Minerva and Keanu,

It was great to hear y’all talk yesterday about your fascination with the changes you’ve made. Sherm has managed to surprise you with his initiative, and the resulting lighter household mood has created all sorts of opportunities: relaxed conversations with your other kids, pleasure reading, and consistently increasing moments where you realize that everything’s going to be ok.

What a shock when you came home late on Tuesday only to find that Sherm had not only emptied the dishwasher without being asked but had started cooking dinner! Life goal achieved. He has gone four consecutive days without insulting his sister, though he couldn’t resist insulting her shoes when she left them on the stairs. His teachers are reporting that he’s turning everything in. Zero zeroes! And all of this is happening because you made the choice to move from that dark adversarial dynamic into this experimental collaborative relationship with him.

He’s definitely not ready to be turned loose without any more parenting, and I’m sure there are going to be lots of challenging moments in the future. We’ve learned, though, that he is ready to accept more responsibility than you thought possible and that he has big goals of his own that he wants to pursue. MIT?!?! He’s entirely capable. Huge kudos to you for eliminating the word ‘potential’ from your vocabularies and for accepting the simple fact that every time you used it, he felt criticized, demoralized.

He’s got your sense of humor, Minerva, and he’s got your vivid imagination, Keanu. And because of the changes you’re making, he may slough off the other pieces that you never intended to teach – the perfectionism, the tendency to withdraw when stressed. It’s been wonderful seeing all of you practice self-awareness and allow yourselves to breathe, calm, respond rather than react. When Sherm told you to take a deep breath in traffic the other day? Pure gold.

We’re on the right track.

As his ability to manage school, chores, emotions, relationships, and health increase, you’re going to be able to back off more and more. There’s a lot of joy and freedom in that for y’all and for your other two children. Your trust in him can continue to grow, and you can have more fun together.

I appreciate all of your hard work, and I am in awe of Sherm’s talents and insight. Thank you for trusting me to walk with your family through this transition.

Gordon

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 -Gordon