Rena Perlmutter


“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage
to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”. (Twelve
Steps of AA)

There is no challenge in accepting something from which you will benefit. The
challenge in life is learning to accept the things that are not in your control and
might not be in your best interest.

Children and teens learn through our actions, more than through our words.
Parenting is about modelling a way of living. If a parent says one thing and
behaves in another way, at some point the child will know that the parent’s
words cannot be trusted. Modelling acceptance is a foundation to raising
happy children who will grow up to be happy adults. Saying, “I accept this
situation, even if I do not like it or approve of it”, teaches your child acceptance
of themselves and others, and helps manage uncomfortable situations. The
benefit of acceptance is that it gives you the ability to detach and to move
forward. Acceptance paves the road to serenity. It allows a person to free up
brain space and energy to make meaningful changes.

Here are some tips how to model acceptance:

Let go of the past.

Often, a parent anticipates a child’s bad behavior based on previous
experiences. This is not constructive; it will only build up a mountain of anger.
Today is a new day. Allow your child to feel like he is not being judged for his
past deeds. If need be, give your child respect by saying, “I am concerned.
What steps can be taken to make sure it does not happen again?” By doing
this, you are taking the child from being the center, and focusing on the action.

Allow yourself to feel the feelings.

Emotions are information. You are allowed to get angry. Anger means that
there is a need for change. Then proceed to make those changes. If change is
not in your control, then break down the issue and find the part that can be

Be factual.

Describe the situation without judgement. Judgement only causes another
person to feel unsafe. Focusing on the facts opens the door to an open
dialogue. It takes the person out of the center of the problem.

“Accept life on life’s terms.”

This is a phrase used in the Twelve Step recovery program. Be flexible and
understand that you are not in control. The world does not rest on your

Learn to recognize your resistant behaviors.

When life is going the way we want it to go, then there is no need for change.
When life events, or people, get in the way, then the problem begins.

A self-aware person will track his behavior to stay emotionally regulated. A
less emotionally regulated person will turn towards anger, blame, food, or
alcohol as a means of avoiding coping with a given situation.

Every day a person is given the opportunity to practice acceptance. Most days,
a person can plan on going to bed at a certain hour. During the day, different
events occur, which can cause a delay in the routine, and before you know it
you are going to bed two hours later than expected. People with rigid
personalities might become annoyed at themselves or the circumstances
which caused that delay. He is unable to easily accept the facts.

Training oneself to accept small changes that are “annoying” in life, will enable
one to to handle life’s bigger curve balls. Some people will naturally react by
accepting the fact that certain events delayed him going to bed on time.

Without thinking, he will automatically review in his head what changes can be
made in the future to make sure it does not become a daily occurrence.

A bigger challenge would be the following. You have a 10:00 o’clock flight to
catch for an important business meeting. You leave with ample time to get to
the airport on time. At some point on the road the traffic comes to a complete
halt. The first five minutes you look at your watch and say, “Good thing I left
early enough to take traffic into account.” Then you hear the ambulance
sirens. You slowly begin to realize that the traffic will be at a standstill for
some time. The traffic finally begins to flow but the plane has taken off
without you on board.

Depending on how you choose to interpret the event, will affect your
response. A person who is emotionally flexible can assess the situation and
move into a solution-oriented frame of mind. He will put out the fire before it
burns the entire forest. He will call his contact and excuse himself for missing
the flight due to a traffic accident that was out of his control. He will explain in
a calm voice that he will be on the next flight out. This shows that he can
accept the situation, detach, and then find a solution.

Someone else might get stuck and is unable to realize that being late was
beyond his control. He will begin to play the blame and shame game. The
focus becomes on him and not the problem, causing him to retreat from
finding a solution. He might start berating himself by saying, “If only I had left
the night before.” If he has a problem with alcohol (or other forms of self-
harm), he might use this as an excuse to go to the bar for a drink.

When a child grows up with parents who are non-judgmental and accepting of
themselves and of others, then the children learn to be non-judgmental and
accepting of themselves and others.

Rena Perlmutter
Parent Coach

About the Author
Rena Perlmutter is a mother of 5. Originally from California, she has lived in Beit Shemesh for 25 years. With a Bsc in Education, a Ministry of Education Parenting Coach certification, Rena combines DBT and twelve steps in her practice. Rena specializes in coaching parents of teens who are struggling with mental health issues and substance use disorders.
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