‘Empire’: The Lyon family’s strengths, challenges and goals, part 2

Credit: FOX

When it comes down to it, most of us want the same thing. It would be easy to point out all of the foolishness, including things I never thought I would see or hear on network television. However, I did share in my previous post about the lens through which I try to view things. “Empire” keeps my interest due to the many factors related to family patterns of interactions. Rather than focus on the problem-saturated stories, I choose to remain curious about the various characters’ experiences and consider what steps might help them work towards potential solutions. As I reflected on the Lyon family, including parental and sibling relationships, I pondered some of the themes and potential goals, most of which seem simple and familiar (shout-out to both my spiritual foundation and psychological training). So, what do most of us want?

– Love and appreciation

– Acceptance and belonging

– Trust and respect

Safety and security

Grace and mercy

Peace and joy

As such, I like to ask clients three things during family sessions:

What do you love and appreciate about [this person]?

What do you wish [this person] understood about you?

What are you willing to work on?

The last one really throws folks. Sometimes it becomes so easy to point the finger at others that you “forget” to look in the mirror. If everyone accepted personal responsibility and worked together to resolve conflict at the same time, issues would likely dissolve (or at least become less problematic). The first two questions invite an emphasis on strengths and encourage a sense of vulnerability. Last week’s episode included some compelling declarations and insightful questions. When Andre lamented to Lucious, his father, “Why do you hate me?” and later asserted to Cookie, his mother, “I need you to let me go,” I felt his pain and conviction. When Cookie implored Jamal to forgive Hakeem and when Lucious begrudgingly replied, “I don’t hate you,” I applauded their parenting skills (well, at least for a half-a-second). Even though we’re on pins and needles waiting to see if they will tear each other apart, even Cookie and Anika decided to work together for the greater good.

As you consider how you deal with your family members, reflect upon ways to facilitate a sense of love, understanding and peace. Think about how you communicate and resolve conflict. Rally together as allies against pride, selfishness, envy, divisiveness and other threats to healthy relationships; these are your adversaries, not each other. What’s helping and hindering you from running your own empire? –dr shay 

Shatavia A. Thomas, DMFT, LMFT


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