I’d like to focus on this last point, because it turns out that this lack of perspective-taking – this lack of empathy – is the key to unraveling parent-child tension.
In the cool light of self-reflection, I can now look back at the exchange and realize that my sense of righteous anger was blocking me from advancing the conversation.
When I increase empathy and relook at the situation with compassion, I see a different story. Perhaps he was afraid, too. Perhaps he felt powerless, too. Perhaps he’s learned the exact same pattern I’ve modeled: When you’re afraid, attack. Perhaps our power struggle was simply two people afraid to honestly share their fears.