The Zen of Parenting

by Frank C. Sacco, Ph.D., CSI President, Scholar in Residence

Parenting is like pushing a stone up the hill.  If you take your hand off of it, especially as it gets bigger, then the stone will roll over and crush you.  That’s parenting; it is never ending, one way, and filled with ups and downs.  This parenting job was meant for a team with one parent being the hard one and the other the softer and more negotiable one.

When this ideal path is not there due to factors such as the young age of parent, lack of social supports, mental illness and substance use disorders, domestic and community violence, and predatory males, kids pay the price.  Symptoms are formed to deal with the world.  Aggression becomes misplaced.  Parents become overwhelmed.  The State steps in, the system is engaged and sometime remains for generations.

 zen of parenting

Helping a mother cope with parenting children is the key to keeping families home and functioning in the community.  Martial arts can be a useful metaphor for helping parents cope with children who stress them, challenge them, and provoke them.  Mother is like a martial artist, the only person in the fight she can control is herself.  Just like parenting, the mother can only work to control herself and then hope to develop an effective way of controlling her kids.

Simply going to a parenting group and learning what to do and what not to do will be helpful while the parent is supported by the group but when she is left to her own, the problem shifts to the mother being able to stay in control of herself and then gain control of her kid.

Therapists can use structured programs to help parents gain skills at controlling themselves and using this centeredness to control their child.  The therapist is alike a trainer, works to help a parent practice, adjust, and improve her skills in dealing with aggravating and draining children.  The program available here at CSI uses martial arts in a structured way to guide therapy discussion using pictures and anecdotes.


Use the chapters as an outline, print them for the client, stay positive and aware of the experience the parent is having in dealing with her kids.  Therapists can use TM and consults with the school to back up the parent.  Work with mom to create positive connections with school and DCF.  This is called the ecological approach in therapy and offers a way for the therapist to have an impact on the natural systems of families.

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