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Marriage and Family

Going Against the Grain

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10/01/2016 - How often is it that going against the grain is viewed as the right thing to do in life? Occasionally we will hear inspirational stories of someone who stood against public pressure and created positive change. Outside the stories of courage and triumph against seemingly insurmountable odds; going against the grain is not considered positive. Typically, people who go against the grain can "rub us the wrong way" or "create friction." Often, people who "rock the boat" may be asked, "Why can't you just fall in line?"

While the easy road may be to do what others expect and desire for us, this is not often the right decision. While going against the grain of a community can be challenging, even more difficult is going against the grain of ourselves. Choosing to act contrary to our will is probably the most challenging thing a person can do and is not usually advised by our society and pop-psychology. Sayings like "let your conscious be your guide", "be true to yourself" or "you need to do what makes you happy" are all common sayings that encourage a person to make decisions based solely on personal desire and will. These decisions can unintentionally create a lot of hurt in those we love the most.

This is the first of a small handful of articles discussing helping kids who are having to navigate the reality of divorce in their lives going against the grain of natural inclinations is vitally important in a child's ability to adapt. When two married people have conflict so great, and hurts so profound, that breaking off the relationship seems the only feasible option; bitter feelings and resentments will be present. The natural tendency will be to tell others, often including the kids, about how strong the feeling are towards the other person. When kids are listening to this greater problems develop.

Tammy Daughtry authored a book entitled Co-parenting Works! which is a book I am referring to frequently for these articles and a book I would encourage divorced parents to read. Daughtry identifies a couple problems that develop when one parent speaks negatively about the other to the children. First, Daughtry explains, is that kids identify with both parents. Because of this, the negative things said about the other parent kids will personalize that trait being theirs as well. Second is that the children will tend to lose respect for the parent actually doing the complaining. She says that, "Children will try to distance themselves from the one who is being so negative."

The kids' relationship with each parent is also drastically different from the spousal relationship. If divorced or divorcing, you are making the decision to sever ties and head in a different direction from the spouse. The kids, however, still view that other person as "mother" or "father" and will have that relationship for the rest of their lives. When your affection wanes, their love will continue. Talking negatively about the other person is speaking negatively about someone they love.

If this has occurred in your own home, it is never too late to make changes. Apologizing to kids can be profoundly powerful as a first step. Another, incredibly difficult thing to do will be to speak positively to the kids about the ex-spouse. Daughtry encourages people in the situation to actually say with the kids, "It's okay for you to love us both." Doing these things will go against the grain of how you feel. Going against the grain of how you feel will help the kids adjust and settle into their new reality.

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