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'Mail' Newspaper Articles

Focal Point (for publishing—05/02/08)

The Image Makers

One day last week while eating lunch I watched a little of Dr. Phil on TV. I had to turn it off – I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The topic Dr. Phil was dealing with that day was pushy parents driving their kids to be the best in a chosen field. This day it was dance and the prize was a large plasma TV. As a counsellor and knowing what the influence of parents is on developing children, I was cringing at the ‘abuse’ I saw. The abuse was not just the swearing and verbal violence but an abuse that I believe was going to set negative image pictures in those children’s lives forever. It was obviously all about the image that the parents were trying to portray. In real terms the parents were acting in a child mode and either had not developed to the parent/adult mode or if developed, had chosen not to use it on this occasion. Often these people can switch from one to the other as suits. Many men I counsel for anger problems can be great guys at work who wouldn’t step out of line, but at home they are violent and abusive. Why do this at home? Because they can, and sadly their women let it continue most often through fear. The sad thing about the dance kids is that although they hate the pressure and abuse from the parents, will possibly do it themselves when grown. Why? Because it was the strongest model they had presented when growing through their most influential years. Another area we hear about is the sexualizing of children with the clothes that are available and the fact that these children seem to be forced to grow up too quickly. Who is driving the agenda? Of course little girls in particular have always liked to dress up so they are normally willing participants. The problem is that the images that they aspire to seem to become all the more unreachable as they move through teens and into adulthood. What do they do then? Either continue the fight through the diet maze or switch and go the opposite way into obesity so that that can become someone else – at least they are defined. We can parent better than the above parents. A little common sense, a little ‘child’s play’ for our kids, a little more about their best than ours and a lot of affirming rather than put downs. Check out the back of some toilet doors for the list of 100 ways to praise a child. Looking through my Christian belief grid, I understand that my identity is secure and ok because my God not only made me and said “I was a good thing” when he finished, but He cares enough to watch over me daily. As well as that, how good does it make me feel when I know that all of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection was about securing a relationship with God for me and you by the way. I often talk to clients about what measure they use for goodness or ‘okness’. How far do we need to go to gain ‘okness’, forgiveness or freedom? What will it take? What is the measure? How much will it cost? Who can I rely on for the definitive answer? I believe there is only one ‘Image Maker’ and He works on the inside so that outside image doesn’t count any more. If you would like to talk about freedom from the negative influences you received as a child or anything else, ring me on 0409 517273.

Graeme Dawson 
Co-ordinator Focal Point & Valley Care Counsellor & Manager
Inter-Church Action 0409 517273.


Focal Point Yarra Valley 2009