Accommodation. It’s a tough tightrope to balance. On the one hand, we want to be as supportive as possible of our spouse and children. But when does support become accommodation?
Let’s start off with defining what accommodation is. Accommodation is validating the invalid. We do this when we tell our anxious child that they don’t have to go to school if it scares them. We do this to our spouse when we try to regulate their emotions for them. We are telling the people around us “I don’t believe that you can deal with this situation properly so I will take care of it for you.”
Of course, we don’t actually mean it like that. We just want to help and be there for the people around us. Instead, we are reducing their capabilities and making them dependent on us. That’s not what we want to do because it’s not effective for them in the long run, since then they won’t have the skills to manage on their own. We want to empower our spouses and children to be able to deal with their own challenges.
So, what does support look like? If accommodation is carrying them on our backs, support is holding their hand while they work out a solution to their problems. We can validate that they make sense, and that this situation is hard for them without trying to solve the situation. For a child, you can say something like, “I know that you are having a hard time at school right now. How can I help you get through this? I’m here for you if you want to talk.” The child still has to go to school, but they feel understood and supported. Support for your spouse can even be as simple as “I know this is hard for you, and I believe that you can do this.”
Whatever your support looks like, remember that we can empower the people around us with our support instead of disabling them with our accommodation. Good luck!