• Jody Kussin

#47 Family Matters Radical Acceptance

In These Times by Dr. Jody Kussin, April 30, 2020

What’s our main goal as parents? Yes, of course, to produce Ivy League wealthy gorgeous happy adults without a care in the world – but – really? What’s your main vision for them as young adults? Picture your child at 22, 35, 56….who are they in the world? And what are they to you?

If we think about it, one objective, conscious or otherwise, is to establish a relationship with our children that is strong and sustainable across our lifespan. We’d like to know that during any of the aforementioned ages and stages, we are still ‘a first call’ on a best day and on a worst day. On a “Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day” we hope to hear from them. On a day they are dumped by their girl/boy friend. On a day they mess up. On a day they fail something or are fired from something.

Of course, we also hope to be called on the day they are excited about their school project/thesis/dissertation/Boards. We hope to hear directly when they realize they’ve ‘found THE one.’ We hope they introduce us to their friends and let us into the window of their lives on some days, and perhaps into the window of their souls on others.

We also of course hope they have resiliency and grit and determination and that they can weather tough times and adapt to challenging situations. This pandemic will certainly serve as a foundation for them going forward.

In these times, it’s hard to hold on to any big picture. Our perceptions keep playing tricks on us. It “SEEMS” like we are just about done with this and ready to walk the planet without a care in the world, and yet, if you follow the science, and not the politicians and relatives, we are not quite there yet.

This time is divisive because some of us are sheltering in place and being labeled neurotic church ladies, and others are walking about freely and being labeled as anarchists. Probably we are all somewhere in the middle of that continuum, doing our best to navigate what feels safe and sound for us and our loved ones. Although it’s easy, it’s not particularly helpful to judge our neighbors, unless they are directly in your line of injury, in which case, cross the street.

The basic idea is to use Radical Acceptance, a term from a therapy model known as dialectical behavioral therapy. "Radical acceptance" means completely and totally accepting something from the depths of your soul, with your heart and your mind. Psychologists note the following steps toward practicing radical acceptance:

1. Notice that you are fighting reality. The first step towards radical acceptance is awareness that you are resisting reality. The next step is to let go, and stop fighting it.

2. Turn your mind towards acceptance. Once you've recognized that you are resisting some truth in your life, the next step is to turn your mind toward acceptance.

3. Use your body to help you. Relaxing your muscles and unclenching your fists and loosening your jaw. Hum. A lot. It’s a quick and useful little intervention.

4. Act as if. As if it’s going to all be okay and that this will pass. Avoid judgment. Of self and of others.


We are all getting tired of this reality and would love a new one, sooner than later.

As parents we realize, more and more, that we have little control over our children’s lives. We cannot get them to walk faster by exercising little legs at six months and we can’t get them to fulfill our dreams by insisting they apply to certain colleges we love. We can accept that we are here with them and we can focus on enhancing our relationship with them while we have all this free time. Take a walk, one:one. Stay up late and learn the new video game. Ask if you can be in on a few minutes of a their virtual playdate to say hi to their pals. Bake their favorite food, with them. Pay attention to what uniquely makes each of them, each of them. What makes them laugh. What makes them sad. You can’t fix their lives. You can accept them, and yourselves, for where we are right now.

In These Times…..we need one another more than ever. And clearly, we can start/continue building relationships from home. We’ve got a lotta time together. Make a strong connection with your roommates – your kids.

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