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Re-framing problems as opportunities, being diligent about determining who owns the problem, and allowing for flexibility in solving problems are important in any relationship if our hope is to know each other more deeply. And these skills are absolutely essential for adult children who face the possibility of caring for their aging parents. A great example of this aired in a special about caring for aging parents on ABC in 2011. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/ElderCare/sibling-situation-caring-elderly-ailing-parents/story?id=11592489
This story demonstrates that by being attentive to unique strengths and limitations among the siblings, they allowed for flexibility in solving the problem, which led to an overall better solution if for no other reason than the siblings were growing closer to each other rather than letting their anger and frustration win the day. Sometime our conflicts really do provide the opportunity for us to grow in intimacy with God and to grow in deep, loving relationships with our family regardless of how that family is structured or what crisis that family might be facing.
So what if the emotion with which you do things in a family actually matters? What if anger produces one kind of outcome and love produces a different kind of outcome? That would be a torah of family to ponder by day and by night. If the energy we bring to our problems is anger, lust, or fear, it won’t work; but if the energy is loving, then it will work. The energy in families needs to be genuinely warm, kind, gentle, joyful, playful, and easygoing. And those things can be the hardest to do inside the family.
Consider that the next time a problem comes up in your family, you might think of it as an opportunity, figure out who owns the problem, consider that person’s developmental readiness for solving the problem, and if they’re ready – let them solve it. Your job will be to enjoy watching someone you love learn and grow and change and become all that God has created them to be. That sounds like a pretty fun job!
The happy person is one who does not follow wicked counsel; or linger on the road to ruin; or sit among the hecklers’ seats. On the contrary, with Yahweh’s torah lies his true joy, mulling over His torah by day and night. The one who so delights and muses on Yahweh’s torah will be like a tree transplanted alongside the creek bed. Like a tree which gives its fruit in season. Its foliage does not wither. Everything this tree makes causes thriving. (Psalm 1:1-3).
Consider that the fruit of the tree sustains humans, animals, and insects. So the fruit of our attention to the reality of our life and the holiness of our journey creates the environment for those around us to thrive. So what does it mean to cause thriving? What do you consider characteristics of a family who is thriving? And why do you define thriving in this way?
When looking at the example of real trees, giant sequoias specifically, it takes a fire from time to time for these national treasures to thrive. But early in the management of the sequoia forests, fire was actively avoided. By protecting these trees from the crisis of fire, the forest rangers inadvertently prevented the sequoias from the experience that was essential to their growth.
Is it possible that we do something similar in our families? Do we try to maintain control at all costs and inadvertently prevent our children from experiences that are essential to their growth? Maybe there’s more to learn from failure than just what to avoid next time. Maybe living through failure actually teaches us that we can live through failure. Maybe living through failure forces us to evaluate what’s really important to us. Maybe living through failure leads to the development of grit and resilience and other characteristics that turn out to be essential for a life that is thriving. Could it be that a little crisis every once in a while could actually lead to thriving? Think about your own life. How did you learn your valuable lessons? What sort of experiences do your children need to be having so that they learn their valuable lessons?