HOW TO WALK ON THIN ICE WITHOUT FALLING THROUGH
“ I KNOW YOU BELIEVE YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU THINK I SAID, BUT I’M NOT SURE YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU HEARD IS NOT WHAT I MEANT.”
By Cathy Grant
Take Care of Millie tells of newly widowed Millie and her daughter Jan and the communication problems that nearly wreck their relationship. “Communication” explores different kinds of relationships and the communication blocks that can occur. References to these sources will be made in this paper.
Human relationships can be fragile things and we often approach them as if we are walking on thin ice. Real communication helps to stop us from falling through the ice too often.
The most important thing to remember is that people should have their feelings recognized as valid, and empathy with those feelings should be used as the basis of communication.
Communication, like charity, should begin at home. But we learn by observation, and we often observe people who have never learned to validate the feelings of others. In the film, a little boy goes to his parents’ room one stormy night and says, “Mommy, I’m afraid of the storm.” His mother replies, “oh honey, no you’re not.”
When feelings are denied, children, especially boys, feel they should not express them. Then, as adults, they still have the same problem and are unable to talk about their emotional needs. The old saying, “little children should be seen and not heard” can be a very dangerous precept.
In the film, the point was made that some parents are too embarrassed to discuss the facts of life with their children. And yet sexuality is a normal part of life, and growing up, and not to discuss it increases the chance of teenage pregnancy. There is another episode in the film where parents tell a teenage girl that they do not want her to go out at night with her boyfriend in his car. The girl hears “You don’t trust me.” The parents mean they want to protect her from a situation she may not yet be able to deal with.
Another problem that can arise is the different ways in which boys and girls are raised. Little boys are socialized to be “tough” and little girls are to be gentle and nurturing. So girls don’t learn to be assertive in making their needs known, and boys learn to be aggressive and not sensitive to the needs of others. Both of these behaviors can block communication.
There are many communication blocks. Age and physical appearance should not be blocks but often are. People who are physically handicapped are often treated as though they are little kids, mentally retarded, sexless and deaf. I myself have had people pat me on the head as if I were a little child and speak to me in far too loud of a voice.