanding the needs of their children. There will, of course, be no disclosure of any recognisable personal information, but rather an overall sense of a significant challenge that parents face.


We can all no doubt relate to feelings of regret and wishing we had done things differently in the past. However, over the years and increasingly so, I have observed a predicament amongst parents, whereby they are trapped in a mindset of shame and guilt from which there can appear to be no escape. I have met too many parents who can hardly speak about their children without a sense of complete devastation…intelligent, high-functioning people who in the parenting role feel completely ill-equipped, disempowered and so very shameful about the way their children have ‘turned out’.

When I recognise this in parents, I cannot help but look at the bigger picture, of how they were parented themselves, and how the knock-on effect of inadequate emotional care is a perpetual problem within society. How can we expect parents to be emotionally attuned to their children if they have not had this experience in their early years? No doubt, in most cases, parents are ‘doing their best’ in terms of providing a stable home environment, boundaries etc. as they know how to, but what if their fundamental know-how in the relational field has for some reason been under-developed?

From birth, our relationships significantly affect the way we see ourselves and the world, and sometimes we need some help to make up for and resolve the developmental lacks which mean that we do not have the confidence we would like to have in relationships, which can be especially hard as a parent.

As part of the Parents Support Network services, we are offering parents the opportunity to come together with other parents or have one-to-one private sessions in order to talk openly about their feelings and experiences. But, in a way that supports parents to get to know their own personal narrative a bit better - to understand themselves, why they are the way they are, what has shaped them and what they still find challenging.

By providing spaces for parents to unburden themselves of their shame and guilt, it opens things up for new possibilities. Parents can learn more about themselves, their relational styles and how to navigate their way through the challenging 24/7 role of a parent with a greater sense of empowerment and self-efficacy. Many of our services are offered free of charge, so please get in touch if you would like to discuss what is on offer.

For the time being, our work is taking place online due to ongoing restrictions.

Janet Williams

19th July 2020

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