ACA Blog

Debbie Carter
Jul 31, 2012

Don’t Be Afraid

In the last week, I saw an interesting pattern emerge in two of the families with whom I work. I found that during the play therapy sessions with the children, things were quite status quo. The children played with no signs of anxiety, depression, or any significant content. Yet, when checking in with the parents, they described their children as ‘out of control’, ‘argumentative’ and ‘manipulative’ to say the least. I found this to be far from the truth when compared to how the play sessions went with each. However, I know that parents can evoke very different responses from their children and I have no doubt that what they were seeing in their children was indeed present. So, I asked these parents to give me examples of what they meant by these behaviors. And, sure enough…their descriptive words were in line with their examples!

As I left each of their homes, I thought to myself, “I know that both of these children have special needs and diagnosis, but I remember feeling the same way about my children from time to time”. I questioned my thoughts about this, as I didn’t want to minimize the parents concerns in any way. However, the thoughts kept nagging at me.

A few days later, I saw an article in The Huffington Post by Kara Gebhart-Uhl entitled Phases and Moments. In this article, the author stated that she and her 4 year old daughter had a ‘tough week’. Kara goes on to list many, many ‘phases’ to which any parent can relate! But, then she states that these phases are just that…phases. They will end, and another will come, and it will also end. But, her greatest realization was about the fact that between these ‘phases’ are ‘moments’. She defines moments as “These incredible make-you-want-to-cry-with-joy-beam-with-pride-thank-God-or-the-universe-or-whatever-that-you-do-or-don't-believe-in-that-you're-alive moments: Kicks from within. Birth. Falling asleep on my chest. Unprompted smiles. Unprompted kisses. Unprompted hugs. Unprompted I love yous. A hand-drawn "family portrait. The first lone trip down the slide. The first lone scooter ride, The first walk into preschool. Concern for me. Concernfor others. Concern for plants and animals. A song sung quietly, completely, simply for the joy of it. Holding hands without a fight. Snuggles. Conversations, real conversations. Firsts. All the firsts. Lasts. All the lasts. Seemingly-insignificant-but actually-quite-significant betweens. All those catch-you-off-guard betweens. And the many, many, many, oh-so many more”.

I debated…do I share this article with these parents? Will they feel that I am minimizing the fact that they are daily dealing with some very complicated situations, not just ‘phases’ and ‘moments’. I qualified the sending by stating my doubts to them, and then just sharing the article. In the doubt I acknowledged that, yes, they have some very complicated concerns with which they deal. And, right alongside that is the truth that they, too, (like many parents who don’t have daily complicated concerns) go through both ‘phases’ and ‘moments’. We all do…it’s common to our humanity.

Take the time to read this lovely article at It will remind you of Fredrich Buechner’s quote which applies to all, "Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid."

Debbie Carter is a counselor-in-training who is interested in helping children and families heal from trauma, grief, and loss through play therapy; for more information

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