My most recent article in the Huffington Post describes how developing compassionate discipline and by choosing to abdicate our role as hostages and hostage-takers that we can really begin to not take love’s glorious and transcendent name in vain.
Before they were famous, Ike and Tina Turner performed at the first prom I ever went to some 52 years ago. Their hit song, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” permeated my young being as I pondered to myself — but surely isn’t everything driven in the name of love? I was idealistic and still immune to the lure of carnal passions; the concept of lust was yet foreign to my heart and body. This silent boundary was still in place; not for much longer, but still there, a psycho-spiritual border crossing.
Every young parent I talk to today wants to be friends with their children. I shudder as I think what a disservice we have done to ours. In our zeal to give them everything we did not have we have created a group that holds us hostage in their constant need for instant gratification whose emotional default demand is to swim in endless sea of “yes.” Gone are the days where using ones’ imagination reigned free and a simple cardboard box and crayons metamorphosis into daytime pleasure. I fondly remember old socks made into puppets creating endless hours of riveting (we thought!) drama with our audiences being asked to watch performances that danced on living room stages.
Perpetually winking at us with their teasing neon message-received lights, grabbing and commanding our children’s’ undivided attention is technology that lulls them into otherworldliness and non communication. Their little hands deftly tap into the wonder of the digital world and when a seven year old must teach an oldster like me how to change my ringtone or create an Instagram and Twitter account, we know we have entered foreign terrain. What does that do to relationships? How do we teach our young to speak and not text across a room to look another in the eye and to hear the simple sounds of everyday life? What holds us hostage as our loved ones lose themselves in a drug laden sea of chemical Forget-Me-Nots. Noted child development specialist, Joe Newman talks about the compassionate art of Raising Lions. He advocates setting consistent healthy limits or boundaries as the key to success.
Simply put, a boundary is an interaction with another and signifies the separation of one from another. It also signifies what is acceptable behavior in social discourse. If that is a boundary then relationships are the interactions we have with others, friends, family, children, work and love. In my work as a clinician who specializes in substance abuse and mental health, I too often come across youngsters and oldsters who have had no boundaries, or ones with the resistance of rubber bands They have long held their loved ones hostage in the name of love. I have met many a family member who was afraid to speak except with their checkbook and who in the name of love let their loved one run ripshod over them with endless nonsensical and ultimately hurtful demands.
I have had clients whose mothers are still making peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches for 34-year-olds, doing their laundry and not requiring them to work. And we have fathers who are afraid to set limits, putting daughters up in fancy hotels which serve as Ben and Jerry ice cream, methamphetamine rooms. We have loved ones who are afraid to say “no” to their spouses, as they fear their wrath, the loss of an idealized version of marriage, withholding of income and subsequent disintegration status. I have had estate attorneys, business managers held captive, as they are afraid of losing their almost-famous client. I have seen aging parents 88 years old who want to save their 62-year-old son or daughter who has failed to launch in life on multiple and crippling levels. All in the name of love.