Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for July 14th, 2011

The Arrogance of Youth

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 14, 2011

   Jeremy, twenty-three, loves his parents, but sometimes he tells me they are “just stupid”. There is tension between them because Jeremy, a geologist, wants to work for a small start-up and his parents are wondering if he should work for a more established company. Jeremy is in a bind. The small company gives him more freedom. The large company gives him more security, maybe. He is aware of the dilemma, but what frustrates him is that his parents seem unhappy with his preference for a small company. His response to his parents’ discomfort is to create an attitude of superiority. “They don’t know what they are talking about,” Jeremy says. “They certainly do not have your perspective,” I say, trying to both empathize with Jeremy, and gently remind him that his parents may have some valuable points. Jeremy begins to rage at me. “Dr. Vollmer, why do you never take my side in these things? Why don’t you see that they are wrong. They are trying to tell me what to do and they should not do that.” The intensity of his rage is both striking and consistent with his age. “I think it is helpful to look at your dynamics with your parents from multiple points of view,” I say, trying not to sound defensive, but to gently remind him that there are many ways of understanding his dilemma. His rage tells me that Jeremy has some deep insecurities about finding a job and he copes with those by getting angry and self-righteous. Jeremy calms down, but he still appears to be angry. “It is hard for you when your parents are not completely comfortable with your decisions.” I say, trying to return to the big picture. “Yea, I just wish they would leave me alone.” Jeremy says, but implying that he wants their love, but not their questioning. “Maybe when you settle into a job that is right for you, then you will be better able to deal with their questioning of your employer.” I say, pointing out that this is such a sensitive issue because he has to make a big decision. “I don’t know, Dr. Vollmer. I want them to want what I want and they don’t.” Jeremy says honestly and openly. “Yes, it is hard when they are looking at job security and  you are looking at opportunities for creativity. Clearly, both are important.” I say, trying to outline the issue which is so painful. “I know,” Jeremy says with calmness, “but they don’t know everything.” Jeremy says, as if he is beginning to discover his parents could be wrong.

Posted in Adolescence, Psychotherapy | 2 Comments »

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