As we carry on with Joey and Rayne, you may remember that Rayne wants a change in the way her grown son, Joey, interacts with her. After looking at past activities that have been helpful, Rayne decided to try a little “heart-to-heart” over some hot chocolate. It worked when Joey was small; why not give it a try now?
This article is one in a series. You can find the first article in the series here.
Joey initially laughed off Rayne’s offer of hot chocolate and a talk. “What, do you think I’m 6 years old?” However, Rayne’s calm persistence encouraged him to agree.
Joey also brushed off Rayne’s distress about his remarks. “I’m only joking, Mom. You’re too sensitive; I don’t mean anything by it.”
Rayne needs to be honest: “Joey, some of your remarks really hurt me. Maybe you don’t mean for them to hurt, but they do.”
Now, Joey may not want to hurt his mother. However, poking fun has been an easy way for him to satisfy some of his needs for power and fun. So Joey is embarrassed, but he also has some legitimate confusion.
“But Mom, you always laugh. You thought it was hilarious when I said you needed a ‘cell phone for dummies’.”
Rayne so desperately wants a good relationship with Joey that she’s been accepting his put-downs as if she found them funny. Now Joey has offered Rayne a very helpful piece of information—her own actions reinforce Joey’s behaviour and encourage him to continue. Thus, Joey isn’t receiving information he needs—that his remarks are damaging their relationship.
The good news…she knows what she can change! However, she also wants to continue to have fun with Joey.
Now what? Joey and Rayne need a plan for how to communicate in the future. Plans can be simple. First, Rayne very clearly tells Joey, “I enjoy your joking around, but sometimes it feels like you’re putting me down. That’s not fun for me.” Rayne and Joey decide that whenever Rayne feels that Joey is getting too close to the line between good-natured fun and hurtful put-down, she will simply say, “Please stop.” That’s the signal, and both understand.
A present-focused approach recognizes that the present is where you can take action, where you can make change. Like Rayne, you can look to your past experiences to help find options that have worked. However, placing blame or regretting past decisions doesn’t lead to more satisfaction.
By making this simple plan with Joey, Rayne recognizes and demonstrates that she does have some power and control over her current situation. If this plan ultimately doesn’t pan out, then she can try other options, still keeping a present-focused approach. Perhaps the relationship doesn’t matter enough to Joey to change his behaviour. If so, Rayne may choose to consider the option of having him leave.
What’s the essential point for Rayne to realize about how she interacts with Joey?