Outwitting The Difficult Child

Originally published in Flourishing January 2012

The worst thing that can befall any parent is to outlive one of their children. In that regard, Linda and I have been very lucky, and a day does not pass, but that we give thanks.

I believe that it’s equally sad when a parent or grandparent has given up on their child or grandchild. This is perhaps a more common tragedy. Thankfully, we have not had that experience, either; but at times, we have had serious communication gaps.

I’m neither a psychologist nor family therapist, but here is what I think I’ve learned:

When you feel your child is shutting you out, or just talking past you; that child may be telling you something important about your own communication habits. Please know that I’m telling you this as a friend, and as a serial offender: That child may be, in effect, your family’s Jiminy Cricket.

From more than twenty years of working closely with hundreds of families, I’ve concluded that a key to the success of flourishing families is their ability to extend unconditional love, and to convey an unconditional commitment to listen non-judgmentally.

So, if you’re considering giving up on your child or grandchild, you might want, instead, to step back and ask yourself, “What message am I missing—and what opportunity is our family forfeiting—because I’m not willing to listen and learn?”  mh 

HT:  John A. Warnick, http://johnawarnick.typepad.com/seedlings