With most problems we face in life, we naturally tend to address them only when the associated pain becomes severe. Take our health as an example. Most of us see the doctor when we suspect we might have a serious illness. We hope that there is a pill that we can take to make the symptoms disappear. But the real problem all along has been that we, along with our culture, tend to “kick the can down the road”, until the symptoms become acute and painful. We ignore small, chronic problems until they demand attention. We don’t identify and plan for long-term pain avoidance.
Can you identify with these common pain points in your family?
- Our teens won’t talk to us about anything. We don’t know anything about their friends, what they like and don’t like, their aspirations, and their feelings. Any questions we ask are responded to with one-word answers. Frustration is at an all-time high. Our teen’s attitudes are mostly cynical and angry.
- Teens seem to oppose us on everything. Teen and adult priorities seem to be entirely different. For us, school is important. We push for good grades, they respond with C’s or worse. We want clean rooms and daily showers. They want to use the floor for clothing storage. We want quality family time. They want TV, video games, or to hang out with friends. We want to communicate face to face. They want to text.
- Spouses seem to view the world from opposite perspectives, from day to day, from situation to situation. Tension spills over, making the environment feel less comfortable and secure for the rest of the family. Family members withdraw or take sides. Ultimately, our teens seek comfort and stability elsewhere, oftentimes from those of whom we disapprove.
- We want our teens to grow, but we don’t know how to release responsibility. We are frustrated with our teens, as are they with us. As parents, we struggle with letting our teens experience the consequences of their decisions. We face a dilemma in doing what is right, in the face of extreme disapproval from our teen. We want to be liked. Our teens walk over us. Things get completely out of control.
- Family members are pulled in many different directions, with priorities outside the family. As part of our culture, we are pulled in the direction of what is urgent, often times trading off what is important for our family and us. Relationships become like moats that widen and deepen with time. Interactions become strained.
Unlike other creatures that inhabit planet Earth, human being’s instinctive tendencies that draw us in the direction of emotional health, are innately very weak. We find that conditioning from our upbringing, combined with social pressures easily overpower them. Although we have been given unique, human assets to apply to our species’ problems, we don’t instinctively know what to do and why. Through the best of intentions, we often we make wrong choices. Painful, unrelenting, debilitating consequences often result.