His Anxiety and Ours: Confessions of an Anxious Parent who Happens to Be a Therapist

As parents, we cannot help but yearn for our child’s success.  Obviously this is rooted in a beautiful and healthy love.  But sometimes that love can give way to fear, and that fear leads to anxieties that are unhealthy, not only for us, but for our children as well.  What can we do about this?  How can we care deeply about our children, without worrying so much that our worrying actually begins to weigh on the little guys we’re worrying about?

This week, we bring to you a recent Heights Lecture given by Mr. Alex Berthé, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and former Heights teacher/mentor.  Blending clinical expertise with his own personal experiences, Alex helps us unpack the forces—rooted in love, though often expressed in fear—that are feeding our anxieties.  In particular, Alex offers reflections on four key areas:

  1. The importance of delighting in your children and really getting to know them, as they really are and not as you wish they were.
  2. Why it is essential to put the relationship with your spouse first and to find trusted partners in parenting.
  3. The need to leave behind perfectionism: good enough is enough to move our children toward the good.
  4. The necessity of deepening our faith in God and respecting the freedom of our children.

Anchored in hope and optimism, Alex shares how we, as parents subject to these powerful yet often subconscious forces, can reinforce our boys’ confidence in their identity as children of God through rediscovery of our own.

As we hear, wisdom in parenting often consists in learning what things to ignore.  If wisdom begins in wonder, as we hear from Socrates, then perhaps our worries will end when we learn to view our children—even at their lowest points—with the wonder with which our heavenly Father views us.

Show Highlights

  • What causes parental anxiety?
  • The stages of child development and how parents respond.
  • Striking the balance between demanding too much and letting too much pass by.
  • Why comparisons in parenting can be detrimental.
  • How much energy are you putting into achieving a particular outcome for your son?
  • The importance of reframing in parenting.
  • Why Charity must be our number one priority: don’t cry over spilt milk.
  • Wisdom in parenting is learning what to ignore.
  • How our own fears and anxieties can manifest in our anxieties about our children.
  • The importance of being vulnerable.
  • We don’t always need a solution; sometimes accompaniment is enough.
  • Love the child that you actually have.
  • Faith and freedom: your child is not you and you are not God.
  • How parents themselves develop, even as their children do.
  • What is the root of parental frustration?
  • Why you should let your child make decisions for himself, even if he may err at times.
  • People over papers: setting priorities straight.
  • More than they show: why we must be attuned to what is occurring beneath the surface.
  • Name it to tame it.

Further Reading

Compass: A Handbook on Parent Leadership by James B. Stenson

Also on The Forum

Toughness for the Adolescent Boy by Mr. Kyle Blackmer

Learn to Turn: Tom Royals on Parental Prudence

Parenting: Patience or Optimism with Mr. Andrew Reed

The Stressed Son: The Causes of Adolescent Anxiety with Mr. Alvaro de Vicente

Be the Rock: Fatherhood During Times of Crisis by Mr. Kyle Blackmer

Alex Berthé

About the guest:

Alex Berthé

Alex Berthe, LCSW-C is a Bethesda-based psychotherapist working with teens, young adults, and parents. He completed his B.A. from Columbia University in 2003. While there he was a four-year member of the Lion's division I men's varsity soccer team. Alex describes his early to late-20's as being a bit of a blur. No, not for nefarious reasons. But because he was on the grind: pursuing a professional soccer career, mentoring kids on probation, waiting tables in NYC while pursuing an acting career, selling Cutco knives and high-tech software, and... he thinks that's it. It was during this time of searching that Alex fell in love with his faith and his now wife, and that he got some of the important answers he was looking for in life. At the tender age of 28, he returned to school to earn his MSW from the Catholic University of America in order to become a psychotherapist. While in school, he worked at the Youth Leadership Foundation's Tenley Achievement Program. There, he directed all-boys supplemental education and character building programs for youth from underserved communities. After five years at the YLF, Alex felt called to serve within the all-boys independent school world. He joined the faculty at The Landon School as a counselor before moving on to join the faculty at The Heights as a middle school teacher. During this time, he also moonlighted as a therapist with various Bethesda-based private practice groups. He started his own private practice in 2016, Berthe Counseling Group LLC, and has been there ever since. Alex offers individual and group psychotherapy to treat people with mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. He has a special interest in working with teens and young adults with ADHD. Alex also offers an eight-week parenting group that focuses on child development, parenting, family culture, and sparking more joy in family life.

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