As we ring in the New Year I believe it is the perfect time to look at our relationships and resolve to commit our best selves to those that are most important to us. That may be our spouse, or life partner, our friends, or certainly our children. One thing I have learned in 25 years as a therapist and almost that long as a mother, is that what we pay the most attention to grows larger. So, for example, if our kids are misbehaving and we give them a great deal of attention for that, they misbehave more. If we have certain expectations for them, they usually rise to that level. So maybe this is the year to use that to your and their advantage. Perhaps this is the year to show your children how grateful you are for them on a daily basis. Tell them every day something, however small, that you value about them. It may be a talent, skill, or special quality that you really appreciate about them. Make your positive comments significantly outweigh your negative ones. Commit to this for 2012, or at least commit to it for the next 3 months, and see what happens. But let me warn you about something, especially if you have teenagers. At first, it may seem that they don’t appreciate your comments. They may not even acknowledge them. Or they may give you a strange look, or roll their eyes. That’s okay. Just keep it up. Do it without any expectation of immediate change. Teenagers may take some time to “soften up,” especially if they’re used to hearing more criticism than compliments. If you’re consistent, I suspect you will begin to see your relationships change in unexpected ways. Let me know what you notice.
Happy New Year!