Parents and Children

77950-68619How Parents And Children Can Finally Come to Love Each Other

The following is another story about the ways parents’ wishes for their children’s happiness and success can become a formidable obstacle to well-being and true love. I met “Tyler” – a 19 year-old – at a Philadelphia dinner party where his parents and I were guests of a mutual friend. The dinner party was a festive affair with formal seating, and I sat next to Tyler as his dinner partner. Early on, over our red wine, Tyler glanced slyly in my direction and asked, “So, what do you do?” I responded, “I’m a psychoanalyst.” Without missing a beat, he replied, “Do psychoanalysts believe in facts at all?”

Because Tyler was being annoyingly impudent with someone his mother’s age, I assumed my best professional manner and replied, “It depends on what you mean by facts. All facts occur in a context, right? They don’t make any sense without that context and the conversation surrounding it. And we psychoanalysts care a great deal about context and deep conversation. So, yes, we care about facts, but we care also about the whole context in which they occur.” His reply to that was something like, “Oh.”

We then settled down to our wine and salad. After another five minutes, he ventured out again to ask, “What are you doing here in Philadelphia?” I told him I was there to give a series of presentations on my new book, The Self-Esteem Trap, about a psychological condition suffered by many young adults in college or entering the workforce. When he asked me what I had found, I listed…