Spiritually Speaking

QUESTION: My husband has been given a promotion at his job which requires that we move to the east coast. Our challenge is our twin teenage girls who are very active here in the private school they attend and are very upset about the move. We’ve already decided on the move and are sad that the girls are so unhappy but this is a major career change for their father and one that just can’t be turned down.

His company is accommodating, and we won’t be moving until school is out for the summer. Any suggestions that will help the move be easier for them are more than welcome.
~ Anxious Mom

Dear Anxious Mom,
I understand the feelings of your daughters and am mindful of the concerns of you and your husband. It is never easy to leave the confines of our home, the girls’ school and community. It is particularly difficult for young people as almost everything in their world is in the moment. Here are a few options that may help: Today’s world has the most technological advancements in human history and we can stay in touch from almost any location in the world. Have the girls get everyone’s email, Twitter, and Facetime information and set up regular meet-ups. Maybe you can arrange with a few of the parents of their closest friends to do this on a consistent basis? Also, if possible, make plans for the girls to visit and for friends to come to your new home. At some point it will become home for them and they will be proud to show off the delights of a new community.

Lastly, as a family pay special and close attention to the mood swings, eating habits and general attitudes that make for a healthy home life. If the girls will allow it, spend more time with them. Do the special things they like. Make this transition, albeit a difficult one, as fulfilling and loving as you can. Bottom line – this isn’t a kids’ choice and it is in the best interest of all of you.

I wish you all the very best of everything now and in the new home/school.
Gordon Bailey WEB
Rev. Gordon Clay Bailey
Unitarian Universalist Church of the Verdugo Hills (UUCVH)

Dear Anxious Mom,
Your challenge is daunting indeed, yet what a great opportunity to teach some very important and enduring truths about real life and what it demands from us human beings.

For example, how hard is it to make a living, even a simple living? Have your girls had the chance to work for some money and to find out how difficult it is to earn the price of a movie and dinner? Understanding what this promotion means to you, Dad and them in the future when they want to go to college or on a vacation or even get a new outfit for school will help them view the situation differently.

Your daughters are, of course, afraid of and concerned about all the changes and challenges that face them in future. Friends they will leave, the school they are used to – these are huge unknowns that loom large in their imaginations. When you flip a challenge on its head you have opportunity.

Opportunity is so much more inviting than challenge, so I am suggesting that you frame this move in the style of opportunity. This will help you as well to face whatever comes with more ease and a sense of fun.

Life is hard at times. Sometimes people must leave to make a new start and improve their situation. It is even in the Talmud, “Change your place and change your luck. (Meshane makom, mishane mazal.)”

Through this adventure, you and your family have an opportunity to become closer through shared experience. Focus on being the best support each of you can be to each other. In a year or two, much of the hardship will have been overcome. You will have a chance to explore new places together, join community, try new foods that are from your new location. You and your daughters will have grown stronger and more capable of handling whatever life presents down the road.
Rabbi Janet Bieber WEB
Rabbi Janet Bieber
QUESTION: Is there a kind, non-threatening way to deal with people who interrupt during a conversation? I often become irritated and say something like, “Let me finish” and probably not in a nice tone of voice. My experience has been that many people do not really listen and are jumping ahead in their thinking to share a similar experience.

Aren’t conversations supposed to be interactive with taking turns listening and speaking? I really like the people I’m writing about and I also know that at least one of them has fragile self-esteem, which is why I’m asking for help.
~ Good Listener

Dear Good Listener,
I share your frustration with those who interrupt and recognize that I sometimes get so involved in a story that I jump in too soon with my own two cents worth. It’s such a common problem that some organizations use a practice originating in Native American societies to control who can speak at meetings. There is a “talking stick” and everyone listens to whoever is holding the stick. Then it is passed to the next person for their contribution. In the business world a similar concept is 
described in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” written by 
Stephen Covey. Habit 5 is “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” If you have empathy with the speaker and demonstrate genuine understanding they are more likely to give you the same consideration. In your social situation, first make sure your conversations are concise. In addition, if you can figure out what’s going on with the person interrupting you it may help you keep from being irritated. Some of your friends may have grown up in a large family jostling with siblings for attention and it’s become a habit. Someone with fragile self-esteem might be so nervous and anxious to please that they forget their manners.

Perhaps when someone interjects while you are talking, you can make a mental note so you can continue with, “As I was saying” when they take a breath. They might get the hint.
You may not be able to change your friends’ behavior but you can alter your reactions to it. And there is a chance they will mirror your actions.

Sharon Weisman is a member of the Crescenta Valley Community Association Steering Committee and active in a number of community groups.
Sharon Weisman
Atheist/Agnostic/Secular humanist/Free thinker

Dear Good Listener,
Scripture says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverb 15:1). It can be very frustrating when someone interrupts you.

But you’re right in observing that becoming irritated and snapping back is not the best way to respond. You want to let the other person know that they have interrupted you (often they don’t know) but to let them know in a way that doesn’t demean them or make you look like the bad guy.

I suggest you say something like this: “I want you to know that I value and respect your ideas and opinions and will give you my undivided attention as you share them. But would it be okay with you if I finished my thought first?” It’s a gentle way of letting them know that you respect them, but also that they have interrupted you. Obviously, this needs to be said in a kind and respectful tone. If it’s said while irritated, then it won’t be very effective.

It sounds like you are a caring person and that’s important. Your heart attitude will be as important as your words.
Pastor Bill Flanders WEB
Pastor Bill Flanders