The Importance of Boundaries for Good Mental Health (3)
By: Beth McHugh 2010
We have recently looked at how Marcus was forced by his father to do a dentistry degree that he wasn’t interested in and also how Jane fought a several month battle against her mother to not use a pacifier for her baby daughter.
These are two widely varying but similar situations in which a person, in both cases, an overbearing, disrespectful adult, wanted to impose their will upon that of their adult child. They are both typical examples of how one person does not “see” or respect the other. What makes it worse in both these cases is that the damage was inflicted by family members, those we expect to love and care for us the most.
Marcus got his own way against his father by deliberately failing at university even though he was tremendously intellectually gifted. But he wasted two years of his life doing so. A better way for him to have approached the situation was for him to have been more assertive with his father when he finished school and was on the point of going onto higher education.
This was the time to say “no” to his father. Obviously Marcus felt that he could not do this, and at the ripe age of 18, no-one could blame him. And yet if his father had taught him to be an assertive boy and adult as he should have done, Marcus would have had no problem doing this and his father would have been disappointed but supportive of whatever career his son wished to follow.
Therefore we cannot ask more of Marcus than what he already did, merely point out the best way that the situation could have been resolved. As Marcus’ father was not a man who truly cared for his son’s wishes, there would have been a tremendous argument if Marcus had have expressed his true wishes earlier. Marcus got his way, but he had to do it in an under the table method. At least Marcus ended up happy in the end.
Next article, we’ll look at how Jane could have handled her situation better.