Keeping my Mouth Shut

Not giving advice to children and grandchildren is a hard thing for me to do, in other words to keep my mouth shut.    As a retired Marriage & Family Therapist having spent some 30 plus years treating families and so  I   see and hear things that perhaps other parents and grandparents don’t hear.     Red flags go up and I want to intervene and  offer suggestions as to how to alleviate future pain.     I have learned, however, that they do not want to hear what I have to say.    They like all families prefer to pretend there is no problem until it is too late to remedy.      No one likes to hear that they are behaving in a way that will cause them future harm and pain.        When occasionally I do forget and start to say something I see the veil come down over their eyes and the  looks of intolerance between them so I try to quickly change the subject and let them go back to their pretend state that they are leading the “good life”.    What I have to constantly remind myself of is that the change in toxic behaviors in families starts when they make that first appointment to see a therapist or whatever agent of change they choose to turn their lives around. It may be religion, a 12 step group, a therapist, a medical professional, etc.  The decision to change themselves or their family has to come from within and is usually motivated by some negative or series of negative events; i.e., ill health that has been ignored, a pattern of anger or depression in a family member, inability to communicate and resolve daily problems, kids doing poorly in school , etc. etc.   The most likely event is one of the children getting into difficulty in school or in the community.    It is of course easier to identify the child as a problem rather than to admit that the couple or the family as a whole is not happy.  

I am reminded that since I see only occasional clients I have a tendency to want to “work” even when with my family.   My work, psychotherapy, has been my life, my way of creating, and now that it has slowed down there is a need to fill that void and  create  something different.   For sure, it cannot be resolving the family’s dissonance.

A poem comes to mind by Robert Bly.
“You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything: the darkness that comes with every infinite fall and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing and are raised to the rank of prince by the slippery ease of their light judgments.

But what you love to see are faces that do work and feel thirst

You have not grown old, and it is not too late to dive into your increasing depths where life calmly gives out its own secret.   “

La Vida lleno
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