Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
the Rock Doc
Sound Advice for a Song
By Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr BLT, psychologist
* Details contained in the original correspondence, or inquiry have been omitted or otherwise altered to protect the confidentiality of the inquiring party and to make key spiritual/psychological points.
Dear Rock Doc: My 19-year-old son, Earl (folks call him Pearl), has always been extremely self-conscious about his height. Some call it Short Man's Syndrome. He's only 5 foot 3 inches. He still lives at home, and lacks the confidence necessary to get a real job.
It has caused him to feel very insecure, and he's try to overcompensate by telling everyone he used to be in the band, Green Day, when in fact, he was only in a Green Day cover band called American Idiots, and it fizzled out after about 8 weeks. The band broke up after witnessing yet another one of his barroom brawls in which he got drunk and got into it with a fan. The friends I spoke with who run the honky-tonk where this occurred said my son was all up in the fan's face for no reason at all, talking trash to him.
My son plays lead guitar, and he's great, but no local band will have him after learning about his reputation and about his bad temper. He's not gay, but he comes across that way, and that's how he earned the nickname, "Pearl"---that and the fact that he's a big Pearl Jam fan. He's an alcoholic, though he did go forward at a local revival meeting a few months back and accepted Christ. I haven't noticed any change in him except that now he goes to church every Sunday, religiously.
He's still hanging out in honky-tonks, getting in people's faces, drinking heavily, drinking and driving, and generally causing a ruckus, all over his inferiority complex. His dad's an alcoholic too, but now he's dad is down to a weekly drink or two. He's always caused problems since he was a little kid, and so his dad had no choice but to really punish me a lot when he was younger. He seems to resent his dad for that. He's an only child, he's spoiled rotten, and he's hell-bent on raising cane (not the sweet kind either). Please help, won't you, doctor?
Mother of Pearl
Dear Mother of Pearl:
Your son's provocative bar behavior reminds me of the young man I portrayed in this song:
It's not really the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about the fruits of the spirit---the kind of fruit St. Paul speaks about, and that wasn't meant to suggest that your son is a fruit of a fruit cake. What I mean is that his behavior, as you've described it, seems to be driven more by instinct, and not by the spirit of the living God, who lives within us after we accept Christ. Nevertheless, the Apostle did seem to have a sensitivy towards the fact that when folks are new in Christ, they tend to exhibit behavior that is less mature.
To paraphrase Paul just a little, he said, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child….but now that I've grown, I've put away childish things." Getting to know Jesus ultimately leads to maturity, but there are often emotional wounds that cause a person to become developmentally fixated, or to cause a person to regress to a lower level of development under certain conditions.
The first thing I suggest to patients who are getting into trouble is not to make it double. In other words, not to make things worse just because they seem bad. Since it is you, and not your son who is writing, I'm not really in a position to offer him that advice. Even if I were, I would probably want to get to know him better before making assumptions or offering him advice.
You seem like an insightful, intelligent person, and your hypothesis concerning the cause of Pearl's problems does not seem to be a big stretch. Nevertheless, it wouldn't hurt to get a second opinion, or to encourage your son to get a second opinion from a licensed psychologist. I do know that many men who are short develop a certain syndrome around their own awareness of their height, but there also may be other issues going on.
Instead of ascribing to a linear view of problems, I prefer to look at problems in the context of family dynamics, where various aspects of those family dynamics impact other aspects, which, in turn, impact others. If your son is willing, and his father is willing, I would suggest getting some family therapy. Whether you realize it or not, there may be some behaviors or your own, and that of your husband, that may, for one reason or another (or more than one reason) support your son's misbehavior.
Part of you may want him to grow up and mature, and another part may be having trouble letting him go. So, unconsiously, you (and perhaps your husband) may be sending out double messages to him. I can't say for certain, as I haven't met your son, and I haven't met the family. It's simply a working hypothesis. But one of the things you said did cause me to be somewhat concerned. You made reference to your son not having the confidence to get a "real job." Often times parents' idea of a "real job" is a reflection of their own values---values that they try to push onto their children without considering that their idea of a "real job," may be quite different than the ideas of their children.
I'm not trying to assign blame to you for your son's behavior. He's an adult now. He needs to take responsibility for his behavior. He does need to get into an alcohol recovery program in addition to the family therapy, and he may even need his own personal therapy. But I do think it would be helpful to have the family assessed so that you and the other members of the family could gain a better grasp of the issues that may be contributing to the problems.
Finally, keep your son in prayer. Prayer is powerful, more powerful than we generally realize. Put your son in God's hands, because other than your son, God is the only one that can direct his path.
Let me know how it goes. God bless!
* If you're a musician in
distress, or the friend of family member of one, please contact Dr. BLT