We've lived through the adolescence thing. We don't want to face that experience again, but there's the threat of doing so if we have a young adult in or around the house--or a fully grown adult child living or visiting the home front. Close proximity can create frictions that simulate some of the tumult of those teen years. That's why I was drawn to points made in a recent column by psychologist Carl Pickhardt, who writes about dealing with adolescence on his blog on Psychology Today's Web site.
A recent one had to do with little things that mean a lot--namely courtesy and the importance of it in our interchanges with our family members. He may have been aiming specifically at an adolescent in the home, but the points he makes in Adolescence and the power of parental courtesy, would seem to apply to dealing with grown children no matter the age.
"Courtesy behaviors," he writes, "are those small gestures that define how thoughtfully people treat each other on a daily basis."
What behaviors is he talking about? Here are his examples:
Would you rather be told to give help or be ASKED to give help?
Would you rather be interrupted or be LISTENED to when saying something important?
Would you rather be ignored or be NOTICED for the special gesture you made?
Would you rather be criticized or be COMPLIMENTED for trying your hardest?
Would you rather be taken for granted or be THANKED for doing a favor?
Would you rather be untouched by a loved one when feeling sad or be HUGGED?
Acts of common courtesy, he suggests, "contribute to quality of family life by causing the giver to act thoughtfully and the receiver to feel treated with consideration."
As the grown kids head home from college--or the once-independent grownup moves back home with mom and dad for a while, it doesn't hurt to remember those little ways of framing a request or a thank you. Miss Manners would approve.