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Sunday, 25 March 2001

Why Are They Always Just Sitting There? A Therapist's Comments

Written by  Alan Flashman, MD

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Have you read our drama, Why are they Always Just Sitting There?

Eugene is outnumbered in a house full of Bonnies. If Bonnie wants to HELP him, she could imagine what she might feel like in a "house full of Eugenes." Eugene needs to hear recognition for the difficult task of accepting kids who are different from the way he was. Maybe his own kids are too much like the kids whom Eugene as a child couldn't stand - or envied? Or like the kids his parents wanted instead of one the likes of him.

I would like Bonnie to say, "Of course it is hard to have kids different from the way you were. But we are not ganging up on you nor getting rid of you. We all love having someone just like you with us. It makes us --and me especially- feel safe; I know I won't get lost in daydreams."

Then we can help Eugene. Didn't he imagine he was playing for the Red Sox or Celtics when he was out playing ball? Wasn't his imagination working out just as much as his muscles? Let's hope Eugene can see himself as not so completely different from Bonnie & Co.

Then we can help Bonnie. She needed to protect her inner life against her parents' wishes to exchange it for popularity. But Eugene is not her parents. Can she see that she may be dividing things too completely - mine good, yours bad? Can she imagine that she and Eugene could work TOGETHER with the kids to help them be secure enough in their imaginative worlds that they could afford to expand towards something they could learn from their father?

Here is my own imaginative (science fiction?) recast of the drama:

Bonnie: Eugene, I want your help with something. When I see the kids so busy with imagination, I love it so much. And all the great things I read at WholeFamily.com about imagination being so important for development, about it creating inner space to experiment and feel control and power and bring all parts of the personality together -- well I think this seems like the childhood I wanted and my parents didn't appreciate. But I'm afraid I might be seeing mostly myself, and not what the kids need. That's what I need from you -- another point of view.

Eugene: Let me just rub my eyes and make sure I'm not dreaming. You can't believe how much I've hoped you would ask me this. The kids are different from me; that does make it easier for me to see them as they themselves are. And I do think they need help being brought out of their inner worlds. Not that their inner worlds are bad. But I also want them to be able to interact well in the real world.

, not just like me. NowI talked with Randy about maybe doing some sports with me sometimes, and also my reading one or two of his favorite books. He sure seemed interested in the deal. I told him about what I had dreamed about in my head while I played ball, and he said, WOW, you can imagine things while playing sports!? Later he said maybe he would go out a bit to play and you can bet I put down my paper and out we went!

Maybe we can think of a way to draw Katie out without threatening her wonderful play world (I read about it at WholeFamily too)!

Bonnie: You know what, what you just said really did help me. I wished my parents could have helped me to link my imagination with being sociable in the way I WANTED. Katie and I are going to start playing together, and then I am going to see about a drama class for her. In the meantime, we're going to make a movie -- can you be our cameraman? And then she's going to show it to her friends at her birthday party. And if she fires me and wants to make it with her friends, well...

Eugene: Then maybe this cameraman can take you out to a movie...

Last modified on Sunday, 03 July 2011 07:08
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Alan Flashman, MD

Alan Flashman, MD

Dr. Flashman is a graduate of Columbia College and New York University Medical School. He trained and completed board certification in pediatrics, psychiatry and child psychiatry at the Albert Einstein college of Medicine in the Bronx. He's been working with and learning from children and families for more than 30 years. He speaks and consults regularly on many topics in child and family mental health, including adoption, drug and alcohol addiction, emotional strains of physical illness in families, death and bereavement.

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