Every time you walk out the door, pick up the phone, or log on to your computer, relationships happen; at the store, on Facebook, at work, at home. People seem enamored of dysfunctional fictional characters—Sherlock Holmes (VERY popular on TV and the movies these days), Monk, House etc. This may be because we doubt ourselves, and our abilities to create and sustain viable, honest relationships with the people who matter the most in our lives.
Marriage and family therapist Dr. Christina Steinorth believes that "...it is time to bring grace, consideration and thoughtfulness back into our family and social relationships..." Her small but powerful book, Cue Cards for Life, creates written "sound bytes" for paying attention to your relationships, and developing logical, comforting guidelines to keep them healthy. Her book has nine far-reaching chapters: The Basics, Cue Cards for Love Relationships, Marriages, Babies, In-Laws and All Things Family, Cue Cards for Parents with Teens, Cue Cards for Interacting with Aging Parents, Cue Cards for the Workplace, Cue Cards for Friendships, Parties and Social Events, Cue Cards for Effective Apologies, and an excellent chapter of checklists, references and resources.
Many of the things that Steinorth discusses may seem to be the kind of thing you say, "Well, Duh," about, and yet how often do we just not think to do these common sense things? I recently had a falling out with a much-older sibling, over something totally ridiculous. I wrote three emails and threw them all away. Reading Steinorth's chapter on saying sorry, made me realize I didn't need to be wordy, or defensive. I wrote an email that was 3 sentences long!
I admitted I was wrong, I said I was sorry to hurt my sister, I asked her to forgive me for my thoughtless behavior and told her I would be more careful in the future. When a relationship is important, the he-said-she-said stuff doesn't matter. What matters is opening the relationship up to its future possibilities.
The chapter on aging parents is very vital in today's world of sandwich families—having kids at home, and "parental units" in need of care, either long term or short term. I think every young adult should be aware of the reality of aging parents. It is uncomfortable and often emotional, yet Steinorth takes you through it with her cue cards. (The cue cards are tucked in the midst of the meat of the chapters, small graphics that highlight the important cue points,) This one, for example, gets to the pith of the issue, "Check in with your parents when you can, and just chat."
Wherever you are on life's journey, your relationships define you, and help you through the good and the bad times. It is about communication, understanding, appreciation, honesty and self-knowledge. It may seem to be a no-brainer, but reading this book, you can find all kinds of tidbits of help that you can use over and over again. We can all take a cue here, to present ourselves with kindness and create the relationships that are good for everyone involved.
Christina Steinorth is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Board Certified Diplomate in Professional Counseling. She holds a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She lives in a small seaside community near Santa Barbara, California, with Matthew, her husband of eleven years. Visit her website.
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