Tag Archive for: history
Jason sat on the edge of my couch, his head in his hands, weeping. He had graduated from a top college on the Eastern Coast with solid grades and a gritty year abroad. On paper his capabilities were strong. However, 6 months into his first job, Human Resources had sent him to me to assess motivational and planning issues; standard executive functioning issues. He was exhausted, befuddled and needed something he could not name.
Raising children can be the most amazing, frustrating, exciting, crazy, awe inspiring, agonizing fabulous vocation in the world as we know it. This tiny life is suddenly in our hands, in our care. Many parents have the hope that they will not make the same mistakes their parents made. Some hope they will be able to replicate the childhood they had. Others set the bar very high and hope to give their child a very different childhood experience from the one that created them.
Hovering. Helicopter Parenting. These words describe a parenting style in which the parent “helps” the child by organizing the child’s social schedule, manages the child’s “free” time with enrichment activities, offers a crushing amount of unsolicited opinions, hires tutors for the child to mange high expectations and eventually does the child’s homework so that the child gets a good grade or doesn’t have excessive stress.
As parents engage in this parenting style, they rarely say to themselves: “Let me do what I can to stifle my child’s sense of self; I want a child who cannot structure a day, execute a project, manage anxiety or forge solid working relationships with co-workers.” Usually, the hope is to attend to their child the way they were not attended to. The hope is to be sure their child doesn’t experience undue stress or discomfort. The hope is to make sure the child knows that the parent loves them and will always be there for him or her. Sometimes the parenting style is used to make the parent look good or to help the parent remain in the social group the parent wants or needs to be in.
Aron had executive functioning issues. Or, equally accurate: he needed to learn, in his early twenties, what kids were learning naturally in middle school and high school. He had never learned how to make his own schedule and keep to it. He hadn’t learned how to budget time to complete various stages of projects. He struggled with co-workers and the distribution of work. He needed a supervising agent to tell him what the next goal was.
Aron’s case is extreme. He had a lot of unlearning and learning to do in order to catch up to his peers. Other kids experience this steep learning curve when they go to college or move out of the family home and leave their helicoptering parent behind [as much as possible]. Cell phones and texting can make this very difficult. We also had to work with his parents, his father in particular, on managing their reaction to his anxiety as he mastered some of these goals.
Loving on Life’s terms means giving a child enough guidance and support that they can accomplish the learning they need to accomplish without doing it for them. Children must learn how to manage anxiety, learn through trial and error, handle down time without screens or being entertained, think for themselves.
In “Attraction versus Résumé,” I mentioned that Nature has primed us for procreation. We respond accordingly. Nature hasn’t figured out, yet, that we humans have set expectations that we will live with each other, often monogamously for a lifetime. Nature expects us, has pre-programmed us, to have lifelong connection whether we live together or not.
Hooking up, friends with benefits, one night stands, athletic sex, anonymous sex, fun sex. Nature didn’t get the memo that we humans have figured out how to move sex into the recreational, non-consequential realm. The advent of the Pill in the mid 1960s freed women and couples from the probability of unplanned pregnancies. Contraception options abound and therefore sex as recreation is abundant.
Nature made sure sex would feel good and, most report, it does! Except for that unattached lost feeling folks have after the sex is over. Sam Smith [“Stay With Me”] sings plaintively about what it means to lose the connection with another person after sharing bodies.
We are made to connect with each other. Sharing bodies: touching, tasting, teasing skin to skin. All of it serves to join us.
When you connect sexually with someone, you create a history with that person. Each kiss, touch, embrace builds that history. Whether you tell yourself, intellectually, that it doesn’t matter or not your body knows it does. The body remembers. The heart yearns.
If this were an advertisement for beer I would carefully follow ethical code and tell you to remember to drink responsibly. Since this is a blog about Loving on Life’s Terms, I will tell you to remember to have recreational sex responsibly. When you enjoy another’s body, you create history with them. This creates connection. Connection, in Nature’s world, is what sex is about.
My friend was beginning to think about dating after his divorce. Well, in truth, he wasn’t necessarily ready to Date. It seemed that everyone in his circle was ready for him to date. His dating life, or lack thereof, was a hot topic. I signed on as his wing woman, ready to help him navigate, offer sage advice from my own dating experience and give him support as he took risks.
What was my most important piece of sage wisdom? Easy:
There is Attraction and then there is Résumé.
Nature wins, every time. We understand that our primary function is to procreate and make more humans. Nature decrees it and we follow it. For this reason, we see a suitable sexual partner and respond accordingly to that hot guy or sexy woman. We are made to attract and to be enticed.
What Nature didn’t take into account is our propensity to share lives with each other, or try to.
This is where résumé comes in. That potential lover looks and feels So Good. We sign on for some enjoyment hoping that enjoyment will build into something we can rely on. But what is the résumé? What is this sexy creature’s history with lovers and partners?
If we agree that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, the way our Sexy Creature has treated his or her lovers in the past has everything to do with what we can expect in our future.
Questions to attend to:
- What story does she tell you about previous relationships? Both beginnings and endings?
- What relationship patterns does he describe? Understand?
- Does she blame his or her partners for most of the relationship health or pain?
- What about current relationships? Does he have healthy friendships? Family relationships?
- Does she expect certain things in friendship but forego those same expectations with lovers?
What does your résumé look like? What do you bring to relationships? What are your strengths? Growth edges?