Family Relations/Breaking the news...

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Question
hello Bruce. So yesterday my girlfriend and I found out that she is pregnant! We are so happy! I am 35yrs old and she is 27. For the past few months we have been discussing our future together. How we will marry and have kids. Start our family. And yesterday we found out that our first step has been taken. Now comes the difficult part of letting my parents know. I know for a fact that they will not take the news easily or happily. It means a lot to me and my girlfriend that they receive the news and offer best wishes. I know they eventually will, but it will take time. I cannot even fathom the reasoning behind them being upset over this. And yet, I know they will be. It happened when my brother had his first child. They grew very upset. At the time though, he was only 18 years old. I could understand their reaction. About 6 months ago he had twins. He received the same reaction from our parents and this is why I am anticipating the negative outcome with me.

What would drive parents to the point of which they get upset that their adult children want to start their own family? I fear that when my mom finds out, she will be upset, and I will resent her for it. What could possibly be the psychology behind their reaction? What would drive someone to be upset over this? I'm just having a tough time coming to terms with a reaction other than happiness for us.

Thanks Bruce, Jared C.

Answer
Hi, Jared, thanks for your questions.

What would drive parents to the point of which they get upset that their adult children want to start their own family? What could possibly be the psychology behind their reaction? What would drive someone to be upset over this?

----- well, there could be hundreds, if not thousands of 'reasons', of course. Now, some questions for you:
- what makes you think it is 'bad' that they will be upset?
- what's so wrong about their being upset?
- are you trying to control their feelings?
- don't they have a right to feel however they want to feel?
- are you trying to have their approval?
- if so, why is their approval so important?
- How old will you be when you seek your own approval, instead of your parents? to live your own life, on your own terms?

There are many more questions, that a therapist might ask, of course, but you likely get the idea.

My advice would have been, had you asked:
- let them feel however they want to feel, and say whatever they want. You are an adult, and so are they.
- if you really want to understand them (instead of trying to stop them from 'being upset'), ask questions. Ask a LOT of questions. Keep on asking questions (and listening, really listening - instead of opposing them, or waiting to say what you want to say - as is human nature) until they feel 'heard'.
- only say what you have to say if they invite you to do so (and you can tell they really mean it)

BTW, this technique is especially helpful with teens - which comes sooner than you know!  

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Bruce Borkosky, Psy.D.

Expertise

questions framed similarly to 'what are some ways to respond when someone does/says X' are best. Questions posed in the form of 'why does my father do/say Y', or 'how would you diagnose my mother when she does/says Z' are difficult, if not impossible, to answer. I will probably reframe your question to fit the first question (what do I do). Nay question regarding any family member is fair game. Some of the most difficult are in the area of step-parenting and divorcing families.

Experience

I've been a licensed psychologist in Florida since 1994. I've evaluated and/or treated thousands of patients.

Organizations
American Psychological Association Florida Psychological association National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology

Publications
www.bruceborkosky.blogger.com

Education/Credentials
Psy.D., Miami Institute of Psychology, 1993 M.CS., U. of Dayton, 1984 B.A., Ohio Wesleyan U., 1978

Awards and Honors
Award for Years of Dedicated Service, Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society, 1999

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