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There are several ways we commit hijacking crimes in relationships . . .

One way of hijacking a conversation is when our child (or spouse) tells us something and we, “one up them.” We’ve all had it happen. We tell a story and someone tells an even bigger one. For instance, we get a good deal but someone reports getting an even better one. We are left holding our own emotional baggage, we feel disappointed and still wishing for validation and someone to enjoy our victory.  We came into the conversation feeling great, and suddenly, we are not feeling so great.

With your child, hijacking may go like this . . .

“Wow, great job on icing that cookie. Look, Mommy made clown faces on hers.”

“You have a poem published in the school anthology? You are just like your mom, I had a poem and two short stories at my school.”

Another way to hijack a conversation is to hear what your child has to say and then turn the conversation around so that suddenly it’s all about you.

“Wow, you’ve been invited to the prom! I remember how I felt when . . . ”

“I’m so sorry your kitten ran away. I’ll never forget when . . . ”

Or we hijack and make it about someone else, not our child.

“You did a great job on this drawing. Did you hear that Lois is going to have her drawing on the front of the bulletin next Sunday? You might want to try that.”

Pronouns can hijack as well. “We” implies half credit.

“We are headed to third grade now.” Really? You went to second grade every single day with your child?

“We are swimming faster than ever this summer.” No matter how much you coach, or transport, or cheer, you aren’t moving arms and legs in water. This is not a plural pronoun situation.

The wrong pronoun robs children of self-esteem. Their accomplishment is hijacked. You’ve just made yourself part owner.

In conversations with adults, notice how often hijacking takes place.

Now you will begin to notice how people not only hijack accomplishments, they hijack aches and pains as well. And when it comes to trying to share a worry, some folks think they are invited to a “pity party” and have to one-up your string of disasters or bad news. Then you come away feeling devalued for having tried to share your experience with them.

There may be folks that will continuously hijack you. But knowing what you know now, you won’t be one that hijacks your child or anyone else.

Can you give a good illustration of hijacking?

By: Deborah M. Maxey PhD, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

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