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George W. Doherty, M.S., LPC

The Magna Carta was signed in 1215. It is an example of a communication in which the factual content being transmitted is very important. Such a communication rarely evokes emotional responses from the people who receive them. They can be filed away in the memory, written down or discarded. Other communications are purely emotional (for example, "You are a red-neck, prejudiced jerk and I hate you"). Usually such a communication generates an emotional response with little or no intellectual activity. These can also be filed away or discarded. However, they are usually felt as a hurt, especially if they are meant as an assault on one's character. There is a middle ground where communications can carry varying amounts of both cognitive and emotional substance. For example, "That was a stupid thing to do," may be interpreted either as "You're stupid." or "There are other things you could do instead." The interpretation depends on the emotional climate, the tone of voice and the existing relationship between the people involved. Most of what we communicate to each other has implications on these two levels. As a result, the possibilities for misunderstanding are innumerable. TWO THINGS can be done in order to increase understanding between parents and their children and to clarify what is being received and what is being transmitted. The first is to learn how to label both emotional and intellectual responses accurately so that we know what we feel and what we think and that we are capable of distinguishing between the two. The second thing we all have to learn is to respond appropriately. Many feel that if they take the trouble to try and "understand" their kids, their attitude may be construed as condoning what the kids happen to be saying. This does not have to be so. You can UNDERSTAND what someone is saying without agreeing with it. The important thing here is to realize that by showing that you are WILLING to understand, you begin to make interpersonal exchange possible. By doing so, the sense of threat is reduced, the need for attack and counterattack is reduced, and both parties feel free to come out of their corners and TALK. 1997

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"How true! A child's greatest period of growth is the month after you've purchased new school clothes." - ORBEN'S CURRENT COMEDY