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December 14, 2015

Pest Control

shutterstock_121428757“Assumptions are the termites of relationships. “

(Henry Winkler, “The Fonz”)

We all know that the Fonz could ride a chopper and kill the ladies; heck, we even knew he could jump a shark. With a leather jacket on! But who knew he could give relationship advice? Above is a brilliant quote that succinctly states a profound truth: By making an assumption about a person’s motivations, you are placing them in a box and limiting their options.

If you assume your kids hate school, do not want to excel in academics, and need constant motivation just to pass, for instance, then think how that will lead you to act. You will begin to push, to hover, and if at all possible, worry them into a new attitude. Of course, what actually happens is you create a battle of wills: yours against theirs.

Think back to when your child first started drawing pictures and furrowed her little brow to get the flower just right. She cared greatly and yearned to do well. So, what’s happened since then? Are you certain she no longer cares about personal excellence? In my experience as a therapist, kids who seem to no longer care about school have one of two things going on: 1) they are struggling to keep up mentally and so find it easier to give up emotionally, or 2) they are finding it impossible to meet somebody else’s expectations and are thus fighting that person by resigning in passive aggression. After all, you cannot push a rope.

For today, try to evaluate all your assumptions about your children. Start by examining what you say about them to others in the office, or at the gym. In the spirit of the ultimate cool cat, Sir Arthur Fonzarelli, stay in control of your termite-like assumptions and give your kids the chance to surprise you.

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