Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Being Hurt an Opportunity for Growth

Writing for the Kyeongyang Magazine, a professor and executive officer of the Family Counseling Association begins her article with a mother's heart wrenching lament. She was walking home after buying some groceries and saw her daughter walking with friends on the opposite side of the street. Happy to see her, the mother called out her name and after their eyes met for an instant, the daughter quickly turned away and without a word, or recognition of any kind, continued on her way with her friends.  

There was a burning sensation in her stomach, the mother said. She was not able to concentrate on anything after she returned home. She cried. Was the daughter embarrassed about her mother? Did she think her mother would scold her? The mother was perplexed. 

The writer asked the  mother if she spoke to her daughter about it. Not at first, she said, fearing being hurt by the answer, and when she did ask, the daughter said she didn't see her, and without another word, avoiding her mother's gaze, went to her room.

This situation is normal in the growing up process, the writer believes. In wanting to be grown-up and adult, many children will go to any lengths to act independently, as if needing no support from their families. This should not be surprising to parents  but prompt them to turn their gaze toward themselves.

Parents should also be growing, she says, along with their children. By middle age, adults should be growing an interior life. While the growth of children, both physically and mentally, is easily seen, with adults this is not the case but the growth should be there.

Those who have  made a study of this adult growth, she says, divide it into exterior and interior growth.  With exterior growth, we reach out to others, not content to be concerned only with ourselves and our families, but concerned also with the welfare of future generations.

This concern for the welfare of others can also be called the enlargement of the self.  If this does not take place it will be like water, she says, in a puddle that in time will stagnate, become polluted and be a menace to others.

In contrast to the younger years, where the attention was on material prosperity, in later years attention should be on interior growth, on the mental, philosophical, religious and cultural aspects of life.  It will be a new beginning.

Children who see this growth in their parents and receive advice from this perspective will remember it. Children will  be aiming for this in their own life. It can provide the stabilizing influence of a compass needle that will point our children in the right direction in the years to come.            

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