Thursday, February 28, 2008

Beating up Mom

I’ve already told you not to blame yourself and not to blame the entire opposite sex. Unfortunately, these days, I may need to remind you not to blame anybody else either: not your parents or your first grade teacher or your baby-sitter. If you think you’ve got a problem because of something that someone did or didn’t do at an earlier time in your life, ask yourself whether there is anything you could ask of that person now — other than an apology — that would help you. (Styles of parenting change every ten years or so, which means everybody gets caught. Most of our parents did the best they could with what they had, and the rules keep changing.)

If you think your mental health and dating abilities would be helped if you had a better relationship with your dad, get baseball tickets and invite him, but don’t expect him to apologize for the person he is. He may not have been the perfect dad, but you may not have been the perfect kid, either, so let it go. Or find a therapist.

If talking to your mom about the things she told you about sex would help —and if you can manage such a discussion without making her feel defensive or guilty — go for it. If you can’t manage it without making her feel bad, you’ll end up feeling awful, too. Then what have you accomplished? Blame locks you in the past and makes someone right and someone wrong, which means it’s likely that someone’s going to fight you if you’re blaming them, or if you’re doing the “it’s all my fault” routine, you’re making yourself unhappy. Who needs it? So go to a therapist or go to a ball game, but whatever you do, get on with it. Figure out what to do differently and let’s go.

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