jmgoyder

wings and things

“I just don’t understand you!”

on April 21, 2014

Ming and I had a couple of altercations today that were impossible to resolve. This is so frustrating and painful and yet it points to the fact that we all think and feel differently and trying to match someone else’s way of doing both is impossible.

So what on earth do you do with irreconcilable differences? How does a 20-year-old son understand a 55-year-old mother who is trying to understand a 78-year-old husband? The only way, I think, is to accept the different points of view about everything, to accept each other (despite these differences), and to develop a capacity for sympathy. Empathy would be better, of course, but if the other person just cannot fit their great big size 13 feet (Ming) into your shoes, then agreeing to disagree is your best option.

I have always loved the concept of difference but I have never had it thrust in my face as much as the last few years, with Anthony’s declining health and Ming’s growing up. Neither of them understand that, at the center of this dynamic (in terms of age alone), I struggle sometimes to give them both what they need or want. And neither of them even think, unless I remind them (rather vociferously sometimes), that I might actually want to be considered too.

Perhaps love doesn’t require understanding? I am not complaining here (well maybe a bit!), or posing a feminist argument (hell, no – most of the misunderstandings I’ve experienced have been with women); I am just observing that sometimes you just have to accept the fact that you will never agree with the other person.

But you can still hug them and keep your “you are wrong!” thoughts to yourself. Ask Godfrey the gander!


22 responses to ““I just don’t understand you!”

  1. One of the things we teach at Choices is — Disagreement does not equal rejection. Too often, I have gone through life believe it does!

    Love your empathetic perspective! Hugs :)

  2. Rhonda says:

    So what on earth do you do with irreconcilable differences? How does a 20-year-old son understand a 55-year-old mother who is trying to understand a 78-year-old husband? The only way, I think, is to accept the different points of view about everything, to accept each other (despite these differences), and to develop a capacity for sympathy. Empathy would be better, of course, but if the other person just cannot fit their great big size 13 feet (Ming) into your shoes, then agreeing to disagree is your best option.

    But you can still hug them and keep your “you are wrong!” thoughts to yourself. Ask Godfrey the gander!

    See? You got this Jules…you’re a pretty smart cookie and I know once you put it on the paper, you smiled…’cause you got this. xoxo

  3. Luanne says:

    Have you heard of an American memoir called The House on Beartown Road? It’s about being caught between growth and alzheimers. In her case her father had Alzheimers and her daughter was a baby/toddler growing up.The contrasts and similarities between the two people she wrote about was mind-boggling. Lots of stress . . . . Not sure whether the book would be comforting or upsetting to you.

  4. I think everyone does react to situations ..differently and Ming is still learning ‘life’… Interestingly I watched something this morning on how the brain is still developing many skills etc of life in a teenager up to the age of 24… So maybe we can’t understand the process that he is going through …. and he hasn’t got enough maturity to understand where you are coming from…. Just a thought as usually I am prone to give Ha!….. Diane

  5. Vicki says:

    In our family, EVERYBODY is different. None of us really have much in common (if you can believe that 5 people can be so different).

    But I have certainly found the key to linking with 2 of them – just keep talking about their interests (and forget that they never ask about you, or your interests – LOL).

    Another disagreement passed through us recently and like you say, Julie, it would nice if just once, they remembered you have feelings and needs too. I just give up and keep to myself as much as possible.

    You have my sympathy Julie.
    V
    xo

  6. Terry says:

    The main and common denominator here is love. The age differences is the thorn. I the end you all love each other and this is what matters. Hus and love my friend

  7. Judy says:

    Oh Julie, you are being squeezed – I used to call myself a “Sandwich!” Honestly, this is about the fact that you are falling for the teenage BS about “equal feelings.” My kids were experts at that. Well you and Ming are not equals. You are supporting him (after the age of 18)on top of caring for Ants. You are simply exhausted. At this point, you are quite allowed to demand respect and any household support you require. Resentment (which I feel here) is eating you up. The only acceptance required here is that you can’t be “buddies” with your son. Decide what you require to make life easier and write that down clearly. Respect is very important. It might be painful at first to change the dynamics, but I think this is a big moment for you to grab in order to make some changes in your life. Whatever you demand of Ming won’t hurt him and will benefit him in the long run. If he can’t handle it, he might move out – my daughter did that and it’s amazing what changes have resulted from that in a good way. Assert yourself! It doesn’t matter whether he agrees with you (he won’t) – you are the mother queen. Remember that!

  8. That is what inner thoughts are for! You hug them, tell them that you love them while thinking to yourself that they can be real dodo heads at times, it make you feel better inside, at least for the moment. ;) Sympathy is as important as empathy for that very reason when one cannot comprehend the other’s viewpoint. :) Hugs Jules

  9. mimijk says:

    Ah Godfrey – one look and I’m smitten despite his orneriness. Perhaps that is the gist of being caught between two generations..How can one possibly understand anyone all the time (let alone a 20 year old or a 78 year old with Parkinson’s (who at times undoubtedly doesn’t understand himself)? That said, do we even understand ourselves all the time? I think loving in spite of not always understanding, is the reality of relationships – all of them.

  10. susanpoozan says:

    So sorry you have such tricky problems with your men, you are very good at thinking things through though, well done.

  11. Lisa Rest says:

    I too think you have it figured out, Jules, if there is such a thing as figuring this out. For sure you will always be better at trying to explain to yourself where these men in your life are coming from than they are going to ever be able to tell you. Deborah Tannen wrote the ground-breaking book about this, maybe, “You Just Don’t Understand” – long before “Women Are From Venus and Men Are From Mars.” :-)

  12. I’ll tell ya, Jules, if you can keep your “You’re WRONG!!!!!!” thoughts to yourself, you’re a SAINT. Big cyber hug!

  13. tootlepedal says:

    Children and irreconcilable differences are interchangeable concepts. I have known them to reconcile over time though.

  14. I would be much more surprised if Ming did understand you. Neither of you have the same experiences. I think it’s fabulous that you get along as well as you do. I appreciate the one commenter who said that disagreements do not equal rejection. I remember when my kids would tell me they hated me (brief phase of their lives) and I would say that was okay, I loved them enough for the both of us. I accepted that they didn’t understand me and my perspective, they just weren’t capable of it. Next time he throws that at you, that he doesn’t understand you, just look at him calmly and tell him you don’t expect him to. ;) that might give him something to think about. Good luck Julie. You amaze me.

  15. He is 20 so those irreconcilable difference will happen because a 20 year old often cannot see past their own view of things, Anthony is no longer able to see things from your point of view also so you really are stuck between a rock and hard place all you can do is try and squeeze through the small gaps

  16. Moms are often the glue that holds families together and often get trampled in the process! Hugs to you Julie and MING! Yeah you – go hug your Mum!
    Diana xo

  17. I have the issue of the children ganging up against me to prove me wrong about my own feelings! :)
    I think that you handle these ‘differences’ with much grace and dignity.

  18. FlaHam says:

    Julie, The family dynamics of your family is unique to me, I just don’t see it often enough to offer much, But having said that, and being the busy body, know it all that I am. I think the 3 of you are doing a great job. And while you and Ming have your differences, you both look for and find ways to never completely destroy the bridge that you have between you. You two have a hissyfit and both of you immediately find ways to mend the fence. The love you share, binds you, and it keeps you. By all means continue to accept the fact your different of different generations, and it will always be, but also remember how your love continues to bring it back. Take care, Bill

  19. Such excellent advice. Just let the other person be ‘wrong’ what harm is there? So this thing didn’t happen the way another person remembers it. Neither is wrong. Both are right, for themselves. This is a very hard thing to do, especially with a young person, who thinks he knows everything.

  20. viveka says:

    Julie, you are so right … I don’t think neither that love needs understanding … conflicts will always be there in some way when there is more than one person involved.
    And I doubt very much that there is any family that … doesn’t have some kind of problems.
    The priest that hold my mum’s service said during our conversation that – we all have family problems or we are lying.

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