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  • Writer's pictureAnnon

When Developing Identity, No One Can Force You

Parents want to help son discover his own identity!

The Klein family came to Kav L’Noar because they were concerned about their 17 year old son, Zachary. He had been dismissed from 4 schools in the previous year. He would not listen to his teachers and he was getting in fights. His behavior at home was similar. Zachary was sullen, did not speak with his parents much, and fought with them when he did. He was engaging in at-risk behaviors and totally unwilling to talk to anyone.

Because the situation was so challenging, multiple services were recommended as part of his treatment plan. Zachary was assigned a mentor and a therapist.  His parents met with a different therapist to help them better understand their son and how to relate to him more successfully. Zachary was also referred for a psychiatric evaluation.

As often happens, at the onset of all of these different types of intervention, things initially got worse. Zachary stayed out late with friends, skipped his appointments with his therapist, and ignored his parents. At their first meeting, Zachary told Daniel, his mentor, that nobody, including Daniel, could force him to do anything that he didn’t want to do. Daniel, didn’t know what to say. Zachary was right, how could Daniel succeed in engaging him where professionals were unable to?  Zachary had so far expressly opposed all efforts.

No one can force you to discover your identity!

Daniel told Zachary that he was right, no one could force him to do anything that he didn’t want to do. However, Daniel continued, “I came here to get to know you, not force you to do anything, can we start with that?” Zachary was hesitant at first and Daniel was unsure if he had said the right thing. But, after a number of meetings, Zachary began to open up about his struggles with self-confidence and  his inability to share his true feelings with others. Eventually, Zachary began attending therapy sessions and started the process of developing his own identity and reconciling with his parents. Daniel reflected upon his experience saying that he was unsure of whether his idea about engaging Zachary would work. But, he felt that really getting to know Zachary was the only place to start.

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