Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rejected Parents: Left out in the cold

The Army conducted a study to determine why its personnel could only work for one or two hours in the Arctic cold in contrast to the local Inuit who could work six to seven hours in the cold.  Although the study looked at a wide number of physical and psychological factors, it identified just one difference between the Army personnel and the Inuit: The Inuit expected to be cold.

The experience of Rejected Parents in cases of unrealistic parent-child alienation is similar to that of the Army personnel unfortunate enough to be posted to the Arctic—they are left out in the cold by their children, unexpectedly rejected.  And like the Army personnel who retreated to shelter after just an hour or two, many Rejected Parents retreat from, even give up, contact with their children to protect themselves from repeated hurt and conflicts.

So what can Rejected Parents do not to give up while waiting for circumstances to change or legal decisions to be made?  One option that many Rejected Parents find helpful is to turn to others facing the same problem.  On-line support groups, for example, offer many Rejected Parents the practical and emotional support they need to maintain hope and the will to continue trying. It also helps to read about parent-child alienation, learning its characteristics and the dos and don’ts of responding.    

But here is an entirely different idea, and not one that you will find in the professional literature.  As reported recently by Claire Suddath in the Bloomberg Businessweek, Jia Jiang is a young internet entrepreneur in Austin, Texas who became exceptionally disheartened when investors repeatedly turned down his requests for funding.  To overcome his subsequent lack of confidence, he devised a plan: 100 Days of Rejection Therapy.  Based on the notion that if became used to weird looks, rude responses and flat-out rejections, he would build up his resistance to the pain of rejection, enabling him to continue seeking funding, he set out to ask one preposterous request per day.  He asked a security guard to lend him $100, a policeman to sit in his car, a stranger to play soccer in his back yard. But if you read the posts on his blog,, something becomes clear. Not only is he getting better at accepting rejection, he is getting better at asking.  Indeed, people are beginning to say yes, even to his outlandish requests.

I am not suggesting that Rejected Parents follow Jia’s example and seek out rejection, nor am I making light of the hurt when a child rejects a parent. I am suggesting, however, that Rejected Parents would do well to expect rejection, to build up their tolerance for their children’s rude and unpleasant behavior, and to never, never give up. Like Jia, they may learn that with practice, they get better at asking, better at accepting no, and better at “getting to yes.” 

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