They Needed to Get Better



“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.” Carl Gustav Jung

For years, I convinced myself I’d have time and energy to accomplish something impressive if only my family would get better. I blamed my lack of motivation and creativity on their issues. I imagined what I’d do when I was out from under the pressure and concern I had for my husband, my children, my parents, and my sibling.


That’s a lot of people to worry about.

If only my husband quit smoking, went into business for himself, took off additional time. If only he learned to relax. If only he’d listen to my suggestions about straightening out his life, our marriage, and our backyard fence.

If only my son and daughter learned to keep up with their belongings, take responsibility, express gratitude. If only they’d do their homework, care about school, score a soccer goal or a point in tennis. If only they’d find the right place to live, the high paying job, the perfect marriage partner.

If only my family of origin celebrated new ideas instead of being afraid of them. If only they talked about something besides weather and health problems. If only they laughed and went outside sometimes.

With my husband, I gave full commentaries about the dangers of cigarettes, making healthy choices, and communication.

With my kids, I helped find keys and shoes and half-finished job applications stuck under cushions. I advised about homework, friendship, and courtship.

With my family of origin, I changed the topic of conversations so I’d be comfortable and told stories that weren’t funny.

I understand now why I felt stuck.


I counseled my family, but didn’t go into a counseling career like I planned. I talked about pursuing a career in inspirational speaking, but I was talked out at home. I dreamed about writing a book, but determined it was more important for my family to realize their dreams.

When I heard about a friend’s outburst after a mutual friend gave her advice, I laughed because she could have been talking to me. I’d distracted myself from my own life (again) by hoping family would get better. She said, “Your children will get better when you get better.”

“If that’s true, who needs to get better for me?” I asked. I was “sort of” joking.

I figured I could blame others for a few more years or I could get better by finally getting my own life. I did some of both.

In the meantime, my husband and children got better before I did. They also got their own lives before I did, which, as focused as I was on them, didn’t surprise me. I’m still taking some credit for their betterment, though.

I like to think I’ve helped them and me get better since giving up my habit of dabbling in their lives. And since #GettingMyOwnLife #whileLovingthePeopleinIt. And since writing about it.

I’d love to hear from you about how you can get better so your family will get better. Ideas from you help all of us.

In This Together,

Unless something pressing comes along (sometimes I have to blog on a topic before I can move on), my next blog post will be about setting Boundaries and why they’re good and necessary.

Thanks for the images,


12 responses »

  1. LOVING your blog. Just took the time to read it, start to present, a couple of weeks ago. Feels like you’re writing just for me. No kidding.

  2. Kim, are you sure you haven’t secretly been living in my house for years?? Your opening quote perfectly nailed the essence of what went wrong in my relationship with my parents. My dad wanted to be a doctor but that career was interrupted by a lack of money and World War II. Years later he went into part-time church ministry but didn’t pursue it full time because he was afraid it wouldn’t provide enough money. My mother interrupted her nursing career to be a full-time wife and mother, as requested by my dad. They lived their lives through me, and the expectations were huge. I was always waiting for my husband to change–to become more ambitious, to stop drinking, to develop better health habits. When I realized, almost too late, that I needed to change myself first, it was a giant breakthrough. I still struggle, especially since he seems intent on continuing to make bad decisions regarding his health, and those bad decisions impact me. However, I am working on letting more things go and proceeding with what I need to do but not yet what I want to do. It sounds as if you have made a lot of progress on “getting better.” I just love these posts and look forward to the one on boundaries.

    • Mary, sometimes I wonder the same thing about our households. So many similarities.

      My dad did several interesting things in his life and I was impressed with some of his jobs and hobbies. Mom, however, followed along and did what she thought others expected her to do. I so wanted her to break free even though I’m sure it would have taken some adjusting (like it does for my kids sometimes) if she had not been there to do what she’d always done like babysit my children and plan family get-togethers.

      But that’s exactly what the quotes about … if she had broken free, then I would have felt freer to live my life. As it turned out, for many years I spent too much time visiting her, trying to please her, trying to fix her, trying to fix our relationship.

      If we’d both had a life and lived it, we may have been friends or something. Who knows?

      I think I’m getting better. I really do. And I believe it’s because of conversations like this one. And our conversation at lunch. Thanks! ❤

  3. From Facebook (on Kim Henson) ~

    John B. Henson, Jeanie Johnson and 11 others


    Summer Turner Oh, those pesky crooked backyard fences! grin emoticon Great post!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · May 6 at 10:35pm

    Kim Henson Hahaha, Summer Turner, Business Writing Breakthrough. They’ll derail a plan in a heartbeat! wink emoticon
    Like · Reply · 1 · May 6 at 10:43pm

    Sybil Lee Love yourself so you can love others
    Know you are loved Kim
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · May 7 at 7:29am

    Kim Henson Sybil Lee, that’s it in a nutshell. I feel loved by you and our group. It’s very comforting. heart emoticon Thank you.
    Like · Reply · 1 · May 7 at 12:08pm

    Summer Turner Yes, we’re here for you, Kim!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · May 7 at 12:43pm

    Kim Henson Summer Turner, I know y’all are and there’s no way to adequately express with words how grateful I am. heart emoticon
    Like · Reply · 1 · May 7 at 1:19pm

    Sharon Treacy Carroll Great words of advice Kim. I find myself getting so caught up in Nora’s world I forget to have my own life.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · May 7 at 7:41am

    Kim Henson Sharon Treacy Carroll, that’s been the story of my life. It was wonderful to focus on them until they moved away and really, really, really got their own lives, which is how this blog evolved into #GettingYourOwnLife. grin emoticon Thanks for commenting.
    Like · Reply · May 7 at 12:12pm

    Megan Hunt Dell Love your posts, Kim! heart emoticon
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · May 7 at 4:15pm

    Kim Henson Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Megan Hunt Dell.
    Like · Reply · May 7 at 9:50pm

    Received 3 private messages on this post also. ❤

  4. From Facebook (on Summer Turner’s page) ~

    A good read to help us become aware of conditions we might be placing on others as excuses for starting our own life.

  5. One of my daughters posted on facebook the other day something that said, “My mother was also my father”. I realized that as a single mom I was so busy playing both roles that there was no time to be anything else. Now that they are grown, I have all the time to be all the things I dreamed to be. I thought I would hit the ground running someday when I got to this point in life. Easier said than done. Its like we get so stuck in one routine that it is hard to transfer over to a new life beyond those roles. Who knew it would be this hard?

    • I know, Jenine! I thought the same thing. I told myself when they move out and I don’t feel so responsible for them, I’ll be different. I will be motivated and creative and accomplished and … it was a long list. 😉 I’ll accomplish this, that and the other and even more. Like I said, L O N G.

      I guess it’s human nature (probably something about that apple way back when) that causes us to have to fight our demons before we change and really get on with our lives. I’m happy I’m finally doing it. I thought I was going to be 100 and still talking about it. LoL.

      Love the lives that you and I are almost getting. ❤

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