(This is another of the occasion contributions of Kathy Haskin – a member of Team TED* and Creator oriented [most of the time] parent of three marvelous teens.  Thanks, Kathy!)

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Everyone remembers family vacations, those shared times stored in our memories forever.  Feeling that pressure to make this year’s vacation memorable, I turned to our teenage son as we packed for our nine days in sunny California, “Please let’s get along and enjoy this week as much as we can.”

“I’ll have a good attitude if you do…” his response was simple and direct to the point.  This wasn’t really a statement of accountability, but rather an observation on how we as a family tend to interact.

Our family dynamics can be reactive (this is a serious understatement).  There is no changing the react and response interactions within our relationships.  However, during our active days on this vacation, I grew to appreciate that this reactivity can be harnessed and turned to creativity if each of us is reacting and responding from a Creator Orientation.

Reactivity is part of our reality.  However during this vacation I found that when I, as a parent, reacted as a Creator, Coach or Challenger, the response I often received from our teenagers encouraged other outcome-oriented approaches.  Rather than building tension, which often happens when one of us reacts from a role within the Drama Triangle, we built creativity and a great family experience by bringing TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) along on this vacation.

For me, it came down to considering what was behind the complaint or reaction.  It is important to take that second to recognize that “why do we have to eat Mexican food again?!” was not a reflection on the menu choice, but rather a call out to be part of the decision as we head toward our next meal.  My next step should have been to ask “what is it you really want?”

Asking a question, looking further at the actual reasoning behind the complaint, often kept me in an empowerment dynamic role and away from a drama role.  Of course come complaints have more obvious sources.  “This sand is HOT!” was true and a reflection of the intense sun in California.  Just kick away the top layer of hot sand and you have a place to stand. However “this line is taking forever!” turned out to be our daughter’s fear that we would not have time to see everything at Sea World.  Once we realized what was behind her complaint, reassurance that there was plenty of time in the day helped us all escape the impending drama.  It doesn’t hurt to ask, either aloud or in your mind, “What do they want?”  This repeatedly kept me in the right place to respond well.

Yes, nine days delivered some drama with two parents and three teens together at all times.  But it was the times that we were truly enjoying and creating together that I will remember for a very long time (long after this sunburn fades).    Pack wisely on your next family vacation.  Don’t forget to chose the right TED* responses, along with the proper sunscreen.

 

To the Creator in you!