Friedman, Generation to Generation

I just finished reading this book:

It was fantastic. It is written primarily for pastors and rabbis, but it’s lessons are universally applicable for everyone in families or struggling to relate well to others in work and social organizations.

He takes a Family Process view of counseling, and he argues that the most effective model of pastoral leadership happens by self-differentiation. Self-differentiation, as I understand it, is essentially our ability to have an identity independent of the being of others. He is not suggesting individualism, autonomy or narcissism. Self-differentiation is just a self that is secure, and it looks like the following: Self-differentiation is not getting anxious about the misbehaviors of our children because we are a separate self. It is not reacting to the anxiety of a parent when we don’t fulfill their dreams for us. It is not responding with harder work to the demands of an unreasonable parishioner.

Throughout the book, he provides examples of what this looks like in a variety of counseling settings. He argues that pastors are uniquely situated to help people navigate the ‘nodal’ events of life, like marriage and death, in a way that can best facilitate self-differentiation. In these times of transition, family systems are shaken up and the capacity for change is large.

He explains the issues that hinder self-differentiation like emotional triangles, homeostasis, and family origins. All of his explanations are done with clarity and helpful case study examples.

I enjoyed this book…I fear too much. I wonder can one person be so right about so much?