I love it when an adult child says, “Mom, you gotta help me with this dilemma!” It’s awesome to be trusted in that way. It sucks for him that I can’t actually help the way I always have with say, finding lost shoes, giving a ride, making a killer dessert. Those times I can do it for him.
In some cases, he has to decide how he “feels” on the subject and what he thinks and what path he will take to deal with it. When we were chatting, I shared an example of what I would call “emotional dishonesty” and how I just can’t stomach that. He’s all, “No shit Mom, that’s why I’m conflicted!” I tried to remind him that he doesn’t need to be too twisted up about it. Most of us make decisions in the present and, although we don’t plan to grow up more, in a few years we might say, “I’d handle that differently now.” C’est la vie.
The conversation reminded me of a term from the psychological field called “differentiation.” It is related to the development of personal identity. The skill of separating thoughts and feelings. It is also said that a person’s differentiation level is higher when he is less susceptible to group think. I have no quotes or links, just sharing what I have cobbled together over time!
(My younger son read a blog post recently and informed me that I am not a teacher, I am more of a “summarizer.” Damn, that kid is smart.)
I have been very susceptible to a lack of differentiation at times. Something will happen and I just can’t think. I need a few days, weeks, years, whatever, to accept the original emotion and see whether it should be connected to the thoughts that eventually follow. Sometimes it’s a clear path, other times, not so much. I’ve probably said it before (ad nauseum!) that all adults have to examine what they picked up from their earlier environments. Not just to know ourselves, but to create our own identity. Believe it or not, I want my son to reject some of the things that I have modeled for him! He needs to take his training into consideration and dump anything that doesn’t sit right with who he is. It’s just parenting in denial if we want carbon copies of ourselves, IMO. I say denial, because they pick up all our stuff, not just the good stuff. I really love it that he has a strong sense of integrity in personal relationships, but I want it to be his, not mine.
I’m so happy he talks to me! Grace and peace to that boy as he finds his path.