“Dad I was just a child when I said that.” A conversation between an adult son and his father conjured memories of past offenses. An episode in the family when the children were nine and eleven led to an opinion being expressed. The elder son said he no longer respected the father because, in his opinion, the events ought to have resulted in divorce.
Verbalizing an opinion at the time hit the father hard, leaving a deep sorrow that refused to be assuaged. Twenty years latter, revisiting past days of conflict, the event surfaced. “You told me you could no longer respect me because I did not divorce your mother” father offered. “Dad, I was wrong, I did not understand anything about relationship. I have a deep respect for you in that you made the right decision!” In a moment, twenty years of sorrow washed away, replaced by a feeling of value.
Engaging in a conversation like this requires both parent and adult child arrive at a place and time. That place and time is related to a certain level of maturity. That place is free of defensive reaction, free of selfish protectionism, free of fear and full of peace. It is a place where parent and child listen to each other, understand personal contribution to conflict and take responsibility.
Some common habitual mistakes hinder the process of healing:
1. Blaming and Accusing:
‘What is wrong with you?” “You always doing stupid things!” “Why can’t you remember simple rules?”
“If you do this one more time I will explode.” “Do that again and I will slap your face.” ” You will be grounded for a year if you do that again.”
“You stupid worthless idiot.”
“Get up off your ass and get to work!”
“Wake up, fly right, get your act together and remember all the damage you are doing to everyone because you cannot think before you act…etc.
“You will go crazy in no time.”
7. Martyrdom statements
“You are killing me. I am going to explode. I cannot handle this bad behavior any more.”
“Why can’t you be like your brother?”
“Sure just keep doing that until everything is destroyed.”
“If you keep behaving like this you will never mount to anything.”
Free up open doors to cooperation by:
1. Describing the situation without adding judgments, assessments of character of prophesying disaster.
2. Provide factual information not tainted by emotion or criticism.
3. Use as few words as possible
4. Talk about the feelings that occurred in you without blaming.
5. Write a note.