About twice a week I get a phone call from a mother who “wants to speak with Dr. David”. When I identify myself as “Dr. David”, I usually hear the following: “I need your help! I hope you are the right person – my child refuses to go to school/has serious social issuers/has been alarmed that if he did not behave he would be expelled from school“ and the like. At this point I sometimes find it very hard to insert a single word – let alone a full sentence. It seems that the troubled parent has suffered for a long time, sometimes from a problem – or many problems – that started at an early stage of their child’s life and escalated during time, and suddenly it became clear to the parent that unless something is done immediately the price would be too high. When I finally get a change to insert a work I usually say: “would you like to make an appointment”? and then, after getting a positive answer, I tell the mother, among other necessary details, that the meeting is with both parents. At this point the mother usually say: “so I’ll call you again, after I speak with my husband”. I have never been brave enough to ask: ‘how do you dare bothering me, taking so much of my precious time, and then tell me that you have not spoken with the child’s father yet?” In fact, I could also ask: ”Do you call a heart expert doctor just to tell him that you need to speak with your husband first?” I am sure most mothers would not call her hairdresser just to tell her that she learnt a lot from their conversation but now she must inform her husband about it before she makes an appointment… In any case – there is a rule: “when a mother needs to ask the father’” I never hear from the family again. When it is the other way round, namely, the father calls, usually he does not need to “ask the mother”… I am sure you are curious to know what happens in the meeting. Well – the parent who made the call usually understands that indeed there is a problem”. In many cases that parent is willing to commit to whatever is needed: changes that the child or adolescent must go through in order to improve the educational, social, emotional and familial situation; sometimes psychological intervention that includes parents’ counseling, both are quite expensive, sometimes changes in the family’s life style, etc. But there is another parent, the one that was convinced to attend the meeting or, as I hear sometimes as an answer to my question “why are you here” – “because my wife made me come”. The “other parent” is almost never ready to be a full partner in the coming process. Sometimes he or she say it directly, which makes things easier. But sometimes they pretend to agree with the “concerned parent”, and in order to satisfy their spouse, they say they would support the process if I accept their child for a long-term intervention. However, after just a few weeks they either “do not have time”, or say something like “she is doing it so well – why do you need ne as well?” Unfortunately, in these cases the process has high prospects to stop immaturely. The child feels the battle between his parents, he or she knows that the arguments are related to them and this makes them in the position they should never be. To decide whether to “continue to meet Hanna, which is fun and interesting, or to satisfy Dad” is an unfair task for anybody, let along for a young child. So please, if you call me – speak with your spouse first!
I’ll never forget that when I was about to present my paper: “Social, familial, and educational problems of the talented girl” at The Israeli Conference on Girls and Women in Science and Engineering, Tel Aviv University, 30th
November 2000, the professor sitting next to me on the stage asked me, while both of us were waiting said to me: “do you know who is Mr. David? I never met him”. It seems that the assumption that “Dr. David” is a man is stronger than reality. The situation has changed lately thanks to the new media and my insisting on attaching my picture whenever possible