By Sheila Menon
One of our most important goals in life is to build a successful and highly rewarding career. The other is to forge happy and successful relationships with those around us.
For most people their families are their major resources not just in terms of finances but also emotional support and advice. Families also provide role models for the younger generation.
Having a fulfilling relationship with family members will have a lasting effect on one’s personality, behaviour and self-esteem. For most people this legacy is largely positive, but for some conflicts and disagreements with family members create unresolved confusion and pain.
Children see parents in positions of power and influence. But it can help to remember that they are also people, each with their own set of emotional and psychological hang ups.
This new perspective helps create a clearer picture of one’s childhood. Understanding one’s parents is an important first step towards self-forgiveness and acceptance, which in turn reduces the likelihood of repeating the same mistakes with one’s own children.
Hugs are important. They can help even adults, who missed out on affection when they were younger. Positive emotional exchanges stimulate the growth of cortisol receptors in the brain, which is also important in managing stress.
Of course, therapy is another way to help rid oneself of unwanted baggage and leave you free to embrace more positive relationships.
The angry parent
All parents get cross from time to time, and whilst children don’t like this, single outbursts rarely lead to emotional damage. Prolonged anger however, which overshadows everything is harmful because children remain in a high state of alert.
As adults they may be hyper sensitive or avoid conflict at all costs. People pleasers who are nervous about expressing their own opinions often fall into this group. The good side is that these very skills are helpful in the workplace and are often found among the more supportive and reliable of colleagues. The down side is that bottling up real emotions can lead to stress, loneliness, frustration and sometimes passive-aggressive behaviour.
The controlling parent
When a parent is too controlling, children lack the opportunity to develop confidence in their own opinions. They may even lie to avoid conflict. As adults they find making decisions difficult or stressful.
Another common behaviour is avoiding criticism at all costs. Of course the positive outcome is that they are often diplomatic, good at considering other people’s feeling and opinions and weigh up the pros and cons before speaking.
Some parents are so self-absorbed, so focused on work that they are unable to show the empathy necessary for normal parent-child development. At an unhealthy level this is narcissistic and the child is considered only a reflection of the parent. Any request is at best ignored and the child is expected to be both subservient to the parent and at the same time a trophy to display to other envious parents and families.
Some parents can feel threatened or resentful as they watch their children grow up into young adults with lives of their own. They feel reminded of their own missed opportunities and lack of achievement.
Previous positive parent-child relationships may sour over time leaving the adolescent vulnerable. It is often hard for young people to understand what is happening and they may blame themselves for the communication breakdown. The uncertainty can lead to deep mistrust of any person whom they allow close.
Of course there is no such thing as the perfect family. But the Five Ls Guide can help make families the place where you can be yourself and be accepted for who you are. After all it is the first relationship that any of us will have.
The Five Ls Guide
LEARNING: Sharing with each other and learning value, behaviour and skills
LAUGHTER: The perfect “medicine” for strong family ties
LOYALTY: The glue that keeps families together
LOVE: The heart of the family
LEADERSHIP: The role models who impart shared values and respect
Workshop on “Family & What To Do About Them”
The London College of Clinical Hypnosis is offering a one-day discover workshop on Family & What To Do About Them at the special rate of RM50 (limited places).
Sheila Menon is Principal of the London College of Clinical Hypnosis (LCCH Asia).
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