Thursday, July 12, 2012
When we are young, our parents and family have a responsibility to take care of us. As we grow, they should take the time to nurture and protect, teach and instruct. As children, sometimes we don't understand why those things are important or what the bother is, but children have a voracious appetite for learning. That learning should be encouraged and reinforced as much as possible. Teaching children to look at things from multiple perspectives and to have an open mind prepares them for the massive amount of conflict and confusion life has to offer. Parents should teach by positive example so children can adjust to life as an adolescent and eventually as an adult. But what happens when parents fail at preparing children for life?
Children are smart and capable. They can learn to cope, but if they aren’t given proper guidance, their coping skills will be inadequate and inefficient. I do my best on a daily basis teaching my daughter how to cope, even with things that are upsetting, difficult, and troubling. Don’t get me wrong, I focus on the positive, but it’s impossible to ignore the negative aspects of life and expect things to turn out okay.
Unfortunately, I know people that have terrible coping skills because their parents taught them nothing positive. What happens is an unfortunate cycle of negativity that accomplishes nothing but keeping those people in a dark place. They aren’t really capable of taking care of themselves, because what they learned was piecemeal, ad hoc, and unguided. The consequences of this are devastating. I have experienced an element of this. Someone I know keeps asking advice only to ignore it, and sometimes gets mad at me if they don’t like what they hear. I have experienced having this person lash out at me and people I know for odd reasons. Now you might find yourself in uncomfortable situations where the other person takes out their frustrations on you, or someone you know. You must recognize that they aren’t able to cope well and what they are doing is the only coping mechanism they have. They aren’t able to take care of themselves properly.
If you find yourself acting like this, stop. It might be hard, but recognizing there is a problem is an amazing first step in solving it. Some of you might remember the GI Joe cartoon. At the end, there was always a Public Service Announcement where one of the characters would say “Knowing is half the battle.” It’s true. Part of earning to take care of yourself properly requires recognizing if you aren’t doing a very good job if it right now. Sometimes, getting through to a person with this problem is impossible. But I would suggest that you start with yourself.
Remember, you can’t really take care of someone else if you can’t even take care of yourself. There’s no shame in asking for help either. Sometimes it takes a simple request for assistance. If you can learn to accept your faults and rise above them, you can take those first difficult steps in becoming self-reliant.
Comments and questions are welcome. Thanks for reading.
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