Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Being Defensive

Conversations consist of statements and questions and the various reactions to these.  Generally, reactions are easy to anticipate allowing for a comfortable flow.  There are times, however, when a reaction is defensive and unless the parties are involved in a debate, a defensive reaction seems to come out of the blue.  This type of response will often leave many confused, including the person who reacted defensively.

Often blame is assigned to others for being insensitive or na├»ve when it would be more beneficial to discover the reason behind one’s defensiveness.  An example, that often comes up, is the statement “she doesn’t work” in response to a question around the wife’s occupation.  The wife tends to become very defensive arguing that looking after the children and cleaning the house is indeed work.

The simple reason behind the wife’s reaction may often be a feeling of insufficiency at not contributing financially.  The difficulty comes in (as discussed in the article on Confrontation) in the wife’s definition of work and the statement “she doesn’t work” implying she is lazy. 

The question then is would she want the care of her home and children to be considered a job, the connotation of which is something that she has to do but doesn’t necessarily want to do?  Does she expect some financial remuneration for the job?  If there is no promotion in the foreseeable future, would she want to quit?  These questions may seem silly but they succeed in reorganising the definition of work for this instance. 

A defensive reaction to seemingly simple statements often has more to do with the person being defensive than the other party.  While counselling will uncover the reasons behind such reactions some self-reflection can sometimes achieve the same.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Subject Choice

For our grade 9 children the time to choose subjects has arrived.  In an ideal world, the subjects should be chosen with a career in mind to allow a seamless transition from high school to university to the world of work.

The reality is that frontal lobe development is only complete somewhere in our twenties.  Being the area of the brain responsible for planning, decision making and impulse control it is completely unfair to ask a child of 15 or 16 years to make decisions that have large life implications.  How then do children go about making this important decision?

A very common trend is to take the subjects friends are taking; after all the assumption is they’ll be friends forever and will always like the same things.  As parents – and older beings – we know different but our opinions seem to have little impact on this age group.  Another common trend is to take the subjects one enjoys.  Again, with frontal lobe development still continuing, interests may well change before the end of school making this another unsuitable option.  What then is left?  The subjects one is good at?  Considering we tend to succeed in subjects because we enjoy them, this too is not an ideal solution.

For those families – and it does tend to be a family decision – where the subject choice is unclear, an aptitude test can be the answer.  The results provide an indication of where innate ability lies.  Together with an occupational interest assessment, a broad profile of interest and ability can be determined and where these areas overlap should lie the ideal subjects to take.  Yes, I did say interests may change but by looking at occupational interests over the immediate subject interest we gain insight into greater and varied areas of occupational interest.