I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, about the relationship between parents and children. Now, some may scoff or ignore me because I don’t have any children of my own, and they’re right, I don’t. I don’t have children, but I was a child at one time, and I am someone’s child. I do know a little bit about at least one side of it.
I realized the other day that not once while I was growing up did I ever picture what a relationship with my parents as an adult would entail. In fact, even as an adult, I am having a hard time picturing my ideal relationship with each of my parents! I mean, I can list a million things that they do that I don’t necessarily like, and plenty more that I love, but as for describing what the perfect adult relationship with each of them would look like, I come up blank.
Is it any wonder that my relationship with my entire family feels exactly like it did when I was 19? It’s time to update the user manuals!
I’ve been trying to do this piece by piece, but I am going to try some journaling and visualization of the ideal relationship with each of my family members, now that we are all adults. I believe that this will really help me, not only in the way we relate to one another, but also in discovering and setting my own boundaries.
If you are a parent… have you ever taken the time to visualize the ideal adult relationship between yourself and your adult children (even if they’re still small)? To picture where your boundaries will be with your adult children? To picture yourself relating to them as adults?
Parent, child, or sibling, have you taken the time to visualize your relationships with family members as adults? Do you think you would behave differently toward some (or all) if you took the time to actually write down your desires for your relationships? To really get clear on the relationship you want to have with that person, not just the laundry list of things you dislike about the relationship you currently have with them?
Your challenge, should you choose to accept, is to pick one member of your family, and describe the ‘perfect’ relationship with that person. How would you interact with one another? How would you greet and bid farewell to one another? Would it be warmer than the greetings you offer now? How would you speak to one another? Would you talk more? Would you talk less? Be more open? More available? Really take the time to focus on how you would feel if things were as you are picturing, and what behaviors, if any, would be different.
Now… take a black permanent marker and cross through every sentence that describes the other person’s behavior, leaving you a description of your behavior, in this ‘ideal relationship’.
The next time you interact with this person, try behaving more like the ‘ideal’ you from your journaling, regardless of how they are behaving. See how long you can stay in the mindset of the ‘ideal’ you.
The idea is basically ‘be the change you wish to see’ but I believe that really picturing the relationship the way you want it to be will have a great impact.
I expect to have a good report for you guys on my own experience with this in the near future, and I’d love to hear about your own experiences, if you decide to give it a go!