Dr. Rich Patterson

One Perspective

One of the areas in which I have worked to improve is that of perspective.  I still find myself seeing things through my life-lens, insisting that I am right.  When I stop and consider someone else’s thoughts, I quickly realize that their perspective can work just as well and maybe even better than I thought.  When you were a kid, you remember that your parents always thought they were right and that you always thought they were wrong.  Then as you got older, you realized how right they often were, but still, their insistence on following their way did not build a relationship with you.

As parents, when our thoughts are dominant, when we insist that we are correct, we risk any future relational development.  Our strong opinions close doors much more so than open them.  By forcing kids to see things the way we see them, we are not listening to them, regardless of the logic of their thoughts. As humans, we must feel attended to first before we will listen.  Good parents know this and are willing to let go of their opinions to learn more about how their kids think about something.

Suspending your judgment is most challenging to apply when there is a problem or when things are tense.  As a parent, I certainly did not always do this right.  I would insist that they think a certain way, that they almost anticipate how something should go, and in the process, I would lose my connection with them.  Having a fixed perspective applies to conversations that we have with anyone.  When we talk primarily about ourselves, our problems, how things should be from our perspective, that is the clue that we need to look at others’ perspectives.  The significant part about attitude is when we take time to understand something from their view; suddenly, it makes sense.

It is like playing baseball.  There are many perspectives: one perspective from home base when you’re trying to hit the ball; another from the pitcher who is trying to keep you from hitting the ball; and still another from the outfielder who is trying to catch your hit and get you called ‘out.’

Perspective is critical, and if we can only catch ourselves in the act, suspend our stories, judgments, statements, and demands and say, “Sorry, I want to hear about this from your perspective.”  or “Good, you see it differently, I want to hear about that.”  Perspective came to mind in my own life when I was having a difficult time in college.  Finances were tight, classes were demanding and challenging, and the daily struggle came to a real head regarding my ability to cope.  Then one day, while I was on the train riding home, I spoke with a young man who had some significant health issues.

He told me in great detail about the treatments he had tried and how they had not worked.  He was quickly facing his demise if something didn’t take hold.  I got off the train at my stop with a new perspective on my minor problems.  I felt empowered to give that young man some encouragement to help him to find some additional resources.  As I was walking to my apartment, I felt a specific lift in my step—a new perspective, if you will.

The next step in improving our perspective involves whether to Respond or Not.  Click here, Respond or Not – Dr. Rich Patterson (

Psychology Today has a post about 50 Quotes on Perspective, read here, 50 Quotes on Perspective | Psychology Today

Yours for Better Parenting,