The interactive connection: Work with parents

From the interpretive perspective that an incontinence problem in an older child is literally a form of dammed up communication, it follows that taking an interactive parent and child-centred approach to the problem is critical. The parents’ view of the cause of the problem and how they try to manage it is of specific interest as it is invariably connected. We may find parents who take an over-controlling and intrusive attitude towards their child and act as though the child’s development is dependent on their actions. They believe that they are the ones who have to inform the child when to eat, and when to go to the toilet. In this way the parent’s dominance has overridden the innate bodily cues of the child. The child therefore has ceased to listen to their own bodily cues and takes their cue about their bodies solely from their parents.

Where control is the dominant theme, we may find parents’ preference for a strong medical response to the problem, even though no organic cause may be found. In these cases medical practitioners themselves may suggest an emotional basis for the problem. The extent to which parents may pursue medical investigation even though these may also be intrusive and uncomfortable for the child, gives us some indication of the lengths to which some parents may go to in order to avoid having to confront the emotional basis for their child’s predicament. Given that the child is often encapsulated with the parents in the avoidance of the underlying reasons for the problem, they may be willing to go along with a medical approach which gives them the apparently ‘safe’ label of sick person and patient.

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