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CAPTP Colloquium: Parenting Across the Lifespan: The Paradox of Essentialness

Date: Sep 29, 2016 11:45 am

Parenting Across the Lifespan: The Paradox of Essentialness

Steve Tuber, Ph.D., ABPP


It is more than likely that a significant majority of clinicians who work with children will at some point be parents themselves. Yet with the notable exception of clinicians during and shortly after pregnancy, there has been scant attention in the literature to the bi-directional impact of being a parent-clinician. This is particularly true in the area of understanding how the experience of one’s self as parent changes over the lifespan. It is crucial to change our perception of ourselves as clinicians to include the impact of how being a parent changes us as therapists and vice versa. This paper has, as its core paradigm, an intrinsic paradox: while we must become essential to our children as early as possible in their lives to help them create an internalized experience of being valued, we must simultaneously give up this exclusive essentialness over time if we want them to develop a sense of autonomy and individuality. As we give up some, if not most of our centrality, moreover, how can we maintain a sense of grace, humor and perspective?

Steve Tuber is Professor of Psychology, Director of Clinical Training and Program Head of the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at the City College of New York, as well as on the teaching faculty of the WAWI Child Psychotherapy Training Program. He is the author of five critically acclaimed books and over 100 papers on the intersections of assessment and treatment in children and adolescents.