Through a Jungian Lens

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A Canadian Thanksgiving in America

with 4 comments

Downy Woodpecker – Saskatchewan, Canada 2012

It’s a Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and I am in the USA enjoying time with my daughter and her family. Part of our weekend together is being spent watching three of my grandsons playing football, discovering all sorts of bits of nature in nature areas, and having a turkey supper – Canadian Thanksgiving in America. There are rare quiet moment to be found in spite of the intensity of being actively present, moments such as the present when homework is being done. Both parents and children are busy with tasks of the first half of life. I have the luxury of being able to step aside for moments and reflect on what is going on; that is one of the benefits of being in the second half of life.

The second half of life can provide a man or a woman with time and motivation to stand aside, outside of the knee-jerk responses to life that seems to dominate most of the first half of life. I am one of the fortunate ones as I don’t have to focus on safety, food, shelter or any of the other things that demand attention. Retirement and economic security takes care of most of my needs. The “right” circumstances don’t necessarily mean that adults in the second half of life take advantage of this opportunity to become reflective and moderate their responses to life.

Some continue to maintain a knee-jerk response to life, usually in response to the lives of their children and grandchildren. They find it hard to live their one lives, thinking that they need to, even “must” cling even closer to their adult children and “control” their adult children and through them, their grandchildren. They intend the best as they micro-manage the lives of their children and grandchildren. There is no “reflective” distance which would allow their adult children to navigate their own lives as parents. There is no “reflective” distance which would allow themselves to discover a deeper, wider purpose to their own lives.

Refusing to enter into the second half of life and its “golden” opportunities is a psychological tragedy. Such a refusal is all about fear. Rather than face the second half of life, there is a determined effort to insert oneself into the lives of others so as to avoid having to face the fact of one’s own mortality.

Life as a grandparent can be a liberating phase if one is willing to give up being frustrated, bitter and resentful of their adult children and their mates who don’t see and respond to life in the same manner. I have given up the idea of trying to control my children and grandchildren; I have given up beating my head against a wall, frustrated that in spite of my efforts that I can’t avoid those moments when I must return to my own life and my own fears. As a result I am better able to enjoy these strange beings; and hopefully, they are better able to enjoy my presence.


4 Responses

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  1. Refusing to enter into the second half of life and its “golden” opportunities is a psychological tragedy.
    That hit home. I see it as a tragedy as in “Greek Tragedy” you know its coming but can’t stop it. Happily this is true only in the refusal choice. The other choice brings Self and Meaning.


    October 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    • Thanks as always, good doctor. Yes, the opportunities are there. The problem is to admit that they are opportunities rather than dark holes that are intent on destroying one’s hard won existence. Failing to take the opportunity is the tragedy which results in more loss than is imaginable.


      October 10, 2012 at 10:08 am

  2. Hey, Robert. Excellent post. I made up my mind, a few years ago, to no longer tender ‘unsolicited advice’ and I’ve let my children (28 & 20 years old) navigate their life as they see fit. This has been a nice bonus for me because I find that I can enjoy them and am not at all frustrated with their decisions. I may not agree with their decisions, but when I think about it I say to myself: It’s not your life. Get over it.

    Some friends tell me that they could not do that because they need to guide/teach their kids and keep them from harm. Well, good luck with that – you need to focus on your own issues and stay out of their business is what I think.

    At any rate, hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving. Ours is fast approaching.


    October 8, 2012 at 6:40 am

    • This is the hardest thing a parent has to face, letting go of control and admitting that children grow up and must take control of their own lives if they are truly to grow up and mature. As James Hollis commented in his book Why good people do bad things parents are more into having their children validate their parents, validate their lives, rather than live their own lives.


      October 10, 2012 at 10:12 am

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