Article by Wendy McCance
Last night I was talking with my daughter about someone close to her that had been really disappointing her. She is well aware of the fact that you can’t change people and was having a difficult time accepting what was in front of her. She has been looking to get closer and connect better to this close family member, but everything she has tried has left her in the same spot.
I began to discuss what it was like as a kid myself. I had always wanted a close relationship with my mom, but it was always out of my reach. My mom talked at me instead of talking to me. She was very aware of her role as the authoritative figure. She spent a lot of time barking orders and shutting me out. You know the old saying, “children should be seen not heard?” Well, that was her ideal situation for me and my sister to be in. My mom never took the time to get to know me, but did walk around acting like she did. She would tell me what I was thinking, doing, and why. It was about 95% incorrect. I was accused of doing things that had never occurred. I was also accused of lying. She was always, “fishing” for a shred of truth to create a scenario around and so she could feel vindicated and punish me.
Back to my daughter, she is in a mirror like situation and she is often crushed by the actions of the one person she wants to feel a close bond to.
This is the advice I gave her:
There are people out there who reached a certain level of maturity and then somehow stopped growing. Maybe it was a traumatic experience in their own life, maybe that extra piece was never there inside of them to grow. We don’t know what happened. The important thing is how we look at it and work with it so that we can move on and feel some sense of acceptance while letting go of any bitterness towards that person.
This is extreme I admit, and PLEASE, PLEASE don’t be offended by the way I put this next part. It was a way to explain delicately to a twelve-year-old how to cope.
I said that we needed to look at this person like I looked at my mom. Someone who has a piece missing. In other words, they have a sort of disability. If my mom had not been able to walk and was in a wheelchair, I might feel mad that she couldn’t run around and play with me. I might have wished that I had that “ideal mom” we all envision stored deep in our mind. The bottom line is that I would get over it, accept it, move on and love her just as much as I would if she could walk. It wasn’t something she chose, it happened and she can’t fix it.
I told my daughter that it’s always easier to forgive and move on when there is something physical that you can see. It reminds you each time you look at that person that it is a limitation of theirs. Somehow my daughter needed to envision something when she was in contact with this close relative so that she would remember that they had a limitation. They were doing the best that they knew how to do. Somehow, something was missing, they stopped growing and what they are putting out is the best that they have to offer. We need to accept this if we want any sort of relationship with them.
At the end of the conversation, I tucked my daughter into bed and saw a look of peace come over her. She thanked me for showing her a different way of looking at the situation and was able to go to sleep with a peaceful mind.
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