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Catastrophizing -- thinking a worst-case-scenario is likely to happen -- is often at the root of parent-child conflict. Ironically, it can make us act in a way that pushes our kids closer to the outcome we fear.

Today, I'm going to show you how one mother used the awareness she gained from being coached through a full model to change her relationship with her daughter. This mother offered a lot of story about how her daughter's boyfriend was ruining her life.

Here is the mother's model:

C (Circumstance): 20-year-old daughter has a boyfriend. Boyfriend is not currently employed. Boyfriend uses marijuana once each week.

T (Thought): Her boyfriend is ruining her life.

F (Feeling): Disdain

A (Actions):

  • Criticize boyfriend

  • Judge boyfriend

  • Judge daughter

  • Blame boyfriend

  • Ask daughter to stop seeing him

  • Threaten to withhold financial support if she continues to see boyfriend

  • Don't spend time with them very often

  • Act awkward when you DO spend time with them

  • Complain about him to other family members

  • Complain about him to friends

R (Result): You are pushing your daughter away from you and toward boyfriend.

I often don't even need to show my client what the result is. As they start telling me all the things they're doing -- their actions -- what they are creating from their line of thinking becomes obvious.

And then from there, we examine the model and ask all kinds of additional questions. For this client good questions could include:

  • Tell me all the good things your daughter is doing right now?

  • Are there any good things about this boyfriend?

  • What were you like when you were her age?

  • What was your boyfriend like when you were her age?

  • What is a "good" boyfriend supposed to be like?

  • How could having this boyfriend right now, at 20 years old, benefit your daughter?

  • What kind of boys are 20-year-olds supposed to date?

As the discussion progressed, this mother realized that the boyfriend wasn't nearly the problem she thought he was, and that he definitely was not "ruining her daughter's life". In fact, this daughter was progressing well in college, had a good job, and had good friends. The mother realized the boyfriend, while not perfect, actually had some good qualities, including being very kind and supportive to her daughter. She was catastrophizing what was a relatively normal young adult relationship, and in doing so, was damaging her connection with her daughter.

Over time she was able to shed a lot of worry over the situation, and she started to grow closer to both her daughter, and her daughter's boyfriend. She began to spend more time with her daughter. The daughter confided more in her mother. Whatever the eventual outcome between daughter and boyfriend, better connection with Mom benefits everyone. Nurturing the parent-child connection, not pushing away, is the best way to set kids up for long-term success.

If you're agonizing over something your child is doing, it’s possible there is some catastrophizing involved. Walk it back. Try to look at the situation more objectively. Question everything about it. Ask yourself if it’s possible that things could turn out in a totally different way than you are imagining. If you can’t loosen things up yourself, it’s time to find a coach.

On November 1, I’m opening up one spot in my 1:1 coaching program. If you need parenting help, if your marriage is suffering, sign up for a mini session with me today to get some free help and get screened for a place in my program.

Exciting news, my 1:1 time for coaching is becoming extremely limited. I’m beginning to develop the bones to offer a group membership program sometime next year. Group programs yield excellent results at a drastically reduced price. If you are interested in being notified when my group program is ready to launch, make sure you fill out the “get in touch” form at the bottom of my home page. No pre-screening will be necessary to join the group program.

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