Parents often write me and ask me to work with their children, often teenagers. Will I work with them... fix them? They have all of these issues.
I often reply with something like: I'm sorry to hear about your challenges. I don't work with minors... I work with their parents. Because that is the source of much of the dynamic, and the best point of leverage in the equation. Our own issues, whatever they may be, profoundly affect our children, so the first stage is always the self work.
When I say this, they usually don't follow up again. Perhaps they go look for someone else to fix their children.
You might say that it's easier to 'fix' a child, because their patterns aren't as entrenched as those of their parents. The challenge is, the issues often arise out of not feeling loved fully, or feeling loved conditionally. And trying to orchestrate change for someone who does not request it invariably comes across as feeling like the opposite of unconditional love. 'I'm going to work on getting you to be this way, because it would be easier for me, to 'love' you.'
Whenever I fall into this way of thinking, I remind myself how short and precious life is, and this inspires me to love now, flaws and all. If a child is running around wildly, I look inward. Do I feel embarrassed by their behavior? Am I hanging all kinds of meaning on it that isn't necessarily there? Can I just celebrate their freedom? Their ability to play?
Think about the metaphor of the movie projector. A perceived flaw on the movie screen of our lives is usually just something on the lens of the projector. The tiniest fleck of dust shows up as a huge 'dragon' on the screen.
It reminds me of a famous quite:
"First remove the beam out of your own eye,
and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye." -Jesus.