One of the insurmountable challenges is to convince any parent to go for family therapy. And this is how I did it.
It has been 6 months since we’ve embarked on our monthly “family dinners”. I put time away to discuss our challenges, triggers and wants, hopefully, to improve our relationship. Yet, my only reliable strategy for a delightful dinner was to shut my mouth.
I’ve read books (Non-Violent Communication, Why You Won’t Apologize), listened to interviews with renowned therapists (Esther Perel, Brene Brown), and implemented learnings into these dinners. Everything sort of works until one of us would get triggered and that’s the end of dinner.
On this day, I had a new perspective. Perhaps it is not the message, it’s the messenger. Time to bring in the professional, the family therapist, the person with years of experience resolving deep-rooted issues. A person with a wall of certificates and success stories to share.
Now, the plan is to convince my parents for therapy.
1) Align common goals: A better family relationship.
2) Agree that the current approach is not achieving results: Monthly dinners
3) Seek advice for possible reasons
4) Actively listen to them
5) Suggest my solution: family therapy
6) Conclude and execute on the new approach
“Mom, what do you think could be possible reasons why we are not progressing in our relationship after months of dinners?” I asked.
Mom got silent and replied, “Bryan, I think you have depression.”
My jaw dropped. “Oh… okay. Well, what about you? Maybe you’re the one who has depression? We should go to the doctor together!” I’m surprised by my reply.
And there we go, sitting outside the polyclinic waiting for our number to be called.
After a round of questions with the doctor, he concluded, “Bryan, you don’t have depression. You’re too productive to be depressed.”
“Well, I know that already. Now you just need to convince my mum,” I smiled.
My parents got invited back into the room and were debunked of their concern that I have depression. Out of possible reasons, that’s how my mum got roped into the family therapy.
Often times, we have a certain way of seeing the world. Instead of a verbal argument to change someone’s mind, or worse, using power to instruct or name -call which is not at all effective, the next best thing might be to let reality do its job. There is no need for power, logic or debate. It’s simply an embrace of the opinion of others, treat it as an experiment and let reality do its teaching. Perhaps, this is the best way to change someone’s mind and even better, be beside them like the kind teacher we all hope for.