A few months ago, I just happened to be at the gym on a cardio machine facing a row of televisions, one of which was on Good Morning America. On this particular morning, they were announcing a nationwide search for an “Advice Guru” who would appear on the show as part of their “team” and answer questions from viewers seeking guidance with life problems. Now, I don’t usually watch Good Morning America, so I thought, “maybe this is kismet that I just happened to see this! I should apply!”
Of course, they chose someone else who actually already makes a living as an advice-giver of sorts which is just as well, because I love my job and also, as a therapist, “giving advice” isn’t really something that describes what I offer to my clients. However, I did work hard on my application which was essentially coming up with responses to some hypothetical requests for advice, so I thought I would share my answers here! So here goes……
What would you tell his person: “Whenever there is an issue between my mother-in-law and me, my husband refuses to stand up for me. How do I get him to value our relationship more than the one with his mother? (150 words or less)
This sounds really frustrating! However, part of what may make this frustrating could be an unspoken assumption on your part that couples should always be in agreement or take each other’s side when there is a conflict with an outside party. The only way to even begin to change the status quo here is to express your beliefs and needs to your husband, and be willing to hear his in return. Ask him what it is like for him when you have a conflict with his mother. How would he like for things to get resolved when conflicts arise? Relationships are an ongoing negotiation. Situations like these, if handled with empathy for each other, can be an opportunity for you to grow even closer and decide together how to support each other in dealing with his family.
What would you tell this person: “While cleaning my son’s room, I accidentally saw on his Facebook page threatening remarks from his friends. I fear he’s being bullied. What should I do?” (150 words or less)
Wow, that must have been really disturbing to see those comments, and I can only imagine how your son must be feeling! This is a complex situation because it involves your relationship with your son, your beliefs about parent-child boundaries, and how these boundaries may change when it comes to crisis situations or your son’s safety. Given how little evidence you currently have, I would encourage you to take a conservative approach and gently speak to your son about what you saw. Acknowledge any feelings he may have about his privacy being (unintentionally) violated, and encourage him to use you as a resource to problem solve how to deal with these peers on his own, or ways that you might step-in if he feels it is necessary. Respecting his judgment about this will build trust and support him to come to you for guidance with this situation if things worsen.
What would you tell this person: “My boss keeps taking credit for my ideas. What should I do?” (150 words or less)