Overidentifying with Teenage Daughter’s Problems

 I have been under a great deal of stress lately. Our firm is not doing well financially and my marriage is strained. I have a young teenage daughter who is experiencing social problems, and I find that I am identifying with those issues to an excessive extent, to the point where I have become much too directly involved. I have done some things that have made her uncomfortable and me ashamed of myself. How can I separate myself from her issues, parent her more effectively (we have always been so close and still are, but she’s now stressed and worried about me, as well as concerned about the impact of my behavior on her life), and handle all of these stresses more effectively? I know that counseling is an option that I need to explore, but I don’t know if I can afford it right now.

It sounds as if your life is challenged on all fronts. Among the problems you face, your apparently over-involvement with your daughter seems to be your greatest source of distress and, you imply, some kind of inappropriate behavior. You also sound like someone with significant experience in the realm of psychotherapy, in your ability to identify your issues and the kinds of change that are needed. As you indicate, one of the goals would be to create more of a psychological boundary between your daughter’s concerns and your own. Sometimes this predicament arises when the parent has a residue of unresolved problems that arose at the age that the child has now reached.

Counseling/psychotherapy is more than an option for you at this point; it seems virtually essential if you want to prevent further deterioration of your relationships with your husband, daughter, and job. It is true that there is much less low-fee treatment around than there was years ago, but it is likely that we can help you find something that you can afford. LCL is aware of various subsidized agencies, and under certain circumstances we may be able to loan you funds to help cover treatment costs. So, we would encourage you to come to us for confidential evaluation and referral — it’s what we do.

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