A life of reruns

As we come to the close of 2019 have you noticed anything familiar in your relationships? Are you still attracting the same type of people? Are you still experiencing negative results from your interactions? Are you frustrated that you keep being misunderstood in your relationships? Well, I may be able to help you with that.

I recently had a client that was having some parenting issues with her only child who is a teenage girl. The teenager constantly takes advantage of her mother’s generosity and when the young girl doesn’t return the same level of generosity to her mom, she gets really upset and petty. Petty to the point of making her daughter ride the bus to school instead of dropping her off like normal. Making her fix her own supper some nights and not allowing her to use the car — not even for work.

The daughter then retaliates by shutting down communications with her mom and trying to shut her out of her life. When I met them the daughter was having trouble at school and the mother didn’t know why. All she knew was her grades were suffering as a result and the daughter would not give any explanations.

The mother feared she might be bullied or in some kind of trouble but because of their in-home fighting, she has no clue of what’s going on.

This is where good family therapy comes in. You see, most of the problems in this story are symptoms. The problem is not the daughters lack of generosity. And it definitely is not the sanctions the mother placed on the daughter. I could even argue that some of those sanctions could be standards. The problem rests in the question of why is the mom so generous?

I say SO generous because her generosity creates an expectation on the subject of her generosity. In this case it’s her daughter, but it could be a spouse, coworkers or friends.

Generosity is like charity, you shouldn’t expect something for it. I created a family genogram and discovered that the mother was raised with a mother who was very stingy. She coveted her personal items and would be very upset to suspect someone touched or went through her things. It made the mom feel like an outsider in her home.

As she got older she would be very generous with her things as to not have people get the same feeling she was left with from her mom. So she began to “over give” and developed expectations from it. This effected all of her personal relationships because she could not believe that she kept meeting people who were selfish.

A subsequent discussion about expectations revealed her true struggle and we were able to correct various behaviors that led to negative outcomes.

Once we did this, she apologized to her daughter (which according to the daughter that was first time in her life) and the daughter apologized as well and then told the mom what was going on with her and working together they were able to fix things.

So now I ask you: Are the expectations you place on others ruining your relationships? Do you believe that you have a right to expect some thing from someone else? What gave you that right?

Is there another way to handle relationships that allow growth organically and not forced by another?

There is a reason for the patterns you see in your life. Some are negative and positive but understand that you are the stimulus of the pattern and you don’t have to stay in reruns.