European Spotlight: Frankie Nielsen, counseling DODDS kids for 38 years
How are the children of deployed soldiers handling the separation?
Family separations present unique and sometimes painful challenges for adolescents. Of course our kids have felt sad, lonely, up, down and sideways, but I’m always impressed with their resiliency. Research suggests that resilience may be the most important factor in determining lifelong success. The adversities of deployment seem to be giving our kids lessons in life on how to cope with complexities, handle stress, deal with disappointments, regroup and try again.
What is their second greatest fear?
Of course, the No. 1 fear is the loss of a parent or loved one. But kids’ second greatest fear is public humiliation. To be embarrassed, look stupid, ridiculed in public, look like a loser.
What do grown-ups need to know?
Grown-ups need to know how much kids need their love and support and encouragement. But parents also need to keep as close an eye on their 12-year-old as they did when the child was 2, and never ever be permissive. Pro-active guidelines and positive limits are essential.
Tell us about the conference you are organizing of the European branch of the American Counseling Association.
Held in the Black Forest, the retreat will be Nov. 9-12 in Bad Herrenalb, about 20 minutes from Karlsruhe. ... The membership of EB-ACA is a rich tapestry of counselors, social workers and psychologists who work every day in support of our military members and their families. Our Web site is EB-ACA.com. It will have details.
What everyday issues pose the greatest challenge to counselors?
The everyday issue which poses the greatest challenge to counselors is time. There are often many clients who need help and support, and time is limited.
Word has it there is a magic couch in your office and that it works miracles?
I thought it was supposed to be a magic wand, but I got a magic couch. Seriously, the magic is in the genuine, caring and respect for anyone who needs help. Time on the couch is full of hope, finding solutions, interventions for success, encouragement and renewed faith in one’s self.
What advice would you give parents, in respect to their kids?
Give your kids a piece of you. Set aside at least 20 minutes every day where you just talk and share life. Don’t criticize, nag, teach or inform. Just share you. Tell them how you see the world, stories about your grandmother/father, parents, what you think is funny, your favorite place, etc. It is the most precious gift you can give a kid.
Interview by Kevin Dougherty.
Title: Counselor, Wiesbaden Middle School, Germany
Of note: Longest-serving DODDS counselor (38 years)
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