Disciplining Children

David, Jan, and their three children have just moved to the area. They made the move because David thought he would have an easier time finding a job. Having left family and friends, they no longer have the support that they had at their prior residence. When they moved, the family first lived out of their car and then at the “hotel from hell,” but they recently moved into a low-income subsidized housing project. David is an unemployed construction worker, and Jan works part- time at the local convenience store. David is age 28 and Jan is age 29. They have been married 10 years. Jan states that David
“sometimes drinks too much;” David denies this. David states that Jan has “gotten too fat;” Jan admits having gained some weight but states, “David should love me anyway.” During your meeting with the couple, you find that they often argue with each other about work, the children, and Jan’s weight.
Mark, the oldest child, is 11 and has been autistic from birth. Jan and David have received disability payments for him in the past and previously placed him in a residential treatment center. They are unsure about how to care for him now that they have moved. Jordan, who is 9 years old, has had behavioral problems in school and has been involved in some vandal- ism in his neighborhood. Jan thinks he may be “drug running” for some of the older kids in the neighbor- hood. Jordan is entering the third grade (he was held back 1 year at his previous school). David and Jan are unclear on how to
register Jordan in his new school. In fact, they’re not sure where his new school is located. They describe their youngest child, Jessica, as “their gem.” She is 6 years old and entering the first grade. They state that she is the only one who has not caused them problems.
Jan and David attempt to control their children through punishment, and you suspect child abuse may be occurring in the family. You also suspect that there may be secrets in the family, as the children seem scared to openly talk during a session. When you meet with the family, David attempts to control every- one by demanding compliance and by yelling. Jan will periodically shake a child if he or she is misbehaving during a session.

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