No one has the power to make me treat them in a negative way

Posted by The 'Gueru

6-23-23 #15

During a discussion with a mother (Bernice) of a teen daughter (Sandy), I was faced with a challenging situation. Bernice was a kind and giving person who had difficulty with accountability. Her kindness would allow her to be taken advantage of. To have a parent understand that he or she needs to also establish boundaries with their child can be very tricky. First, I never want another person to feel as though I am reprimanding them. Second, culturally there are differences that govern the way we parent. Third, I am not the driving force in the therapeutic relationship. The client is; therefore, I must be mindful to never allow my own thoughts, experiences and stereotypes to creep into the process. So,  Bernice and Sandy would be at odds over various things. Most were normal teen concerns while others were a bit more serious. During this time, Bernice had grown to be challenged by Sandy’s choices, decisions and actions. As a result of the continued poor choices of the daughter, the mother developed somewhat of a negative disposition. I first noticed it while at court. Bernice would display negative nonverbal communication when Sandy spoke. I thought what I was witnessing was due to a stressful court situation, so I made a mental note to pay close attention in all situations. I did not want to have the conversation based on one incident. As I watched, it became evident that Bernice was having a difficult time separating Sandy from Sandy’s behavior. I had the difficult task of having the conversation with Bernice. Over the course of two to three sessions Bernice began to make a change in the way she was interacting with Sandy. Bernice explained that a prior conversation helped her to arrive at the conclusion that regardless to the circumstances, Bernice was in control of her actions related to a negative situation. Many of us presume to believe that negativity has to be reciprocated. It does not. I may be angry, but I do not have to demonstrate anger. I can choose to love through the negativity. It is very difficult, and sometimes we have to fake that part until we learn the skill.  As fate would have it, Bernice made an accidental call to Sandy as we spoke about an incident which occurred between the two. It was a negative situation, but Bernice had a completely different disposition than before. Her daughter heard the conversation and couldn’t help but be amazed at what she heard. Her mother used phrases like love her through it, continue to love her, things will get better etc. In that case, the mother was able to then reach her daughter and develop much improved communication which improved their relationship. That is an example that we can choose to remain positive. We do not have to allow an individual’s behavior to impact us to the degree we lose sight of who we are. I always welcome thoughts, comments and communication…

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