08 Mar Who Controls The Thermostat
This blog is a sort of follow up or new way of describing what I wrote about last month. I recently attended my annual professional conference. The keynote this year was a seminar on parenting difficult teens by therapist and author Scott Sells. If you are a parent struggling with your teen or even pre-teen, you might check out his book Parenting Your Out-of-Control Teenager: 7 Steps to Reestablish Authority and Reclaim Love. I have not finished the book yet but the seminar was excellent and the book so far is as well.
One thing he talked about describes perfectly what happens in difficult parenting situations. Essentially, he asks who controls the “emotional temperature” in the family. What he describes are teens that are very skilled in getting their middle-aged parents to behave like just other 16 year olds including temper tantrums, impulsivity, manipulation, immature logic, and so on. And, of course, when they get the parents there, they have gained control.
I think this is an important thing for parents to consider. Are your kids getting you to reduce your emotional age or are you learning how to be aware of the buttons they push that reduce you to their level? Have you practiced what to say when this happens so that you are able to keep your balance and continue to present your parenting options in a mature, clear, and loving fashion?
I think I can safely expand this idea to include all our intimate relationships. How often do you find yourself pouting or being passive-aggressive with a partner or spouse? How easily can your senior parents get you to feel and act just like you did 35 years ago? I say it’s time for us all to take charge of our own emotional thermostats and choose to bring all we have learned over the years about being mature and calm when the buttons are being pushed regardless of who is doing the pushing.