There is no question that the parent-child relationship is lauded as the most important human connection there is, as evidenced by such psychodynamic theories as Freud’s Oedipus and Alexia complexes/syndromes. Of course, there are a host of late-night comedies, day-time soap operas, and a multitude of talk-shows that feature therapists and counselors connecting individual’s current symptoms and behaviors to parental practices. Of course, each of us has our own version of “I am because” referring to the inadequate or less than stellar childrearing practices of our parents.
So, it seems that no matter what problem we are facing now someone will most likely trace it back to or attribute it to either our relationship with our mother and/or father and the “dysfunctional” way in which we were parented. As a mother, I take offense; but as a child, I see the point. I can’t win in either case. However, as a scholar and thinking person, I must acknowledge the importance of parenting in the life of most children. I say "most" children because I have been confounded by children who really don’t need much from their parents—these Beings come out of the womb with a clear sense of who they are--and to their parents’ dismay—who their parents are. These children seem invincible to poor parenting. On the other hand, the rest of us need our parents to possess at least average parenting skills for us to “turn out alright.”
My question is “What can we do to get beyond the “issues” that seem to keep us stuck in blaming our parent?” Parents, especially mothers, are over being blamed for destroying their children’s lives. As a student of psychology and a practicing systemic psychotherapist, I’d like to offer both parents and children the following:
1) The one who is the most invested in creating a wholesome relationship need to call a meeting of the hearts
2) Parents and children should come to the prepared to listen wholeheartedly
a. Listening wholeheartedly is done with great intentionality. This means listening to someone as if the person is speaking a foreign language that you are interested in learning.
3) Each one must be willing to accept responsibility for his or her
personal offenses. In other words, if I'm offended, it may not be the other person's intentions to do harm. I may have interpreted the action.
4) Ask questions when something is shared that seems different from what you remember happening. Say, that's not what I experience, I thought you meant...
a. Speak in turns rather than interrupting as soon as you hear something that seems to be a contradiction
5) Keep the conversation focused on what you want right now—
assuming that you want a more positive and amicable relationship with your family member.
6) You MUST HAVE a therapeutic mediator who is a SYSTEMIC thinker, unless you are interested in having the same conversations in therapy that you have at home, with the only real difference is that you will be paying for it. In other words, a systemic therapist can help you get unstuck.
Finally, I want you to read back over this brief article and notice that I said a few things that you didn’t already know. Almost anyone of you could have written this composition. I’m pointing this out because when you sit down with a systemic therapist, something radically new should unfold. It will seem radical because you have been so busy blaming and accusing each other that you could not see beyond the fight. So the blaming and arguing should change once you settle into therapy—the blaming will end and the relationship that you have always wanted will reveal itself. Now you can enjoy your relationship.