It’s difficult to know what other people are processing about a situation or experience. Parents often assume they know the thoughts of their children, but sometimes they don’t. Each child is so unique, and their view of a situation is unique to them too. This is a story about a young girl we’ll call Megan. She was processing a situation in a way that was destructive to her happiness, but when her processing changed then her heart changed. This brought her happiness while her connection to her parents increased.
Recently 13-year-old Megan sent me an email sharing her story. Here it is in her own words:
“I just wanted to say that I read your book, ‘Roles.’ It has dramatically changed many of my perspectives of my parents and about why they are doing some things. So at first I started reading because my mom wanted me to read it, and I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, whatever, Mom.’ And to be completely honest I didn't really believe that the way my parents are parenting me is at all fitting with today's [modern] parental ways or whatever. So I thought, ‘Well, I will just act like this is all working. But honestly I felt that it wasn't at all real.’
“I don't want to be rude or any thing but I really felt like Teaching Self Government wasn't at all working for me, and I actually really disliked my parents ‘cause I felt like I had to act like it was working for me… But ever since I read your book ‘Roles’ I have been able to talk with my mom. Before I read the book I had resented my parents so much that I had a really hard time connecting with them the way I always had dreamed I would be able to.
“Anyways, I read your book and I now feel like I can actually respect my mom and dad because me and my mom (well mostly me) poured out our hearts, and I was able to tell her things that I would never ever dare to.
“We talked about our roles, and I expressed that I felt like I had to step into the mother role because she was either busy on a project, gardening, cleaning, and other things. I always felt like if the house wasn't cleaned, I would be responsible because I was watching the kids. I just felt like I had to step into that role because I felt like my mom was never there.
“Since I read your book I realized that my perspective was wrong. My mom was in her role taking care of the house and planting food for OUR family. It was my role to be there when she wasn't there, but to be there as the older sister, not the mother.
“Then my mom told me, ‘Yes,’ that she sometimes slacked off but that she will be working on fulfilling her role as the mother. So now I don't feel like I have to step up into that role, and that I can fulfill the role God gave me to be at this time.
“Anyways, I was reading through the book trying to get as much as I can from it, and I realized that this [roles concept] is a whole lifetime problem fixer. If every person would fulfill their roles, then we would not be in the place we are!
“I can honestly say that this book has changed me for the better. I think that every adult and the youth of the world NEEDS to read this. And hopefully they will realize what I did, that if we all would step into our proper roles then our relationship with our parents, boss, coworker, etc. would be a fabulously awesome relationship!!!
“My relationship with my mom has changed and is still changing, but I feel like I can trust her with all these emotions that are all crammed into my head that I wanted to express, but I had nobody to pour my soul out to. Ever since I read your book, my relationship with my mom is getting to be the one I have dreamed of. I can FREELY talk to my mom, and that is AMAZING!
“The other day my mom asked me to do something, and I started having thoughts, ‘Your mom is putting all the work on you, she should do it herself,’ things like that. But then I was like, ‘This is her role to remind me and to guide me,’ and I realized that I was the one who needed to step into my role. Now I have respect for my parents that wasn't there before.
“My parents are amazing people, and I didn't really notice it, but now I am seeing how much they were trying to fulfill their roles as my parents but couldn't because I was not willing to see the truth.
“Also, with TSG I totally agree with it. Before I was just playing along like a teenager normally would, but I now see that it’s okay for my parents to do what they are doing. There actually is a wonderful purpose [to TSG] that I never noticed until I realized that this whole TSG thing was actually so that we all could be free! I now think that TSG is a huge blessing! I never really realized (and when I did, I dismissed it) the amazing changes it has made on our family. Thank you for TSG.
“I want to thank you SO much for writing this book. It has changed me. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!” ~Megan
Debriefing Megan’s Thoughts
The fact that Megan felt open enough to write this email to me of her own accord illustrates how open in relationships she is now. Her new way of relating with others is because her relationship with her parents is clear and understood. Her newfound understanding and identity at home has given her confidence she didn’t know she had.
Megan’s story is pretty typical. Many youth are so used to thinking that parenting is meant to manipulate them that they also choose to process deliberate parenting as manipulation. It’s just a processing habit.
Many times people have told me I should have started my “Parenting: A House United” book with the Four Basic Skills. But I always shake my head and say, “I couldn’t. I’m not teaching behavior modification. I’m teaching a change of heart. The family has to discuss why they are going to change their behaviors and get on the same page first.”
Even so, over the years, parents have gone straight to the skills, not realizing that all the hearts might not be on the same page yet.
Megan was an obedient girl that didn’t want to cause problems, but her heart wasn’t in it. In fact, she was pretty sure her parents weren’t keeping up with the times with their TSG parenting choice. Without knowing it Megan saw herself as a martyr. She felt that she had to do all the hard stuff and take over her mother’s work because no one else was there to do it. She fell into what I usually call the Cinderella complex.
Many privileged children think they are Cinderella from time to time when their parents tell them to do chores or take responsibility for things. They envision that their role has somehow changed, like Cinderella’s did, from daughter to house slave. At this point they resent their parents and choose not to feel loved by them.
It’s easy to see how the change of a perceived role can also change a heart. When Megan saw herself as the “martyr mother,” she no longer felt a love and connection with her parents that she needed. She even declared that no one was there to hear her emotions or understand her, even though her caring parents would loved to have heard and understood her. By contrast, when she finally understood the role of big sister and her mother’s role as mother, she was able to open up her heart and deliberately strengthen her family relationships. At this point, suddenly she realized her parents were there to hear and understand her. When she clearly saw herself and her role, she could see her parents’ roles and value them as well.
For years I’ve had hopes of writing a book for youth about the power and freedom that comes from learning self-government. Maybe without knowing it I just wrote that book. Youth around the world are reading the “Roles” book and are giving me great reviews. They are seeing themselves and their relationships in a new light through the Justice family in the “Roles” book.
When I wrote” Parenting: A House United,” I thought people understood roles. Some time passed before I realized that our society has recently created a lot of confusion about roles by embracing dysfunction and validating selfish processing.
Self-government has always been about freedom from emotional bondage. The first step to that freedom is truly knowing who we are. When we know our true identities we are free to think and behave in a way that will bring us happiness. It isn’t until people know who they are that they can they be fully understood by others. This understanding is vital for that freedom to exist.
Read “Roles” with your family. Get it here.