My husband and I hosted Thanksgiving this year, which we have done for the past several years, since our home is best suited, and my husband worked as a professional chef for ten years prior to his current career. Hosting family lends itself to all sorts of observations. Currently a family member is struggling with mental illness, and his mother has sought my support. It is a very difficult situation in general, and particularly when it is so close to home. What to do? What boundaries to set? What are the resources when an adult child refuses to seek help, but is completely dependent on his parents? She asked what I would tell a client in this situation (of which I have had many), which helped me get into helpful mode.
It occurred to me that it really depends on your outlook. If you are standing and viewing the situation from a “glass half empty perspective” it is entirely more overwhelming and gloomy. On the other hand, viewing it from a glass half full, or “it could be a whole lot worse” perspective, enables us to appreciate any positives, find strengths and move toward resolution. In this case, it was helpful to point out that while the person of concern is not well, is not able to be independent, and may be at risk for many potential problems, he is not aggressive or violent, is not acting illegally, and he could benefit from treatment when he decides he is ready. She recognized that while she can not control him or his choices she can control her outlook, (and her boundaries etc).
I have to remind myself to apply this filter everyday when challenging parenting moments arise. This morning my daughter refused to get dressed, and instead ran around the house singing “I’m naked” at the top of her lungs, while my son, engrossed in his star wars lego battle, ignored my reminders about getting dressed/ready for school. I was about to blow my top, but was able to breathe, and be thankful for healthy strong willed independent children who can run, play and focus.
This filter (glass half empty or glass half full) goes hand in hand with gratitude, and thankfulness. By reminding myself that it could be worse, I could have less able bodied children, we could be without cloths, toys, etc rather then power struggling over them, I reframed the situation and decided that an earlier bedtime may be helpful, but that really the morning was not that bad. And yes, my family member will still struggle with her son, but perhaps can appreciate his strengths more of the time while the work through his challenges.,
So hold an attitude of gratitude, filter your perspective and response with the question, “am I mistaking my half full glass for a half empty one?” What does your glass look like to you?
Be well, and take excellent care,