Thanks to those of you who told me how gratifying it was to make contact with older friends during the last week. It’s a win-win for everyone, isn’t it?
Thanks also to those who questioned the solution of the “opinionated” grandmother who kept family peace by basically saying everything the younger generation did was “fine.” The questioning is valid and the grandmother’s solution is appropriate and understandable if we go back, reread and digest the November 7th, “What’s the Goal?” post.
In that post I related something helpful from my counseling experience: suggesting that parents ask themselves “What’s the Goal?” when dealing with their children’s difficult behavior. It’s simple, easy-to-follow guidance that’s equally applicable here. Keeping the goal first and foremost in mind, when facing potentially heated situations, is just plain smart. It prevents getting sidetracked, prevents exacerbating a situation, and avoids a lot of unpleasantness.
If the goal of the self-described “opinionated” grandmother is to maintain good relations and peace in the family, she has made a decision that works well for her. And this highlights another, perhaps more difficult, aspect: the importance of knowing ourselves and the impact we have on others. Understanding this is not always easy and sometimes it takes counseling to gain this awareness. In any event, having this understanding serves us well as we deal with many challenging situations.
I want to note here that there may be a time when we need to change goals mid-stream so to speak. And that would be a time when discussion discloses that there’s a threat to life and limb. While that doesn’t happen often, the possibility someone could hurt him or herself or others is serious and would probably necessitate a quick change in goals.
Lastly remembering to keep “What’s the Goal?” in mind is as important for the older generation interacting with the younger generation as it is for the younger generation interacting with their aging parents.