Where to Get Help When in Trouble (Part Two)


Disclaimer (or a word of caution): This article was written in the 1950’s when it may have been easier to find a psychologist/psychiatrist that was trustworthy. I believe they are still out there, but one must do the research. To open oneself up and become vulnerable to someone that has no religion (especially on an ongoing basis) can be dangerous. So do be careful in your search for a reliable source of help. On the flip side, don’t be so scrupulous, that you don’t use the resources available because they don’t completely see eye-to-eye with you. 

Painting by Alfredo Rodriguez

Part One is here.

Where to take your problems.

Knowing when you need help to solve family problems is not sufficient. You must also know where to take your problems. Some persons are eager to discuss their troubles with outsiders, but unfortunately the outsiders often are even less qualified to help than the individuals personally involved.

One social scientist asked sixty husbands and wives to whom they confided their troubles. He discovered that all discussed their problems with friends, relatives, neighbors and even the corner bartender–but none consulted a spiritual adviser, doctor or other person truly equipped to help.

One can only wonder how much continued heartbreak and misery is caused by the tendency of those blinded by their own emotional problems to seek guidance from those who are not capable of assisting them. This tendency is even more disturbing because more guidance, backed by scientific knowledge of physical and emotional processes, is now available than ever before.

Many persons think that their trouble is unique–that no one has ever faced so many complex problems before. The reverse is actually true. Any difficulty you experience in your married life or as parents has almost certainly been experienced by countless others. Consequently there exists a vast body of experience and understanding that you can draw upon.

For instance, almost 600 nation-wide agencies exist specifically to help persons in trouble. This list of organizations includes the National Association for Mental Health, which spreads information about mental illnesses and encourages the proper care of persons so afflicted; the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, organized to aid the poor, sick and helpless; the National Epilepsy League; Alcoholics Anonymous, which has helped to restore hundreds of thousands of men and women to useful, sober lives; the Institute for the Crippled and Disabled, which aids handicapped persons to find useful work and lead normal lives.

Almost every diocese has a Catholic Charities’ office which provides a multitude of services to troubled parents and sick children. In addition, there are countless hundreds of books, pamphlets and other publications written to help you solve specific problems. Clearly, there is no lack of help available for you; all you need is a willingness to be helped.

Where can you get help? Any problems involving morals, which you cannot resolve after your prayerful efforts to do so, should be taken to your parish priest. By virtue of his long experience and whole-hearted dedication, he draws upon a reservoir of knowledge which is not available to you.

He probably can provide you with insights which you have overlooked. You should consult him as soon as you become aware that a serious moral danger exists. Many persons wait too long; by the time they appear at the rectory, great harm has already been done.

A typical problem which should be treated early is that of a wayward parent setting a bad example to his children. In one home, a father of three boys was firm in requiring them to attend Mass each Sunday. However, he always remained in bed and failed to perform his own duty.

The mother watched with apparent indifference when the boys reached adolescence and began copying their father by missing Mass when they felt like it. Not until the oldest son announced his intention of marrying a non-Catholic girl before a judge, did she seek the advice of her priest; by then, he could merely sympathize with her.

Had he had an early opportunity to discuss the danger to the family that would result from her husband’s indifference, he might have convinced the father that his children would follow his example and would be placed in moral danger as a result.

Moral problems often have roots elsewhere. For instance, when a couple is unable to spend the husband’s income intelligently, they may be tempted to practice artificial birth control. The priest can refer them to agencies which will help them budget their money in a careful way.

In other families, serious conflicts may arise over the inability of husband and wife to achieve sexual compatibility. They may be referred to special courses held under Catholic auspices and designed to give men and women deeper insights into the responsibilities and potentialities of their life together.

Sometimes problems stem from emotional disturbances. One girl of eight suddenly became, in her father’s words, “a pathological liar.” The girl seemed incapable of distinguishing truth in any area of her life, and especially when chided by her parents for committing acts she had been specifically forbidden to do.

She spread absurd stories to friends, neighbors and even her teacher. The wise priest to whom the parents took the problem, realized that the child lied because she was deeply upset emotionally and could best be treated by a psychiatrist.

Many behavior problems do not have a direct moral or religious connection, but result primarily from physical factors. For example, if your child fails to do school work expected of his age, you probably should consult your family doctor.

Some youngsters have trouble hearing or seeing normally, but their defects show up only upon investigation. Or they may suffer from diseases which are severe enough to keep them from doing good school work but not serious enough to force them to remain in bed.

Family troubles may result from economic factors. Sometimes a mother is distraught because her husband is ill for protracted periods of time and she lacks money to buy necessities for her children. False pride should not keep her from seeking aid from agencies established to help in such emergencies. Every diocese has a charitable organization to aid the needy, and communities usually also have nonsectarian welfare agencies. S

ometimes a mother is bedridden for long periods and receives inadequate care while her children are without the attention they require. Voluntary nurses’ associations will give her the home treatments prescribed by her doctor, and, if necessary, Catholic Charities or community agencies will provide temporary homes for her children until she recuperates.

If problems center around your child’s conduct at school, do not hesitate to ask his teacher or the school principal for advice. If you approach them with a determination to help your child, rather than to justify him or yourself, you will often gain a truer understanding of conditions that will enable you to handle his difficulties more successfully.

School principals report, however, that the typical parent appears with a chip on her shoulder. She ignores the experience of the educator which is based upon observations of thousands of children in various stages of development.

She would do better to pocket her pride, admit that either she or her youngster has been responsible for the difficulty in question, resist the impulse to accuse the teacher or principal of prejudice when there is no concrete evidence of it, and resolve to follow the advice given her.

A priest, doctor, principal or other expert may suggest that your problem can best be treated by a psychologist or psychiatrist. Generations ago, such a suggestion would have met great resistance, for the average person believed that consulting a psychologist or psychiatrist was a virtual admission of insanity.

Some persons also saw psychiatry as a threat to religion–a threat which rarely existed and does not now exist from any competent psychiatrist. Others felt that it was intrinsically shameful to admit that they could not solve their own problems and had to seek professional counsel.

While we cannot automatically be absolved of blame for emotional disturbances which require the services of psychiatry, nevertheless when a condition exists, it is all the more shameful to let false pride prevent us from doing something constructive about it.

Talking over one’s deepest feelings with a sympathetic, objective listener often helps a patient gain a new perspective about his problem. Once realizing why he feels and acts as he does, he is often enabled to change his patterns of reaction.

Sometimes patients achieve an understanding of their difficulties after a few hours of psychoanalysis. But treatment often lasts for months, even years. Obviously, the longer the condition has remained in the patient s subconscious, the more difficult it will be to reach and remove.

For this reason, psychoanalysis is often spectacularly successful in reaching the roots of youthful behavior problems. But since the child depends almost entirely upon his parents, the causes of most if not all of his problems rest in their conduct.

Therefore parents who bring their child to a psychiatrist usually must be prepared to hear that the child’s condition will improve only if they change their attitude toward him in one or several important particulars.

If you must choose a psychologist or psychiatrist, do so with the utmost care. Some persons will shop at half a dozen different stores before buying a pair of shoes, and then will choose from the phone book a professional consultant about whom they know nothing.

Responsible professional organizations like the National Association for Mental Health and the American Association of Marriage Counselors have warned of the widespread existence of psychological “quacks” who pose as experts on family problems.

Ask your pastor, school principal, family doctor, an official of Catholic Charities or another responsible welfare organization to recommend a reputable practitioner. They will gladly do so. This simple precaution may save you inestimable time and money and insure you of the best possible help in solving your problems.

The Visitation:

“Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country… And she entered the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth.“

Because Mary was ordinary – that is, a really human being, unselfish, heart full of affection – this Mystery tells me something remarkable about loving God.

The God-Man was now divinely conceived in her womb. Keep to your quiet home, Mary, (we might have advised) and love Him, love Him alone.

But Mary knew this secret about loving God: to love God alone is to love Him not at all. Of her Son’s commandment, “Love one another,” Mary’s visitation was an unconscious prophecy.

Loving God requires that I love everyone else – even those I cannot like! How do I do that? Practicing seeing Christ in others, and act accordingly.

“What you do for others, you do to Me.“ Christ meant that.

“God has so constituted us, that in loving and caring for our own children—the richest and best things in our natures are drawn out. Many of the deepest and most valuable lessons ever learned, are read from the pages of a child’s unfolding life. The thought of our responsibility for them, exalts every faculty of our souls. In the very care which they exact, they bring blessing to us.” J.R. Miller

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Author Mary Reed Newland here draws on her own experiences as the mother of seven to show how the classic Christian principles of sanctity can be translated into terms easily applied to children even to the very young.

Because it’s rooted in experience, not in theory, nothing that Mrs. Newland suggests is impossible or extraordinary. In fact, as you reflect on your experiences with your own children, you’ll quickly agree that hers is an excellent commonsense approach to raising good Catholic children.

Fr. Lawrence Lovasik, the renowned author of The Hidden Power of Kindness, gives faithful Catholics all the essential ingredients of a stable and loving Catholic marriage and family — ingredients that are in danger of being lost in our turbulent age.

Using Scripture and Church teachings in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step format, Fr. Lovasik helps you understand the proper role of the Catholic father and mother and the blessings of family. He shows you how you can secure happiness in marriage, develop the virtues necessary for a successful marriage, raise children in a truly Catholic way, and much more.

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