Jacqueline began our session by describing her daughter’s resistance to cleaning up her room. However, she didn’t want to explore that particular problem, because it would “open up a can of worms.” I respected her choice to move on to another issue beside a trashed bedroom.
Her choice of words lingered with me. When do I avoid dealing with a tough situation, rather than tackling it when it first comes up?
As a parent, are you afraid of opening up “a can of worms”? Even though the lid is on tight ... the...... worms..... are.... still.... wriggling!
This quote sums up the reality:
“What is true is already so.
Owning up to it doesn't make it worse.
Not being open about it doesn't make it go away.
And because it's true, it is what is there to be interacted with.
Anything untrue isn't there to be lived.
People can stand what is true, for they are already enduring it. ”
— Eugene Gendlin
At a later session Jacqueline returned to her daughter’s messy room. We talked about what motivates us to complete an undesirable task, and decided in this particular case it’s the WIFM’s -- “What’s in it for me”.
With an orderly bedroom, the daughter realized she'd save time dressing for school or for a date, because she had picked up scattered clothing, washed it and put it away where she could find it quickly. She liked the smell of clean sheets. And with a tidy room she no longer felt embarrassed to have a girl friend come over.
Is there an unopened can of worms with your teenager? Are there WIFM's that could motivate you and a young person to pry the lid off and explore it? I'd love to know.