Being a parent of a teenager can be trying. Especially if you’ve got one who essentially locks herself in her room most of the time:
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Read transcript here.
A middle-aged woman who was getting married for the first time called my radio program, because she was upset that no one seemed to be as excited as she was.
First of all, no one outside of the immediate participants takes the top rung in excitement. While I’m happy for my friends who have some momentous event in their lives, I can’t possibly get to the level of excitement that they are experiencing, unless they are somewhat dispassionate or emotionally removed from their own lives! I can be excited and happy for them, but I can’t be excited like them.
Secondly, when she was asked to enumerate the people in her life who weren’t excited, she mentioned her brother. A guy! Excited? About getting into a tux? I think not.
When I asked about friends, she said she had none. This worries me about her marriage. People who don’t have friendships tend to be loners, more self-absorbed and self-focused. They avoid vulnerability and openness, and, perhaps most importantly, they don’t have much experience with sacrifice and tolerance….both qualities of a good friend.
Frankly, friends are a necessary part of life, and there are all levels of friendships, from acquaintances with whom you can share experiences, to dear friends with whom you can share your inner world.
One thing I know for sure: happiness is perfected when it is shared. Of course, my caller was feeling like the tree fell and no one heard it…she hadn’t brought anyone into the forest with her.
Happiness is perfected when it is shared. Sharing in joy elevates the experience. In order to have the kind of friends with whom you can share your joy, you must put yourself out, tolerate their quirks, make time, be loyal, be understanding, and just be there.
Facing it, always facing it, that’s the way to get through. Face it.
– Joseph Conrad
Polish-born English novelist
Recently, I had a caller to my radio program – a 22 year old woman – who complained to me that she was anguished over the homecoming of her mother from a vacation. It seems life is quite terrible for this woman with “Mommy dearest” around.
I asked her why, at 22 years old, she was still living with her mother when it was such a horrible experience. Her answer was quick and to the point: “I am a coward.” I gently (yes, I can be gentle!) informed her that there is a price to everything, and the price for cowardice is anguish. There’s no fix for that without moving past cowardice.
Life situations are largely out of our control, but the decisions we make and the steps we take for responsible action are in our control. Cowardice (as my caller put it), however, is a major problem in a large number of people’s lives. That’s why you hear people argue both sides of a situation when asked why they don’t speak up, take legal action, confront, and so on. They’ll say: “Yeah, I know…,” and then cowardice takes over because they don’t want anyone mad, they don’t want to lose something (money, connection, etc.), and they don’t want to have the feeling of being alone. Because of cowardice, they will tolerate abuse and put others (like children and spouses) in harm’s way.
The tell-tale signs of cowardice are the phrases “Yes, I know…,” and “But…,” and “It’s not always so bad…,” and “But I’m not always so good either…,” and “Can’t they just go into therapy?,” and my favorite, “But what if….”
You get the picture.
Remember, ultimately, you are the architects of your own lives. Cowardice wastes your precious time on earth.
My husband usually turns on the television news as we have breakfast. I prefer not to have it on, frankly, as I can’t stand all the negativity so early in the day, but a commercial came on where there were several kids in their homemade downhill race cars. Sitting off to the side was a child about the same age, but in a wheelchair.
One – just one – of the kids in his wooden race car (complete with helmet and goggles) looks intently at the child in the wheelchair, then gets out of the car, and lifts the kid out of the wheelchair and places him in his car, and then gives him the helmet and goggles and proceeds to cheer him on.
One of the final statements coming from the generous and compassionate kid (who is now speaking as an adult in the commercial) is that he didn’t remember who won the race, but he did remember how he felt about it.
The Foundation for A Better Life, which sponsors these “lessons,” is appropriately named. When one is a better person, one automatically has a better life – dramatically and immediately, in spite of the selfishness, thoughtlessness, unfairness and meanness which surrounds the universe.
It doesn’t matter if your kid has the right clothes, a cell phone, Skype abilities, email, text messaging, a new car and so on. What matters is what truly matters to them. That’s what a parent is supposed to teach children: what should matter.