Gratitude AND Desires

The holidays are a confusing time. The religious observances teach us to be grateful for what we have and what others have sacrificed for us. At the same time, we are inundated with advertisements that exalt the value of material goods and push the limits of our financial means.

For any one individual to reconcile the seeming polarization of these messages can be difficult. For the family system, these opposing messages can create additional challenges in the form of arguments, feelings of invalidation, and resentment.

For parents, increased “wants” expressed by their teenager can be perceived as the adolescent being “ungrateful,” “entitled” or “spoiled.” For adolescents themselves, not receiving items they perceive as “deserved” or “earned” can be felt as an invalidation of the efforts they make to please parents with academic performance or positive behaviors.

In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), the foundation of our program at Family Recovery Centers (FRC), there is a large emphasis on dialectics. A dialectic is a linguistic term used to define a statement that contains two seemingly opposite ideas, while maintaining that both of these ideas can be true and valid.

For example, you can still be grateful for what you have and want more. Frequent arguments between teenagers and their parents can stem from basic misunderstandings of dialectics and an inability to effectively express emotions.

At FRC, we understand the importance and complexities of the parent-child relationship. We understand that effective communication is an acquired skill that you are never really done acquiring.

We work with both the adolescent and their parent(s) to develop and hone their interpersonal effectiveness skills, to ultimately help them find a middle path and a “life worth living”.

The therapeutic process is an ever-evolving focus on the dialectic of acceptance and change. Individuals develop and foster self-acceptance in the present and also work towards change of maladaptive behaviors. The goal-finding balance and achievement of their best selves.

As we progress through this holiday season, set aside time for your personal gratuity.  Take a quick break to process where you are, and where you want to be within the dialectic of expressing gratitude and taking advantage of the materialistic opportunities brought on by this time of year. Create a dialogue with your teen or parent(s) about what they are grateful for; you can both strengthen the relationship by expressing your gratitude together.