Aug 5, 2008


by Terri Wagner

As CPO3 would say, “it's my lot in life” to be surrounded by those who are infinitely more sensitive than I. This is both good and bad. One particularly difficult relationship with a roommate in therapy turned out to be a boom for me. She paid for it, but I benefited from it. After each session, she would tell me what he said and I would take it to heart and use it. I'm sorry to say she hasn't yet.

One such was reframe, which is actually like the song from My Turn on Earth...Turn It Around (or something like that). Recently, my niece is taking a bit of church therapy and was told to reframe. She wrote me about how hard it is to be mom to her daughter with her mother around. It's a long and sad tale with a wonderful ending in sight. But for the moment, grandmother, daughter and granddaughter share time together. It's taxing on all three to say the least. And probably on my brother most of all.

But in the latest email, I think my niece realized the futility of dealing with her daughter's tantrums (she's four) with grandmother around. So I shared with her this observation from years ago.

When my niece came along, my mother and her mother didn’t see eye to eye either. My sister-in-law saw a willful, disobedient, defiant child who was seemingly immune to time out, spankings, lectures or grounding. My mother saw a free spirited, strong, extremely bright young child who needed a variety of daily activities especially active ones.

How’s the niece’s daughter? A spoiled princess with a wonderfully peaceful personality that is easily distracted from a tantrum. Too bad, my niece and her mother can’t share this reframing.

In literature, they call this point of view. And some very successful books/movies use this to promote growth in their characters. The best I’ve seen lately is the movie Vantage Point. It is a visual demostration of what reframing can do.


  1. I'll never forget the first time I experienced my own "reframing." I was about 12 years old and knew that another girl was spoiled and stuck up. During an after-school verbal exchange with that young lady, the light went on in my head and I saw her from a completely new perspective. All of my previous judgments "invisiblated," as my 15 year-old would say.

  2. oh...Terri, I meant to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this post! Super!

  3. Great post, Terri! And a very thought-filled one, too.

  4. I wrote a poem about this many years ago, which I called FRAME OF REFERENCE.

    I took a look at life
    And bound it in a frame,
    Feeling adept.
    Then afterwards,
    Everything I saw
    That fit the frame,
    I kept.
    And if it
    Didn't fit,
    No matter how it twisted,
    I cast it out
    As if to doubt
    It ever had existed.

    What a shame
    I never blamed
    The frame.


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