Oftentimes, we try to pass through small windows of opportunity with old beliefs that don’t fit. It’s like forcing a huge square peg through a small round hole. We bang, push, cry, yell and say “This is so unfair!”
We expect to make friends with people who want to be treated differently than our old pals; the ones who are used to our usual behavior. Yes, some people will stick around and take the same old crap. It’s called low self-esteem. But to have new and maybe even better opportunities with different people, the same old crap won’t work. The size of our baggage blocks our ability to see this.
Maybe our old beliefs have worked in the past. We put value on how many times the loyal friends and family members kept coming back, no matter how insidious we acted at times or maybe even all the time. We tend to look at this as being worth more than the potential for new experiences that foster real growth.
Remember that thing called “inflation”? How many times have we refused to drop a useless pattern of thinking or an outdated belief, because of how it serves us in the name of comfort? It’s like refusing a job that can possibly reap ten times more money, but the level of initial discomfort keeps us in a job that only earns a meager salary.
One person is seven or eight years old and the other is forty. Maybe both of them live in the same household, but because of age they are worlds apart. In terms of development, this is true. A forty-year-old person experiences life physically much different from someone who is thirty years younger. Kids usually don’t have the same aches and pains.
There is also a significant gap in the context of cultural preferences such as music and other forms of entertainment. And what is a big deal to the youngster in second or third grade is most likely old news to the adult.
Conversation between the two is mostly restricted to happenstance and brief. There’s nothing wrong with this. Normal development includes a gradual shift in priorities and the person’s relative connection to their current age group. To live in the present and take advantage of growth, each child, teen or adult is getting in tune with acquired abilities. Even though children don’t have to pay bills, they do have to learn how to tie shoes and ride bikes. We all have to pay attention to keep up with relevant information.
I will argue there are benefits in crossing the generational line in terms of sustained conversation. One of them is trust. I will explain.
At some point in a child’s life, he is going to face a choice between keeping a secret that is eating him up or disclosing it and getting help from a wise adult. Which action do you think he will pick if there hasn’t been some way to talk on common ground with an adult so far? In general, I see very defensive kids who cross their arms and frown quietly towards the expectation of what might happen with such freedom of speech.
On the other side of this, the adult usually has more faith in the child who demonstrates more of a vocabulary than “whatever” or “yeah”.
Another benefit of being able to hold a discussion with someone of a different generation is the widening of perspectives. Each age group holds a limited view of how the world operates for other people and the ways in which things can be done. Isn’t the knowledge of one hundred different angles to go at a challenge better than only one? Remember the exercise that some of us new parents had to go through for the first baby in the home? You crawl around on your hand and knees to see what the house and possible hazards look like for a child of six or seven months. Adults have grown used to walking around with their eyes seeing everything from an average of five and a half to six feet above the floor.
The physical way we see the world closely matches the context of interacting with others. If I’m six, I will talk mostly of six-year-old related things. I’m not going to talk about how much higher the water bill was this month.
But if I watch a movie with grandpa and I’m encouraged to speak at length about five or six different scenes with him afterwards, then I stand more of a chance understanding how to talk an adult. There’s nothing scary about conversation after all.
First, I will ask the reader to look at the difference between “argue” and “debate.” Quite a few of us in American culture can run into some confusion, because of our pioneering spirit. We cherish our independence. A lot of early training in the families of this country, reflects the value in standing up for what we believe. Otherwise, there would not be much protest against government agencies trying to dictate how to raise the kids and run the household. We don’t like being told what to do, period. I for one, hope that this healthy attitude continues. Human beings are not sheep.
When a person is in debate of an issue, he does best when ready with a convincing set of facts. His platform for debate may not guarantee a win of the most votes, but he can at least pavé the road to a later credible battle. Unlike argument, which is a behavior based on emotional defense, the act of debating serves a purpose. The opponent is invited to share information and the goal here is to clarify the gravity of the issue. A solution is eventually reached. In arguments, there is nothing but an angry push from each person to see who is the strongest. And when emotion is ruling the behavior on each side, the information (if any) is only distorted and both parties are further from a solution. So another day goes by without anything productive happening. It’s just a cycle of futility. To argue needlessly is akin to climbing a mountain made of butter with cellophane shoes.
My way of helping to curb the impulse to argue or be led into an argument is simple and easy. Of course, this works best when there is a personal acknowledgement of the costs about such behavior. The method has to do with using physical cues to help monitor the rate of impulsive acts. Your job is to cut down on the number of times per day, that a disagreement or behavior triggers an emotional reaction. For example, if six-year-old Johnny says the “No T.V. after 7:00 at night rule” is stupid and you are starting in with “No it’s not” then go ahead and put a colored chip labeled “I argued again” in the designated can. I’ve been known to label the cans for this kind of process, with words that remind the client of what we talked about in the session. Bringing a souvenir home from vacation has the same effect.
On a daily basis, it is a natural trend for some of us to eat lots of crap and get through the day. The crap consists of personal/ work time spent redoing and repairing the damage done by others, through human error and some inconsiderate behaviors. It is a part of life. It is part of being human and living alongside of other human beings. Hardly anyone (I want to say no one) is immune to making readjustments, however small in order to get things done and be able to have some time away from the responsibilities. Life is problem-solving, and of course I am one who is grateful for this fact.
There is going to be a certain amount of time taken up by the occasional detours we have to navigate. Some days are just full of them and it sure is nice to approach the easier 30 minutes or hour of the weekday just deflating. And of course, there are many different ways to construct one’s time in order to make even the most challenging detours and patch-ups an adventure rather than chore. This is where the empowerment comes clear to us. The choice in how and what to do with our charges.
But then, there are certain situations which sort of eat away at our resolve. The behaviors and ensuing results which most people would categorize as extremely unnecessary and discouragingly persistent. I’m talking about the child’s or teenager’s behavior which keeps earning him/ her a disciplinary penalty and frequent visits with members of authority who don’t live in the house. The parent or guardian is definitely included in whatever action has to be followed through on. Any action, such as making sure the young individual attends appointments with Juvenile officers and school principals is time and effort subtracted from work hours and family life at home.
I want to claim the authority to say that most children and youth who are on the path of inviting penalty, tend to make this a pattern. Since hardly anyone under 17 years of age is living without some form of adult supervision, there is more than one person besides the youth who has to carve out a period of time to endure the results.
With this said, is it safe to say that treatment for destructive behavior is important and worth consistent attention?