Telling a person not to feel what he feels

Telling a person NOT TO FEEL WHAT HE FEELS does NOT take the feelings AWAY.

Telling a person not to feel what he feels not only implies condemnation. It also forbids him to do something he can't help doing. He wants to stop. He can't. What you've done actually accentuates his feeling "bad." It is also apt to turn him against you.

When you feel that your husband or wife disregards your feelings, you tend to be disappointed and bitter. Your teenager is no different when you fail to take his feelings into account. He only grows more resentful and more antagonistic. Like Kim he may come to believe "It's no use listening to parents. They never listen to you."


What you crave and what he craves is understanding. Sympathetic understanding, we might call it, if by this term we mean the acceptance of the feelings as they truly are. Not glossing them over or prettying them, or trying to turn them, presto, into cheer.

What Pete wanted was to know that someone understood and accepted the soreness in him. "Trying for a job and then having it slide out from under your hands into someone else's --that does make you feel bitter!" It does.

What Ann wanted was someone to grant her the dignity and seriousness of feeling whatever she actually felt in her love for Tom. Had her mother just listened attentively, perhaps saying nothing but remembering back to her own teen-age moments of rapturous, sad and heart-searing romance, identifying and feeling with her daughter--then Ann would undoubtedly have felt her with-ness. And this would have helped Ann bring her true feelings into truer perspective. It would have carried her closer to bringing her actions under wiser control.

When you are upset or disturbed--whether it's because of a small disappointment like having a cake fall, or whether it's because of a large, frightening experience like an operation-what you want and need is to have someone listen and endure with you, understanding how you really feel.

The same is true of your adolescent.

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