Monday, May 29, 2006

Failing to praise

So Evan keeps asking me how I think he is doing.

Unfortunately I keep telling him the truth. I think if I were not worried about the addiction I might have a more positive outlook, but I confess that I am mostly seeing the downsides.

So he is proud of himself.
-He has held a job now for 9 days.
-He went to extra 12-step meetings last week bringing him to 6 of the 11 he should have done by now.
-He is not quarrelling with the boys.
-He believes he is not isolating himself as much, because he works and makes a point of spending 15 minutes a day talking with me. "And I am in the living room all the time watching TV after you all go to bed."
-He registered for summer classes.

He is very proud of himself for all of this. From his perspective it is great strides of accomplishment. He wants and expects praise from me.

And I fail him. He asks me how he is doing and I jump at the opportunity to tell him that I am disappointed that he has not made an appointment with the psychiatrist like he promised and that he has stopped taking his blood pressure medication. I feel proud of myself for NOT mentioning that he could be working harder on catching up with his meeting commitment, or that I think it was wrong of him to call in sick because he had been socializing the night before, or that it makes me nervous that he complains so much about his co-workers.

Now I will be the first one to tell you that it is important to praise progress. I get that praising the smallest efforts is more effective than any other response. I know this.

It is hard to get myself into that place with Evan right now.

I have been working hard at not being co-dependent, but that has meant trying NOT to worry too much about everything that he is not doing.

I have forgotten that part of my job is to notice and reward all the little steps.

There is much that he is not doing, but there is much that he is. Measured against what he was doing before; he is making strides. He is working hard. He deserves a little praise.

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