Are You KIDDING Me With This???

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Being A Grown-Up: A Primer

So. Snark's Mistress is having some trouble with her family. It's a drama that has played out over the course of the entire week, and it's not only painful for her, it's painful for me. Why? Because I have always loved her family as my own and seeing this rift in their usually harmonious interactions is jarring and uncomfortable. It also pains me because it has left Snark's Mistress in tears more often than not, and I don't like the idea of her being 2 hours away from everyone who loves her when she's distressed.

Anyway, the story isn't really mine to tell, particularly since Snark's Mistress has her own blog and she'll tell it when she's ready. But there are a few things that I've learned over the course of the last week that I do want to talk about. They have to do with what it means to be an adult. See, I really think that part of the problem has been that the family member in the center of this whole drama has been mistakenly identified as a grown-up, when he is, in fact, a preschooler. And I'd like to clear up some confusion as to what the terms "grown-up" and "adult" really mean.

You know you are an adult when:

1) You are able to articulate your needs in a clear and concise manner and no longer expect those around you to read your mind. Remember when you were a toddler and your mom or dad asked you to "use your words" instead of throwing a temper tantrum? This still applies. Throwing a big hissy fit because someone didn't do exactly what you wanted them to do in the exact moment you wanted them to do it is not the same as clearly communicating that you need xyz and you would appreciate it if someone could provide you with xyz. Additionally, if you are disappointed when you feel you have done the above and you still did not get your needs met, it is a good idea to take some time to reflect on why that might be before flying off the handle and accusing everyone you know of being insensitive assholes. Which brings me to:

2) You understand the difference between healthy debate and accusations/slander. It is a fact of life that you are, at times, going to be disappointed by the people you love. But if you love these people, you will understand that the slight was more than likely unintentional and if you choose to address it with them, you will take some time to calm down and approach the topic with an open mind, sensitivity and understanding. What you will not do is call them names, refuse to entertain their point of view, or accuse them of not being worthy of your love. That makes you an asshole, not a grown-up.

3) You accept apologies when they are offered. You would think this would be an easy enough concept, but for some reason, it escapes a lot of people. What they do instead is complain that the apology offered wasn't "good enough" and then continue to argue that the severity of the wrong done them was worth nothing less than a full, unconditional admission of guilt and wrong doing. The truth is, most people have reasons for doing what they do, and if they feel sorry that what they did hurt you in some way, they will both apologize and offer an explanation. This explanation is not meant to negate the apology, but merely to explain their motivations in the hope that you will understand their reasoning and see that they really did not mean to hurt you. So be a grown-up and accept the apology, even if you still don't understand their reasoning. Which brings me to:

4) You keep an open mind. Not everyone thinks of things the same way you do. That doesn't mean they are wrong and you are right. It means they approach situations in different ways. Again, that doesn't mean they are wrong and you are right. If someone has not acted the way you wanted her to, take the time to hear her out and really try to understand her point of view. You don't have to agree with it. But if you understand it, or at least try to understand it, perhaps you will be able to recognize the true intent behind her actions and forgiveness will come a lot more easily.

5) You understand that when you're the only person arguing one point of view, and 8 or more people are arguing the other, your logic might be flawed and it might be time to consider the possibility that you were the person in the wrong. Do some navel-gazing. Is it possible they have a point? Could it be that if 8 people came to the same conclusion with the same set of facts that perhaps you are the one misinterpreting things? Think about it. Consider it. And if you still disagree with their conclusions, that's fine. But allow them the freedom to continue to believe what they believe without making judgments about them. Agree to disagree. It's not so hard. Trust me.

6) You recognize that you can't have it both ways. You can't tell people not to worry and then complain that they didn't worry. You can't tell people that all you want is an apology and then complain because the apology you got wasn't good enough. You can't alienate everyone you know and then complain that they don't come through for you. Say what you mean, and then stand by it. If you have a change of heart, that's okay. But you forfeit the right to get angry, then, if everyone else is still operating under the assumption that you meant what you said the first time around.

7) You pick your battles carefully. Some things are just not worth the hit your relationship will take if you continue to argue your point of view to the death. Decide how important this issue this is to you and how it fits into the context of your entire relationship history. Do you want to risk your entire relationship over this? If not, let it go gracefully. Which brings me to:

8) You don't shut down a discussion for the sole purpose of having the last word. Shutting down a discussion because it's not going anywhere is one thing. Shutting down a discussion by telling the other person he's a despicable jerk and you don't ever want to talk to him about this again because it will just remind you of what a despicable jerk he is and that would be too painful for you so let's never discuss this again? That's just trying to have the last word. Sure, it would be great if every argument could end with common ground, but that doesn't always happen. Sometimes you just need to look at the situation calmly and rationally and recognize that you will never agree on this subject, but that you can still love each other and that it is best if the discussion is closed because it's doing nothing more at this point than hurting you both.

Of course, this only scratches the surface of what constitutes adult behavior, but I think it's a decent enough start. Hell, if the family member in question could learn even ONE of these lessons, I would consider it a victory. However, he seems intent on living his life as a preschooler, which is unfortunate. But I suppose it's not all bad. At least when his first child is born later this year, he'll have a playmate.

6 Comments:

At February 24, 2007 6:25 PM, Blogger country girl said...

Great definitions.

 
At February 24, 2007 6:36 PM, Blogger Jodi said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At February 24, 2007 8:19 PM, Blogger dykewife said...

the seven points could apply to most of the chronologically enhanced population of the world. in my experience, there are very few people who have even a passing acquaintance with anything resebmling maturity. it sucks when people close to you are hurting and there's nothing you can do for them.

 
At February 24, 2007 8:19 PM, Blogger dykewife said...

eight points...i can't count and can't read

 
At February 26, 2007 4:02 PM, Blogger Flip said...

0 for 8 here. But at least I have goals now.

Hugz to you and yours.

F

 
At March 03, 2007 7:19 PM, Blogger Nate said...

Nicely done. Our expression for number 5 is if three people tell you that you're drunk, lie down.

I recently told someone at work, after a very rare moment of maturity, that it sucks being the adult. After reading this I realize how few people have to worry about such things.

 

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