The Character Ethic – and a Father’s struggle

by mikea44646 on January 3, 2010

I asked myself this morning “where should I focus my energies”. The question comes from the quote below. I know that if I start my day with direction — direction based on principles — that at the end of the day I have a much greater chance of feeling satisfied, happy, productive etc.  That doesn’t mean that the day will not be filled with challenges and difficulties and it also doesn’t mean that I won’t encounter negativity both internally and externally. It does mean however, that I will be primed and ready to relate to these challenges with my road-map or compass (the principles) in hand.

The Character Ethic

The Character Ethic, which I believe to be the foundation of success, teaches that there are basic principles of effective living, and that people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn to integrate these principles into their basic character. (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Daily Reflections for Highly Effective People, page 3)

As I write this post I will use it to help me clarify my thoughts on a specific point regarding a Father’s struggle. Specifically how I see the “Serenity Prayer” principle being helpful in relating to a crisis.

I just heard about a struggle between an 18 year old troubled teen girl and her family. The young woman does not want to attend the therapeutic boarding school that her parents are suggesting. This is a tough situation for the family. The young woman’s behavior leading up to their desire for her to attend an out of home – therapeutic educational program is by many accounts at the “life-threatening” level of — “At Risk” behavior. However, the young woman is 18 years old and legally can make the choice to accept or reject any help the parents are willing to provide. What should the parent do?

The father is seeking help with this crisis. The help that comes to my mind as potentially useful and effective is to help him understand his powerlessness over his daughter’s decisions and behaviors. (Step 1 of the 12 step program). If Dad’s focus remains on the targets of his emotions (fear and anxiety) than his own anxiety, fear, frustration, and pain will increase and the problem will be made no better and possibly worse.

Dad’s real power is in the focus of his response – to change the things he can. I suspect that he is looking for help in how to change his daughter’s mind – efforts in that direction will be less effective for him. More effective is for Dad to find clarity on the points of this situation that he does in fact have direct control over or at least on the things that he has significant influence over. Then he will be able act more effectively and (although powerless over the outcome) create an opportunity for his daughter to act as well – with her having a clearer view of her responsibility for her own life – and not a continuation of the “Reaction” trap. The Al-Anon, Families Anonymous or Co-Dependents Anonymous slogan is to “Act, not react” according to one’s own principles and beliefs in a way that is effective.

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