Today Dr. Jessica Rodriguez, CEO of Gateway Corp in Sacramento, delivered a presentation on the ethics of treating eating disorders, via a webinar hosted by Rosewood Institute. Her insights are incredibly relevant for the modern parent.
“Eating disorders can be incredibly challenging to treat,” Rodriguez said, “And the challenge for the professional providing care is to stay in your lane and not violate the dignity of the patient.” It is true that health care professionals cannot make patients suffering from addiction disorders choose to get well. That is something the patient must navigate in their own inner world. Respecting the dignity of the patient, no matter how distorted their perception of reality may appear, is vital in order to create a safe place (in the realm of heart and mind) to unpack and examine the thoughts and logic driving harmful behavior. This is true for the modern parent who can easily be tempted to believe that their children will not be able to learn how to use their intelligence and free will wisely in their on-line worlds. There is great worry for undue influences among the top concerns being, cyberbullying and pedophiles initially. But the deeper, more important question remains: how are you as the parent going to stay in the parenting lane and impart your wisdom?
The harm that parents can do without realizing it is express fearful and condemning thoughts about the troubles modern children are experiencing hyped in the media ranging from violence, suicide/murder, addiction, bullying and sexual exploitation. When we express our opinion as harsh and hopeless, then the signal our children receive is that we cannot be trusted with their experiences that invoke shame and guilt. And in the hyper-connected world, the children are exposed to so many adult issues that inspire shame and fear, they more likely to keep secrets. And when cyber-powered kids keep secrets, it is not possible to engage their intellect and will to impart your wisdom that involves boundary setting for personal security.
Dr. J’s tips for the Ethical Care Giving
Balance autonomy and beneficence of your guidance/duty. Consider that your child can think for herself, and then make age-appropriate determinations about how much supervision you provide in their life. Everything you do in the home should be instructive so that your child gains experience in making good decisions for self and the greater good (family and society).
Watch out for self-serving behavior. The temptation of the modern parent is to keep up appearances through our children. Are your expectations for your child rooted in their personhood (as trustworthy citizens, family members) or are they rooted in performance accomplishments to prove to the world that you are a good parent? Is it safe to examine failure and personal issues at home?
Get educated: Be open to learning how your child’s childhood is informing them. Be open to learning about the technology and cultural trends from your child and other sources. You can set up automated news alerts on various topics, such as social media, texting, teens. Users of iPhones and iDevices in general can take workshops at the local Genius Bar (Apple Store).
Respect confidentiality. Parents can honor confidentiality of the things they know about their child’s personal experiences by agreeing not to share without their permission with the following exceptions:
- There is potential danger to self or others
- An abusive situation
- A medical crisis
- A legitimate need to update legal records.
Be aware of your own values, beliefs and biases. Your opinion is just that: an opinion that belongs to you. It is not the same thing as wisdom.
Be honest and humble about your expertise as a parent. Accept that your child is the expert about their childhood or teenagehood. Seek first to understand and then to be understood.
Have a crisis management plan in place. Encourage your child to consider that whenever something happens that disturbs their peace, to seek wise counsel. Identify ahead of time who their wise counsel might be, in addition to parents. Perhaps it is a school counselor, or an aunt or uncle. The main thing is that children are reminded they have assets. They are not alone in times of crisis or despair.
To learn more about Dr. Jessica Rodriguez’ practice for mental health and healing addiction, go to: Gateway Corp
To learn more about creating a family culture characterized by open communication and individual resilience, go to: Fresh Start